Saga of Tanya the Evil – The Salaryman Reference Revealed!

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

Quick Summary

In episode 2, Prologue, we learn Tanya’s true identity. Hint: it’s not a 10 year old girl, but it is someone who decided to go head to head with the planet’s controlling deity. It also has something to do with the “salaryman” reference Tanya made in the previous episode. Tanya learns about magic in the orphanage. Our hero learns the finer points of training soldiers. Terrifying first mission is terrifying! But there’s something even more terrifying awaiting Tanya after the battle…

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

Quick Summary

In episode 2, Prologue, we learn Tanya’s true identity. Hint: it’s not a 10 year old girl, but it is someone who decided to go head to head with the planet’s controlling deity. It also has something to do with the “salaryman” reference Tanya made in the previous episode. Tanya learns about magic in the orphanage. Our hero learns the finer points of training soldiers. Terrifying first mission is terrifying! But there’s something even more terrifying awaiting Tanya after the battle…

What Happened

Watching the salaryman, suspended in time and hanging in front of an oncoming train, having a conversation with “Being X”, was surreal to say the least. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
  1. In 2013, a salaryman in Japan tries his best to stay on the fast-track to advancement. He hates that his job is to lay off other employees, but he recognizes that he needs to follow the rules. While waiting for the train, the man he most recently laid off pushes him off the platform into the path of the oncoming train. And time stops. Hanging in midair, the salaryman tries to understand what’s happening. To make things worse, the people on the platform, while staying motionless, begin to say things “I’m tired of this,” “Humans these days have no sense of right and wrong,” and “they’ve strayed too far from the laws of the universe.” The salaryman rejects the notion that God has stopped time just before his death, opting instead to suggest it’s more likely the devil. He settles for calling the entity “Being X.” Whoever the being really is, it loses patience with him, and says that his because of his lack of faith, his next reincarnation will be hist last. Further, he’ll be put into a dire situation to help him understand the meaning of faith. The next face he sees is of a Catholic sister calling him Tanya and trying to push a spoonful of food into his mouth.
  2. To be honest, I’m wondering where they found a uniform her size. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

    The orphanage is destitute. Even though he’s in the body of a baby, Tanya has all the memories of her previous life. She discovers that this world has magic and that she has an aptitude for it. Seeing it as an opportunity to improve her chances of living, she enlists in the military in the hopes of becoming an officer. Because of her magical aptitude, she’s accepted into the military, and she excels at all of her studies and becomes an instructor, where she thought she’d be safe.

  3. Erich von Rerugen is confiding his career plans to a colleague when he hears an explosion. Investigating, he finds that some of the new recruits disrespected Tanya, and she took exception to their insubordination. One of them even tries to physically attack her, but she quickly puts him on his back and the point of her bayonet at his throat. When Erich asks what she’s doing, she just says her job, adding that “It’s an officer’s duty to discipline her troops.” As the last step in her training, she flies north to perform reconnaissance classes. She expects to complete the test, get good marks, and be assigned to a comfortable training position. The empire’s enemy had different plans. In the middle of her training, the class was suspended, she was moved to active duty, promoted to second lieutenant, and sent on her first mission.
  4. Tanya had to decide between flight and fight. Based on her expression, can you guess which she chose? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

    The mission begins well enough. Her task is to guide her side’s artillery to strike the enemy infantry, and it starts off scattering the troops from the Entente Alliance. Then the Alliance’s mages attack the artillery observer — Tanya. Realizing that her enemy is the size of a company, she asks for permission to retreat. She’s ordered to delay the enemy until reinforcements arrive. Knowing she can’t retreat, her hands shaking, she closes her eyes. Then she begins to laugh uncontrollably and flings herself into battle. Her speed helps compensate for her lack of combat experience — until she settles down and remembers her training, and she is able to put her speed to real advantage. When she runs out of ammunition, she resorts first to hand-to-hand combat, then to what appears to be a suicide attack: she detonates her magic stone to beat back the enemy. She had hoped to escape with minimal injuries in a way that let her commanders know she fought well. What she wasn’t expecting was to be awarded one of the highest military honors and recognized as an ace.

  5. After she recovers from her wounds, she’s ordered to take assume a role in a propaganda campaign where she dresses up in a pretty dress, is plastered with makeup, and has to make a movie that tries to recruit new soldiers.

