Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious!
In Preparations for Advance, Saga of Tanya the Evil’s ninth episode, Hans von Zettour convinces the Imperial command to try a new approach — a new paradigm — that he thinks can lead them to an unconventional victory. Tanya Degurechaff and her battalion are key to this plan, of course. Facing competent resistance from the ground and air, Viktoriya Ivanovna Serebryakov and others under Tanya’s command need all of their skills to even stay aloft. Tanya’s favorite scientist returns, and he wants to stuff Tanya in a rocket. The empire launches a new kind of attack on the Republic. It involves Tanya and a parachute.
What’s In This Post
- On a train trip towards headquarter, Tanya wonders if she maintained her innocence by only targeting mages, and not civilians, in Arene. She sees Maximilian Johann von Uger, now a major, who responds to her shrewd questions by informing her of a huge upcoming operation. An operation in which her battalion will be the rearguard.
- At HQ, the generals realize that the Arene uprising damaged so much of the rail lines that supplying the front line is more difficult. von Zettour says they need a paradigm shift; they need to think it terms of depleting the enemy with aggressive actions, not defeating them and forcing them to surrender. The plan is to withdraw from the Rhine front and trick the enemy into pursuing into a trap.
- Tanya’s battalion is deployed to make it appear that the Empire is preparing to advance. In this battle, they face a highly competent enemy ground force as well as trained and dangerous enemy mages. One of her companies loses 60% of their troops. Command tells her she’s done enough and can retreat. But knowing the plan, she says they need to fight a little longer to keep up the charade. Shortly thereafter, she appears to be hit by an artillery shell. The empire continues their retreat, and the Republic makes plans to advance. That night, Second Lieutenant Warren Grantz treats Viktoriya’s wounds. Seeing his unease, she guesses that he’s still worried about Arene, and she tells him Tanya was trying to tell him that high command was to blame — not him.
- Erich von Rerugen praises Tanya for her and her troops’ role in the successful operation. Tanya puts rumor and innuendo together to guess that they have some new, disruptive technology ready to deploy. von Rerugen, again forced to acknowledge her intelligence, reunites Tanya with her “favorite” scientist: Doctor Schugel. He has a new “genius” plan. He’s built rockets called the V-1 that run on hydrogen. They’ll be able to strike deep within enemy territory. Declaring that the speed of their development was a gift from God, Dr. Schugel says their top speed will be mach 1.5. He answers Tanya’s pointed questions about the disturbance as objects exceed the speed of sound by saying the plan is to launch mages — inside the rockets! Even von Rerugen sympathizes with Tanya at that revelation.
- The night before they launch, Lieutenant Weiss Matheus Johann confesses to Second Lieutenant Grantz that it’s impossible to relax before a mission of this magnitude. The part about riding rockets into enemy territory is most at blame for making them uneasy. Meanwhile, preparations for the operation continue. Confirming that the booby traps at key points are in place, HQ orders the next phase to get underway. The strongest of Tanya’s mages, along with Tanya, are loaded into V-1 rockets. After Tanya delivers a stirring speech to her mages, Dr. Schugel launches the rockets. As the rockets neared their targets, the mages activate the mechanism to allow them to parachute to the ground.
What I Liked
Tanya was agonizing over the morality of her actions in Arene? I’m surprised! During the last episode, I had a sense she was almost a co-conspirator with Hans von Zettour in defining how to respond to the informal militia in Arene. But her thoughts at the beginning of this episode suggest otherwise! That’s interesting!
von Uger feels like he owes Tanya for encouraging him to take a position far away from battle, so he confides in her. I enjoy a show that pays attention to its own past, and using that plot point from episode 4 was very cool.
The scene between Grantz and Viktoriya was interesting. This episode is laying the groundwork for moral accountability, and it seems to be pointing upward into the high command. I don’t want to say this contradicts last week’s episode, but it certainly gives it another twist. Viktoriya tells him that he wasn’t at fault, and they end up laughing — as the camera pulls back and we see a soldier on a gurney writhing in agony and complaining about stomach pain. That was an interesting way to frame the scene!
Anime News Network’s review of this episode picked up a detail I had missed: the soldier with stomach pain? That was the soldier Tanya wrote home about after the credits. That’s pretty tight plotting, that is!
Erich von Rerugen praised Tanya? And he seemed genuine about it? This episode really pushed forward some of the relationships in this series. The last we saw von Rerugen, he absolutely hated Tanya. Now, he seems to have accepted her, perhaps as a necessary evil, but at least as a reliable and even important officer.
This week, the Best Quote of the Episode goes to Tanya, who, speaking of Dr. Schugel, says, “He’s a natural-born disaster. He went and got us a one-way ticket to hell.” That’s so Tanya!
