Youjo Senki – 04

Good morning, Tanya. And no…I will still not open the pod bay doors.

 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

-Proverbs 16:18 (KJV)

This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco,
this ain’t no fooling around
No time for dancing, or lovey dovey,
I ain’t got time for that now – Life During Wartime, Talking Heads

Campus Life

…life during wartime…

So while past episodes have used the bold colors of action and high melodrama to sell us on character and exposition, we have episode four dealing in, perhaps, the subtler shades of storytelling, and dare I say it, manipulation. So first, I love how Tanya just turns off the radio – It feels like it’s supposed to be giving us exposition, but I guess Tanya disagrees? That might just be the first dig of the shovel. In that cold open, mise en scene, we catch a stray word from a woman in a relaxed cafe, her man is coming home from the front for Christmas. Soldiers are touring the capital of Berun, somewhat content in a city happily at work and at cheer. Now in her thoughts, Tanya expresses how she’s felt the past six months, that she still can’t get the smell of the battlefield out of her nose. But Tanya is also happy with her studies, far away from the frontlines. The young lady and the city are one and the same, and she wants to wear it like a velvet glove.

The squeaky salute!

But can we really have that level contentment in a show literally called Little Girl War History? Well, yes we can, just not for long. Things are best when the pot gets stirred up, that is for sure, but it’s the stuff going into the pot that really makes it taste great, plus this is the time when some ingredients have to rest. So with these things in mind, I have to say that I enjoyed watching this episode as it explored some of the big ideas and and pushed the story with some small visuals. The art direction is quite lovely, and going from the desolate front lines to a Berun that seems to be ripe with war’s success, is a good change of pace – it keeps things lively and interesting. The framing of our main character as she navigated some dicey military politics featured a tight focus on her gloriously expressive face when she exhibited control (or thought she did!? those were also scenes of her internal monologues) and medium shots when that control was less in her sphere – with the lead into that discussion with General Zettour underscored by that cute moe sound was a disarming way to foreshadow her getting out of her depth despite her smug expression and attitude. And of course there were the chairs, plenty of chairs just screaming about the larger world she wasn’t fitting into, despite her internal monologue.

Big Chair, Little Chair

You wouldn’t let your daughter me die, would you?

But for my money, the middle scene was worth it’s weight in precious ore. “With your talent, you could have done anything”. That’s the sound of an exasperated man.  Now, I’ve peeked a bit into the source material (something I don’t normally do while a show is ongoing) and found out that child soldiers are not exactly uncommon in this world. So Captain Uger’s reaction is on point when that is concerned; it really is insane to do so, it’s trading away the future. But his reaction is also in line with accepting it as a reality he is powerless to stop. But Tanya does put it firmly in mind that it might be something he can ameliorate, especially with her in mind. Tanya has been using that signal she mentioned, and more than a little lurid proto-fascist theory; semi-fashionable and regrettable! But it’s only the surface she’s exploring and exploiting, and if she can get the Captain to pull strings for her, than strings can be pulled on her. So yeah we got….

High and Mighty?! It’s just like the squeaky salute

So what probably started as an exploratory meeting to suss out Tanya’s core attitude by Zettour ballooned into a full plan he’s willing or maybe even waiting to implement, one that will reorganize an army that is winning battles with him in the lead. I fully expect he might even leave Tanya to be the one holding the bag, if there is a bag to be held. The beginning of the episode introduced us to the concept of culpability and responsibility in the ranks. With Tanya as the leader of this new roving force, it means failure is completely on her head, and Zettour can keep that failure off his record. But if the calculated risk pays off? Well that’s a success in his bank, no matter how much his reorganization shakes things up. Which is going to lead to an odder balloon if our supporting and spoiling character of von Rerugen keeps up his dedicated, if somewhat scattered for now, investigation. But for now Tanya is in deep…

Wonder when she’ll stop digging…


Keep your eyes open…

All the world’s a stage…

Ya know? I usually thought of T. as a pretty smart individual. Most people able to maneuver their way in the business world are. However, I think that T./Tanya’s intelligence lie in two different fields. One that knows the practicals that is actually very keen, and yet another one that is in the more open, creative thought process,  that is in fact quite dull.  It’s like a person who can see numbers for days, knows every rule by heart, knows every maneuver that you war supposed to do in any particular situation, and yet, when they would never see a very obvious solution right in front of them because it’s not expected nor is it, “by the rules”. What was that line, Spock? Ah yes…methinks her pattern seems to indicate “two-dimensional thinking”. And that is no more obvious than in this episode.


