Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious!
In The Path to Victory, the tenth episode of Saga of Tanya the Evil, Tanya Degurechaff’s battalion begins their attack deep behind enemy lines. Can they strike before the Republican army discovers them? Meanwhile, Hans von Zettour stalls the ministers and business officials who are furious about the Rhine theater retreat. If the operation fails, he’s out of a job — and that’d only be the start of his misfortunes. As the strategy unfolds, Tanya’s battalion is ordered to provide air support, and they run into an “old friend”: Colonel Anson Sioux. He seems angry.
What’s In This Post
- The Allied Kingdom sends a ship full of mages to support the Republican army. The most extreme and dedicated mage onboard? Colonel Anson Sioux. He has an eye patch, and he is enchanting individual bullets. His eye glows yellow with divine power.
- Tanya reunites with her company, including Viktoriya Ivanovna Serebryakov, after having parachuted out of her rocket. The two other squads also reformed, and all three confirmed that the missile warheads had struck their targets. Having just ten minutes to strike their retrieve any intelligence they can from the targets before having to destroy them, the three squads attack. Tanya’s squad comes up empty, having been assigned an abandoned base. But the other two squads destroy the Republican main communications base and their main theater munitions store. After destroying the targets, they retreat to a waiting submarine.
- As Tanya and her squads were reforming, Hans von Zettour was enduring a grilling from various government minsters and noblemen. He has to apologize for worrying the emperor over how deeply they had retreated. As he dealt with the increasingly hostile crowd, Tanya’s battalion reported in with the code phrase for success. Jubilant yet professional, Hans von Zettour briefed the audience on the next phase of the operation.
- The civilians had been complaining about the army’s retreat, but that retreat was a feint. The enemy advanced to follow the Empire’s troops, but they didn’t know that the Empire had prepared tons of explosives in the tunnels beneath the trenches. When the order came to detonate, one of the Republican flanks died in an instant. The Republican mages, unable to reach the command center that Tanya’s company had destroyed, headed back to see what happened. The Republican troops were thrown into disarray. Imperial armored and mechanized units surged through the new gap in the line.
- Tanya and her battalion, while on the submarine, receive word that the operation to destroy the enemy’s flank was successful. They’re elated; they know that this operation bring the war one step closer to a conclusion favorable to the empire. They’re ordered to deploy to support the ground troops. As they deploy, the imperial troops inflict significant casualties and damage on the enemy, including their airborne mages. The empire’s troops even use flame throwers. As they approach the coast in flying formation, Tanya prepares her troops for what she hopes will be the final push before they can return home. She thinks to herself that she just needs to get beyond this battle before she can resume her pursuit of a quiet and comfortable life. They receive word of an approaching and unidentified body of mages. As they prepare to engage, Second Lieutenant Warren Grantz is hit from above and falls, apparently dead, from the sky. Tanya turns to see Sioux above them. He unemotionally declares one enemy down.
What I Liked
I loved watching the tactics that Tanya and her troops used to infiltrate and destroy their targets. Never having been in the military, I have no idea if what they did would have worked, but as a viewer, it sure looked realistic to me.
Hans von Zettour spoke like a true general used to dealing with civilians. He on one hand tried to praise them for their patience and apologize for upsetting the emperor, and on the other hand, he suppressed his urge to taunt them as short-sighted cowards. I also thought it was realistic how the fears and increasing belligerence of the civilians kept feeding off itself. At no point did any of them ask plainly why the general was so calm or confident. Instead, they focused on the negative and came close to turning into a mob. All the while, the general waited for news of the operation.
The animation in tis episode was against fantastic. The explosion that destroyed one of the enemy’s flanks was particularly effective.
As they discussed the next stages of the operation, the banter between the senior generals felt realistic. Again, I’ve never been in the military, but the scene worked for me.
I am not saying I approve of using flame throwers in battle. I am saying that the sight of imperial troops, wearing gas masks and wielding flame throwers, was a terrifying sight. Very effective from a dramatic point of view.
The show again used the scene after the credits to show us a bit of humor that would otherwise have detracted from the drama. The scene takes place one the submarine. Tanya’s troops are sleeping, and Grantz is awakened by a loud noise — which turns out to be Viktoriya falling out of bed. Apparently, she has vivid dreams, and she almost unleashed a spell to blow up the submarine. When he tries to put her back in her bunk, she slugs him and reports (still asleep) that her mission was successful.
What I Liked Less
Where are the Empire’s other mage battalions? Tanya rejected a whole lot of them before she settled on the troops under her command. So why aren’t others even mentioned? Why weren’t they operating in the Rhine theater? As detailed and precise as this show can be, I think this is a bit of an oversight.
This was a preparation episode. While indulging in sound military strategy and tactics, this episode also set the board for the final military conflict between Tanya and her battalion one one side, and Sioux with the Allied Kingdom’s mages on the other. Seeing Sioux prepare for the mission made me reflect yet again: who’s really the evil one in this series?
Tanya’s goal in this episode is to get through the next battle and get to a position of safety. Along with her troops, too! That’s not evil. That’s completely normal! There’re few soldiers who don’t have the same goal.
She’s serving an empire that’s being aggressive against its neighbors, but its neighbors are aggressive against it. International politics cloud issues of good and evil, in part because the time scale of cause and effect makes it hard to see when a nation’s reactions are justified and when they are not. But regardless of the empire’s motivations, unless Tanya consciously makes decisions to kill when the rules of engagement don’t permit it, Tanya can’t be held responsible for the empire’s motivations. Generally speaking, of course. Remember: she initially spared Sioux; she didn’t kill civilians even when she had orders that permitted it.
Compare that to Sioux. He loves his family; he wants to protect his people. Both of those things are laudable. But remember when he faced Tanya? She was about to let him go because the operation had concluded. Unable to accept defeat, he charged her, so she reacted. And he fell, almost dead, from the sky.
What’re his motivations now? At the beginning of the episode, an Allied Kingdom mage said Sioux was so focused on preparing to kill Tanya that he hasn’t contacted his family. I’m sure they’d be elated to know he wasn’t dead. So why’s he inflicting additional emotional distress on his family? Because he wants revenge. He lost a battle and he’s angry about it. I have to wonder if being so soundly defeated by a little girl is part of his motivation. But even if revenge alone drives him, can we call that moral? Is revenge a pious pursuit?
I’m not aware of any major organized religion that would classify revenge as morally good.
So I’m left with the question: who’s really evil here?
What do you think? Am I missing something? Is Tanya really evil? If so, how? 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: 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 9: Preparations for Advance
- Saga of Tanya the Evil Episode 11: Resistance
- Saga of Tanya the Evil Episode 12: How to Use a Victory