Youjo Senki Episode 12 – Prelude to the Next

So now we’ve reached the conclusion of this season… of sorts.  I can actually appreciate that for an adaption of a much longer light novel series, they were unafraid to leave the door as wide open as they possibly could make it.  In fact, strangely enough, I’d argue that this whole ending episode may start as a wrap-up but then immediately takes a left turn and becomes a massive build-up that left me desperately craving a second season in the best of ways.  With the initial war wrapped up, we suddenly find the Empire exhausted and pushed to the limit as forces on all sides, fresh and new, gear up for round two.  On top of this, we have a hint at some real shit coming Tanya’s way straight from America in the best way possible and I cannot wait to see that showdown.  Kudos and applause for giving me that craving, Youjo Senki.  Now don’t leave me hanging for that season two.

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“…Please don’t let this studio go under till I get more.”

I have to say, as many negatives have been said about the previous episode, I loved this one from even the first shot.  Tanya appears before the Imperial Headquarters, it’s rule literally towering over her as the shot cuts to show how small she is in comparison, as if a direct reminder of the show’s final scene last episode where her own plans to end the war are dashed away by Imperial Command.  However, her stance is one of fierce determination as she climbs the steps into the building.  Just the symbolism there is fantastic and the camera work is beautifully done, timed perfectly to the music and accentuating Tanya’s struggle against those above her (cough cough including God).  However, once we see Tanya past the facade of the front entrance, we also see her own facade fade.  Tanya is visibly and audibly tired.  As angry as she was last episode, she has trouble commanding presence against even the two soldiers goofing off inside.  This shows particularly after finding out that the generals aren’t even in as they’re out celebrating their own success.  When she’s stopped by Erich von Rerugen, she is clearly just drained.  This was all great and worked well as a direct answer to last episode as we see she’s bitter and pressing on, yet has all but given up on saving the Empire.

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I swear, they need to invent migraine medication in this world soon because there is not a single scene where this man doesn’t look like he has the worst headache.

Following that, we’re led to a scene where Tanya speaks her mind about the situation at hand, dancing around what she regards as utter failure by the higher ups.  What begins as a normal scene suddenly brings us full circle as Tanya begins a monologue about humanity that cleverly interweaves her own past both as a child in this world as well as her old self in ours.  From a visual perspective, I loved this part of the scene as we see in a very cerebral mixup Tanya as who she is now going through her life from the old world.  She states that she’s never forgotten who she was, traveling through her memories in her small military outfit while occupying the offices and train stations of modern times, but instead laments how she had forgotten about the illogical and dark hate that she believes men will fall to when backed into a corner, lashing out like wild dogs.  It is this deeply emotional state that she feels she had forgotten about and so, too, did the high command, as they only attempt to act upon what is logical, never understanding the illogical nature of man.  With a final statement that they cannot stop and must exterminate the enemy’s hatred even in the midst of victory, Tanya and Erich are greeted by the news we all knew would be coming:  The Republic is still alive in its colony in Africa and prepping for war.

At that conclusion of the first half, the episode now shifts to building up for one hell of a possible next season.  The Republican army has rebranded itself as the “Free Republic” and has taken in survivors of the Allied Kingdom and Entente Alliance who have joined them in the south.  War is once again on the people’s minds, leaving the people depressed and fearing the future.  Even Tanya’s own squad remembers the words of the recruitment poster, agreeing with “difficult battles”, “little pay”, and “unfathomable danger”, but stating that the final line of returning home with “honor and glory” was just a lie.

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I don’t remember the Animaniacs teaching me these countries… Also, poor Spain and Italy gettin’ no love. 😦

To add to the issue at hand, along with the Free Republic now to the south, The Empire has managed to surround itself with enemies as the Allied Kingdom, still fresh and ready to fight, is in the Northwest and the Federation has geared up to come at the Empire strong in the Northeast.  The Empire finds itself on a possible three front all-out world war and it hasn’t even managed to catch its breath after the surrender of the Republic.  Without the resources or money to spare at this time, the Empire sends Tanya and her battalion alone to deal with the threat to the south while Command thinks of what to do about the East and West flanks.

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Meanwhile… In America

And then the mother of all cliffhangers for this show suddenly arises.  Mary Sioux signs up for the U.S. Army and promises to God almighty she will avenge her father and end the Empire.  If an Oscar-worthy cry for blood while tears stain the floor is any indication, she’s going to be ten times the threat her father was for Tanya.  The show spends a good deal of time on this scene, as well, but just in case the hinting wasn’t enough, Mary Sioux’s tear-stricken face, filled with hate, is the very last thing we see before the show cuts to black for the credits.

Shit is gonna get so real.

That scene had me excited to no end.  However, not to be outdone, after the credits, Tanya gets the final word, finally throwing away any pretense of religion in front of her troops and declaring that she and her battalion will rip God to pieces and usurp his rule.  Her little army of surprised but possibly now atheist troops salute.

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There has never been a frame of that little face that is not a potential screenshot.  10/10.  Every time.

I personally found the cliffhanger ending very fulfilling on its own.  The show does a good job of wrapping up what it needs to and then prepping us for what seems will be a very dramatic and crazy next season.  Even if the second part never comes, I’ve left this series relatively satisfied.  (Though, if that ends up being the case, I beg that there’s a translation of those light novels.)  My only complaint for this particular episode was the severe lack of any and all of Being X.  There was no back and forth with Tanya like I had hoped and while he did seem to obviously be working behind the scenes, he made no attempt to show his face or his signature.  A missed opportunity given that this is the last episode and he’s the whole reason we’re all on this journey with Tanya.

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Besides where Tanya almost shoots an angel statue “because metaphor”, this is pretty much all we get of Being X.  At least it’s pretty.

Of course, there were other hiccups along the way, looking at the series as a whole.  The show started a little exposition heavy and there were also issues of a lot of characters and plot points that seemed important at first but really only gave us one or two memorable scenes, if at all.  Also, even though there was a strong last half of the show, the first part of episode eleven was downer, especially with how much had been built that up for a massive ending to a very interesting revenge plot.  Then suddenly, Anson Sioux barely talks, almost doesn’t even leave a scratch on Tanya, and then everyone that was shot and plummeted from the sky came back to life like I was watching the A-Team all over again (“Sure we blew up the town but no one died!”)

Yet, even with its faults, I personally felt Youjo Senki shined with an interesting enough plot, a strong premise, a dark and wonderfully moody soundtrack, and an incredibly unique main character.  The action was also well done (barring some awkward CGI) and the sound design was fan-freaking-tastic.  I could not get over how weighty the artillery and spells were as well as how beautifully the staccato of the gunshots reverberated for miles in the background of scenes, making the balanced silences on the battlefield that much more suspenseful.  Youjo Senki has its issues but it fights like hell through them and left me excited for so much more.

 

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