One of the most notable new anime that aired in Winter Season 2017 was Youjo Senki or Saga of Tanya the Evil. Why? Mostly because the titular character Tanya is a loli in a uniform. And the internet loves to go crazy about loli's in uniform.
But is the anime actually any good? Let's find out.
V Reviews - Saga of Tanya the Evil
Youjo Senki is a series of light novels written by "Carlo Zen" (no, not that one, since this is obviously a pen name), with illustrations by Shinobu Shinotsuki. Not that much is known about either person. As far as the info I can find, this is the first series Shinobu has illustrated for. And in "Comrade" Carlo's case, he's worked on a few other titles as well.
Carlo has also written the novel series "Yakusoku no Kuni", which ended earlier this year with its fourth volume. He also released a few stand-alone novels (like Gunner Wars) and even helped write scenario's for a few (Japanese) mobile games.
The title of the current story literally translates to "military chronicles of a little girl", but the official English Title has thus been changed to "Saga of Tanya the Evil". And while it sure is more catchy (read: clickbait), it's not 100% true. Because no matter how "evil" the animation studio tries to depict her in the first episode, most episodes her level of "being evil" boils down to being a drill sergeant, or enjoying the destruction of enemies.
The novel series has been novelized since 2013 and already seen 7 novel volumes as of writing, as well as a spin-off manga (since 2016). And in 2017, the newly formed Studio NUT took it upon them to release an anime adaptation of the Light Novel.
You can follow Carlo Zen on twitter at @sonzaix (which translates to: "Being X")
You can follow Shinobu's Pixiv account via: https://www.pixiv.net/member.php?id=77203
The start of the story is actually Episode 2, with the first episode being more of an introduction to the characters and the "battlefield" that is the story.
The story thus starts (in ep2) with a Japanese salaryman (whose name is unknown) who has a certain sub-management level and is "responsible" for firing other employees. Through this process he's become quite cold-hearted and sometimes even takes enjoyment in seeing the despair of the employees that are fired.
But one day this habit of his misfires when a fired employee takes revenge and pushes the salaryman in front of an incoming train, thus killing our "evil" main character in the process.
But the moment the train should hit the man, time is frozen and the salaryman is confronted by a mysterious "Being X" (technically: God, without mentioning the actual title). Being X condemns the man for not believing in him (even in the face of death) and sentences him to be reborn in a different world (an alternate universe). According to "Being X<", if the man is not able to die of a natural death, or if he continues to refuse to have belief in said "Being X", his soul will leave the circle of life and will be sent to hell for the countless sins he has committed in his previous life.
There's only one (huge) catch... He's being reborn as a little girl (Tanya Degurechaff) in this world's alternative for Germany just a handful of years short of the start of World War 1. Tanya refuses to acknowledge Being X with all her might and stubbornness, but "Being X" also has his ways of "testing" Tanya. This by orphaning her at young age, by starting the Great War, failing tech equipment, etc.
Due to Tanya's stubbornness to not accept Being X, she desperately searches for the best way to reach a "natural death", because the last thing she wants to do is "admit defeat" to God. Since tests had proven she has high magical awareness, she thus enlists herself in the Mage division of the army of the (German) Empire. She hopes that by reaching a high enough rank in the military, she will be able to live a safe and comfortable life.
But since fate doesn't like her, she constantly gets sent to the battlefield and has to face hordes of enemies. She can survive early on due to her tactics/combat awareness and her knowledge of what happened in our universe's World War 1. But how long will she be able to rely on this, when the higher-ups in the military seem to have a mind of their own and don't necessarily want to listen to "this little girl".
|Tanya von Degurechaff: Main character. The salaryman turned Loli who's a tactical genius and the resident drill sergeant to her Mage Squadron. She tries to push her way to the upper echelons of the (not) German army, even is she's a little girl. But her knowledge of the actual first world war, her tactical insight and her magic affinity makes her a valuable asset to the army.
Fun side-note: She is voiced by Aoi Yuuki, who also voiced Madoka (Madoka Magica). Quite a polar opposite to our dear Tanya here.
|Viktoriya Ivanovna "Visha" Serebryakova: A timid and somewhat innocent girl and right-hand man, err... woman to Tanya (her adjutant). Similar to Tanya, she's a mage, but she's also somewhat of a person of trust for anyone in the mage squad.|
|Matheus Johann Weiss: The Apostle? No, it's just the Vice Captain and second-in-command of the mage squad. Would be the straight man in a comedy duo. But there's no such duo here.|
|Kurt von Rudersdorf: One of the leader types that looks so German, only a combo of knackwurst-sauerkraut could top it even more. Together with his companion (Hans von Zettoer), these two are basically commanding the entire (not-)German army. While they clearly can show who is boss to anyone in the army (Tanya included), they're not afraid to ask for her strategic opinion and use that for their own merit.|
|Anson Sioux: Most frequently recurring "villain". Part of the (non-)French army, and also part of their mage squadrons. Frequently comes in contact with the "Devil of the Rhine" and loses many comrades in battle due to her. You almost try to root for him to actually take down Tany near the end.|
The animation for Youjo Senki was done by the new studio "Studio NUT", which is founded by producer Takuya Tsunoki and consists mostly of former MAPPA and Madhouse animation talent.
And being a new studio in an over-saturated market with a shortage of available animators, they obviously ran into a few issues. No-no-no, don't misunderstand me. The quality of the show never (really) dropped.
What DID happen was that one episode ended up having a week's delay and one other had to be pushed one day (from Thursday to Friday). Not all that great if you want to give a first impression to possible investors.
Having watched Shirobako, I can understand a few issues they've been having. You never know when production may receive a delay due to unforeseen circumstances, rejections by the original author, etc... And as a new studio, it might be harder to book freelancers for your show in this over-saturated market (the best ones are taken quickly).
Let's hope Studio NUT can overcome these issues and make their next project a success.
The sound in this anime was great. But more especially, it's the OP and ED song that resonated the most in the community.
Myth & Roid performed the Opening theme "Jingo Jungle", and it's an amazing track. Myth & Roid have only been around since 2015, but they're on a serious roll with anime related tracks, pumping out tracks for Overlord, BBK/BRNK, Re:Zero and now also Youjo Senki.
The ED is performed by the voice actress of Tanya (Aoi Yuuki) and is names "Los! Los! Los!" (lit: "Come on! Come on! Come on!"), and it's REALLY good as well. In fact, it's probably the best ED I've heard in 2017 as of yet.
Overall enjoyment and opinion
This was surprisingly enjoyable to watch. No, Tanya sure isn't as "evil" as the title lets on, but still evil enough for us to enjoy her struggle against being "X". You don't really want her to succeed, but is interesting to see both her successes and failures on her path to survival.
Overall, I give this anime an 8/10. It IS worth a watch, and probably has the best combination OP/ED this year (as of yet).
You can skip the Youjo Shenki (with an 'h') shorts though. While they're interesting and somewhat cute to see, they have little to no value on the actual story.
That's it for me, now. Until next time. V out.