By Carlo Zen and Shinobu Shinotsuki. Released in Japan by Enterbrain. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Emily Balistrieri.
This book came out just before the anime began in Japan, and right about the time the manga started. As such, it’s the first one to be possibly influenced by both of those sources. I’ve talked before about how I don’t think Tanya’s pragmatism is usually as evil as the author wants us to believe, but sometimes he digs deep and shows us that there really is a difference in the way she (and her soldiers) think and everyone else. This book has an Ildoan Colonel observe her unit during a Federation attack, and is horrified that the soldiers not only plan to attack a town but also to bomb a church. Tanya’s cheerful explanation of how this is all perfectly fine due to the rules of war (and the fact that the Federation hasn’t signed any agreements) can be chilling as you realize how she’s not thinking of morality in a general sense at all. And then you remember that this is meant to be an anti-war series, and it all makes sense.
Tanya is all smiles on the cover, partly as she’s entertaining the observer and tries to be on her best behavior, but also has there’s a very real chance that we may be achieving peace again. Lergen spends most of the book in Ildoa, negotiating a peace with excellent terms for the Empire. And the generals (and Tanya) make sure that those terms are acceptable by absolutely trouncing the Federation, who have stronger weapons, better shields and well-trained men now but still lack aerial mages, and that’s making all the difference. Unfortunately, peace is not decided by the generals. We get another look at the ruling government of the Empire, and it’s chilling. By the end of this book, you realize that there’s no way the series can possibly end with anything but total, 100% defeat for the Empire. That’s a ways down the road, but… get used to war is what I’m saying.
The last volume was mostly talk and little fight, and this one goes in the other direction, being mostly filled with battle after battle. Our core team stays alive, and wins each battle, but there’s no mistake – things are getting harder. The enemy is starting to prepare for Tanya’s pyrotechnics, and she’s stunned when, for the first time, one of her “blow everything to hell” attacks does not blow everything to hell. Even when they do win due to clever tactics and overwhelming mage superiority, the Federation are able to make their retreat to fight another day. Even worse, they do so in an orderly fashion – discipline is winning. These are not the enemies Tanya wants to fight, as they’ll only lead to bad things for her and her fellow soldiers. That’s why she’s so happy at the end of the volume, not knowing what’s been happening with her government. I expect a big freak out from her at the start of the eighth book.
So a good, strong Tanya volume, better than the last, and reminding you again that when war is being fought, no one wins. The title’s translation, “As you sow, so shall you reap” could not be more appropriate.