Youjo Senki Review

This is review number three hundred and eighty six. This anime is part of the Winter 2017 lineup, and it’s called Yojou Senki or The Saga of Tanya the Evil. It’s a twelve episode anime about a little girl fighting people on the battlefield. Isn’t that just so kawaii? Let’s read on.

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Story

Everyone, we’ve gone from an armistice to a sortie. The brass just does whatever it wants. But since it’s our job, we have no choice. We must follow our orders and crush the enemy. But now, our enemy is the whole world. There’s no way to avoid a cruel war, and no end to how long we must fight. This is why I want to say once more…

If there’s a God who rules this world, it is a stern, solemn, and infinitely good being, a being that is far too great. God keeps forcing us to confront these cruel fates as if those were the rules of this world. Oh, God….

I’LL SLICE YOU TO TINY PIECES AND FEED YOU TO THE PIGS! OUR BATTLE IS NO PLACE FOR THAT PIECE OF SH*T GOD. IT’S TIME WE TOOK OVER GOD’S WORK. WE SOLDIERS WILL TAKE GOD’S PLACE. PUT THE ARROGANT ASS OUT OF THE JOB!!!

– Tanya von Degurechaff, episode 12 giving a speech to her squad

Taking the Pants Off

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Look at this adorable anime cover. Is that little girl putting on the most bloodthirsty look on her face? Oh my gosh, that is just precious. Let me guess, this anime is about a loli in the battlefield but the gag is that she can’t really fight. Oh, there must be an oni-chan here to save our bloodthirsty loli. Like seriously, this just reeks of light novel cliché. I can only wonder which clichés are actually being utilized, so I guess I’ll just have to watch this show. I mean, what’s the worst that can-

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Sweet flaming Pikachu. Did that loli actually commit a suicide bomber style attack on a group of oni-chan? What? Hah?

This is probably the second most insane anime I’ve ever seen so far. The first one is Shiba Inuko-san, and I seriously can’t wait to just stop watching anime at this point. Anyways, the brilliant premise of this show is that there is indeed a nine year old blonde fighting on the battlefield. The first episode actually just piles on more questions when you first watch it. The scene opens with soldiers dying in the trenches, bombs exploding everywhere and then this loli just appears. She sticks out like a sore thumb, and the anime never acknowledges it. They also play the story very seriously, like an actual war story, and it just really bothers me. Guys, there’s a nine year old blonde, with a bloodthirsty look on her face, in the battlefield. This kid is lost! Get her out!

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And then she starts killing. Good gawd, loli girl kills soldiers. I’m just gonna go lay down for a while. Maybe not come back ever after I finish this review. Five years of reviewing anime certainly did not prepare me for this.

I do like the premise though, and it gets even better when they actually explain everything in the second episode. People, I urge you to just watch and process the first episode. It is just a beautiful mess that reminds me anime actually came from a place that got nuked twice.

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Anyways, this anime is pretty impressive. I actually love it, because it’s one of those rare light novel that has a complex setup. It’s even more impressive knowing that this is the very first work of a new studio, Studio Nut. The last LN anime I’ve seen that doesn’t function on heavy LN cliché is Sunday Without God, and it was executed poorly by a very capable studio. Now here comes Nut just introducing themselves with a loli that kills people. This is a good time to be an anime fan. This kind of high concept LN is honestly really hard to pull off, but I’m really amazed they were able to capture the spirit of the LN and make it look easy. This is high concept for two things. The first is nicely summed up by the GIF above. This is a serious, action packed war story featuring a nine year old blonde loli. To tell a smooth flowing story full of deaths, grittiness, and just the absolute horrors of war while making the loli premise work is just f*cking incredible. I honestly don’t know how you can do it. Studio Nut simply trusted the story. They know the seriousness of the story would just consume everything, and it does work fantastically. The series contains operations led by loli girl where she kills a bunch of people and help her country invade more lands through a bloody campaign. The sore thumb problem never become a bother after you’ve been engulf in the story and in the main character herself. Therein lies the second high concept thing about this anime: the main character is a psychopath.

A nine year old blonde psychopath loli. Will the insanity ever stop?

The story actually follows a man resurrected as a girl in another world. He came from our world, and he was the kind of businessman that simply looks at the numbers. Everything is black and white to him. As long as he is fine, then it doesn’t matter how many people he has to fire. They can plead about their poor living situations, but this guy would slit his mother’s throat if it helps him advance his career. Hearing him talk is just entertaining to listen to. He’s such a realist that it’s often unfathomable to hear him speak. Naturally, mean spirited people like him deserve to die. And he did.

