It is June of the year CE 1923. A young girl with blond hair and blue eyes, Tanya Degurechaff, has entered the final curriculum of the Imperial Military Academy and is training at the third patrol line in the northern military district, the Norden Theater, as part of her service to the force. Her training, the first step toward a brilliant career as an aviation mage, should have gone off without a hitch... but things took an unexpected turn.
The Devil of the Rhine
My First Battalion
Beginning of Madness
The Battle of the Fjord
Trial by Fire
Preparations for Advance
The Path to Victory
How to Use a Victory
Story: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. Animation: 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. Sound: 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. Characters: 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. Overall: 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.
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 formula to the point they like anything that strays off from the norm. So your average anime fan would watch the first episode and react like this: Oh no, not another isekai about some self insert gamer who goes to a fantasy world that functions like a videogame and forms a harem! But what is this? He is not a gamer? He is actually successful in our world? And the other world is not fantasy based or works like a videogame? And there is no harem? And he is evil? And he is… a loli??? 10/10 masterpiece! Reactionary nonsense aside, by itself the show is 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. Tanya is consistent in the sense it starts with a merciless businessman who is willing to destroy anyone standing in the way to the top, and stays like that to the end… of the season. There is no actual conclusion, as it stops in the middle of nowhere. Which can be the reason why it didn’t betray the premise yet. And let’s be frank about something. There is not much in terms of plot progression. Tanya goes up the military ranks as the number of battles she wins goes up, but nothing changes in terms of plot structure. There are no twists, Tanya does not second guess anything, and everything moves in a linear fashion.One can claim this makes the show focused, but it can just as easily be seen as monotone. There is no actual challenge that stands in the protagonist’s path. She always finds a cruel way to deal with everything and she is so good at it no opponent stands a chance. That also means no other character besides her has a presence in the show. She literally is the only person that matter and does everything, with everybody else being there for support or minor inconveniences. If you have no problem with watching a show where only one character matters, then you will probably like this one. If on the other hand you expect to see more characters being important in some way, then you will be disappointed and will quickly get bored of the anime. Because, let’s be real here, the setting may not be the done to death generic fantasy videogame, but it’s equally insignificant when the protagonist steamrolls everything and everyone. The world could have been medieval China or some futuristic base on the Andromeda galaxy and the result would be the same. I personally belong to the latter crowd that found Tanya too monotone. It’s just some psycho loli Hitler destroying everything in her path because she can. There’s really nothing else to it, and it’s not even a full story. Calling it different from your typical modern isekai is not enough when there is nothing else to it for maintaining your interest.
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!
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