Are you sure you don’t want anything else? You seem to be rather full of yourself as it is.

Firstly, we come to Tanya and her rifle. At first I thought it was like the unfortunate captain who met her thought, that Tanya was scarred by the front lines and therefore cannot be without it. However, getting her inner thoughts, it seems that she has it with her, in the occasion that she’s…going to get a chance…to use it…on “Being X”? Really? Tanya, I know your mind is completely consumed with the physical and often scoffs at anything beyond that, but come on! Do you really think that a being with obviously no corporeal form that you have at least seen yet, who you know can control time and space, has powers over the soul, and may or may not have power over life and death—can be hurt and/or killed, by a not-WWI era rifle?! 0_o

Whatever, helps ya sleep at night, doll…

Let’s set the stage.

But then again, Tanya’s naivety doesn’t really end there. Tanya, honey, when a top tier general comes to you and begins to ask you your opinions, ask you for your thoughts on a particular situation and how your would address said situation, and what kind of a plan you yourself would recommend and then asks you to put it in writing–he’s interviewing you! I know that Japan business practice and interviews are a bit different from that of the West, but you’ve been living here for years! And this was so obvious that even a blind person could see it! You wanted to get ahead? Well, you’ll get to do it in ways you never dreamed of. But…you might have had nightmares, though. Of course this was what was going to happen after showing off the way she did. Leaders only do two things with a person who shows such promise as she did. Either they become jealous of them and try to sabotage them, or they utilize them!

….and your mouth closed!

Anything you can do…

Tanya may think of herself as a master manipulator, but I think she just got schooled. Zettour is an interesting figure. The “kitsune-eyes” is a very common tool that anime has used to imply a crafty, wily, very intelligent individual. And I can assure you, that our general in charge of strategy is all of those things. Because, well, strategy is just manipulation after all…

It’s also interesting seeing T.’s Japanese mindset coming out here and there as he operates in this land that is obviously not-Germany. Tanya’s first answer to Zettour about what to do about the possibility of a world war is one that is all about protection and defense–things that define the modern Japanese military ideal. However, not-Germany (especially one of this time period) don’t quite have those same values. A much more aggressive mindset is in place here, and Tanya realizes quickly that she screwed up, and backpedals violently, pushing forward a plan where the glorious Empire can actually win rather than simply self-defend. Her plan is actually a good one, though, interestingly enough, it’s really one that Zettour has already thought of months ago as we saw last episode, and Tanya thankfully supplied the details.

…I can do better.

I find it hilarious how Tanya completely and unknowingly plays right into Zettour’s hands without even realizing it. Especially when we get a later scene of Tanya manipulating a well-meaning captain only a few scenes later. T. was good at what he did, but as they always say–there is always someone better. And Zettour is definitely better, and it’s so effortless that I really don’t even think he even knew he was doing it!

You sure you don’t want anything else? 

What was that about the “mentally defenseless”? Chickadee, those just don’t include the nice guys who are trying to help,Tanya. It includes those who are too full of themselves too. In an effort to put her best foot forward, and full of her own pride at her own intelligence, our little loli failed to see what was, actually really obvious to all of us in the audience. If someone begins to ask you to present a plan and what you would do in said situation, you better realize that they are in serious consideration territory here. In an interview, a person can usually tell the turning point in which it goes from passing interest to serious consideration. When he asked you what your plan was, you should have begun to suspect. When he asked how many soldiers you would need, you should have went to yellow alert. By the time he got to you writing a formal proposal? In the words of Captain Kirk, “Go to Red Alert!”

I think that might be a spot of indigestion you’re feeling right about now.

