Rating: 3.5 (of 5)
Saturday June 19th, 2021 was a big day in the U.S. for fans of the Saga of Tanya the Evil franchise. News broke that a second season of the series had been greenlit, with principal cast and staff from the first series returning. As icing on the cake, a completely-unexpected “interstitial episode” also suddenly appeared in streaming form on Crunchyroll. With no opener and a runtime of only 17 minutes, this special is not even a full episode, but it is still the first Tanya animation to come along since the movie in early 2019. As perhaps the most light-hearted (comparatively-speaking) entry in the franchise to date, it is a recommended view for any franchise fan.
This episode takes place in September 1925, which places it after the end of the TV series and a few months before the movie. It involves Tanya and her 203rd Mage Batallion getting fed up with the ill-thought-out decision by Rerugen to send a load of pasta to a desert camp where water is in limited supply to begin with. Even once they secure enough water to cook the pasta, it’s too bland on its own. Hence Tanya decides to run with an off-the-cuff suggestion by Viktoriya and begins raiding enemy encampments for ingredients for pasta sauce, all under the guise of “force recon.” Despite Tanya naming the effort Operation Desert Pasta, the Republic leadership mistakes it as a clever plan to disrupt relation between the allied parties opposing the Empire.
Yeah, the whole thing is pretty silly and ironic in concept, but this degree of opportunism also exactly fits with Tanya’s approach to things in other venues in the series (especially the movie). So does the irony at the end that the top brass continues to misunderstand about sending pasta to the troops in the desert. Hence in story and humor senses this is a perfectly enjoyable addition to the franchise. It also brings up General Rommel (Romel in the episode) for the first time in the animated side of the franchise. On the downside, the artist effort seems off, especially in the first few minutes of the episode. While the TV series had its occasional rough spots on visuals, it at least mostly stayed on model, but that cannot be said at all for this episode. Action scenes are also more limited on animation and less flashy in general. If this was also animated by studio NUT then it looks like a rush job. The artistry does settle down some by the end, but this is not one of the better-looking entries in the franchise.
Still, don’t let that bother you too much and you should have fun with the episode.