Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious!
In Saga of Tanya the Evil episode 4, Campus Life, Tanya Degurechaff settles into a comfortable life as a college student. Hans von Zettour asks her for an assessment of the war effort, and Tanya naively gives an honest answer — with predictable results. Erich von Rerugen continues to raise alarms about Tanya, and his peers continue to ignore him. Tanya’s reunited with someone who’s as close to a friend as Tanya has — which is to say, not close at all.
What’s In This Post
- Tanya settles into her relatively comfortable college life. She carries a rifle to class, and she thoroughly enjoys how everyone has to salute her Silver Wings Assault Badge. When Captain Maximilian Johann von Uger, a classmate, asks why she always has her rifle, she tells him that she needs to be ready at all times. In reality, she just wants to be ready to shoot Being X if she ever gets the chance.
- Tanya’s in the library one day when she meets Hans von Zettour, the Imperial Army Chief of Staff. She agrees to his request to meet with her. She’s on her guard when he asks about her opinions of the war effort, but she can only evade his questions for so long before she has to answer for fear of offending him. She tells him that she thinks the conflict will grow into a world war, and secretly she enjoys what she sees as an opportunity to increase her status. She overplays her hand, but thinks she recovers when she describes how the Empire would benefit from a highly mobile battalion of mobile mages. She doesn’t see the trap when he asks her how she would implement it, then asks for her written proposal. Hans von Zettour distributes her analysis of coming world war, along with her proposal, to the senior staff. Erich can’t refute the argument, and he recognizes the style of logic behind it.
Tanya meets Captain von Uger in a cafe, where she learns that he has a daughter about her age. He asks why she volunteered for the military. Through his questions, she learns that he has a conscience, and that he’s an intelligent man who thinks sending children to the battlefield is insane. She tells him to get to the rear of the conflict before things get worse so he can protect his daughter. After he leaves, she’s elated that not only is he off the officer track (thus opening a position for her), but she has an intelligent man with a conscience sympathetic to her.
- Hans von Zettour receives approval from his superiors to form the highly mobile mage battalion. Eric von Rerugen learns of it while in the field, and he reacts with anger. Meanwhile, Hans asks Tanya to a formal dinner, where he presents her with “options” for post-graduate deployment. In reality, Hans orders her to establish her mage battalion as quickly as possible. She realizes too late that her earlier ideas put her in line for this position. In other words, she set herself up. She has no choice but to accept promotion to Captain. He warns her that she has a reputation for being hard to work with and dismisses her with orders to form the battalion as quickly as possible. When she tries to use the huge amount of work as an excuse to delay, she finds that her superior officers have assigned her a helper: Viktoriya Ivanovna Serebryakov.
What I Liked
I think the show’s done a great job of portraying the huge difference between Tanya’s affectations, like carrying a rifle to class, and her the real, Machiavellian reasons for doing these things. For example, she carries a rifle not to always be ready for combat, but to always be ready to shoot at Being X. She’s adept at manipulating people, but then again, so is Being X. Ever into this, the fourth episode, I’m wondering how Tanya can be considered evil for simply trying to stay alive with a hostile entity having her in its sights.
I love Tanya’s gasp when she realized it was Hans von Zettour who had helped her get the book on a high shelf. The Salaryman had been a middle manager, so he would naturally be impressed by those higher in the ranks.
Tanya’s confident in her Salaryman’s experience. She thinks that her middle management position prepared her for something like giving a presentation to Hans von Zettour. I loved her reaction when she realized how wrong she was. She made an understandable mistake, and she tried to learn from it. Even then, it was only towards the end of the episode when she realized just how badly she had misinterpreted the situation. Corporate experience is not the same as military experience!
Tanya tries to read the mood at the dinner table with Hans von Zettour, but she misses key clues and thinks she may actually have a chance of living a comfortable life away from battle. As utilitarian as she is, as wise as she thinks the Salaryman’s experience makes her, she is no match for the aged, battle-hardened vision of her military superiors. She badly misinterpreted the situation, but her mistake was completely consistent with her experience. She had never risen beyond middle management, so she only had her guesses about what senior management was like to guide her. Those guesses were way off the mark.
Too often in anime or other media, the narrative lets us in on a character’s inner conversation even as that character’s actions reflect the inner thoughts. In other words, I think too many narratives engage in unnecessary exposition. But this show? There’s often a huge difference between what Tanya forces herself to say versus what she’s really thinking. That’s one of the things that makes this show so enjoyable.
What I Liked Less
I am still uncomfortable with an archetype of pre-World War I Germany being the protagonist of this show. As the political situation in the United States unfolds, I am becoming even more uncomfortable with it. I sure hope it’s just me!
If there’s one message in this week’s episode, it’s that middle management in a modern corporation does not prepare one for the brutality of military command. Tanya thought her skills as a Salaryman would put her command officers in her debt; or at the very least, would impress them enough to earn her a comfortable position. The idea that demonstrated competency would equate to a front-line position didn’t seem to enter her head. She learned of her error too late!
I’m still not sure how to feel about the main character of a war-time drama being a 10 year old girl. What’s becoming more clear to me is how effective the animation is at portraying more mature expressions on her young face. It’s condensed in the OP and (especially) the ED, and I think it’s one of the things that sets Tanya apart: she’s cold, she’s calculating, but she’s more than that. She’s fighting for her life against Being X and against the Empire’s enemies. Her (his?) intellect is fully engaged, and whether he realizes it or not, she’s having the time of her life. Sure, she’s not happy at going into danger, but as we saw in Prologue, Tanya’s reaction to “fight or flight” is not only to choose fight. She glories in it. I’ll be interested to see how she leads her new battalion.
What do you think? Have you gotten comfortable with the idea of a 10 year old girl leading a battalion? Do you think she’s learned she can’t trust her Salaryman past yet? Let me know in the comments, below.
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 5: My First Battalion
- Saga of Tanya the Evil Episode 6: 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 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