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.
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!
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…
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!