Saga of Tanya the Evil – The Allure of Excellence
Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious!
In Saga of Tanya the Evil episode 5, My First Battalion, Tanya Degurechaff tries to make the standards to enter her new battalion so high that no one can meet them. That plan fails. She tries to make training so brutal that even Viktoriya Ivanovna Serebryakov would want to quit. That plan fails, too. Then she leads her battalion on its first combat mission. How’s that plan go?
What’s In This Post
- Tanya is disappointed that Viktoriya shows up, because it means the mound of paperwork between her and getting the battalion up and running is less of an obstacle. Unfortunately, it gets worse: Viktoriya has requested additional help, so getting through the resumes is even easier. Not one to give up easily, Tanya devises a magical test to screen out mages, and they manage to eliminate enough to put the creation of a battalion in jeopardy. General Hans von Zettour impatiently orders her to find a way to gather more candidates. He tells her she can use extraordinarily training techniques. Viktoriya is very nervous at Tanya’s grin.
- The trainees head out into the wilderness to begin training. As they are trying to sleep, Tanya awakens them with an explosion and tells them to expect incoming live artillery fire for 36 hours. Viktoriya, expecting just such a development, is already digging her foxhole when the shells start to fall. Tanya’s plan is to brutalize the recruits until they quit. Even after 36 hours of no-stop shelling, none of them give up. So Tanya gives them their next assignment: without using magic, they have 48 hours to get to the impossibly distant next position despite all obstacles. They trudge through the night, sometimes waist deep in snow, until one of them screams in frustration. His scream caused an avalanche. One of the soldiers gets so much snow stuck in this throat that he can’t breath and appears dead. When Tanya kicks him hard enough in the back to dislodge the snow, the troops hail her powers as supernatural. The trial she had intended to break their spirits welded them even more closely together. They become the 203rd Air Mage Battalion.
- While awaiting her battalion’s orders, Erich von Rerugen orders her to meet with him. He explains that she and her troops have been ordered to the southeastern front lines. Before leaving the meeting, Erich suggests she learn Dakian, the language of the people of the Dukedom of Dakia. When they arrive in theater, Tanya can’t believe the reports: Dakia has invaded the empire, and they are transmitting their orders to their troops over an unencrypted channel. Even worse, they are broadcasting that they have no air cover. She can’t believe that the Dakian army is so inept. She and her battalion engage the 60,000 infantry troops.
- The attack can only be described as a slaughter. The Dakian army has no concept of air tactics. They fight as if they are up against ground-based troops, and they die in mass as a result. Tanya can’t believe that their leadership is so inept. They trace radio transmissions to the Dakian base, and Tanya gives them a chance to surrender. Instead, they attack, and even Viktoriya says that they’re wasting their time trying to negotiate. They kill all of the soldiers except the leader. After ransacking the place and booby-trapping at least one corpse, they press on to the Dakian capital. Locating a huge munitions factory in the middle of the city, Tanya uses her “little girl” voice to announce their attack and give the enemy a chance to evacuate — all to fulfill international convention. Then they lay waste to the factory and the surrounding buildings. Tanya describes the secondary explosions as fireworks celebrating their attack. She orders her battalion to return to their territory.
What I Liked
Tanya started out thinking like a Salaryman or a middle manager in any modern corporation. Her goal was to make the test so difficult that the “employees” gave up. While that’s what paid employees likely would have done, a soldier’s approach to life is very different. I love how her perspective changed during this episode!
The dogs had gas masks. Plus, they were dobermans, stub tails and all! Those details was delightful.
Tanya’s speech to the her “class’s” graduates reflected the first change in her perspective: as much as she hated to admit it, these mages had earned her respect by enduring her tests without breaking. She began to understand the difference between the perspective of an employee and the perspective of a soldier.
The poor Dakian troops try to regroup into lines as if they’re facing cavalry. It was pitiful, and at the same time, it was representative of what happens when military leaders don’t adapt to new tactics. It reminded me of Pickett’s Charge. One of their leaders even called out that the empire’s mages were being “unfair” when they didn’t land to engage the enemy.
The sound effects — and the animation — continue to impress me. This show is a joy to watch.
Tanya continues to show her calm under pressure. In previous episodes, she gave the aerial mages who fought against her a chance to surrender before engaging them. This time, she asks the invading Dakian army’s headquarter leadership to show their visas before she attacks. Of course, if this parallel world follows the development of ours, visas weren’t needed until after World War I. But it seemed like she at least wanted to give them a chance to surrender.
Tanya using her little girl voice was debatably the most evil thing I’ve ever seen. She technically gave her enemy a chance to evacuate the buildings, but did she really think they’d take her seriously using that voice? I suspect she did it on purpose so she and her battalion could inflict maximum casualties. I felt a little evil myself for being impressed with that tactic.
In light of what had just happened, Tanya’s chanted prayers just before the attack were seriously chilling. Even more chilling? She orders “my battalion” to head back. They’re not annoying students anymore. They’re not an impediment to her comfortable living. They are now instruments of her will. Even Viktoriya acknowledges her as a military leader now. That should absolutely terrify anyone alive in that parallel world.
What I Liked Less
Despite the cold, the trainees wore only what looked like dress uniforms. Maybe that was part of Tanya’s plan to make them give up, but I thought that was a bit excessive. In retrospect, I wonder why I thought light attire was a problem, but live shelling wasn’t? Am I as evil as Tanya? Or am I just getting used to her tactics?
I should mention that I remain uneasy that the empire, a reference to Germany prior to World War I, is the protagonist of this series.
There was no OP or ED this week! I love the music for this series, so I missed them. Of course, that means we got more drama, and that kinda rocked, so I guess I’m just nit-picking here.
It’s rare, in my experience, to see powerful character development in any work of fiction. I thought Tanya’s character progression in this episode was amazing. She started out in her usual Salaryman mode. She thought she could delay having to fight by making the job so hard that everyone would quit. That’s a standard management technique. I’ve seen it used more times than I wanted to remember: give an employee increasing annoying, difficult, or boring tasks, and they’ll eventually get the hint and leave.
What Tanya didn’t consider, and it’s reasonable for such a thought to be beyond her experience, is that soldiers do not behave like employees. Tanya make the bar to even ask to join her battalion impossibly high? That just piqued the soldier’s interest. She made the training almost impossibly hard? That cemented their resolve to demonstrate their excellence and their patriotism. A soldier who fights for their country will rise to the challenge. Tanya didn’t anticipate that.
What’s most amazing to me is Tanya’s transformation after training’s complete. Though she doesn’t admit it to herself, she’s beginning to understand the potential of her battalion after graduation. Then, in their first combat assignment, she oversees a complete, overpowering destruction of the enemy, up to and including a deep incursion into enemy territory. She and her soldiers destroy an arms factory in the very capital of their enemy, and they escape unscathed. By that time, even Viktoriya is completely invested in Tanya.
Now that Tanya’s awakened to the potential of her power in the context of this world, I wonder what’s next. She’s new to the idea of military power, but she strikes me as too cynical and seasoned to think she could strike out on her own. My guess is that she’ll see this path as a means to eventually achieve peace and a tranquil life after subjecting the empire’s enemies. But I wonder how far that’ll go. Will continental domination be enough? Or will world subjugation be the only thing that’ll suffice?
On a side note, I wonder if this could be considered more arguments that Being X isn’t a benevolent god? That being gave Tanya immense power in his name. She even has to pray to him so her crystal won’t blow up. Doesn’t seem to be a god who loves peace, that’s for sure!
What did you think of Tanya’s growth in this episode? Share your thoughts 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 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