Youjo Senki Review - "Deus lo Vult"


Deus Vult


  • Episodes : 12
  • Genre : Action, Military, Magic
  • Airing Date : January 2017 – March 2017
  • Studios : NUT

Contains Spoilers


Spoilers Ahead

In a land reminiscent of Europe in the 1920s, war brews. With her exceptionally high aptitude for magic being noticed when she was younger, nine-year-old Tanya Degurechaff is quickly recruited into the Empire’s military, being one of the youngest soldiers within the ranks. Tanya’s combat ability is nothing to scoff at, and she quickly climbs the military ladder. However, her shrewdness and unusual ambitions can only be explained through extraordinary circumstances: Tanya Degurechaff is actually the reincarnation of a modern-day Japanese salaryman. After firing a co-worker, he is pushed into the path of an oncoming train by the then former co-worker and just as it was about to make impact, time stopped. A conversation with an entity claiming to be God then ensues, and, in order to turn the atheistic salaryman into a theist, this being (dubbed Being X) sends him to an alternate universe, where he reincarnates as Tanya Degurechaff. Forced to begin life at the very bottom of society, the salaryman plots revenge against Being X for putting him in that situation.

Now as a mage for the military, the ever-ambitious salaryman aims to change his life as Tanya from one of scarcity to one of success and comfort, using knowledge that he gained from his first life to gain promotion after promotion and eventually exact revenge on Being X. The only catch is that death in this current world means no more second chances.

What I Liked About Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya the Evil)

Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya the Evil) draws on a plot device that we have seen used more often in recent years, especially in 2016. Shows like Boku Dake ga Inai Machi, re:ZERO, KonoSuba and to an extent, Orange, have all used the concept of time travel, or the theme of parallel universes in order to give a story momentum. Likewise, Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya the Evil) does a bit of both; it takes our Japanese salaryman to an alternate universe based in a time long before his first incarnation – and that is truly brilliant. It has themes of faith, war and ambition and lays them out in a way that one could never expect – we only know who Tanya really is from episode two onwards, and THAT was what had be glued to the screen. The origin story is really one which comes flying at the viewer from an angle they would never expect, in fact, the entire first episode was set out in a way which would have made it impossible for anyone to draw any real conclusions about Tanya.

An eternally relevant theme which we find as one of the main themes behind the entire show as well as the driving force of Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya the Evil), is that of theism. From when religion began as a form of organisation, humans have always been at ends about the existence of a sentient higher power, and Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya the Evil)l presents that in a way that anyone who looks at it objectively would find rather insightful and relatable.

Art. Oh, the art, all the pretty colours! Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya the Evil) boasts intense, vibrant colours and displays and combat scenes are amazing. The animation is fluid and deliberate and it is truly evident that a lot of work went into making the series the way it is.

Discussion Time

Before anyone picks a show to watch, the general question which pretty much everyone asks themselves will be all about enjoyment. “Am I really going to enjoy this”? Therefore, overall entertainment is quite obviously an important aspect in judging a show; however, it is completely subjective. We will take a look into aspects like the plot, themes, characters and other aspects which we believe would bring Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya the Evil) to the forefront of any anime fan’s list of shows to watch. As such, we believe that Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya the Evil) is not only worth watching, but an anime from the Winter 2017 season which we believe stood out from the rest – we’ll delve into the reasons below! Despite the stance we wish to take with Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya the Evil), it goes without saying that there are things that the anime could’ve done a lot better. We’ll elaborate in a bit.

Why You Should Watch Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya the Evil)

1. It is Absolutely Beautiful

Let us begin with the basic aspects of the show, the art and music. The first thing anyone will notice about the show is the art – yes, vibrant colours cascading across the screen as Tanya and her subordinates eliminate their enemies. With a slightly different take on characters’ faces, it’s fairly easy to notice how different the art style really is. Away from the visual art, fans of MYTH&ROID will be excited to hear that the group performs the opening for Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya the Evil) and have done what they do best.

2. Interesting Plot

Into the story itself. We are presented with a protagonist who is very different from the “good-guys” we are accustomed to in anime, and even looking at the themes of time-travel and alternate worlds which Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya the Evil)l shares with other brilliant shows like re:ZERO and Boku Dake ga Inai Machi, the protagonists in these titles are vastly different from the so-called “Demon of Rhine”, Tanya Degurechaff.

Being the reincarnation of a Japanese salaryman who admits that he is a good example of human depravity, bearing “every complex imaginable”, we are presented with a character who is already interesting – and we don’t even know the guy’s name yet! When characters who aren’t paragons of moral or social justice are given the spotlight and not just as the antagonist, it gives an anime the potential to stand out because it is already very different.

3. Real-life Relevance

The role of Being X in Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya the Evil) is, from the viewer’s and Tanya’s perspectives, that of the antagonist. Being X claims to be god and haunts Tanya because she; even before she became Tanya, found no reason to believe in the existence of a higher power. From that alone we are seeing Being X using its power to force faith out of Tanya by putting her in extremely dire situations, starting with the poverty into which she was born.

This already sets us up for quite a few questions and debates surrounding the identity of Being X and if Being X is to be understood as a deity which most faiths recognise; one that is omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient. Naturally, such thoughts creep into our real-life understanding of the deities of anyone of the monotheistic faiths and it is this quality of having real-life relevance that makes Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya the Evil) worth watching.

Given our stance on the anime, we have no real reasons for anyone NOT to watch Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya the Evil); however, there are fairly major issues with the show that we would like to bring up regardless. These issues are not big enough to warrant anyone not watching the show; however, they are things that people do think about before, during and after watching Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya the Evil).

Niggling Issues

Again, we’d just like to reiterate the fact that these are issues that a minor in nature and just questions that we’ve asked ourselves after watching Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya the Evil). To start off, Tanya’s identity; her past life as a salaryman. In the twelve episodes of the anime, we do not get a real development of Tanya’s life before her first meeting with Being X, which for a lot of people, leaves much to be desired in terms of character development. Many people would be content with the inclusion of some form of elaboration on the type of character Tanya was before actually becoming Tanya and where her incredible ruthlessness and ambitiousness stems from. That; however, is a minor desire and says nothing of the actual quality of the show.

What is slightly greater in severity for Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya the Evil), is the fact that it is built around Tanya and only Tanya, as a result, we do not see much character development in the anime due to the fact that Tanya and Being X reign supreme as the main entities in the show. This gives it very little room to grow and use a vast array of substantially developed characters to drive the show forward. The effects of this; however, can only really be seen when a minor or underdeveloped character is expected to assume a role greater than that which they have been developed for.


Final Thoughts

Overall, Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya the Evil) is a viewing experience definitely worth having. It is written well enough to pique interest and Tanya as a main character is incredibly interesting; a breath of fresh air where main characters are concerned. Unless one is not too keen to watch anything with military themes or magic, Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya the Evil) should be on the agenda for anyone willing to see something different, something cold and calculating and yet grounded in the very fantasy that makes up much of the anime we love so much.

Hoshi-kun

Writer

Author: Hoshi-kun

I’m South African, harbouring an obsession for anything remotely related to Japan, mostly anime, of course. I draw sometimes. Some people call me Naledi, it’s my real name, or something like that. People think I’m stoic because I don’t smile often (I do sometimes). I like languages. Hoshi-kun and Naledi are the same side of the same coin.

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