Saga of Tanya the Evil - Reviews

Alt title: Youjo Senki

Sheex's avatar
Feb 25, 2019


It has been many, many years since I've written a review on this platform. Since I stopped reviewing about 7 years ago, I honestly have watched only a handful of anime series, mainly those that friends have carved out from me from the banal mass of seasonal series that seem shotgunned out of Japan's production queue. Thus, when a series like Youjo Senki managed to explode out of the mechanical anime mold, I found myself more than pleasantly surprised. Many of the reviews written here, likely by a younger audience, don't capture the gravitas and nuance that the author has written into this work, so I figured I would elaborate a bit and perhaps broaden its appeal to the larger population.

Without spoiling beyond the first episode, the premise of the show is quite interesting. The year is 2013 AD in Toyko, Japan, where a nameless businessman is in the process of climbing the ranks of a major corporation. As a man blatantly unconcerned with his moral conscience, he manages to make a few enemies in the process -- one of whom places him in a situation that leads to his death. The moment before he dies, God shows up and rhetorically asks what's wrong with modern man that they've fallen so far from their spiritual roots. Despite his impending demise, our salaryman decides to give God a lecture about how he thinks God is the truly immoral one, and that modern man is too good on his own to need a divine creator.

This building block is what makes Youji Senki fantastic. God whisks our salaryman away to be reincarnated in an alternate universe, back in 1910, as an orphan named Tanya in the Austria-Hungarian empire on the brink of World War I. While a modern Western audience might typically expect to see "old war classics" through the lens of the Allied powers, the author takes you behind the scenes of the Axis with an impressive level of historically-similar detail. The Empire is assailed on all sides by hostile forces, has severe issues with feeding its people, and is struggling to adapt to machine-based warfare using classical horse-and-cavalry tactics. In his humor, God twists in one caveat: magic exists in the world, which allows the individual to excel beyond normal human means, and Tanya is the adept of the adept, meaning a future on the warfront is inevitable.

The substance here is astounding. As someone quite studious on history who likes to explore outside of what you read in "popular" texts, it's really incredible to see an anime series go so far outside the norm and tick all the boxes of how to do this type of show right. Magic or not, war is war, and Youji Senki pulls no punches about it. Civilians die, soldiers have limbs blown off or are outright killed en masse, and Tanya watches soldiers on both sides piss themselves in trenches waiting for the next artillery shell to hit. While Tanya has her personal sociopathic grudge against God, she is surrounded by a military leadership -- headed by a man who looks a little too close to Bismarck -- that foil her astoundingly well. The Empire's heads know full well the consequences of war, have families of their own, and are constantly exposed to the push-and-pull of those on the front lines vs. those in the capital.

Getting into the details any further would really require me to spoil, so I will leave it here. But, simply put, you're in for a treat from an action-based show that has a phenomenal level of story depth and character nuance.


While there are some definite "quirks" that bugged out at first, namely the facial designs of the child soldiers, I got used to them rather quickly. The fight scenes are numerous and animated beautifully, and the series balances an overall dull palette with bright and intense particle effects to create intensity and edge. Simply put, it looks spectacular.


By itself, the music is okay but certainly doesn't stand out one way or another. The tone of the story is overall somber, and the orchestral score reflects that very well while still giving the action scenes the "energy" that draws you in. Likewise, the voice acting is absolutely solid, and the seiyuu nail their characters well. Tanya's actor, in particular, does a great job of capturing the ups-and-downs of her character's personality, nailing the somber monologues as acutely as she does the psychotic tirades.

Where Youjo Senki really bucks the trend, however, is the sound design. The sounds of the levitation boots, ebbing in and out with the camera, ties the visuals to the audibles in a way that very few series achieve. Normal gunfire is distinguished between magical gunfire with the faintest differences in tone that are just noticable to detect, which ties together with the movement to add a solid "cool" effect to experiencing the battles concurrently with both your eyes and ears.


As I hinted at above, this is a surprisingly historical piece that slaps many "likenesses" to real historical figures on the Empire's side into the supporting cast. The way the story is told centers heavily on Tanya, which surprisingly does a lot to build these other characters. In many ways, the story and characters are moving along independent of her -- Tanya is important and overpowered, yes, but she's just one girl in the middle of the foundations of the biggest and bloodiest war to grace mankind in the history of the planet. The top brass use and acknolwedge her, but at the same time she's just a cog in the wheel, and their plans and actions are not changed by her presence.

