FI – WarLOLi! – METANORN

First Impressions – Youjo Senki

Do not look down on Tanya the Evil!

 “We all have a Monster within; the difference is in degree, not in kind.”― Douglas Preston, The Monster of Florence
“War! Huunh! Good God, y’all! What is it good for?! A blonde super-efficient monster LOLi thats who! Say it again!” not-Edwin Starr, not-War

The Faery of the Battlefield

How could you say “no” to this ball of adorable!?

skylion// So I first heard about this animation project through ANN/MAL/The usual places fans hear about upcoming anime. Like many of you I took one look at Tanya’s design and went “Holy crap! that is one freaky looking character”. Then I had the chance to look at the fanslation of the LNs, as well as the manga scanlation based off of that.

In as few words, it’s all mostly garbage. The art for the manga adaptation of the books is pretty darn sloppy and crowded with awkward anatomy, then the pacing is just poorly done; the story is definitely there, and some good ideas are very much present, some of them screaming to be heard; mostly about the need for war and who should participate, and more important, how they should lead and follow…If there is a thematic approach it goes for, it’s that war makes monsters…

But it was the prologue for the LNs that lends real definition to the word terrible; a misplaced and precocious and ponderous psychology dissertation done for pulp fiction. The first few chapters move along at a brisk enough pace, but nothing of note really stands out from that, beyond the typical contrast of LN potboiler fare, and “oh, this one has a loli, so I better pay attention to the bait” All of this lead me to think, “…hmm, will this new studio, NuT, just use the best part of the material at get on with that…?” Is the action and contrast enough to sustain?

Is Tanya No. 1 with a bullet?

After watchin’ the first episode, the answer is yes, yes they will, and yes, I think there is. It’s all there in my fan nickname for the show. WarLOLi! It’s about this war, and how the story of that war center’s around the titular character, Tanya the EVIL! Goodness, where do they get these English titles? I guess Combat Girl is just a bit to on the nose, or generic? Anyway with the focus on her and the effect she has on the battlefield, this opening episode avoids almost all of the ponderous crap the source material bags readers with from the get go, and gets right into the place it needs to be. Tanya is a unique fixture on the typically all male war zone and not a single scene is wasted on underscoring that. Nor is there any fat getting in the way of a lean, mean, commanding machine that she is determined to live as.

Incoming!

To that end the animation is simply gorgeous. It fixes up the rather bizarre manga character design and gives it room to breath. After that the art direction comes to life. We have some great primary contrasts; there are grey skies standing against serene blue and stark whites above, with the scorched damp earth standing against marvelous magical explosions below. This is done with some keen direction in camera and flight choreography and makes the affair pretty rich. It should keep the sakuga fans pretty darn happy. Oh yeah, speaking of the world. This is yet one more alternate-world, war torn Europe; just file off the names of the countries, replace with a variations of same, mix and match some cultural design and language, shakenbake, garnish, and serve. It’s really that simple, so let’s see what they do with the recipe in coming episodes. …It also has magic in the tradition of some Righteous God Fearing Combat Magic complete with Airborne Cavalry strikes, defensive shield and communication capabilities!

Heads up!

As of this episode we can see the national divisions rather well. The Republic soldiers ride magic armoured funky looking chess style horses in the air, and the Empire uses a form of tech that looks so amazingly functional and stripped down that the thought that went into it still amazes me. It looks like the Empire favours using magic to enhance technology, while the Republican forces like to push with some old school traditions; some stark and nice contrast between forces help with the worldbuilding with adds to the battles looking spectacular. There is a rush to make the animation fans pleased with the outcome. But it still needs a reason to be.

The Faery finds you lake of faith disturbing…

Back to that end, we have Tanya, again. As of right now, she is still a mystery. Why is a little girl fighting with such power and distinction towards total loyalty in a war? What kind of world would allow this to ever happen, to be so taken by surprise that it actually does; other than the obvious “we want a loli in a war show”? Is she really a monster, as the high command of her own Empire’s army makes her out to be? If so, how much of one? The way she treats insubordination points to the answer; yes she is a monster, and a pretty big one at that. But that’s not the full story. I know a great deal more from even the briefest reading of the source material, but I’ll keep zipped. Because mostly, I’m hoping they never dive into it to be quite honest. At least not all of it. I’ll be frank, it really sucks. It’s terrible, and I really do hope that NuT just does the sensible thing and avoids it or rewrites the stuff. Finger’s crossed!

