Mod Edit: This review contains spoilers.
This anime, compressed into one long ass sentence: “An intelligent, asshole, soldier loli is actually a reincarnated, sociopathic, atheist, former salaryman, who occasionally gets forced by a stalker, god-like entity to pray to it in order for him-now-her to survive in a world-war setting and wreck his/her war enemies... with a magic gun.”
Youjo Senki was a pretty interesting show. It successfully presents an uncommon perspective in anime, where the main character is borderline villainous. I personally found it very entertaining and would recommend it to you.
TL;DR at the end
Tanya Degurachaff (the main character) starts off in our universe as an atheist, sociopathic, efficiency-valuing salaryman with many personality disorders and complexes. Some normal everyday shit happens at work, but the guy that he just cold-heartedly fired at work that day overreacts and murders Tanya by pushing him onto the train tracks. A god-like entity claims to be God, has a philosophical discussion with him before he dies, Tanya names it "Being X" since he's a non-believer, and then he gets told that he this will be his last reincarnation cycle (basically because he’s a sociopathic atheist). He consequently gets sent to be reborn in a different, more war-torn world that contains magic and is reminiscent of the early 1900s in our world.
He-now-she is reborn as a girl and we become increasingly aware that she remembers her previous life as she reaches the age of nine. Now that she's a fully fledged nine-year-old, she chooses to join the military and rises through the military ranks in order to obtain enough achievements to live comfortably in the safety of the city. However, “Being X” maliciously interferes at very critical points in Tanya's life, and so she often ends up continuously fighting in life-threatening magical gun battles. The reason why being “Being X” interferes is basically in order to try to convert her evil, sociopathic, loli ass into a devout believer. However, instead of choosing to believe in God, Tanya angrily continues to reject the existence of God through ominous displays of smug insanity.
The story follows him-now-her as she rises through the army ranks and becomes an overpowered, super strict, crazy, monster-like commanding officer. The story also gives some interesting perspective on the human nature of war, and the geopolitical strategy that goes into it
- Will he-now-she ever get his-now-her happy ending?
- Who or what is "Being X?"
- How does Tanya, a sociopath, act in a military environment?
~Find out more by watching the show!~
The pacing was great; nothing felt like it was too slow or too fast, but some watchers were initially thrown off because the first episode since it started in the middle of a war scene. The purpose of it was to build interest in the series by showing that there was going to be tons of action, but they consequently chose to present Tanya’s backstory in the second episode.
The story itself is very unique, but it feels like the show is missing something to me. I think that it may be because there is no ambitious “goal(s)” that the main protagonist has, other than just defying “Being X” and trying to live comfortably in life. The story was also very interesting, having enough character development for all of the essential characters. Overall, I feel the story is worth an 8/10. I ranked it down mainly because it’s nearly void of profound or meaningful qualities, and also because the show wasn’t exactly “complex” or relatable in any way (except for perhaps the intelligence of the main character). I thought that the story was “very interesting”, but never once called it “great”.
Really, the only interesting characters in this anime were Tanya, Being X, and some random ass enemy-dad from the suburbs. However, to be honest, Tanya was really all this anime needed anyways. Tanya is interesting because she’s an excellent strategist that prioritizes logic and efficiency as a soldier, which allows her to often make more effective decisions than even the highest commanding strategy officers. She's also pretty overpowered and crazy, so she wrecks her enemies while having some of the craziest facial expressions that I've seen.
Additionally, Tanya’s thoughts and actions somewhat remind me of the main protagonists from Saiki Kusuo no Psi nan (10/10 best comedy) and Jinrui wa Shimashita (8/10 hidden gem). In these anime, the main character’s words/actions and internal commentary are often hilariously in opposition to each other, as they reluctantly conform to others’ expectations to achieve some sort of objective or conceal their true nature. This mainly presents itself when she must show respect for her superior officers, often becoming extremely enraged internally when things don’t go her way.
