Anime Review: Saga of Tanya the Evil: The Complete Series

By Drew Hurley 08.01.2020 1

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Saga of Tanya the Evil: The Complete Series (UK Rating: 15)

Saga of Tanya the Evil is a master class on subverting expectations. The series opens on what feels like a World War I series, seeing forces take pot-shots at each other with basic rifles. Suddenly, the battlefield explodes with a level of artillery unknown to the era. Stranger still, it is caused by magic. One fanatical soldier in the equivalent of Germany, a blonde, nine-year-old girl, is actually a reborn Japanese Salaryman from our own world and time. Yes. It's another Isekai, but like none that have come before. Coming courtesy of Manga Entertainment, this complete collection contains all 12 episodes and is available from January 27th
The first one introduces Tanya as quite the terrifying soldier - flying through the air and reducing enemy squadrons to pieces with ease. Laughing maniacally as she does so. Even her allies fear this cute little psychopath. It's only in the second episode that the truth to Tanya is revealed; how she came to be on this world and how she became such a terrifying figure. That story starts in present-day Japan, where an unnamed middle manager is firing an underperformer.
This protagonist to the tale is a familiar boss for anyone who's worked in an office environment before. He's entirely self-serving, arrogant, snide, and he has his eye on a cushy job in a corner office with no care for those that work with him - as evidenced in his introduction where he is dismissing one of his subordinates; a subordinate who takes their firing rather badly. As the slimy boss stands on the platform awaiting his train home, a sudden push from behind ends his story. The last thing he sees his ex-employee, then just as he's about to be scattered over the tracks, everything freezes. In this paused reality, the people begin to speak. One voice spread throughout the many.
This voice laments having to deal with the death of yet another atheist. This is the equivalent of God, or at least claims to be. It mentions it is severely overworked and sick of looking after the billions on the planet - wasting time on reincarnating atheists seems pointless. The boss does little to ingratiate himself with the being. Reiterating his staunch beliefs as an atheist, pointing out this "God" is more likely the devil or some other random being that he dubs "Being X." His jabs gain him some form of reincarnation, and in the common style of modern-day anime he's getting reincarnated into a new world, where he has one more chance to redeem himself, but a death without doing so will result in the end of his cycle of reincarnations.
The world she is reborn into is a familiar one. A glimpse at the map is real-world Europe, and while the technology may be familiar to World War I buffs, the environment and the politics are closer to World War II. The European lands are constantly at each other's throats, while in the background the threat of the biggest War of all time looms; a war that could engulf the whole world. An interesting challenge made even more difficult thanks to the nature of his rebirth. Reborn as an orphaned baby girl named Tanya Degurechaff within a country assaulted from all sides, though he's not without advantages, especially thanks to being reborn with all of his memories. While he was hardly a military strategist in the real world, he got through history class in Japan, and has knowledge of the equivalent wars in his previous world to draw from.

Tanya is understandably obsessed with surviving here, and decides the best defence is a solid offense. To survive in a war, she decides to enlist. To use her knowledge to speed through the ranks, reach the level of officer and then live a cushy life in the capital. Similar to her desires in the regular world: a corner office, with minions to command. The series chronicles this journey. As a green recruit she tries to injure herself enough in a grand self-sacrifice to get to the capital but it just exemplifies her abilities as a soldier. A job in weapons development proves more dangerous than the front lines, and soon, despite her efforts, she's wound up the leader of a specialist strike force unit, sent to some of the most dangerous places on the planet. Though, she gets some help from an unlikely place.
"Being X" is constantly watching, and in an effort to convert this atheist, X is offering strength, should Tanya ask for it. If Tanya prays, she receives godly boons, turning her into the same type of overpowered killing machine common to these types of power fantasy Isekai. Though Tanya is loath to do so. Tanya remains a staunch atheist despite everything she has seen, and she hates this divine Being. Having to pray to it turns her stomach. and it's clear X has ulterior motives. X goes so far as to grant power to a rival soldier with a particular history and hatred for Tanya - but to be clear, this rival isn't the villain of the story ,and really, neither is Being X. That title belongs to Tanya. She retained her personality from her first life, and shows her sociopathic and psychopathic traits fairly regularly, to the point that even her fellow "Fatherland" fanatics think her rather extreme. Everyone loves a good villain, though, and it's easy to get behind this little maniac.
The world Tanya is brought to is a fascinating backdrop for the story. The reality and horrors of war delved into in marvellous detail. The Empire Tanya is born into is clearly Germany, and the empire or Fatherland is pushing against various European countries, culminating in a battle against the Republic; this world's version of France. It's not quite this world's history, but there are plenty of similarities - what is different, though, is the inclusion of magic. Explosive rounds, flying soldiers, mechanical horses. It's a unique twist and adds some impressive visuals to the whole affair.
Originally a Light Novel series, Saga of Tanya the Evil, since its inception in 2012, it has received a manga adaptation (this anime), and a sequel film that continues the story immediately after the conclusion to this show. This anime series was produced by a very new anime studio: Studio NUT. Formed in just 2017, this show was its first production, and since then they have only produced two other series in addition to the follow-up film for this show. Despite their lack of experience, they've put out a striking work. The grim and muted look of the battlefield, enhanced by the luminous magics - but Tanya is really the star of the production, her range of cute little nine-year-old to psychotic monster is impressive.
This release from Manga contains all 12 episodes of the series along with little else. It's pretty bare bonus on the bonus feature front, containing just the usual bundled text-less opening and closing videos, along with some promotional trailers and commercials. There is, however, both the original Japanese, as well as a new English dub available on disk. The Japanese dub has some real talent at hand. Tanya is played by Aoi Yuuki, one of the best Japan has to offer, who has voiced a huge range of characters in anime and games. Probably best known for her work as Madoka in Madoka Magica, and recently Futaba in Persona 5. Her malicious, yet cutesy take is perfect for the character. The English dub is of high quality and enjoyable. Of particular note is the always wonderful Monica Rial as Tanya herself, and everyone's favourite glasses-pushing, intellectual, J Michael Tatum as Eric Von Rerugen. Eric has done a great job ingratiating himself with new anime fans with Iida in My Hero Academia recently, but his considerable body of work will make him a familiar voice to any English dub fans, with roles like Sebastian in Black Butler and Okarin in Steins;Gate under his belt.
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10
One of the greatest strengths of anime is that it's filled with a huge range of stories, and the type of stories that just cannot be found anywhere else. That's certainly the case here. It's a fascinating alternative history, with those knowledgeable on real history finding plenty of parallels to compare. The strategizing and machinations of the war are engaging, and the quality of the production grand. The only thing that really lets it down is the lack of character development outside of Tanya. Her team could have each been an interesting character to delve into, but they never are.

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Some elements sound cool, but I am really put off by superpower-type anime at this point in my life, much prefer more gritty or realistic- not dbz one person curb stomping everyone else.

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