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Saga of Tanya the Evil Episode 3 – Glorious Misunderstandings

Quick Summary of Saga of Tanya the Evil Episode 3

In Saga of Tanya the Evil episode 3, “Deus Vult,” 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!

Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious!

What’s In This Post

Quick Episode Summary
What Happened in this Episode
What I Liked in this Episode
What I Liked Not so Much in this Episode
Thoughts about the Episode
Related Posts

What Happened in Saga of Tanya the Evil Episode 3

Tanya Becomes a Teacher

Tanya receives the orders she’d hoped for — well, that’s how it seemed, anyway. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

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.

It would be an understatement to say that Tanya wasn’t impressed with Being X’s offer of a blessing. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The Great and Holy Nutcracker

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.

Tanya Developers Trust Issues

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.

Tanya accuses Being X — correctly! — of cheating! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

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 about Saga of Tanya the Evil Episode 3

Myth & Roid Rock

The opening theme is fantastic. Myth & Roid’s Jingo Jungle is really catchy and has an edge that’s perfect for this show.

The scientist in charge of the Type-95 experiments did not approve of Tanya’s advice. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

“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 Changes Its Mind: So Much for Infallible

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?

Tanya reads the note, “Deus lo vult.” Sometimes, knowing history is a real drag… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

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?

Being X: Love Me or I Beat You!

“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.

When she heard the news of her transfer, Viktoriya had to ask if her deployment area would be blown up. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

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 about Saga of Tanya the Evil Episode 3

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…

Thoughts about Saga of Tanya the Evil Episode 3

Saga of Tanya the Evil is a Theological Gold Mine

Can acts committed under duress really be considered acts of faith? Tanya doesn’t seem to think so! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

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?

Popular Misconceptions of God are Misconceptions

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?

Can a self-satisfied yet callous response really be attributable to an honest faith? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

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?

Magic core about to detonate? Yeah, not seeing a lot of Being X-love there! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Shut Up and Believe?

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!

What do you think? Am I reading too much into this? Or is the Saga of Tanya the Evil and its Salaryman aiming to be the next Everyman? Let me know in the comments below!

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6 thoughts on “Saga of Tanya the Evil Episode 3 – Glorious Misunderstandings

  1. I agree with you about the writer here, from this series I get the same impression about his approach towards an idea of this sort of limited god.

    ‘ Do they really profess to believe in an Almighty God — who gets offended at questions? That doesn’t sound “almighty” to me.’

    Yeah, that’s just what I thought. Part of my family are sort-of Christians — lapsed Catholics, which is not unusual to find here in the States, and from what I’ve heard they got the same treatment. These days I go along for the sake of convenience and family harmony and all that stuff, but those questions still stick in my mind, since they apparently don’t have any clear answers to them (though I’m sure there’s a lot of philosophy out there, attempts at answering them that I haven’t seen.)

    ‘Though, I will say that the Salaryman mind in Tania’s body sets up a lot of interesting conflicts as she conducts herself with far more poise and wisdom than a child should have!’

    To be fair, yeah, I can see this. My feeling about the series is that it would have been just as good if not better if Tanya had simply been an extremely talented kid growing up in an orphanage who gets knocked around a lot (as we see happen to her anyway) and becomes hardened and ruthless at a young age. But then it might still be too unrealistic to expect someone Tanya’s age to have the kind of practical skills she does even if she were a genius without the benefit of experience.

    1. I was luck in college to have some great Dominican teachers. Not a single one of them ever told me to shut up and accept what they were teaching. Instead, they encouraged me to ask the hard questions, and as a class, we’d wrestle with them.

      Of course, when I got out of college and tried to apply reason and faith, I quickly discovered something: Human power structures and faith do not mix. Ever. Not even once in human history. As soon as you mix faith/religion and power, you’re done. They’re antithetical.

      As proof, just look at the USA today. Not the newspaper; I mean today, look at the USA.

      Though when it comes to theology, I’m stuck on the Trilemma:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trilemma

      Of course, we’re at the limits of human language as we try to talk about stuff like this. But I think we all have a responsibility to try.

  2. This sort of finite God (if that’s what Being X really is anyway) is one I’ve seen before in anime and games. In the religion I was raised in, Islam, we were taught the same about God in general at least as far as the all-powerful, all-good, all-knowing aspects went. So it still feels weird to me when, for example, a being claiming or claimed to be God says it can’t possibly be expected to process seven billion souls — at that point, I’d be right there with Tanya in doubting its claims to godhood. Supposedly this guy created the universe and is responsible for not just every soul on Earth but on every other planet with life? Guess not.

    There might be a cultural difference here — if you’re not raised in a society that tells you God or the gods are infinitely powerful and knowledgeable, maybe it’s easier to accept that sort of a finite supernatural being with power over humans. Though the all-powerful, all-good, all-knowing aspects of God we learned about also create some weird logical inconsistencies (at least as far as I can tell — every time I brought any doubts about that up as a kid I was basically told to shut up and believe harder, so ???) so maybe this perspective is actually more consistent.

    Hell, I don’t know. I really like this series, anyway. The Being X part of it is interesting, though I still feel like the isekai aspect of it wasn’t all that necessary.

    1. One of the things I found hilarious about Being X is that on one hand, it complained that it was overworked. And on the other hand, it demanded unquestioning faith.

