Saga of Tanya the Evil – Glorious Misunderstandings
Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious!
In Deus Vult, the third episode of Saga of Tanya the Evil, we learn the consequence of Second Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff earning the Silver Wings Assault Badge. We find out the lengths to which Being X will go in the quest to be acknowledged. Hint: it has something to do with why Tanya invoking the name of God in battles from the first episode. Tanya has to endure exploding experimental magical crystals. Plus: The timeline finally passes the first episode!
What’s In This Post
- Tanya receives transfer orders to the instructor’s unit — exactly the position she wanted! Careful not to appear too eager, she accepts the transfer. She’s a little less enthusiastic — quite a bit, actually — when she learns she must test new magic crystals. Her first attempt end in an explosion.
- The latest test begins with the new four-core magical crystal. As she climbs higher, its instability forces her to radio back to the ground asking to stop the test. Of course, the scientist in charge takes umbrage at her disrespect of his invention, and they get into an argument. The instability becomes so great that she has to shut the crystal down. Then its support system explodes. Despite Tanya nearly dying, the scientist continues arguing with her after she lands. She only escapes him by checking into the infirmary. While there, she puts in for transfer to the front lines, where she feels like it’ll be safer. Based on her input, Headquarters cancels funding for the project.
That night, she goes to bed with a feeling of great satisfaction. That is, until time stops again, and the Nutcracker on her table starts talking to her. It’s Being X, and it’s not happy that she hasn’t developed even a little faith. It laments that in previous times, it even just talking to a human might elicit worship. When the Nutcracker suggests that maybe she’d respond to a blessing or a miracle, she loses her temper and slaps the Nutcracker to the floor. When she awakens the next morning, the Nutcracker is in one piece on the desk, and she thinks that maybe it was all a dream. Except for the note saying “Deus lo vult,” or God Wills It.
- She’s called to the testing field again. Even though the main project was canceled, the scientist has one more Type-95 prototype left, and he wants her to help test it. She’s afraid this experiment could destroy the whole testing grounds, but the scientist surprises her by saying he’ll stay right there. Apparently, he received divine inspiration last night, and he’s sure this experiment will work. He goes on to say that if they pray to God together, surely he’ll bless their experiment. Otherwise, the scientist is afraid they’ll both become martyrs. The test begins to go badly, and Tanya tries to engage the safety. It fails. Just as the cores are about to explode, time stops again. Being X tells her that if she prays to God every time she uses the Type-95, he’ll bless it, and she won’t be destroyed in an explosion. Being a pragmatic person, Tanya utters a quiet prayer, and she gains control over the Type-95. It doesn’t blow up, and she’s able to use it very, very effectively. At this point, the timeline catches up to the first episode.
Even during a combat mission, Viktoriya Ivanovna Serebryakov continues to not know how to interact with her commanding officer. Back at HQ, Erich von Rerugen can’t hide his distrust of Tanya, to the point where his peers begin to wonder why he’s voicing such concern about their top ace. Hans von Zettour, Army chief of staff, directly confronts him, saying they’ve already decided on her next assignment. Meanwhile, Viktoriya is shocked, and more than a little worried, when Tanya grants her a promotion to the officer track. Tanya herself was promoted to First Lieutenant and was transferred to headquarters, where she expects to live a quiet life with warm food. Back at HQ, Hans finds a folder called “Deus lo vult” on his desk. Included in it is Tanya’s picture. It seems to have something to do with a new rapid response unit — for front line combat.
What I Liked
“For use as military-grade items, keep durability in mind!” Tanya says to the scientist as the test flight begins to come apart. I’m having a lot of fun hearing the Salaryman’s “voice of experience” coming from Tanya’s small frame. The contrast is still funny after three episodes!
Tanya’s argument with the scientist had me laughing out loud several times. What topped it off perfectly was her pausing to consider that he might actually have something to contribute (to the war effort? to her long term safety?), so she tries to help him understand Murphy’s law. It didn’t work, but the attempt revealed that Tanya’s not vindictive. She was just angry that the scientist’s experiments had almost killed her at least twice. Her goal is to stay alive, and she’s perfectly willing to work with anyone to help that goal come to fruition.