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He’s such an evil person that gawd even walks up to him and just asks him straight up, “what the hell is wrong with you?” and your eyes suddenly widens. He’s talking like that to gawd?! He’s giving him sass, and his unfathomable personality is actually giving gawd the middle finger? He’s also doing this literally seconds before he dies. This guy is just delightfully evil. Gawd eventually had enough of this evil man’s opinions, so he decided to test this guy. Gawd wants the dude to gain faith and believe in him. A realist like him doesn’t budge like that though, so drastic measures must be taken. The big cheese upstairs reincarnated him as a poor orphan during war time. Naturally, being poor and defenseless will make you turn to gawd. That’s just a normal human response.

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Oh wait. This guy isn’t normal. He’s an evil psychopath. He doesn’t take his circumstance lying down. He discovers he has strong magical powers, and he decided to enlist in the army. In the young age of nine, the psychopath is given a chance to prove his grit on the battlefield, in the body of a loli. His goal is to rank up though and aim for a cushy job at the rear lines away from all this hell. It’s a good plan, but can you imagine how pissed gawd is? He devised a lovely plan where the psychopath lives a poor and defenseless life, but then you realize the bastard is joining the army. At her age, she still gives gawd the middle finger. He is naturally pissed. So this war is now not just a test of her grit, but also a test of her faith.

That’s right. A realist psychopath that insults gawd, and his grand design, in the body of a nine year old blonde loli fighting as a mage in a bloody war. It’s going to get Nutty up in here.

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The anime’s greatest strength is obviously its main character. Tanya von Degurechaff is just a treat to watch. Her speeches are captivating, and her bloodlust is just insane. She enjoys killing people, and she loves doing it by herself. The show’s main focus is actually her exploit in this war. Given the unique circumstance of her country, she is always busy going from one place to another. The anime mostly follows her exploits on the various places that she visits. We also get to witness her rise from a lowly soldier stuck on the battlefield to a fearsome commander tearing up the place with her depravity. There is nothing good about Degurechaff. The anime paints this point clearly. She uses war as an excuse, but nothing she does is heroic. She always takes things too far, she advances on bloody campaigns without batting an eye and she would even kill civilians if given the order. And yes, she was given the order at some point. The psychopath that sees things in black and white really thrives in this f*cked up world. She understands that civilians grow up as soldiers that’ll fight her country, and she uses this reasoning to kill them now before it ever happens. She also understands that a lot of people must die for this war to be over, and so the little bloodthirsty demon would happily take charge with that. Soon you’ll see horrific visuals of the blood path this loli has carved up, and it’s both pretty cruel and awesome. As the anime progresses, the more you start to fear and be more in awe with this nine year old psychopath. She is just unnervingly wonderful to watch. You wonder just how far she will take it, and the anime will happily show you that. But, you’ll also realize one this about Degurechaff though.

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She’s a mary sue. See, there’s the light novel cliché I was expecting. I would’ve preferred an oni-chan though, because Degurechaff is just adorable. She is Tetsuya from Mahouka levels of a mary sue though. The anime pretty much focuses on how perfect she is, and she doesn’t really fail on anything. In a setting where failure is gravy, since seeing both sides lose people is just fun to watch, mary sue loli never really experience causality. She is overpowered to start with, and she was also given a special jewel that only she can use. This jewel amplifies her already overpowered magic, and literally no one on the show can really go toe to toe with her. Mary sue doesn’t stop at just two or three impressive things though. Tetsuya did everything impossible in the series, so we have a standard to uphold, damn it. Well, Degurechaff is also very smart. With her war knowledge from her past life, she would help draw up plans for her country to succeed. She is not just an overpowered mage, but she is also a really smart strategist. Some of the victories of her country can be solely credited to her. She drew up the plans, she executed the mission, and she killed a bunch of people doing it without any scratch on her. This girl is just perfect. Her squad also doesn’t take much loss, and it starts to get insulting to see such a perfect character in a war setting. Why not have her resurrect the dead, for f*cksake?

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Ah, she did. She’s a nine year old blonde psychopath that can resurrect the dead. It’s not really fun to watch such a one sided story being told, and yet I’m oddly not that hung up on Degurechaff being a mary sue. Despite her perfect-ness, the anime is able to not put her on a pedestal. I’m sure that’s hard to do, since LN mary sue characters are basically designed to be worshipped. That’s actually the fun part, because she’s still a psychopath. She’s not really an anti-hero, and the later episodes will explain that. She is just plain evil, and this conveniently cancels out the mary sue cliché of the story. Her evil-ness is actually the one being put in a pedestal in this anime, because the more you watch it then the more you realize just what kind of setting this anime is slowly painting. Degurechaff’s country is the WWII equivalent of Germany, and this can only mean one thing. Oh f*ck yeah, she is the loli equivalent of motherf*cking Hitler. From her speeches, about dying for your country, to her rise to power, you just cannot shake the image of Hitler. The anime doesn’t outright tell the audience that she is Hitler, but there are nuances to that point. There are small hints to why this loli is so bloodthirsty and why even gawd hates her. The biggest point to the Hitler comparison though is the war itself. This is a battle inspired by some of the events of WWII.