They only briefly built the personalities of the other characters that surround Tanya throughout the anime. The highest ranking officers showed up pretty often and got a decent amount of development, as did Tanya’s main assistant Viktoriya Ivanovna. Viktoriya Avnovna is a very kind and tender woman, who is unexpectedly dedicated to her job as a soldier. She's supposed to be a main character, but I don’t recall getting any of her background story. It must’ve either been very insignificant or they may have just never told her story.
The background art is objectively amazing--- actually, they are some of the best backgrounds that I have ever seen in the anime genre. Additionally, the animation and action are great, the dramatic angles are top quality, the facial expressions are very expressive, special effects are good enough, all 3DCG objects blend perfectly and are barely detectable--- overall the art is quite great in general. However, they REALLY fucked up the female characters' head designs from the manga. In fact, it’s so different, that I am literally at a loss for words.
The female characters look almost unrecognizably different when compared to their manga counterparts. Tanya and Viktoriya Ivanovna (actually, the women in general) were supposed to look like very beautiful characters/people. In the manga, she looked similar to how a beautiful shoujo anime’s main character would look (the ED art is the manga art, in case you were wondering). Comparing the two... left me at a loss for words because in the anime they looked like some weird ass toddlers with weird-looking eyes.
The men look perfectly fine. This slightly ticked me off because they spent all of this time and money drawing these hella top quality backgrounds, but they deliberately chose to fuck up both Tanya’s and Viktoriya Ivanovna’s character designs. The new design makes them both appear less attractive and more scary and evil in Tanya’s case, which may have been what the art director was going for. I don’t like it, but I wouldn’t have noticed if I didn’t check out the manga. Everything else is absolutely fantastic, so I feel compelled to give this category a 9/10.
Both the opening and ending were pretty unique, fun, intense, and catchy songs 9/10. The opening is an intense dark-sounding j-rock piece, while the ending is a bit more emotional, but still intense. Unfortunately, I feel that the background OSTs were pretty lackluster in general, but the main battle OST was pretty good. I think that they should have had a composer create a heavier, more fluid sounding main melody for the battles in order to convey the heaviness of fighting and taking a life, but it sounded pretty good and definitely got the job done. The remaining themes were relatively average instrumental background music.
I feel that Tanya's voice sounded a bit off. It definitely fit her evil personality and was pretty intimidating, but I think it would sound better if she had a more softer voice that maintains the same level of intensity. Her voice didn’t really seem to fit the character from the manga, in my opinion. It definitely fits the character from the anime, however. To be quite frank, Yuuki Aoi is an amazing VA and always does a spectacular job in her VA roles, so I’m guessing it was somebody else’s “artistic” interference that caused all of these changes. All of the other characters were voiced pretty well.
All things considered, I feel that this was a very enjoyable series. This was the series that I looked forward to watching the most during the winter 2017 season. This anime's title picture is what drew me in, but I mainly stayed for the asshole, intelligent, soldier loli, who is actually a reincarnated, sociopathic, atheist, former salaryman. I actually really enjoyed his-now-her personality; it essentially MADE this show. This show would not be anywhere near as interesting without Tanya. Without her, it would probably look something like a shittier version of “Alderamin in the Sky (8/10)”.
What to Take away: 8/10
The story is very good, I enjoyed it and you probably will too (8/10). It was paced quite well; nothing feeling too slow or too fast. Tanya was really the only character that received development, but she’s really all that the series needed anyways (7/10). The art is absolutely great, having some of the best background art that I’ve seen in the anime genre, but they screwed up the female characters’ beauty from the manga in order to make them look scarier (9/10). The OP and ED were great, but the background OSTs would’ve been better if they sounded heavier to suit the war vibe, like something Sawano Hiroyuki would compose(7/10). Tanya’s voice was great, but she occasionally sounded relatively squeaky. I would definitely recommend this anime to you personally.
Should you watch it?
If you like:
- unique plots,
- intelligent/calculating main characters,
- war anime, military anime, magic anime,
- intense action scenes,
- strategy-based plots,
- great background art,
- and/or evil lolis *hears sirens in the distance*
Then this anime is definitely for you. Otherwise, you probably shouldn’t watch it.
I hope this helps you make your decision on whether or not to watch this anime~