Being X intended on intervening as little as possible, but now decides that approach isn’t optimal? From my perspective, that’s another disqualification for being God. From the Western perspective, God is beyond space/time, so any events within time should already be known. Nice try, Being X! Though I’m really curious to see who the series really things Being X is…
When Being X mused that it might give Tanya a blessing, her response perfectly encapsulated her attitude: “Gonna part the seas or something?” During her time as Salaryman, she built a world view based on her assessment of the world. Even now, she’s trying to remain true to herself. That’s commendable, isn’t it?
In ancient days (like, before 1990) I was a theology major in college. I felt a little disappointed in myself that I’d never heard “Deus lo vult” before. When I looked it up, I felt a lot better: it was used as the battle cry to open the First Crusades. I’ve avoided learning much about the Crusades, because for me, they were a symbol of what happens when you mix worldly power (like national governments) with religion. Put simply, lots of people die, and almost as bad, the people who do the killing generally tel themselves how great they are for doing it. And here an anime is taking on a symbol fraught with such history and blood! How cool is that?
“You set me up, Being X!” Tanya screams as the cores are about to explode. What kind of God treats his people like that? Jeesh! Again with the “worship me or I’ll smack you around until I do…” You’d think a being claiming to be God would show a little more compassion!
The sound effects in this show are fantastic. The time-stop sound, the sound of magical braking in flight, the sounds of battle — the audio folks are doing a great job.
Viktoriya couldn’t believe her good luck when Tanya prompted her. To the point where she asked if her new deployment area would become an artillery target! I have to say that I think Tanya handled that question with more grace than I expected!
It’s interesting that Viktoriya reflected that God was real when she got her assignment. Lieutenant Schwarzkopf saw Tanya off and told her that God was with them. Even the scientist believed in God now that his experiment worked. Folks who get what they want in this show seem to be willing to believe in God. Yet, Being X doesn’t seem to explicitly help them or to use force to compel them. Is that what Being X really wants — fair weather devotion?
What I Liked Less
This season’s not letting me indulge the part of my personality that likes to insult silly mistakes in plot or characters. This show has disappointed me yet again in that regard!
Though I’m still uncomfortable with the historical perspective of the country that’s portrayed as the protagonist…
Being X is a needy deity, isn’t it? Tanya’s busily living her life the best she can, and in spite of that, she’s nearly blown up multiple times. Does Being X sympathize with her? No, it complains that she still doesn’t have faith. She still doesn’t offer her devotion to it. So Being X decides it’ll up the ante. It puts her in a position where refusing to offer prayers will result in her death. We already know Being X denied her future reincarnations. Basically, the choice is pray to a conniving god, or die.
Tanya, of course, prays. But she’s not happy about it. That’s can’t be faith, can it? Can faith really be compelled? Isn’t that capitulation instead?
I think this show is pointing out some of the more unsavory implications of popular conceptions of God. The “needy deity” is certainly a common idea. How often do we hear that God demands we give thanks (often in the form of donations to a human organization) — and how often are those admonishments combined with a subtle threat about consequences if we don’t?
Would a loving God act that way?
How often do people attribute their good fortune not to their efforts, or the efforts of people who actually did the work — but to God’s providence? Doesn’t that degrade the feeling of community we should have between ourselves and others who labor to make the world a better place?
Or how often do we hear about some miraculous happening being an occasion to thank God (again, often accompanied by a donation to some human institution)? Faith healing, protection of one country against another, or some such.
Can acknowledging those things independent of a framework of compassion really be called faith?
Keep in mind that at least in Western Christian scripture, when asked how people should identify his followers, Jesus didn’t say that their distinguishing trait would be how often and publicly they say this or that prayer, or that they should perform any specific kinds of miracle. Instead, he simply said that we should love one another.
I don’t see a ton of love coming from Being X!
Being X seems to have no concept of love. Last week, I suggested that a lack of throughput (Being X’s complaint about seven billion souls being too many to process) ontologically disqualified it from being God. This week, I think the series is casting a wider net to question not only common concepts of God, but the effect those concepts have on people.
Being X = God? Nope. Quite the contrary, I think!
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 4: Campus Life
- 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