Once in awhile a series will come along and challenges you as a critic. You find yourself unable to enjoy the series and even have personal feelings whether they are negative or positive against the material and wish to channel them in the review. Unfortunately you also to take a step back and realized the show has redeeming qualities and you simply can not tear down the media because you didn’t enjoy it as fully as you could. This is the case of The Saga of Tanya the Evil (Yōjo Senki) a show which was difficult to watch but at the same time did have redeeming qualities.
The anime focuses on a nameless man who upon his death is visited by God. Not wishing to believe it is God, he names it Being X and receives a punishment of being reincarnated into Tanya Degurechaff, a young girl with high level magical abilities. Tanya lives in an alternate world where World War I is being fought with Mages as the weapon which will change the course of the war. Thanks to her great power, Tanya is able to easily obtain the level of Major and now fights for the glory of the Fatherland.
This series has absolutely no character development. Tanya is the same character she was in episode twelve she was in episode one. The only things which change are her military rank and awards. Otherwise she is a evil sadistic character who cares nothing about anyone else. Her entire purpose in life is to find a way to kill Being X for trapping her in this world. Except, the world has magic, she can now fly, and thanks to knowledge from the previous life is aware of what will happen for the most part in the course of the war. How exactly is her life so terrible?
Tanya is the only character who gets much screen time other than her subordinate Viktoriya. She is the standard the cute innocent character but she has nothing of personality. Viktoriya is just a soldier and her being naive makes you question how good she would really be at her job. She does nothing to stop Tanya from carrying out cruel and unspeakable acts instead admiring her superior and following her without questioning orders. It wouldn’t be surprising if this eventually lead to her death.
The rest of the team barely get more than names. Even then they all follow orders and think Tanya is a genius which gets old fast. The higher military brass are mouth pieces for exposition and world building but provide nothing else. There is something of a plot as Tanya does have an opponent who appears more than once to take her down but he doesn’t appear enough to leave much of an impact.
Unfortunately this show does have redeeming qualities. The art is pleasing to look at and has a nice mixture of CGI and character animation which is often hard to do. Just go ask Hand Shakers. The CGI here is employed to showcase when the characters use their magical spells. It helps to know when things are going to be kicked up into high gear.
The characters designs leave a bit to be desired though. Tanya does have a distinct and catching look with her piercing eyes and bright hair but other characters leave something to be desired. Other than Tanya, Viktoriya, or the higher ranked officers the rest of the cast is bland and don’t really stand out. Still, the military elements are highly detailed. Why couldn’t they just skimp on the quality?
The music is also relatively entertaining. The opening by opening by Myth and Roid is pretty catchy and has a good “getting ready for battle” hint to it. The ending by Aoi Yuki though is basically Tanya’s theme as she orders her troops into battle. The last thing she needs is a rallying cry for all her fans to get behind (more on this later).
As a critic sometimes it’s hard to separate your personal feelings from the media you review. This series is a great example of it. The writing and characters are on a level of annoyance which does nothing but aggravates me but the same time the show has redeeming elements with its art and music. So unfortunately I can’t give it a rating which makes it the worst show I’ve ever seen. At the same time with the overall content and my distaste for it as a whole it still will find a place my worst animes of 2017 list.
Just rubs salt into the wounds, many people have been smitten by Tanya and are willing overlook the fact she has no development as a character. She is currently high on Newtype’s monthly top 10 list for female characters. This means later in the year many people out there will be putting this series on their top 10 best anime of the year lists. If you are one of those individuals who has nothing but overwhelming respect and admiration for Tanya, you may need to take a step back. Seriously she’s a sadist loli devil. You deserve better than worship this kind of atrocity. Tanya is a terrible character who doesn’t change at all.This series is average at its best and fans need to see it for the insipid show it really is. The least I can hope is others will read this review and not put Tanya on a pedestal to adore. Because she is truly evil incarnate.