Tanya’s speeches this episode seem to be even more driven and inspiring than the ones she’s given before. It really seems like she’s buying into this life, that she really wants to lead her troops to victory. For some reason, I find that thought both scary and reassuring.
After declaring that no soldier in the world could remain calm after Tanya’s speech about this mission potentially ending the war, Grantz and Weiss look back into the barracks. Apparently, one officer is more than capable of remaining calm: Viktoriya slept with her head down on the dinner table. I don’t know why she has such huge, emotional eyes; or why she’s able to remain by Tanya’s side. But she’s one of my favorite characters in this series, second only to Tanya.
The music playing during the rockets’ launches set a great mood. Not only for the launches, but for Tanya’s reflections on how this was all Being X’s fault. Siri identified it as one of the songs from the soundtrack.
I was surprised to see that the V-1 had no warhead. It’s only goal was to deliver the mages to the target, which was cool in hindsight. Then, I had to wonder why Tanya and the other mages parachuted to the ground. They’re mages. Couldn’t they have used magic to land? Then I read a Crunchyroll comment from SoSweet 330: “It was a non-magic assisted drop, which I assume is the same as a stealth drop for modern day soldiers. The enemy can detect magic from a long range so they have to go in under the radar.” That makes perfect sense! This show puts a lot of thought into what it does, and it shows.
I so enjoy reading and participating in the comments after an episode!
Anime News Network sensitized me to this in its review of episodes 5 and 6, but this series is adept at using humor. After the credits, Tanya’s writing a letter to an injured soldier’s family. While she’s writing, I assumed that the soldier had been wounded in combat. At the end, we find he was hurt by a spoiled potato. If that scene had happened earlier in the episode, it would have ruined the mood. But after the credits, it could stand alone.
What I Liked Less
At 7:39, Tanya appears to take a direct hit from enemy artillery. The episode seemed to suggest that she’d been injured, but later, we see her without a scratch. Did I miss something? Did Being X intervene? I’m not sure what that was about, and it bothers me.
Did Tanya really intend to keep her hands “pure as the driven snow?” Is that why we’ve seen her draw back from full engagement several times — for example, sparing Colonel Anson Sioux until he forced her hand by charging after she had begun her retreat? Is Tanya really trying to be lawful good?
Come to think of it, didn’t Salaryman try to follow the company’s rules, again showing a tendency towards lawful goodness? Putting aside the “goodness” of those rules in the first place, of course!
That raises the question: Did she really author the paper that gave Hans von Zettour the idea for Arene’s “liberation?” If so, did she intend a different meaning? But if her meaning was as he interpreted it, why is she worried about her innocence now?
Or is she just fooling herself?
What delightful moral ambiguity!
I’ll give Tanya the award for quote of the week: “Until I found free-market principles into that piece of shit, I won’t die, no matter what!”
How is it even possible that she can challenge Being X, a god, in a universe of that god’s creation, using powers granted solely by that god? Isn’t that a conflict of Wagnerian proportions? I adore this kind of drama!
Under “What I Liked Less,” I lamented what I saw as an unclear moment in the narrative. But it made me think. Why Being X is taking this approach to Tanya? He said that he wants her in danger so she’ll turn to him in faith. But why war? Why not put her as a doctor in a hospital where she needs to save lives despite seeing people die in front of her day in and day out? Why give her a place in a military where “punishing” her will affect those around her? And why this particular war, which will affect the entire planet?
Heck, why not take the route of AM in Harlan Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth and I Must Stream” and outright torture her — and her alone — until she relents? I’m not sure the show will develop this idea, but it’s fascinating to me. This show’s proven adept at handling complex ideas in an accessible way, so I have high hopes for the finale.
What do you think? Why didn’t Being X choose a different path for Tanya? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Other Posts of Interest
- The 2016 Holidays Are Gone – Must Be the Winter 2017 Anime Season! Preview Part I
- Saga of Tanya the Evil Episode 1: The Devil of the Rhine
- Saga of Tanya the Evil Episode 2: Prologue
- Saga of Tanya the Evil Episode 3: Deus Vult
- Saga of Tanya the Evil Episode 4: Campus Life
- Saga of Tanya the Evil Episode 5: My First Battalion
- Saga of Tanya the Evil Episode 6: The Beginning of Madness
- Saga of Tanya the Evil Episode 6.5: War Report
- Saga of Tanya the Evil Episode 7: The Battle of the Fjord
- Saga of Tanya the Evil Episode 8: Trial by Fire
- Saga of Tanya the Evil Episode 10: The Path to Victory
- Saga of Tanya the Evil Episode 11: Resistance
- Saga of Tanya the Evil Episode 12: How to Use a Victory