The foiling between the characters is really what makes the cast shine, though. Tanya, with her modern view and embodiment of r/Atheism, stands in pretty stark contrast to many of the humble, religious, and harried leaders of the Empire's elite. Try as she might, Tanya can't help but be influenced by her surroundings, which allows for a great deal of character development and growth. Her straddling of moral boundaries and bereft sadism are honed by a sense of honor and loyalty to her countrymen, and simultaneously one wants to root for her virtues but also see her punished for her flaws.

When all is said and done, the overall cast of Youjo Senki highlights many important aspects of war, and those involved, which should target many of the viewer's own personal beliefs. Many modern war parallels, such as the manipulation of the public with respect to Iraq in the 21st century, are neither new or unique to the current age, and the show offers curious insight into the characters surrounding the events of World War I in an entertaining and engaging action-flick with a remarkable level of human depth. Indeed, the layers with Tanya are particularly numerous, down to themes of celebrity worship (Tanya's the best of the best, after all) and how those with fame and acclaim may not be the paragons that the public thinks them to be. Rather than harping on these points in some droll or monotone exposition, the show presents much of this food-for-thought in a compelling set of characters whose depth and interplay extends as far or as shallow as the viewer is willing to look.


In summary, Youjo Senki is a surprising historically-accurate commentary on early World War I Germany that mixes serious political and philosophical commetary with a crisply animated, action-packed war drama. It twists in the supernatural and magical with grace and nuance, of course, but this is done such that they are an integral part of the story without being blatant or obtrusive. Starvation and artillery shells kill a person, mage or not, which makes these elements fit in really no different than trains, planes, and the other weapons of war present in our own real world.

As many of the other reviews here show, Youjo Senki has enough "pop" to appeal to many people at face value, but for the older anime audience (I think I have to classify myself as that now, oh boy...) this is one of the diamonds among the rough that keeps us coming back over the years, even if it's for just a show or two.

Give it a watch.

9/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
9/10 characters
9/10 overall
ThatAnimeSnob's avatar
Sep 3, 2019

This anime is hailed as one of the best isekai ever made, when in reality it’s only standing out by not following the usual formula of the fad. So it’s more different than it is better, and it came out at a time when people got really fed up with the checklist of what is going on in typical isekai. They would like anything that strays off from the norm, so when they watch the first episode they instantly get hooked with the premise:

Ah, finally, an isekai that is not about a self insert loser, who is a gamer, who gets killed by a truck, and who goes to a fantasy world that functions like a videogame and forms a harem! Tanya is different and that makes it better.

No it’s not. Different does not mean better. You can break the norm all you want and it will mean nothing if the execution is crap. And in Tanya’s case, it’s actually not that bad, because it’s not betraying its premise, like most isekai do. Your average series will give the illusion of the protagonist being weak and useless at first, before quickly turning him to an unstoppable force that makes every female to wet herself. The protagonist here doesn’t magically change when he gets isekaied. He was successful on our world and he remains successful on the other world.

Or should I say, she, because he gets reincarnated as a girl. Ah, such a subversion; he’s no longer male in the same way the Slime isekai is a subversion because he becomes a slime, or the Spider isekai is a subversion because she becomes a spider. And let’s not forget that other bullshit where they become vendor machines and hot springs… Non-subversions aside, the concept of transforming the protagonist is supposed to be done for powering down what he can do in the other world. It’s an illusion for making you think he is being punished instead of rewarded, although it is quickly proven to not be a problem because he levels up ridiculously fast and becomes overpowered anyways. Tanya is not different in this regard. Despite being a little girl, she possesses magic that can do stuff most adults can’t.

Speaking of magic, the setting is often hailed as different for not being a generic western medieval fantasy. It’s closer to early 20th century and people are using guns and tanks. And no, this does not make it sci-fi, because they still use magic for flying and firing energy beams, thus it’s again not that special. It’s about the execution in terms of worldbuilding and lore, and in that regard it’s nothing special. It feels like an imitation of Germany during the world wars. And if you think that means a lot of politics and war tragedies, it doesn’t because there aren’t enough episodes for elaborating on many things, and most of the screentime is taken up by the protagonist.