The Monster of The Empire

Tanya is always in charge of her squad…

Irenesharda// It was called the “war to end all wars”, and until it’s successor a few decades later, was known simply as the “Great War”, its infamy needing no other title. Today, WWI has been largely overshadowed by its baby brother in both the history books and in popular culture, so it’s actually fascinating in and of itself that they decided to make an alternative version of this historical conflict as the setting for this story’s stage.

…always causing trouble…

It is 1924 in not-Europe and war has enflamed the continent. The igniters of said conflict is not-Germany, and from the imperial forces we meet Lt. Tanya Degurechaff and her company of mage soldiers as they provide aerial and back-up support for the soldiers slugging and slogging and dying in the muddy trenches. Tanya happens to be a no-nonsense commanding officer, who lays waste to any battlefield that she comes to, and leads her soldiers with an iron will and fist into battle, becoming an ace on the battlefield. Her ruthlessness both on and off the theater of war has earned her the sobriquet of “Devil of the Rhine”. But what’s interesting about Tanya, is not that she’s female, or that she’s barely taller than a meter, or even that she’s got a cruelty about her that’s practically psychopathic in nature–it’s the fact that she’s appears to only be about 12 years of age at most! A Warloli indeed…

…so she’s a bit precocious!

The setup of this series is quite fascinating. We have an alternative history World War One, but this time there is magic and spells that are at work here along with the artillery and trench warfare. The battle scenes in this series are rather well done, being able to channel the horror of war, but without becoming too bogged down by it. The magic enhancements are fun to see, and I am fascinated that the “spells” they use (outside of the glowy visual gear mechanics) are really just prayers asking for the Lord’s help and guidance on the battlefield. It gives it an extra layer to it that I would like to see more of in the future.

From LN to Manga to Show

The animation is done rather well for a new company that is just starting out. I know that the character designs of many characters have been cause for dispute among fans of the original material. As an anime-only who knows nothing of the light novel or manga, I have to say that I have no problems with any of them so far. The two that stand out the most in this world, simply because of how different they are from the others, are Tanya and Viktorya. This is interesting since they are so far, the only female characters we’ve seen so far, and I have to wonder if they is just how they are going to be designing women in this series. Tanya’s doll like appearance contrasts well with her evil, creepy nature, almost reminding me of the “Bride of Chucky” in her design. Viktorya’s design is also well suited for her naive, hopeful personality, with her huge opaque blue eyes and pouty lip expressions. I am interested in seeing how her character changes as she begins to realize what kind of person her commanding officer really is.

Viktorya probably has more depth than Tanya?

However, despite the well done setup, this premiere was not without its problems. I have no problem with them not getting to Tanya’s past and what and who she really is. I mean, that was all in the synopsis anyway, and this is only the first episode, they have plenty of time to unveil all that. Yet, at the same time, they haven’t done a good job of really connecting us to her. Or really any character to be honest. Having your audience interested enough to follow a series, you have to have a character(s) who they can relate to enough that they are interested in following their journey. Even psycho/sociopaths can connect with audiences is shows like Dexter, Sherlock, and House of Cards have taught us anything.

So, which one needs the hug the most?

And yet, I feel like we like that relatability right now. None of the characters have risen beyond simply just–being there. Also, with this being a war series, there is often a desire to take sides, to pick a side to root for. And yet, even despite their real history counterpart, I still can’t get behind the Empire who seemed to have preemptively struck out at all their neighbors, only to realize that their neighbors were stronger than they thought and they had bit off more than they could chew. It’s hard for me to really get behind or connect with our main characters since they are effectively the “bad guys” in this scenario, and as of yet, they haven’t really displayed much in terms or redeeming qualities that would allow me to sympathize with their cause. The not-France Republic is just as bad, with basically so far, cardboard cutouts as characters. This inability to connect is one of the biggest problems that Youjo Senki is currently facing, and one that it will need to counter in order to not become a lost opportunity.

So, how do you feel about being a monster, Tanya?

A few official additions…

Suit up!

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So far, the tale of Tanya the Evil, has a pretty good start and good promise with an unusual premise. It has its problems that, while if not taken care of could destroy the series, are still easily fixable in the episodes to come. Tanya is good character to observe. She’s actually pretty flat if we were to actually follow her from her own perspective, but to watch her exploits through another’s eyes (Viktorya’s?)…well, that could be something far more interesting. And I look forward to watching our cruel little battlefield commander do even more dastardly deed in the name of the Fatherland. Who said evil wasn’t fun?

