“The Battle of the Fjord”
Tanya is sent on a mission to secure a troop landing area for the Empire in a northern fjord. Defending by gun emplacements and enemy mages alike, the mission requires skill and speed to carry out successfully, but one Allied mage is determined to hold off the Empire’s advances.
As the series shifts more into the ongoing war we see Tanya’s strategic mind being put to work by the top brass again. It was good to see some actual strategy being employed in this episode compared to the steamrolling the pixie squadron unleashed in their first combat mission against Dakia. The port landing was well constructed from a realism standpoint (again, as much as possible with flying mages) and reflects the WWI era belief in static defenses as well as their weakness in the face of more advanced weapon systems.
Aside from military tactics, the episode also aims for a more personal touch by following Colonel Anson Sioux through much of it. His interaction with his daughter highlights the human element in all this as in Sioux’s mind, after all the carnage that lies ahead of him, a little girl is waiting for her father to return home. It’s a sad reminder of the cost of war beyond the economic and political agendas, especially knowing how this ends up for him.
The battle that ensues as Tanya’s batallion engages the port defense is animated well without doing anything superb, and only gets more interesting as Sioux and the Entente mages are deployed to hold them off.Seeing his subordinate die and recognizing Tanya from one of her earliest battles sends Sioux over the edge and lets us see what the submachine gun his daughter gave him can do.
While the fate of anyone who goes against Tanya is almost a given, the message in Sioux’s defeat is noteworthy. His genuine prayers do nothing to help him against Tanya’s fake prayer enhanced magic, as she goes so far as to steal his Christmas present for her own. The wicked aren’t punished in this world, and the people that show the sort of devotion that Being X demands of Tanya don’t find any salvation from her ruthlessness.
All of this begs the question as to what any of this is supposed to mean. The events that transpire feel like nothing more than that as Tanya is neither learning anything about faith nor is she being punished for her disbelief. At this point I’m not sure the series is going for any of the elements I had hoped for in earlier episodes, which is disappointing.
– Good buildup around Sioux that creates some attachment to the character, short lived as his involvement may be.
– Ultimately difficult to understand the significance of what takes place. Narrative cohesion is simply not there.
After being delayed due to a recap episode, this week delivers fresh content that has yet to be explored in this series. Previously, I’ve mentioned how much focus has been placed on Tanya. Given she is the sole protagonist and lends her name to the series title, it isn’t entirely unexpected. With that said, most other series manage to develop a supporting cast at least enough for viewers to become emotionally invested in them.
All that changed this week, with Tanya making only a partial appearance during the episode. Her screen time is replaced by Anson Sioux, a Norden mage, who was the commander of the unit that Tanya attacked during her training mission a few episodes back. First appearing briefly in episode 2, Anson became seemingly forgotten along with dozens of other characters introduced between then and now; so much so that I wasn’t immediately able to place where I had seen him.
Reflecting on his premiere episode now, I recall Anson surmised that Tanya was roughly the same age as his own daughter. At the beginning of this week’s episode, viewers are introduced to the daughter he referred to, and his wife, as Anson prepares to ship them home.
It is interesting to see the contrast between Tanya and Anson’s daughter. The war forcibly separates daughter from father, yet she maintains a mature, brave demeanor through the tragic turn of events. Neither Tanya nor Anson’s daughter welcomed the hardships heaped upon them, but they adapt to the circumstances that life has dealt.
After his family departs, Anson unwraps a gun bearing his initials, a gift from his daughter. A fellow soldier, Major Gunner, surmises that the young girl likely wishes to aid her father in the war effort by equipping him with a new firearm. While that may be so, I think it rather telling as to the mindset of the young girl. Perhaps she is slated to become the next generation soldier?
Devoting much of an episode to a relatively minor character may be a questionable decision, but brilliant nonetheless. By focusing attention on Anson, the series is highlighting the impact of war from the opposite side. Through witnessing the inner dialogue and personal moments of a commander from the Triple Entente Alliance, it is more difficult to instinctually conclude that the side opposing the Empire is evil. Similarly, as a result of developing Anson’s character, the first half of this episode is almost reminiscent of slice of life genre; detailing intimate family moments and struggling with separation. Though some may still question why so much time was taken to develop a character that is killed off at the end of the episode, I will argue it was significant in highlighting the mindset of the opposition.
– Highlighting the impact of war on the Triple Entente Alliance
– And just as quick as it arrived… Being X has (yet again) disappeared.
– If Tanya is meant to be learning something from this experience, the message is clearly not reaching her.
This post is part of our seasonal episodic review series. To view all the posts in this series, click the following link: Viewing Party