"Saga of Tanya the Evil" is an intense character driven World War One-inspired Seinen anime, and a standout of this anime season.
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27 Mar 2017 - 12:19 PM  UPDATED 27 Mar 2017 - 12:19 PM

Based on Carlo Zen’s light novel series, Saga of Tanya the Evil is animation studio NUT’s first project. It follows the reincarnation of a cold-hearted atheist salary man, who after insulting a god known as Being X, is reborn in an alternate timeline during World War One as the magical child soldier, Tanya Degurechaff.

Tanya is ruthlessly selfish but also incredibly intelligent, manipulating others in an attempt to get a less dangerous job during the war. Of course, this backfires hilariously and she finds herself leading a battalion of magical soldiers. Ao Yuki, the voice of Tanya, excellently brings her split personality to life, juxtaposing between an authoritative adult tone fitting of a military officer, and the voice of a young girl.

Thematically, Saga of Tanya the Evil is a story of intense action and international political warfare. History buffs will appreciate the interpretation of World War One motifs and the gradual involvement of all parties. There’s some great action sequences and magical sky battles, all of which never feel stale due to a consistently fast paced plot. It maintains a sense of urgency and danger, even though the show fails to show any sense of loss from Tanya’s battalion.

This is NUT’s first animated production so, understandably, the animation is inconsistent. Scenes can at times be incredibly clean and look fantastic, but I also noticed a lot of awkwardly drawn character models. Later episodes use 3D models for characters in the background in large scale fights, which feel out of place. Fortunately, the most important scenes in the show are treated appropriately with clean animation. Facial expressions are done well, but medium and long shots of two or more people often look incomplete.

Despite my concerns with the animation, Saga of Tanya the Evil is an enjoyable series. The interplay between Tanya’s consciousness and interaction with others is entertaining, especially from the perspective of a child. Her development and relationship with Being X is intriguing; and while I’m not sure if it’s a critique on atheism or religion, or if I’m reading too deeply, I’ve enjoyed the conflict nonetheless.

Saga of Tanya the Evil is available to stream on Crunchyroll.

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