Well, this is one of the hot shows I’ve been waiting for, so I’m very happy to have watched, and very happy to say it met and exceeded the expectations I had. But, it’s easy to see a first episode do that, especially with this level of straightforward action, plot, and characterization. The proof is in the pudding, we need much much more from the plot and character. To that end Studio NuT is a new outfit of some veteran free-range storytellers and artists. This is their first production, but with the director of PunchLine on staff, and one of the writers for Death Parade taking up the script duties, So I don’ t think it’s out of the question to hope that they will bring a great degree of depth to frame all the action.

If I do have one gripe so far…it’s the lips of our female characters. Wow! What!?  No, not really. We’ve seen odder, right?  No my gripe mirrors Irene’s, we got some cardboard flying around out there. They’ve wedded Tanya’s natural flying vantage point to her being the only one seeing the big picture of following orders as a unit; no adventuring is tolerated. This is pretty special, but it needs more solid joints and connective tissue to make it a thematic point that has meaning. But to leave, I’ll focus on the positive, I just can’t go without mentioning that it is wonderful hearing Aoi Yuuki lending her skills to Tanya’s voice; she does creepy and powerful character’s so very well. We also have Saori Hayami as Victoriya – the third time I’ve mentioned her being in a show I’ve written a post for this early in the season – she does that ingenue voice so well and it suits our battlefield naif. Let’s hope she survives and her loyalty to our monster loli is well spent. See you next time! Remember, Evil is fun!

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We live, laugh, enjoy and strictly believe on "more the merrier". When together, we usually come up with very chatty, conversation-based episodics and interesting posts.
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18 Responses to “First Impressions – Youjo Senki”

  1. BlackBriar says:

    While I still have to finish either series, the vibes I got from this opening were between Brave Witches and Shuumatsu no Izetta. What do they have in common? A world war battle setting and magic users. This is starting to become common indeed.

    Anyway, as far as war shows go, this show’s opening was decent and Tanya, the devious little imp of a lead, obviously being the highlight. I’ve already seen comments comparing her to Alucard (Hellsing Ultimate) because they both have twisted, insane personalities and facial expressions. So it’s not fighting evil with good, it’s fighting evil with another kind of evil. And setting up your own former subordinates to die, twisting it to say it’s what they wanted was an icy cold move. Open decapitations are a bit out of the norm for a seemingly mainstream series, so it leaves to wonder what level of gore will accepted throughout.

    With Youjo Senki, I’m part of the anime-only group but where the character designs are concerned from my point of view, compared to everyone else, Viktorya’s is derpy that it’s a little distracting. Especially when she and Tanya are put side by side.

    Voice actress Aoi Yuuki is always a pleasure. It seems she’s trying something new but I’m not sure how to feel about it. Maybe it’s just me but her vocals for Tanya sound like a stuffy version of the voice she used for Mina Tepes/Krul Tepes and Victorique de Blois (Gosick). Sounds as though she’s speaking with her hand in front of her mouth or something.

  2. FVA says:

    Im Seeing a bit of studio Trigger art style on Viktoriya here. Are there some staff from there as well? i thought this guys(Studio NUT) were mostly ex-Madhouses

    And i also like how Tanya is being formal with her enemy before cooking them in a aerial furnace spell.

    Waiting for the dub on 23rd to see how tanya sound XD will it be with a germany accent or straight out british like or something else

    • skylion says:

      Everyone is seeing Trigger everywhere~ What is up with that? Yeah, like you say, lots of NuTs production staff did float around Madhouse for a spell, but I think her visual style is pretty unique, they crank up her reactions shots quite a bit, so maybe that’s what makes it look similar to Trigger? But they did the same with Tanya as well? In fact, they get more in terms of facial animation and distinct design…the dudes look generic AF.

      Tanya is a massive by the book person…that will become apparent as the story progresses. She also wants people to know that she has kicked every single aspect of their ass there is to kick. She fully subscribes to the concept of total war, and is disciplined to nearly a fault – that being her evil streak. She’s enjoying this…for lots of reasons, none of them all that insane.

      As for the dub, I’m not the guy to comment. But anyone that has any more information, or a more informed opinion than mine, please feel free to leave a comment…

      • Highway says:

        Everyone’s “seeing Trigger” because artists copy other artists. Sorry, they’re “inspired by” other artists. Not just the key animators, but also the directors and producers. So they see a new visual style come along, and they probably like it, just like the audience likes it. And they want to incorporate those things they like in their future work.

    • Irenesharda says:

      Trigger? I don’t know, maybe a little? I don’t really see it, but I guess.

      And Tanya is a professional on the battlefeild. I mean how can you advance in the ranks and get that promotion if you are being tried for war crimes? lol

  3. zztop says:

    “Oh, this one has a loli, so I better pay attention to the bait.”

