- Genre: Military, Supernatural, Magical Girl
- Episodes: 12(1)
- Studio: NUT
In a parallel universe, closely resembling our own, a small but powerful Germanic nation has just invaded the neighbouring country in a bid for resources and political dominance of the region. An important part of Empire’s military strategy is the use of Mage units of which Tanya is foremost. This young prodigy mage has been making her way rapidly up the ranks and showing an incredible talent for militar strategy despite being an 11-year-old girl, but what makes her so unique?
The Saga of Tanya the Evil made me angry. Angry that no one told me to watch it sooner! It’s because you have no friends you say – well you might have a point there…
I loves me a good deconstruction. I like to imagine that a show creator that goes for that type of story has something just a touch more tangible to say than “give me your money”. I can’t tell you what exactly I’m basing this belief on, let’s just say I have faith 😉. Now , deconstructions of the Magical Girl genre have been done before, and done well, however Tanya seems like a fresh take.
The visuals work extremely well here. The overall style is a little more grounded and less caricatural, the type usually associated with more “serious” works, however Tanya herself is designed super over the top moe complete with overly feathery eyelashes and imposing ahoge. The clash in designs serves to contrast not only Tanya’s decidedly uncute personality, but to immediately single her out in the most conspicuous way. This is clearly a one man show The animation is good but I couldn’t shake the feeling that if a bit more resources had been available, it would have been incredible. With so many scenes of high-flying acrobatic combat, the potential for breathtaking was certainly there but they never quite made it. This said, the animation is good.
As for the story itself, well I can see it being divisive. It dabbles in religious dogma which I feel isn’t really a big deal anymore, it’s been done to death, but if you’re the type to get annoyed or offended by that – your life must be though. I should be noted that Being X is never actually identified as God per se, the show certainly implies it but the show also has an unabashed bias narrator so there is a definite argument to be made for the alternative. Either way, I loved Being X. Writing this blog, I’ve actually realized through my favorite character choices that I have a soft spot for trolls and imagining God as one certainly puts the world into context. It all makes sense now! Good one!
The bulk of the action however centers not on the metaphysical notion of God toying around with some unrepentant atheist for giggles (which is great already) but on a surprisingly and – all things considered – down to earth, depiction of war. As far as they go, the front lines here are pretty recognizable compared to space battles or Mecha confrontations we usually see. The story even briefly touches on the political and economic burdens of war rather than concentrating solely on the human cost. It doesn’t elaborate too much, but I appreciate the acknowledgement of these aspects. Moreover, Tanya spends just as much time in on working out combat strategies in severe looking headquarters as she does frantically trying to survive the front lines, giving us a more balanced view of the insanity of war.
All of this might not sounds at all like a Magical Girl anime and it is a deconstruction after all, at least in my opinion. Sure, the series completely does away with a lot of the hallmarks of that genre. The power of friendship will not be saving anyone here, it’s war and Tanya is very much looking out for no. 1. There isn’t a hint of romance, fanservice or moral high ground to be found anywhere. In fact, the black and grey morality was insisted upon, and very well done. But Tanya is still a literal magical girl fighting for her life, and others, even if only incidentally. She is ultimately up against an unimaginable force that, as far as we can tell, she is the only one capable of opposing, in Being X. Should she be opposing this force is another question and one the show carefully avoids answering. I should point out that even though the show is called Tanya the Evil – she is portrayed more as a dispassionate pragmatist generally devoid of morals and beliefs. Whether that truly makes her evil or not is up for the viewer to decide.
The ending could be considered somewhat of a cliffhanger and it does lend itself to a possible second season but even though I really enjoyed this show, I hope it does not continue. The story as it is, is perfectly self-contained, and even though it obviously continues, I feel like it cut out at the perfect moment. Anything more is likely to bring the show down – why mess with a good thing? Now there are some elements that did not in fact work so well. Lieutenant Serebryakov, Tanya’s assistant, is obviously set up to be an important character. She is the only one that shares Tanya’s hyper cute design and has the most screen time after her, but the show never quite figures out what to do with her. Similarly, it attempts to set up a nemesis for Tanya in Anson Sioux but due to time constraints, their clashes are fleeting. I did enjoy those clashes but he never felt like an actual antagonist. Also, we see multiple battlegrounds from the losers’ perspective. The show doesn’t really give us the chance to get to know anyone well enough for their defeat to be heart wrenching, but it’s still hardly pleasant – nor should it be. Victory always comes at a very real and very heavy price. But aside from these little issues, I throughly enjoyed this title and would not hesitate to recommend it.
On a final note, I really enjoyed Tanya’s voice actor. It was an interesting experience to hear that traditional super cute chipmunk voice delivering dialogue in either constantly exasperated or downright aggressive tones.
Favorite character: Tanya von Degurechaff
What this anime taught me about myself: My morality is relative.
Suggested drink: Imperial Martini
- Every time someone casts a spell – take a sip
- Every time Tanya prays – take a sip
- Every time God is mentioned – take a sip
- Every time Tanya upholds the letter of regulations rather than the spirit – take a sip
- Every time Being X is mention – hail
- if Being X actually manifests – take an extra large sip
- Every time Tanya denies the existence of God – give it some thought
- Every time Tanya explodes – raise your glass
- Every time we only see Tanya’s ahoge in the shot – take a sip
- Every time Tanya summarizes real worl military history – pay attention
- if you already know the reference – think about your next move in your risk game
- Every time you hear the word victory – salute!