      Why would a being who just admitted to limitations deserve unquestioning faith?

      But the show, I think, intentionally presented the question. I mentioned in my response to Dawnstorm’s comment that I had an incredible amount of fun playing with the ideas in this show. I got the sense, though I can’t prove, that the writer had a similar amount of fun.

      “every time I brought any doubts about that up as a kid I was basically told to shut up and believe harder, so ???”

      I mean no disrespect to those who gave you that answer, but their answer if profoundly disrespectful. Do they really profess to believe in an Almighty God — who gets offended at questions?

      That doesn’t sound “almighty” to me.

      You asked human questions. Those questions deserve either answers. If there are no answers, then you deserve support and encouragement as you search for those answers.

      “though I still feel like the isekai aspect of it wasn’t all that necessary.”

      I was going to answer that I thought it was integral, but as I tried to come up with supporting evidence, I realized that the show could have started at a moment of death within this world, with Being X saving Tania’s life and allowing her to resume her activities.

      Though, I will say that the Salaryman mind in Tania’s body sets up a lot of interesting conflicts as she conducts herself with far more poise and wisdom than a child should have!

  3. Being X = God? Nope. Quite the contrary, I think!

    So what exactly is the question you’re asking here? You’re asking question from a position of what you think God’s supposed to be like, but in-universe that might be misleading if the story doesn’t have the same assumptions to begin with. There are two aspects to the question: In-story, is Being X the God Tanya doesn’t believe in? We had a rather similar constellation recently in Platinum End, with that final nobel prize winner whose name escapes me. There’s a game on the PS3, the Ultimate Fate Paradox, where a highschooler is chosen by the Fate Revolution Circuit to be God (you’re playing God from then on), and is served by a rather suspicious bunch of angels (and you’re afraid to ask what happened to the last God, and why the position is vacant). Most Christian religion in Japan is, I think, Catholic? We’re used to the concept dominating, but Christianity in Japan (usually? often?) shares a headspace with Shinto and Buddhism. So even if, to one extent or another, Being X is God (the Christian one), it’s a concept that’s going to be further integrated into a wider reality. Any God appearing in anime is unlikely to be as absolute as it would be to any believers whose worldview is dominated by God (the three omnis, the loving-father metaphor, etc.).

    And that leads to the second aspect of your question: Is the in-story conception of what God should be (whether Being X be Him or not) compatible with the conception you’re having of God to begin with? What are the differences?

    The first aspect that suggests we’re not quite in a Christian context alone is re-incanation. Is there are Christian tradition that deals with reincarnation? I’m not aware of any, really (but there are many denominations I know nothing about). The one’s I know seem to have a single life/afterlife sequence. What if we’re talking rival traditions? What if Being X is trying to syphon souls into his afterlife, away from the wheel of reincarnation, and he can’t do that anymore if Tanya’s soul enters Nirvana? That would change His words drive, wouldn’t it? (Note that I really don’t think that’s in any way the case; it’s just something to consider, to give the question more… “shape”? It’s much more likely that this is typical anime religous pick’n’mix for the sake of story.)

    There’s also the perpendicular question: how much does it matter whether Being X is God? What, in terms of you enjoying or interpreting the show, would change between a yes and a no answer? For me, personally, it’s a non-question and only relevant as far as concerns the dynamic between Tanya and Being X (whom we name from Tanya’s point of view – this is already a bias). The conflict is that Being X wants to be worshipped and Tanya doesn’t want to worship Being X. The name’s secondary, with proper naming being more a symbolic victory condition of some sort. Do you import a line that says “If Being X is God, then Tanya should worship Being X?” And this clashes with an assumption that “An unloving God does not deserve worship?” (Are humans now judging the divine? Do we “know our place”?)

    I’m a little uneasy talking about these things. As an atheist, I can talk pretty lightly about what to others may be grave issues. It’s really hard for me to judge when I go to far. For me whether Being X is God is simply a question of plot and worldbuilding, and has no reverberations outside of that.

    1. Yes, I’m viewing the whole Being X thing through the lens of my education. There are three reasons for that. First, I am not an expert in anything that I would label, perhaps over-broadly, as “eastern.” I did have to research Metanoetics for the novel I’m writing, because one of the main characters is from Japan, and her family buys into Metanoetics. But that effort convinced me: I cannot learn enough of that topic to speak with authority. So I won’t pretend.

      Second, in most of my reviews here, I focus on the one thing that my readers an only get here: My perspective. There better reviewers out there. I know because I read them every week. So I focus on providing how I see the concepts, characters, themes, etc. I discuss what I liked about the show.

      I never talk about what’s good and bad. Frankly, the older I get, the less I believe that there is an objective state of “good” or “bad” when it comes to art. It’s subjective, by its nature. So, I present my subjective reaction to a subjective art form.

      Finally, do you know how often I get to play with theology? As in, just have fun with it? Modern society’s most extensive use of theology is to use it to justify harming other humans. I spend most of my day convincing myself not to go on a rampage against those people. This show gave me theological concepts that I could bat about like a cat playing with yarn. I had an absolute blast with it.

      Yes, it was subjective. No, it was not taking into account the writer’s perspective. And yes, that was intentional.

      What does it matter if Being X was god? I’m old, I’m tired, and I’m serious all the freaking time. It mattered because for the first time in decades, I got to intellectually play.

      And it reminded me how much I miss that.

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