    Although youjo = 幼女 directly translates as “little girl”, the term has associations with describing girls in underage porn. Even Youjo’s LN author was very surprised his editors hadn’t changed the title given the connotation, musing on what was becoming of Japan to let this slide.

    “We have an alternative history World War One, but this time there is magic and spells that are at work here along with the artillery and trench warfare.”
    The LNs are heavy on discussions of military strategies and warfare practices (I’ve been told is Mahouka-level), something praised by source readers.

    • skylion says:

      I’ve read the source material. Now I really don’t know if it’s trouble with the translation or not, but giving every benefit of the doubt I can, none of the stuff beyond Tanya’s motivations were very interesting. They read as ponderous, disconnected, regurgitated stuff. So whatever praise it’s getting seems at odds with what I’ve read.

      I can’t comment on what the editors have in mind; perhaps they just want to use a word that’s perfectly normal and damn the other unsavory connotations; take it back as it were.

    • Irenesharda says:

      WWI military stratagy was pretty poor in quite a few places, and from what they’ve shown thus far of the Empire’s strategy, they aren’t that much different in this universe either.

      However, it will be interesting if they do show more of the strategy and tactical side as I’ve always had an interest in that. We’ll have to see how it goes.

      As for the use of Youjo, it could simply be possible that the editors decided to go with it on purpose just to be sardonic. It doesn’t do that much harm in the long run. No one outside of certain parts of Japan would even think of the connotation.

      • skylion says:

        WW! strategy was actually quite good for it’s time; good for getting solider killed, yws, as all wars are very adept at. But in this regard the leaders of forces acknowledge that the men were resources and used them as such. The biggest and the most costly mistake they made was one of the assumption of speed. That massive forces would bring “swift victory”. If they could spend the resources in that manner, then the cost would be worth it as more lives would be spared down the line. When that didn’t happen the assumption was placed on other forces at work, so the same strategies were used to the extent we known of them today.

        Tanya is cut from the same cloth, and I think we’ll see more of her ideas emerge as time goes buy, so I won’t say what and how she is like this. But I will say that her expression, the wild ones that is, are an exaggeration for the most part. The way the soldiers react to her is how they would have reacted to any command upon seeing themselves in the bigger picture. They weren’t there to “save a group of artillery men cut off from the lines”, they were there to die to defend a position, no more, no less…shocking in the least…

  4. Smiley says:

    I am fascinated that the “spells” they use (outside of the glowy visual gear mechanics) are really just prayers asking for the Lord’s help and guidance on the battlefield

    Tanya’s prayers don’t actually serve as spells, nor do any of the mages have to recite them to use magic. Tanya has… special circumstances that force her to praise the Lord. Maybe the anime will get into this later, or maybe not. I’m not sure how much of the background they’ll decide to include, as some of it ranges from tedious to absurd in the LN.

    • skylion says:

      …yeah, I managed to find my way into the next few chapters, just to see how it compared to the manga which I’m still keeping up with somewhat. If NuT is smart, they’ll take the one cour show, let the publisher deal with any changes the TV makes, and rewrite the material to not be horrible…

    • Irenesharda says:

      Oh wow, that’s interesting. So, its just applicable to Tanya herself? The way they played it, with her being able to amp up every time she said a prayer seemed to make them seem more like spells. But it will be interesting to see her/his backstory and what actually happened here.

      • Smiley says:

        Yep, it’s basically a curse that Tanya is subject to in exchange for something.

  5. Namaewoinai says:

    This “Girl” somehow a habit of having 1v1 on almost every one, except for someone who worth her trust (kinda rare i suppose)

    Also this “Girl (to the left)” Seem to be so wierd but yet a mystery still! or maybe she is just ordinary

    as for that world…Hmph, Somebody is corrupt the dimensional power all almost anywhere, and creating many plural words, involving early 20th century wars like this, OK…I’ll do straight for this…i should think something like this or even this one

    Show ▼

    Also HERE COMES A NEW CHALLENGER

    • skylion says:

      I think you have to work hard to gain Tanya’s trust no matter what, until then keep working hard or get left behind.

      Show ▼

      [spoiler]

      As for Akko, Fosh will have a post up for LWA sooner rather than later…

    • Irenesharda says:

      I actually am wondering what term they will use for “salaryman” in the dub, since the term is almost exclusively used to refer to the male Japanese white-collar worker. Though I guess, perhaps exactly for that reason, they would indeed use that term and those who are unfamiliar with it in the West can simply look it up.

  6. BlackBriar says:

    @skylion:

    Anime news: Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya Film Slated for Summer

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