Youjo Senki is a series that succeeds in portraying the “reincarnated and transported to a different world” scenario while having a unique approach on the “military” genre.
The story is well executed and approaches the military genre from a new and unique perspective that I found really entertaining. The character cast is a “one man army” composed of Tanya, aside from her character there really aren’t any other good characters.
The animation works in harmony with the sound department, resulting in a great watching experience that really allows the viewer to enter the show’s world.
For having insulted “God”, an atheist and arrogant Japanese salaryman in the moment of his death is sentenced to be reborn in an alternate universe similar to 1910's Europe mixed with early aspects of World War II, in an empire torn apart by countless wars with all nearby countries.
The salaryman is reborn as a girl who will be known as Second Lieutenant Tanya Degurechaff of the Imperial Army, a 9-year-old soldier girl. As God stated, if Tanya doesn’t meet her end through a natural death or she refuses to have faith in Him, her soul will be sent to hell for all eternity. In order to avoid going to hell, Tanya decides to enter the Empire’s Mages Division and fight in the “world war” hoping to climb the ladder to the top ranks as fast as possible to remain away from the battlefield as a way to avoid the risk of being killed and at the same time “live the good life”.
Even if the arrogant salaryman is now forced to have the body of a young girl, he soon adapts to the situation and turns into a merciless soldier who prioritizes efficiency above all.
To be honest, in the beginning of the series, and even before I started watching it, I found the “man in loli body” to be ridiculous and it actually bothered me for the duration of the first 3 episodes but I soon got over it and got intrigued by Tanya’s character instead of being bothered by her appearance.
The story takes place in quite a normal world, except for the existence of “magic”. The show does a good job at portraying how differing countries can act when they are disagreeing, just skipping the political talks and jumping to war, and the way it employs real war tactics such as trench warfare was really nice to see.
Also, the “Empire” can be compared to WW1 Germany, the Republic can be compared to France and the enemy alliance can be compared to the Triple Entente (and a few more comparisons I won’t bother mentioning), I found all these similarities to be a great addition to the show by giving it veracity.
The story unfolds at a satisfying pace, nothing felt like it was developing too fast or too slow, but the first episode could have been done better and used to explain things such as why the Empire is fighting against so many countries, how the magic-based weapons work, how magic came to be, etc. With that in mind, the first episode did its job well, its purpose was to display an interesting scene that will compel the viewer to watch the series by showing that there is gonna be a ton of action, and it did that very well.
I consider Youjo Senki to be quite the unique “military” show that approaches things from a different and interesting perspective, compared to what I am used to. On the other hand, it lacks the complex story and meaningful messages it would take for me to consider it a “very good” series.
There aren’t many “clever” moments or twists that left me pondering, just a straightforward story that although it is a tad bit ridiculous at times, I found it good.
“War does not decide who is right, but who is left”. What really separated Youjo Senki from other generic war series (like Izetta:The Last Witch) was the fact that there are no real “bad guys”, or in this case bad countries, only patriots blindly believing their country’s propaganda and soldiers following orders which is very true and realistic.
This is what I found very dumb: People, that studied and experienced war for 20-30 years can’t come up with a good strategy but the businessman Tanya (because that is what she/he really is, a businessman) was able to do so without any effort. Even if I was to take into account the possibility that Tanya studied war and had a natural talent for it, that still wouldn’t explain the veteran’s incompetence nor Tanya’s success, it’s just ludicrous.
This is where Youjo Senki fails. Except for Tanya and “Being X” there really is no one that is worth mentioning, the support characters are just bland tropes used for decor, having the banal purpose of being plot tools, sacrifices or just to fill up the void.
Tanya Degurechaff, the protagonist, is a young blonde, blue-eyed 10 years old girl who is the reincarnation of a cold-hearted atheist and social-darwinist Japanese salaryman who was sent to another world because “he” who is now a “she” insulted God. Compared to others, Tanya has a high latent magical ability and is the only one capable of using an experimental “Type-95 operation orb” due to Being X's interference. She controls a battalion of elite mages whose main purpose is to overwhelm enemy forces while also remaining highly mobile and relatively small.
Tanya is quite ruthless and intolerant towards the mistakes and failures of others, much the same as in her previous life, and employs several extreme punishments and training methods.
What makes her characters interesting is that she is similar to an “anti-hero”, she is merciless, cunning, egoistic, arrogant and shows sociopathic tendencies through the façades she uses and monologues that explain the logic and reasonings behind her actions. Tanya doesn’t wish for riches, world fame, world domination or other generic motives, she only has the mundane goal of living a comfortable life that ends by a natural death, which I found a bit hilarious but also original and made me relate to her character a bit.
“Being X” is a self-centered and villainous god-like entity, more like a self-proclaimed God, and throughout the series it forces Tanya to praise his name by putting her in situations where she has no other choice than doing so. His form is unknown, he only appears through proxies but we know he has absolute power since he altered the fundamentals of the world on multiple occasions.
What bugged me was his unknown reason for being so obsessed with Tanya. Out of millions of non-believers he chose particularly that salaryman and then invested quite a lot of time (since this “god” doesn’t seem to be omnipotent and omnipresent) in trying to make that salaryman a believer. It just seems odd.
The animation has a well-suited color palette, it is fluid with well-done CGI and the background art is beautiful, but the character design is… let’s just say the character design leaves to be desired.
The action scenes have such a natural flow that it’s mesmerizing, it offers a very good and immersive watching experience, and the animation, without a doubt, is one of the best this season.
I liked the opening theme but I found the ending theme to be great and I almost never skipped it, that says quite a lot. The OST is very good and gives one hell of an immersive experience because you can feel the impact behind every explosion, gunshot, etc. Most of the voice actors interpret the characters very well (loved whenever Being X made an appearance) but there are actors who could have done their job better.
I highly enjoyed this series, which was a surprise to me.
The action scenes were great and the show didn’t have any moments I found obscenely ludicrous or any other irritating factors.
Youjo no Senki is a good show that employs a unique and well done plot accompanied by decently constructed characters, coming in a package with very good animation and sound. I recommend giving this show a try.