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Smug Witches (Pantsu Warning)

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Oh goodness this is going to set the stage for some lovely chaos! Tanya is never going to be content with an ordinary shovel, and she’s chasing the gold one just to spite herself, it seems. At some point she’s going to have to give in, and be real. The answers she thinks people want to hear aren’t doing her plan any bit of good, and they have the capacity to come back and haunt her sooner rather than later. But for now, the humanizing element of Viktoryia is coming back into the picture…

Tanya has nobody to blame but herself this time. “Being X” might have brought her to Zettour’s attention, but putting her own foot in her mouth? She did that on her own. So now that she is stuck in one of the most dangerous jobs there is, being the most senior officer on her team. Some of those same things that she rattled off in class, might just come back to haunt her. Who will we see on this team? Will we get a chance to know them, or will they be just fodder? We know Viktorya will be a part of it, so it will be interesting from that point of view.

Also, looking at how many applications she got, perhaps mages aren’t as rare and elite as Tanya was led to believe? I wouldn’t be surprised. Also, it’s interesting that they would all be interested in such a low paying dangerous job. Could it be that mages here would face a similar stigma that they would have in our own world? Sure they are useful to the military, but that doesn’t mean they are fully accepted. Wartime has a habit of quieting certain prejudices, while exemplifying others. Perhaps mages can’t find work as easily as Tanya, a decorated soldier through unusual circumstances, thinks….

But we’ll have to see, I’m just speculating here. We’ll have to wait to see more of the story unfold.

Another (sorta) squeaky salute…


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21 Responses to “Youjo Senki – 04”

  1. ProtoSovereign says:

    Zettour has the eyes of a sneaky, conniving bastard XD. I knew he would do something crafty sooner or later.

    • skylion says:

      My early bet is that both he and Rerugen are going to drive a great deal of the plot going forward; the older crafty general may outsmart himself and Tany and Rerugen become uneasy allies against him? I don’t know that for certain, but it sounds like a good dramatic cut…

    • BlackBriar says:

      Let’s be honest here. Which organization, no matter who’s funding it, isn’t loaded with these slimy, underhanded distasteful types?

    • Irenesharda says:

      It’s the fox-eyes…they are a dead give away. 😛

    • Smiley says:

      Interestingly, there was no indication of Zettour being sneaky or conniving in the LN. A lot more focus was placed on Tanya introducing the concept of a world war, because it’s something unprecedented in their world. And in the face of something so absurd, Zettour took Tanya’s words to heart. He actually thought he did her a favor by pushing her up through the ranks to take charge of the very quick reaction force she proposed. The whole thing was basically one big misunderstanding that Tanya herself caused because of her enthusiasm in having the opportunity to curry favor with a top-ranking general, which Zettour interpreted as an enthusiasm to serve her country. And who better to lead an experimental unit that might save the Empire than the person who conceived the idea, especially if she has proven herself on the battlefield and additionally appeared so enthusiastic when explaining it to him?

      Moreover, in the LN Rerugen is set up as the one Tanya has to look out for, as he’s constantly trying to expose her questionable thoughts and actions. Though at the moment the top brass are more interested in Tanya’s amazing achievements than in the guy in the corner claiming she’s a madman.

      • skylion says:

        Looks like the LN and show are in different laundries in some respects, so since both are ongoing, let’s wait for the wash cycle to complete…Having said that, I like the tack they are taking here. Given that most shows are on the short term, I’d rather have a cour that can give me some tension in that term, rather than refer me to the source material. So they’ve probably combined, contracted, or folded in some characterizations and storylines to suit the one cour.

  2. BlackBriar says:

    If I had to put an example, I’d say Tanya’s plans this episode went like what happens in this video.

  3. BlackBriar says:

    Well, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone dig their own grave so spectacularly. Surely I couldn’t have been the only one thinking “Keep your big trap shut! It’ll be your undoing!!” during Tanya’s conversation with Zettour. The funniest part is she’s such a victim of her own temporary success she couldn’t predict the irony of being the poster child for her own ambitious suggestion.

    Way to shoot yourself in the foot, Tanya.