And here is the biggest problem with Tanya. The setting and the support characters don’t matter in the longrun, because the focus is given almost entirely to Tanya and her selfish goal to become successful and prove to some godly entity that she doesn’t need help from anyone for becoming great. She is the only character that is psychotic, merciless, and willing to destroy anyone standing in the way to the top. Everyone else is just average people who don’t do something significant and become forgettable early on. Therefore the setting goes to waste since its people and locations are there just as a personal playground for the main character. The world could have been medieval China or some futuristic base on the Andromeda galaxy and the result would be the same. That’s a big no-no when it comes to good writing.

The fact that it’s also a short series and an incomplete adaptation doesn’t even give you a twist or a solid finale. You are left wondering if Tanya remains undefeatable or if she reevaluates her way of thinking, or if that god-thing does anything to stop her, or if someone else does something worthwhile for a change.

Essentially, there is not much plot progression. Tanya going up the military ranks by winning battles doesn’t mean much. Without something to flavor this single idea, she became a meme and now everyone remembers the anime simply as ‘the one with the psycho loli Hitler’. It’s monotone without an actual challenge to stand in the protagonist’s path, and quickly gets boring. It eventually becomes no more than a sadistic power fantasy. All you get is Tanya doing crazy facial expressions, steamrolls her completely defenseless enemies in cruel ways, and then returns to base so she can be praised by her fellow soldiers for the superb psycho loli Hitler she is.

4/10 story
7/10 animation
7/10 sound
4/10 characters
4.5/10 overall
TeeDeeDubYa's avatar
Mar 9, 2017

Tanya is a young blonde haired sociopathic soldier in an army very similar to Germany during WW1/2.  She is cold, calculating, intelligent, faithless and unempathetic.  Tanya the Evil is a breath a fresh air for those that are sick of anime with 100 billion main characters.  There's really only one main character in this anime... and it's Tanya.

After 8 episodes,  I'm completely enamored with Tanya the Evil.  Any anime that makes one want to watch a spin-off chibi anime while waiting for the next episode is definitely worth watching.  The animation, story and sounds are all top shelf.  

Normally... I NEVER care about the sounds of any anime unless it's appallingly awful, however, Tanya the Evil totally nails it in any given action scene.  It really drew me in and I wanted more.  It's also worth mentioning that the beginning and ending music fit like a pair of skinny jeans.

The story is interesting and I'm not going to ruin it by spelling it out in this review.  I'll say only one thing,  Please give this anime two episodes before choosing to drop it.

Going back to what was mentioned earlier... There's really only one main character in this story.. so far.  All the other characters either frame the story or polish the negatives and positives of Tanya.  This is actually a very good thing, in my opinion, as the writer is trying to do one thing and do it very well with one character.  If Tanya the Evil was named "the brigade of evil", just imagine how bland the anime would have tasted.

Tanya the Evil is worth watching!

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
9.5/10 overall
Zangetsu92's avatar
Jan 6, 2017

Okay this isnt a proper review because there is only one episode out but I felt I absolutely had to review/recommend this anime! 

STORY : Alright not much to say about the story being so early in but basically its a typical war/conflict between feuding countries. It takes place in Europe. And the main country that will have most of the main characters is the empire, its in the centre with 5 other empires in all other directions. The story followed a certain platoon with our main character, 2nd lieutenant Degurechaff Tanya. Tanya is an absolute badass despite being about 10 years old. Also this platoon are all mages, Tanya being the strongest. They use the magic through guns though its epic as heck! The platoon basically just fights a few battles and we see some strategery going on at the headquarters.

ANIMATION & MUSIC : The animation is top class, really high quality, flashy, bright and colourful. The action scenes compete with the best I've seen. The sound was awesome I really got pumped up especially in the conflict moments. Overall for both arts I take my hats off!

CHARACTERSOkay so its a bit early on to say much but the main character Tanya, I am really enjoying her I don't wanna spoil anything but she has a REALLY interesting side to her at the end haha! 

OVERALL : I think this one is gonna be awesome! If your a fan of action and magic, you will definitely love this! 

Thanks for your time and I hope you enjoyed! 😁

8/10 story
10/10 animation
9/10 sound
9/10 characters
9/10 overall
Coolio121's avatar
Jun 11, 2019

"Saga of Tanya the Evil" starts off well,but gradually loses steam as the story progresses.

7/10 story
10/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
6/10 overall