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It’s a very loose interpretation of the war, but some recognizable moments kinda inspired similar events in the show. The first one that stood out is in episode four when Degurechaff invaded this small country called Dakia. The country is horribly under equipped, and they had no mages to fight air battles. Degurechaff’s highly advanced unit massacred the entire battalion of Dakia. This is like when the Polish, upon hearing Germany is trying to invade, grabbed their horses and charged the enemy. They thought it was going to be like WWI, so they hurried their horses to meet the Germans. Of course, the invaders had tanks. A lot of them. Poland’s defense was quickly eliminated by the panzers, and I can now imagine Degurechaff actually riding one of those tanks through a battlefield she created.

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This is a very beautiful part of the anime, because fans of WWII can easily draw similarities from other events of the show. At some point in the series, the civilian blowback in Belgium, the bombings of London to destroy their morale and the invasion of France is presented in the anime. Again, they never point out the similarities between the actual war, but the small visual nuances really establishes everything. I love the interior designs of the building of the country that represents France. Their uniform is also blue, while Degurechaff’s colors are red. The way they presented the scene really reminds me off those colored documentary films about WWII I used to watch on Discovery Channel. I honestly never knew there was a lot of film footage to work with. Also, Germany’s biggest strength at the start of the war was that they were ahead of their enemies in terms of technology. The old beat up tank they used in WWI was improved upon. They became more destructive and they can handle any terrain. The Allied actually played defensive for a long while, and this rings true for Degurechaff’s country as well. They were a lot more advanced than their enemies, and it’s scary to watch how closely they resemble the Nazi army. I sure hope that people understand the Nazi comparison though, because that’s really the biggest selling point of this anime. If you do not see Hitler in Degurechaff then you just see a mary sue loli killing people. The author snuck so many small details of WWII in the story because he has this one disturbing novelty to tell. You should be afraid of Degurechaff, because she’s recreating Hitler in front of your eyes.

A loli Hitler. This anime really bothers me.

If there one thing that I can really tell is a negative in this anime, then it’s the fact that the rest of the cast is very weak and forgettable. I do understand that it’s hard to tell a world war story with many characters. Magi is doing that, and you can tell two seasons is not enough. I do wish some of the characters left an impact on the story though. War is full of heroes, but Degurechaff is really taking all the glory. Her squad, for example, despite having a few characters that clash with the loli, isn’t really fleshed out properly. Her squad has another girl in it, and the anime never explains how she got there. She’s older than Degurechaff, but her circumstance is just never explored. The enemy she faces also lack color, because they really only serve as fodder for the bloodthirsty maniac. Maybe putting a Winston Churchill character is just too on the nose. I do see potential with some characters though. Some of the strategists Degurechaff interacts with are just screaming to be fleshed out. I especially love the guy that claims she is the devil, and he is always cautious around her. He never goes beyond just being in awe of her though, and it really sucks. Degurechaff’s mary sue factor is too much for anyone else to overcome. She just overshadows them all. A lot of characters have higher ranks that her though, and she often has to swallow her pride and just take order. There are various times where they pull rank on her, and she just had to know her place. The perfect character is being told to sit and look pretty, and I always wished that tension would culminate into something big. After all, that’s Hitler. They’re pulling rank on Hitler.

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Sadly, nothing really matches up to Degurechaff though. Even her intended rival, who survived her wrath several times, really only looked like a credible threat for fifteen minutes. The guy just lasted one half of a regular episode, and it’s stupid given that he was built up for several episodes. Actually, even gawd isn’t that interesting of a character. They have wonderful dialogue together, but gawd eventually vanished at some point in the show. Mary sue characters doesn’t need gawd to stop them, so the show downplayed his importance. It’s a shame, because I actually wanted to see the loli suffer. Seeing her squirm under pressure is pretty great, and I believe gawd is the only one that can do that. Oh well, maybe on the second season. Yeah, they’re building up on another season and it actually features USA joining the Alliance. As you all know, the tides of war shifted after USA joined the fray and that mess will happen in another season. Be excited for it.

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Studio Nut is a really young company. There’s not much information about them. I heard some of its employees came from Madhouse and MAPPA, and I think I have an idea just what kind of style Nut is going to be like. I’m really excited, because there are some talented people in MAPPA. It looks like they’ve found a new home in Nut. I also hope they do as well as Studio Trigger, because they have similar influences and similar approach to animation.  This is directed by Yutaka Uemura, and he is a Gainax ex-employee. Of course he is. He directed Punchline, and you can tell his crazy energy transferred to this anime. For some reason, Gainax kept a lot of good talent crushed under their thumbs. This guy is an incredible director. I honestly thought Studio Nut was, like, a subsidiary of Studio Trigger, because the style is really the same. Despite a not so impressive budget, you can tell the director wanted to make a great first impression with this anime. I’d also give points for the writer, Kenta Ihara. He has some writing credit on Ajin, but he’s still a fairly new writer taking the helm for this show. Again, this is a high concept light novel but he did a good job translating it to anime. I would love to see more of his works, since some writers can’t even get heavy clichéd light novels right.

