[Season Sampler] The Price of Smiles 1 — Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

If you’re anything like me, you may have given this anime one glance and thought that it looked like a strange concoction of what people would regard as a “generic fantasy show” with very under-stellar elements regarding animation and effects. There’s nothing really that makes this anime stand on its own from just reading the synopsis and watching the PV. To older anime viewers such as myself, it almost looks like a cross between Aldnoah.Zero and Chaika: The Coffin Princess in terms of both style and elements presented to us throughout the show. Both of those shows were at varying levels of popularity and quality, but I think that while comparing Price of Smiles to those shows may be accurate in terms of plot setup and world-building elements, it’s also disingenuous to say that this show is exactly like either of those, as it does have a wide array of differences in terms of execution and tone that keeps it apart as its own entity.

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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.

[HorribleSubs] Youjo Senki - 12v2 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_22.40_[2017.04.05_22.42.58].jpg

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

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Youjo Senki Episode 11 – All Fronts Coming Up Short

For the week or so leading up to this week’s episode of Youjo Senki, I had been honestly pretty excited to see how the end of the previous episode would pan out. I found myself largely in the camp of Owningmatt93 with regards to my expectations for the ensuing battle between Tanya and Sioux; though the buildup and the climax of episode 10 did feel a tad hamfisted in introducing Sioux’s return, I felt pretty confident that “[the] battle [would] consist of more moral conflicts and ideological shifting on both of their behalves,” and that, in general, it would just be a pretty impressive showdown. With the way the show had been slowly creeping up on how Sioux had supposedly gained the power of Being X and was making preparations explicitly to take Tanya down, the resolution of this grudge match had to be something impressive, right?

Well…not exactly.
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Youjo Senki Episode 10 – Back with a Vengeance

With episode 9 leaving off on the heated moment of Tanya and her armed forces launching several rockets into key Republican areas, I fully expected this episode to be the way that it was. The foreshadowing of Sioux in episode 8 and the beginning of this one heavily screamed “He’s got a bone to pick”, and I felt this whole episode was a build-up to his anticipated appearance. Earlier in the series, I wrote about the fantastic battle between Anson Sioux and Tanya in episode 7 and how it became this battle of ideological differences on war. Sioux was once a noble man, being one of few “morally good” characters we’ve had in the show. However, after his battle with Tanya, it’s obvious now that his mindset has completely changed, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that this change was brought out by Tanya.

His inevitable confrontation of Tanya was something that was bound to happen, but the way it was handled so far seems a bit hollow and empty compared to previous ones. Because of the episode attempting to build up to this key moment, there was an immense amount of focus on the incline to the climax, rather than exploring the other ideas that this show normally never hesitates to bring up. That doesn’t mean this episode didn’t have its high points though.

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Youjo Senki Episode 7 – The “Duel”-ality of War

In previous episodes, we’ve seen Tanya constantly struggling to have more influence over “Being X” than it does over her, and episode 6 was yet another beautiful example of this. Youjo Senki seems to definitely be letting the viewer decide which side is actually the “good” or the “evil” sides, as both sides have their own stories to tell. This can be seen throughout most of the show, with “Being X” forcing these continuous brutal punishments upon her for just merely not believing in a higher power, and also in the past two episodes, seeing a more light-hearted and less merciless side of Tanya than ever before. Similar things could be said about the escalating war between nations. Which side is actually the “evil” one and which side is “good”?

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Youjo Senki Episode 6 – Smoke ‘Em Out

And now we reach that wonderful halfway point in the series.  In my experience, it’s when things start to make sense or it’s usually when I drop an anime.  Luckily for our adorable little salary man, this show has grown and developed significantly since that first episode, with episode five definitely ending on a high point.  Tanya has risen through military ranks and has combated hardships brought on by a controlling deity to now be in charge of her own battalion.  With their first taste of action in their last battle (although you could call it a slaughter), Tanya and company are off to where the real fighting is, ready to show the world who the hell they think they are.

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Youjo Senki Episode 5 – Tanya’s Wrath of God Battalion

If previous episodes have been any indication, Tanya has had a bit of a rough time trying to balance out world events in her favor. Being X is definitely not doing her any favors, and Strategy and Operations Vice Director Hans von Zettour has been making sure that Tanya is advancing through the ranks in the way that is most beneficial to the Fatherland, not necessarily in the way that she would like. With her being placed as the head of the Rapid-Response Mage Battalion, which some might consider being tantamount to suicide, Tanya’s plan to spite Being X by surviving in a safe administrative position seems to be flying further out of her grasp with each passing episode. With this simultaneous advancement of position and wresting of power from Tanya seeming to be the show’s running theme for the last four episodes, I entirely expected episode 5 to give us much the same, and in some ways, it does. However, it also shows us a view of Tanya at the most powerful that she has been for this entire span so far, with no intervention from military or metaphysical forces.

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