Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious!
In Saga of Tanya the Evil episode 6, Beginning of Madness, the Imperial generals are desparate to break the stalemates on multiple fronts; can you guess who they order to help? Tanya Degurechaff begins to have suspicions about how the war is unfolding — and about who’s behind it. She and her battalion engage the enemy, and even with mages, the enemy doesn’t stand a chance. Yet, when trying to secure a prisoner, Tanya gets a visit from an old unwelcome “friend.”
What’s In This Post
- The generals are happy at their latest victory against the Dukedom of Dakia, but they’re worried that they’re still fighting on two fronts. Kurt von Rudersdorf is keen to attack the Entente Alliance, but they all admit they have a problem of logistics. Hans von Zettour points out that they simply can’t support any dramatic conventional troop movements in such a short period of time. Rudersdorf has a suggestion: use the 203rd Battalion — Tanya’s mages. From their base on the southeast, Tanya’s troops are ordered to transfer to the north to implement the generals’ plan. After preparing the troops for the transfer, Tanya confides her suspicion to Viktoriya Ivanovna Serebryakov: namely, that the other world powers have become involved and are propping up the Empire’s enemies. She doesn’t tell Viktoriya that she suspects Being X is the true force behind many of the developments.
- On the northern front, the Imperial mages are under heavy attack as they try to defend their supply base. The situation deteriorates quickly as enemy reinforcements and bombers arrive. The Empire’s losses mount, and the remaining mages are on the brink of complete destruction, when they receive word to retreat. Their reinforcements have arrived, and their code name is “Pixie.” After a quick analysis of the enemy, Tanya deploys her forces. In order to provide greater incentive for her mages, Tanya tells the local command not to launch their interceptors; she and her troops will take care of the bombers. It was a smart move: the enemy is better equipped and trained than they expected. As Tanya’s mages redouble their efforts, the bombers and their mage escort arrive in theater.
Tanya orders Viktoriya to take her company and engage the escort while Tanya takes on the bombers alone. The bomber pilots first can’t accept that a single mage is really attacking them; then they can’t believe she joins them at their altitude and speed before casually dropping a grenade in the cockpit of the lead plane. As the bombers trie to retreat, Tanya begins her prayers of power and unleashes her attack. She destroys most of the bombers in her first strike. The rest retreat. As the rest of her troops turn their attention to the remaining mages, Tanya trails one of the bombers to its crash site in the hopes of interrogating one of the crew.
- She’s disappointed to find the everyone dead. Time freezes, and she hears Being X’s voice coming from the dead pilot. She fires her rifle anyway, but he keeps talking, saying that the entire world’s going to turn against her for her sins. After he taunts her again, Tanya keeps firing until time restarts. But she doesn’t lose her composure. Because she was sure the other world powers would be watching, she searches for — and finds — an Allied Kingdom listening post. She utterly destroys it. Later, General Rudersdorf and Colonel Erich von Rerugen arrive to congratulate her and give her the next assignment. Remembering Being X’s taunt, she promises to teach all of their enemies a lesson.
What I Liked
“We are worrying about a world war,” Kurt von Rudersdorf said. “The fewer fronts we must fight on, the better.” I know it wasn’t until World War II that our world’s Germany forgot that lesson, but Kurt’s statement made me reflect just how lucky we are!
Tanya’s demonstrated her increasingly good grasp of military tactics: she understood that the battles against the Entente Alliance should have resulted in Imperial victories by now. She also understood that the Dakian advance in the last episode was insane — unless other powers were involved.
The design of the bombers was like something out of a steampunk-fueled nightmare about World War I. I don’t know if they could have stayed airborne in real life or not, but I thought they looked great.
I have to admit that I felt a chill when Tanya’s battalion arrived. Not at the power they were about to unleash on the battle field. No, I was impressed with the precision of their formation. In such a short period of time, her battalion has become the most deadly and precise killing machine in the Empire. Seemingly trivial details like flight formations can reveal those truths.
Viktoriya’s skills are improving. After arriving in the norther theater, she quickly surveyed the field and gave Tanya a succinct analysis of the enemy’s deployment.