Sight and Sound

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Shinobo Shinetsuki designed the covers of the LN, and his works are actually presented in the ED sequence of the anime. They’re typical LN designs with a lot of colors and ambitious imaging. I don’t really have much to say about his concept art. I do like Degurechaff’s design, but she doesn’t really look nine year old. I think I’m the problem though, since anime warped my mind on what a nine year old should look like. The loli has some nice layered hair though, and the blonde color compliments her eyes. They’re blue, but they really only stand out in his artwork. In the anime, her soul crushing eyes aren’t that prominently displayed. I do love his designs on her uniform though, because it looks pretty authentic. It looks gritty, and it pairs nicely with Degurechaff’s demonic pretty face.

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The anime have some incredible designs. I love the mechanical aspect of the show. From cannons to the airplanes and the tanks, the design is incredible. The small details on the machinery looks fantastic and it really transport you to the era. The addition of magic also didn’t stand out in this setting, because it still looked like advance war technology. The various countries have different ways of floating to the sky, and I love how unique each one is. Some are on broomsticks while others are on mechanical horseback. Degurechaff has a gear that makes her fly, and it looks nicely designed. It makes for a fantastic battle in the sky, and that’s actually a huge chunk of the show. I also love the establishing shots of the actual battles. The first episode nailed this perfectly with its dreary trenches. As the show progress though, you’ll enjoy unsettling scenes of cities being bombarded and soldiers dying in the battle. It’s framed like a freaking photograph, and that small detail of the show really draws you in. The terrain is also nicely captured, and all the war aspects are really nicely presented. When sh*t hits the fan, the visuals really tell a lot and it’s often too much to all take in.

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Animation is inconsistent. I’ll say it’s good though, because the director clearly had some limits to what he can produce. He lacks proper framing for dialogue scenes, because he really just points the camera to the character talking. He doesn’t do wide shots with clear reactions from the listener, and he cheats certain scenes by doing wide shots. In animation, it’s easier to do close ups and wide shots, because there’s very little space to actually animate. This is actually pretty acceptable on dialogue heavy scenes though, but even Degurechaff’s speech often lack flair because of the lack of strong visuals to accompany it. Yutaka makes up for it though by giving us a lot of dog fights. Majority of the battle happens in the air, and we get a lot of it. I think half of the anime focuses on battling in the sky or someone in the sky raining hell on the forces below. The animation picks up here. The director employs different camera angles, and I love how the characters dance in the air. There’s not much interaction with the background, but the flow of the scenes are still incredible to watch. Impact has nice animation, and Degurechaff’s facial reaction hunting down an enemy is just unforgettable. One can only wonder how Studio Nut would fare if they were given the same production resources as Studio Wit when they created Attack on Titan, I bet it would be amazing.

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The anime’s OP is “JINGO JUNGLE” by MYTH & ROID. It’s a really loud song about being ruthless on the battlefield. It nicely captures the insanity of the show, and it does give you a clear idea of what to expect with our main character. The lyrics is strong, but the song overall is really good. It’s especially good paired up with the Op sequence as it pumps you up for the show. It introduces all the character, but Degurechaff mainly looking cool as f*ck. The anime’s ED is “Los! Los! Los!” by Tanya Degurechaff. I would just like to say that Aoi Yuuki did an incredible job lending her voice to this character. She really gave this psychopath a credible personality, and this comes out in the ED song as well. It’s basically just a song declaring to not stop fighting and to kill as many people as you can. It’s a really song that fits our main character nicely, and it’s just disturbingly good. Aoi even sung it in Degurechaff’s voice, and it adds a lot of personality to the song. Of course, the ED sequence of Shinobo’s light novel artwork of the evil girl also adds a lot to the wonderful song. I seriously love this song, and I can’t stop listening to it.

Overall Score

8/10 “It’s a solid story about a psychopath loli. Gawd, did I really just type that?”

This anime is incredible, and I actually have a lot more to say about. I’ll let you discover the other good stuffs on your own when you watch the series yourself. This anime has some clear positives and negatives though, and I think the appeal of the premise won’t really work on other people. The first two episodes are a good indicator if you’ll like the anime or not, so I suggest starting there. I also urge everyone to just watch the first episode. It’s an anime experience I’m sure people will enjoy. There is a lot to enjoy in this anime, even if it slows down at some point. The action is constantly on though, and I’m sure Degurechaff alone will be enough to like this series. I highly recommend it.

Thoughts~

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