For a show I was mixed about at the start, I have to say they’ve sold me on this story. This has gone on to be an incredible ride and this episode was definitely my favorite so far. We have action, comedy, evil, struggle for survival, and an explosive ending that teases the end of a world war! Tune in at ten for the action! (Check your local listings for channel information.)
To be serious for a moment, Tanya has come a long way since the beginning of her journey, rising through ranks and becoming an accomplished leader. Yet we also see why this show has such a dark and enticing title, especially with the horrifying decisions our protagonist decided to make last episode, sweeping away responsibility and hiding behind a very apathetic defense that wouldn’t quite hold up in the Nuremberg Trials.
In fact, this episode actually opens up with a return to our main character’s viewpoint as she looks down at the blood red stew she’s eating, trying hard to convince herself her actions are snow white in the face of its alarming metaphoric color. As Tanya attempts to find conviction, she meets an old friend, the (now) Major Uger, who shares with her a secret that immediately turns this war on its head. The Empire has found a way to win and end this world war before it gets any worse. The plan unfolds over the course of the first half of the episode: A false retreat to entice the enemy to follow until they go in too far and the Empire encircles them, trapping the main force of the Republic and destroying them. Tanya comments on the parallel to the tactics of our own historic leaders who had done similar things in the past. With the main force defeated, the Republic can no longer continue, forcing an end to the conflict and saving the Empire from having to stretch already thin supplies any longer.As part of the first stage of this plan, Tanya’s battalion must enter the front lines again to make it seem as if the Empire is attempting an advance, fighting like hell until the retreat is sounded and the trap is baited. This is where things get interesting. For the first time in this battalion’s history we start to see more than a dent in their armor. Tanya’s forces engage in an assault that ends up with over sixty percent of her units either wounded or dead. Tanya herself even gets a close call. Committed to seeing the mission to the end, she refuses the retreat offered and keeps fighting until the ground forces have gotten away. It’s very interesting to see the battle itself get to her when the vast majority of her track record has been an uncompromising iron fist against the enemy. Also, with a seemingly absent Being X this episode, something had to trip her up.
With punishing but successful phase one complete, Tanya finds herself at headquarters in an interesting meeting to begin phase two: A “shock and awe” sneak attack against the Republican headquarters in order to leave them in disarray, further confusing the enemy front line so that they keep advancing into the trap with no word from headquarters to fall back. Tanya finds herself with a smaller portion of her remaining battalion manning this almost suicide mission deep into enemy territory. But how are they going to sneak in?
A wonderful and entertaining return of everyone’s favorite Atheist-found-God mad scientist, Doctor Shugel is back with another one of those block rockin’ beats, much to Tanya’s chagrin. His plan involves the first use of rockets that we see in this universe, once again parallel to our own WWII in which Nazi German scientists were among the first in the world to successfully harness and employ the power of rocketry. With her squad prepped, the enemy none the wiser, and a good night’s sleep allotted, Tanya and company are literally strapped to rockets and take off for surely one of the most intense battles they’ve ever had, accelerating towards it like a shooting star leaping through the sky.This episode is very much a build up and given the insane start of the mission right before the credits, the next episode definitely seems like it’ll show us the deciding factor of the war. While I do think that this episode very much is intended to prelude the next, the episode as a whole was not without an intense amount of story itself and I greatly enjoyed it for what it did. Side characters like Grantz, Weiss, and Serebryakova are given more time to flesh themselves and their relationships out that we saw start to develop in the previous episode. We also see a significant amount of forward movement as far as the war has gone and major actions occur multiple times in this episode alone. On top of this, Tanya struggles in a very real situation that is nothing of her fight against Being X. Instead, she’s pushed into hard decisions and tough battles that clearly show how long and brutal this war has gone on. We even have a few more comedic and light-hearted moments amongst the sadness. For example, the anime stops to give a friendly conversation between Serebryakova and Grantz in the medical tent amongst the painful sorrows of the wounded. We also have the very humorous appearance of Doctor Shugel, the only man who can successfully trip Tanya up time and again. Also, one can never forget this show’s wonderful love for after credit stingers, and I won’t spoil this one for the love of how much it made me laugh. I commend the episode that moments like these or the recurring scenes of various military leaders don’t come off as exposition or even a dramatic change in tone, fitting right into the plot and feel of the show and never messing up the wonderful pace that’s developed over the course of the past few episodes. I’m very much looking forward to more, especially given how heightened things have gotten by the end of episode nine, here. Episode ten will almost certainly be a ride, straight from a rocket into the enemies mouth. However, given the lack of Being X in these past couple of episodes, I can’t imagine it will be in any way easy for Tanya. That omnipotent god never stays away for long, and the Republic still has one man left standing against Tanya, a possible archangel to Tanya’s “Devil of the Rhine.”