I love the reactions of the local command team as they monitor the altitude and velocity of Tanya’s battalion. At one point, the commander even says that they’re moving more like fighter planes than mages before concluding correct that Strategic HQ had “an unexpected ace up its sleeve.”
The series has gone to great lengths to paint what feels like a realistic picture of this kind of combat. For example, the bombers flew way above the point where normal mages could operate, and their mage escort flew well beneath them. The tactics flowed naturally from those assumptions, which made it all the more enjoyable when Tanya smashed their expectations. It’s a little detail, but it’s the kind of thing that helps me enjoy an episode.
The animation? The sound? Again, both were fantastic this week. This series has shown some of the most consistently good art this season. Little details, like the plan shuddering away from the detonating grenade, make all the difference.
Tanya’s reaction time was impressive. It wasn’t much more than a second between her recognizing Being X’s voice and her firing into the pilot’s corpse. I guess she wasn’t kidding in previous episodes when she says she kept her rifle close for just such an encounter.
Tanya tells one of her lieutenants that she’s happy he doesn’t smoke because she hates secondhand smoke. First, a soldier saying that is funny all by itself; and the lieutenant’s confusion at the phrase “secondhand smoke” was also funny. But the punchline was when she was ushered into the room with five command officers, and all of them were smoking.
What I Liked Less
Dang it! No OP again this week! Of course, it’s because the writers are packing in so much action and plot goodness that there’s no time for it. But still…
Also, I’m starting to feel sympathetic towards the Empire. That’s not good! They’re clearly evil in that they’re trying to inflict their will on the surrounding countries! I have to keep reminding myself that they’re the bad guys here. All of the other countries have such pure motives! Oh, wait…
There is a huge problem with literature. It can make us question are assumptions and clarify our thinking, which sometimes leads to uncomfortable conclusions.
And before I go on, yeah, I just said this series is literature. I don’t often make that declaration (I think the last time I did was about the seventeenth episode of Gate), but this series deserves the designation. Perhaps more even than that Gate episode.
What about Tanya has pushed me to uncomfortable conclusions? I’m starting to feel sympathetic to the Empire, that’s what! Yes, their domination ambitions are despicable. They’re inflicting untold pain and misery on their neighbors. What’s changing my mind is the portrayal of the tactics of the other nations. I’ve been forced to admit that at a national level, no country is “innocent.” On the international stage, each country looks out for itself. I can say that one country extending its territory at the expense of another is “bad.” But look at the assumptions underlying that statement! That’s assuming national boundaries are perfect as they are; that they have no relationship to peoples and cultures that may straddle a border or be packaged into a border with others who are hostile to them.
In the case of the Empire in this show, how can I say they are morally worse than the Republic, who’s supplying mages to the Entente Alliance? They’re not providing the mages out of charity; they’re providing the mages to keep their own borders intact. In other words, the countries are all acting alike: they’re using one another — killing one another — to achieve their own ends. They’re all inflicting untold pain and misery on their neighbors!
The only flaw in this theory is that I don’t know for certain if the other nations have ambitions to extend their territory. If our world is any indication, the answer’s an unfortunate and bloody “yes.”
Speaking of moral quandaries, I was a little surprised to hear Being X say, “A great crusade to punish the blasphemer has begun.” As someone who knows a little history, the word “crusade” and “blasphemer” raises all kinds of red flags. I can’t point to a single instance in the entire history of humanity where those two things together triggered anything but death and horrors. How can I consider Tanya the evil one in that relationship when her greatest sin is utilitarianism? Being X is helping her slaughter enemy combatants for the shallow purpose of improving the chances she’ll acknowledge just how amazing Being X is. That’s a pretty potent inditement against Being X.
One more thing struck me about this episode. “Praise the Lord, who is now born unto us!” Tanya says before she destroys the Allied Kingdom’s listening post. Until now, most of her prayers have been either snippets of praise or petitions to protect the Empire. This is the first time she’s referenced the Savior. Given how Being X just told her the entire world was about to align against her, I wonder if she’s starting to see herself as a savior figure? The title of the episode’s “Beginning of Madness,” after all!
Am I reading too much into this? What do you think? Let me know 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 6.5: 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 9: Preparations for Advance
- 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