What I Liked

He’s hanging there in midair, experiencing an event that is clearly beyond his experience, and he suggests that the deity is unfamiliar with the idea of “duty of disclosure?” And that it has a bad business model? Even after having his reincarnation cycle revoked? I’m not sure if this man is wildly stupid, insanely brave, or both!

This has to be a high quality series if it holds Overlord in such high esteem! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Did you notice that one of the train station billboards in the background was for Overlord? I think it might have been that moment that convinced me this was going to be the second of two shows I review this season!

Interestingly, Tanya observes that the world into which she was reincarnated (for the last time?) has magic. There was no sign of magic in the world of 2013, so perhaps her original world was “our own,” and the 1923 world is the parallel world? That’s kinda cool.

Tanya betrays a bit of her philosophy when she says to herself, “Of course, war is an unproductive and therefore wicked act.” Sounds like Utilitarianism. Not sure I can fully endorse that perspective, but I’ve certainly seen worse. I like the themes this show’s developing. I think I’d like to see shows wrestle with philosophical issues more often in interesting and entertaining ways.

When Tanya receives the order to delay the enemy despite her being a single (recent) trainee against a full-sized company, her hands begin shaking and she closes her eyes. A few seconds later, she bursts out in maniacal laughter. I thought this was a great portrayal of the moment Tanya resolved her”flight or fight” response. I remember reading about character embracing the “fight” before, like Eomer in The Return of the King: “These staves he spoke, yet he laughed as he said them. For once more lust of battle was on him; and he was still unscathed, and he was young…” I’m pretty sure Tanya has him beat on the list for battle part and the “young” part!

The animation in this episode, in particular the scenes of aerial combat, look fantastic. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The animation in this episode continued to be strong. I especially liked the aerial combat scenes. They really captured the danger and urgency. Dogfights in planes are amazing enough. Dogfights between Mages are even more intense.

Tanya was trying to rationalize being awarded the Silver Wings Assault Badge by telling herself that it’s nice to have one’s work appreciated. Even as she wishes the recognition won’t be enough to send her to the front lines, she knows it will. I have to feel sorry for her! She’s trying to be just proficient enough to be be assured of a predictable military career, but not enough to be a huge asset that’s recognized as critical to the war effort. Looks like she failed in that respect!

What I Liked Less

Aside from my lingering concerns about casting the Empire (pre World War II Germany) as the protagonists, nothing negative jumped out at me this episode.

Thoughts

I think the word “understatement” was coined just for this use: it’s an understatement to say Tanya was not enthusiastic about her role in the propaganda film. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

If I may paraphrase the salaryman’s argument to Being X, “Look, we don’t need God anymore, because we’re not in crisis and we’re taking care of ourselves.” Being X doesn’t like this because it’s disrespectful to the Creator, and since the salaryman doesn’t have any faith, Being X decides to punish him by sending him to a parallel world’s version of World War I without the hope of a reincarnation.

Having a background in theology, I can understand the appeal of faith. I even understand the demands faith makes of an individual. Here, though, I’m uneasy about Being X basically saying to the salaryman, “You disrespected me, and I’m powerful enough to make you regret it. So no more reincarnations for you. Nah!”

I’m reminded of David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion,* where we can find the quote, “Is he [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? whence then is evil?”

Being X really didn’t like the salaryman’s observation that overwork was a sign of a failed business model. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Responsibility goes both ways, doesn’t it? How can Being X hold the salaryman responsible for a faith that completely contradicts his life? Shouldn’t Being X provide some kind of support/proof/indication of its existence and intent? If Being X wants people like the salaryman to acknowledge it, doesn’t it have a responsibility to reach out in a discernible way? Doesn’t it seem like an omniscient Being X is setting the salaryman up for failure? At the very least, a Being X who would show compassion (at least in a way we’d understand compassion) wouldn’t condemn someone for speaking his mind, based on his honest convictions, would it?

Or does Being X not care about honest convictions? Was the salaryman right? Is Being X really the devil?

As an aside: When Being X said that administering seven billion souls was beyond its capacity, Being X disqualified itself from being God (from the perspective of traditional Western Christian theology, at least). By definition (ontology, again, from a Western Christian perspective), God is infinite. So, the number of souls in space/time isn’t relevant. Infinite capability can process any finite number. That’s one reason I tend to think that Being X isn’t God.

What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

* I know that a lot of sources like this one attribute the quote to Epicurus. Which source is right? I’m afraid I don’t have access to the original documents to decide. But I figured throwing a contrarian attribution might be interesting!

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Post Author: tcrow