What happened in this episode was essentially a joke with the majority of the time dedicated to the setup and final few scenes being the punchline. It doesn’t necessarily mean that this was a bad episode as this show is still burning strong. However, in terms of plot progression, this was a rather slow paced episode but all things considered, it is nice to take a break from the battlefield and have Tanya playing mind games to enhance her position. That makes the beautifully cathartic moment all the more satisfying when these mind games ends up working against her. She manages to make use of her knowledge of World War I to predict how the war would develop and due to her efforts to impress her superior, she accidently suggests the formation of a mage battalion whom could turn the tide of the war. Essentially, she unknowingly recommended herself to be at the forefront of the entire world war and handle the most dangerous missions. The brilliant thing about this is that God may have set things up a little by having Zeller see her resume but, in the end, it was Tanya herself, that ultimately dug her own grave. I actually think that if Tanya appealed to take the safer positions offered to her, then Zeller would allow her to refuse as he does seem hesitant to send her out. Unfortunately, Tanya’s mind works against her and ultimately assumes that she has no choice in the matter.
It’s great that the war college isn’t used as an excuse to pad out the story or introduce a classroom full of wacky new characters. Instead it resemble more like an actual college, which I certainly appreciate. There aren’t any silly sports festivals here and instead, we have Tanya convincing a man to abandon his position in the military in order to be there for his newly born daughter. That was quite a good scene as it really did seem like Tanya was being genuinely heartfelt, only to have that psycho smile flare up as it was just a ploy to convince the man to give up his post so she would steal it for herself. Giving someone a good heart to contrast evil actions can lead to nice moral dichotomy but in the case of our salaryman here, I think she’s at her best at being a bastard. Yet, despite the audience knowing her real thoughts, she may be giving the impression of being a good person to those around her. The only one cautious of her true nature is the Vice Director of Strategy and Operation although he doesn’t know her full backstory. Otherwise, he would know that all he needs to do to keep her from taking over is to give her a safe cushy job in the rear.
Now that I think of it, I haven’t commented on the opening and ending credits of this show yet. The opening is something I appreciate for being different, but I find the song to be too robotic with its vocals. The visuals are far too obscured and the majority of the opening just throws too many scenes, which makes it too cluttered. I do like the part with Tanya shooting the Nutcracker as a way of showing her conflict with god. Actually, that Nutcracker is a rather amusing choice for the representative of God. After all, God is the one that threw him into this grim reality and generally comes in to give him a kick in the nuts now and again. One has to wonder if it’s an intentional joke. While the opening doesn’t catch me, I found myself loving the ending. The song has a certain militaristic theme which I have a certain fondness for and the chorus just sounds great to me. In terms of visuals, I can’t decide if it was resourceful or lazy to make it a slideshow of the art featured in the light novels. The amount of effort required to make this ending is minimal, and if any other light novel adaption tried to do this then it would make for a weak ending for each episode.
However, the artwork of the novels is quite frankly, outstanding. It has a level of detail and beauty that will likely make people lament the downgrade that Tanya got in character design in the anime. If there is a negative to this ending, it is that ignorance is bliss so that by pointing out how good Tanya looks in the novel, people might be resenting her animated character design. I don’t quite dislike her design as when it comes to animation and character art as I prefer my characters feeling alive over being highly decorative cardboard stills. Her design may be a downgrade but it does allow for the animation to give her a wider berth of emotional response. It’s sort of like how the anime version of Pokemon Sun and Moon handled their character redesign, which made a lot of people angry. Ultimately, it was done for better animation and in all honestly, it is a reasonable tradeoff. That said, Tanya’s female subordinate still looks bad, and if she’s going to be in this show a lot more then they need to do something with that off putting design.