“Evil isn’t the opposite of good. […] Evil is characterized by radical indifference to good.” – Jared from Wisecrack on the Philosophy of the Joker.
Youjo Senki, also known as Saga of Tanya the Evil is an anime series based on light novels of the same name. The novels are written by Carlo Zen and illustrated by Shinotsuki Shinobu. The anime was created by studio NUT. Anime ran from January of 2017 to March of 2017.
Tanya von Degurechaff is the protagonist of the series. She is reincarnated from our modern world into this alternate history with magic. During her previous life, Tanya was a faithless man who did not care about others and somehow clashed with god, or Being x. To punish and create faith in this godless man, Being X reincarnated the man into Tanya.
Viktoriya Ivanovna Serebryakov is more or less Tanya’s right hand. She knows how Tanya thinks and is the only person brave enough to talk to her.
Being X is god, literally. And the main antagonist of the series. He finds the unnamed man’s faithlessness disturbing and decides to punish the man by reincarnating him as a little girl in a parallel universe.
The story follows Tanya during this alternate history of World War I with magic, more accurately, right before WWI.
An unnamed man is followed by the viewer, this man is completely apathetic to others, does everything to create most efficient and profitable life for himself. His job requires him to fire people despite their needs, and he executes this very mechanically. And during aftermath of the firing, the firee decides to push the unnamed man into the subways. And time stops, and God approaches the unnamed man.
God is disturbed and furious at the unnamed man’s indifference to His existence. So, to punish the man, God resurrect him in the so-messed-up time of World War I in a parallel universe as Tanya, while letting the man retain his memories and knowledge. But here is the catch, while all living being reincarnate indefinitely, Tanya is at her last life unless she bends to His will.
This now starts Tanya’s revenge against God, or as she calls Him, Being X.
The main antagonist of the series, Being X seems more like a sore loser than a god. Several times already, he shows up when Tanya is doing well for herself and intervene to make her life more miserable. To me, this says, “Oh shit, I’m about to lose, I have to cheat!?”. Being X sent her to this world, born into poverty, right before WWI, and he is still losing. He does not feel threatening, pathetic really. And why is he antagonizing Tanya specifically? I mean Tanya can’t be the first arrogant dick who does not believe. Is Stalin also a little girl with magic powers? I don’t know. If he appeared less, it would create more mystery around him, but as it stands, he is an arrogant kid who cheats to win a game he created. He is a troll.
Tanya being an OP character, there are very little obstacles for her to overcome. To be fair, the show does make a point that it is not these personal battles that make the show, but more on this later. Any time there is a conflict, and Tanya is involved, it becomes obvious what the outcome is. While show like One Punch Man used this for comedic effect, Youjo Senki just lets it happen.
Youjo Senki is not an exception, but I hate those re-cap episodes when they are not necessary. I get it when show is long, like Drangon Ball or One Piece, but a recap episode after only 6 episodes? Come on!
Youjo Senki does something that is very different from most anime, it removes passion and glory from the battles. The show goes out of its way to show that strategy and intelligence will crush emotion and passion. Every time a character is filled with emotion, usually rage, they are punished for it. Soldiers do not leave the field with glory, they leave with the fact that they just bombed and shot at group of civilians. This lack of shonen qualities, I loved it.
One thing I really like about this show is that knowledge is power. Tanya, who has memories from our modern world, has knowledge of our version of World War I and World War 2. She has studied how countries will react to rise of a new superpower, she knows that the air superiority has changed the landscape of the battle field, and she is smart enough to use that knowledge to her advantage.
The best part of the show is Tanya herself. Like the title suggests, Tanya is without a doubt evil. Evil is an interesting word. As the quote above suggest, Tanya’s cruelty stems from her complete lack of empathy, and the world rewards her for it. To her, people are something to manipulate and use for her gain. This show is not about Tanya’s redemption, rather how evil grow stronger and more cruel to achieve its desires. Tanya is a monster not because she is stronger nor because she does mean things, she is evil because she is completely indifferent to every other human being, to her country’s well being, and pretty much the whole world.
In battles, Tanya has absolutely no hesitation when it comes to killing, she is only doing what she needs to do to get the job done. Tanya is cold hearted, everything she does is absolutely calculated, when she shows caring for another person, that too is calculated to further her cause. It was kind of funny to see that the battles and the war had no impact on the mental and emotional health.
Not to mention she gets sick enjoyments from her dominance over others. She loves annihilating her enemies, she enjoys whipping her lackeys into shape, and she loves destroying enemy’s property. The amount she loves these things is just great to watch.
Tanya knows exactly what she is, a cute little girl. Knowing this, she uses it to her advantage. She appeals to her superiors fatherly sides to have them be protective of her, and she uses her cute voice to warn enemies so let their guards down.
What is interesting about the plot of Youjo Senki is no matter how many times Tanya wins, she always gets screwed. Earlier, I talked about how the battles are lackluster, I asked myself why is this part in the show. I think it is to show that no matter how well Tanya does, she is digging herself further into the ground. She tried to get injured in battle to leave and the upper management was so touched they sent her to the front lines, she wrote a great strategy for suicide squad and she ends up leading it, and she she wins so many battles that the HQ now relies on her battalion more than ever before. Tanya won everything, but she lost in the end, and I kind of love this cruelty.
Arguably more interesting than the battles are the politics of Youko Senki. Almost every episode shows the upper echelon of the Empire discussing plan of attacks and impacts each stage of the campaign has. And like Tanya, these are very cold and calculated, making her a perfect fit into these conversations. This really demystifies the war and make the plot a lot more cynical.
- Will I watch it again? I actually watched this twice. I don’t usually watch series again, but this one I did. I plan on reading the light novel versions.
- Do I recommend it? Yes, it is different, and it is interesting. If you want to watch something that is cold and cynical, and about a monster, this is the show for you.
Despite how the protagonist of the story looks, this show is not for faint of heart. In this show, this little girl will find loop holes to more less commit war crimes, send her soldiers to death, and make her unit kill children. If you can watch this, I recommend it. This was a breath of fresh air compared to most generic anime. I am looking forward to seeing Tanya doing more horrible stuff. Hell, she might actually become the Hitler of this parallel universe.