  4. Irenesharda says:

    I just realized in looking at the map. I’m so sorry to our Belgian, Dane, and Dutch fans, it looks like either not-Germany has already absorbed not-Belgium, not-Denmark, and not-Netherlands into it’s empire, or the people never survived long enough to have their own alternate contries, which is really a shame…

    Sigh, no Belgian waffles…:(

    • skylion says:

      Well those waffles were first introduced at the Belgian Expo of 1958, so there still might be time? Anyway…the yeasting process and the addition of egg whites in the batter have long been part of the waffling tradition in those parts of Europe, usually using a more shallow iron. It was the Expo that really introduced an iron that could make the deep “pockets” – the most visible part of the waffle – cook evenly with a mix of both chewy and crisp…caramelized sugar is an option for some, and a cause for war for others in the waffling trade, so yeah, they probably have something close in Tanya’s world…

    • Irenesharda says:

      Oh, I forgot. No, not-Luxembourg either. Sorry, Luxembourgers, not-Germany got you too.

      (I’m kind of embaressed that I actually confused it for not-Switzerland. 😛 )

  5. Highway says:

    I don’t think anyone’s behavior in this is nearly as “sneaky”, “underhanded”, “conniving” or anything close to as sketchy as the rest of you guys are thinking. You get into the top ranks of an army that’s at war? You’re probably good at *getting people to do things*. Having command ability is not, by definition, sneaky. It’s persuasive, and it’s getting the most out of your army. Zettour was sincerely asking for ways to win the war. And Tanya was persuasive, because she’s smart and she doesn’t want to throw out a garbage idea. And a lot of the time, you want the person who came up with an idea to lead it, because they’re the one who understands it, including the parts they *didn’t* put in their report.

    I didn’t get the feeling through any of this episode that any human was acting in a way that was personally malicious towards Tanya. It was just the business of armies and war. And let’s not forget that Tanya is trying to skive off! She’s trying to get the cushiest assignment possible, with the least risk of personal harm. Even Rerugen is not trying to hurt Tanya. He’s trying to *keep her from hurting the rest of the army*.

    • skylion says:

      Well, few of us are actually in an army at war, now are we? So I’m just gonna Ben Kenobi this truth…

      • Highway says:

        While I’m sure you know it, I think it’s a good lesson for everyone to learn Hanlon’s Razor:

        Don’t assume bad intentions over neglect and misunderstanding.

        Zettour is going to assume that if Tanya speaks so clearly about this, she is the best person for the job. And it’s easy for him to just say “Ok, you do it.” The misunderstanding, from what we are seeing, is that Tanya in reality wants no part of a front-line assignment. But you *cannot* say that in the army. Nobody smart wants a front-line assignment. But the people above them don’t want one either. So you find the person to send out there.

        • skylion says:

          Methinks you are trying to reupholster the couch of “sneaky”, “underhanded”, “conniving”. I mean, it’s the same stuff no matter where right? But, let me pick on this one a tad, Hanlon’s assume neglect or misunderstanding as a way to counter the assumption of bad intent. So how do you test any of those assumptions in this episode.

          For me, as I pointed out with one scene following the next, and with the world constantly showing that Tanya was quite small in it, I’m sensing at least a tiny thread of bad intent.

          • Highway says:

            I will allow that there is bad intent in the show, but it is not on the part of the other humans. “Sneaky”, “underhanded”, and “conniving” all, at least in my book, convey malice. And even if malice covered ‘unfair’, which I don’t believe it does, a general ordering one of his reports to do something within their job description is not unfair. It may not be what that person wants to do, but that doesn’t really enter into it.

            The fact that the world did not align with Tanya’s assumptions does not mean that anyone is out to get her, just that her assumptions were wrong.

            ETA: And I’ll add that I don’t think that Tanya feels that the other humans are treating her maliciously. Just that it’s not the outcome she wants.

    • Smiley says:

      Your interpretation is precisely how things are presented in the LN. And I agree with the assessment that Zettour wasn’t being underhanded. Rather, he was just being good at his job.

  6. skylion says:

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