Author’s Note: Apologies for the lateness of this post. I’m sure most people have already moved onto to episode five by now of this fantastic show but I was held up with personal issues that couldn’t be helped. To make up for it, I tried to put a lot of effort into this so I hope you all enjoy. Also, spoilers and such as some stuff goes down in episode four.
Episodes three and four of Just Because! ended up continuing to validate my immediate love for this show. While the drama and plot aren’t crazy or off the wall, the natural dialogue and slower pace allow me to appreciate all that’s happening for our crew of seniors trudging towards their graduation and murky futures. Every scene and interaction is chock full of a surprising amount of engagement for a show that relies heavily on realistic drama and humor. Plus, these characters are just so dang lovable, even when their hearts are breaking from all the pain they give each other.
You know it’s a sad scene when even the dog is frowning.
Episode 1 of Youjo Senki introduced us of Tanya the Evil through the eyes of Viktoriya Serebryakov. We saw her battle prowess as a hardened Lieutenant for the country of the Fatherland, and we also saw her ruthlessness in terms of management and her drive to do whatever is most in line with efficiency for her country. However, we had no idea how Tanya got to this point, and the mysterious backstory of Tanya as a reincarnated salaryman was only briefly touched on. All in all, while the episode itself was solid in terms of hooking me into the show, it didn’t give us a strong frame of reference to base anything off of.
In the first post in this series, Owningmatt mentioned that “The underlying issue with this episode’s focus on characterization [. . .] is the massive amount of exposition being done about various events taking place in the setting, yet none of it really seems to explain the details needed for the viewer to really grasp the workings of the world itself.” This is a fairly unsavory issue for a first episode to have, to be sure – an unsteady flow of ideas and information about a series and the world that it attempts to build can be greatly detrimental to grabbing and holding the attention of viewers. Although this is the case for the series premiere, episode 2 of Youjo Senki corrects this janky world-building with a far more in-depth history of Tanya’s time before and after her transportation to this new world. And there aren’t any vague, unhelpful maps, either.
Japan, are you doing okay? You wanna talk about something?
This is the second season in a row where we’ve had an anime about a “European” conflict involving both magic and standard military technology. From what I read in the synopsis, my perception was that the setting would be more modern than it was historical, and that is partially my fault from not looking at the PV close enough. Just from looking at it, you can tell the weaponry is not fully modernized, and the stylistic designs of the uniforms are not modern at all. I will also fully admit that mixing militaristic ideas with fantasy elements is not really something I’m innately interested in. Although, what I am interested in is looking at a non-realistic portrayal of the less glorified aspects of war. Using fantasy elements as a way to emphasize the physical and mental destruction caused by war is something I’d love to see from this show.
In the recent months, there have been several anime releases that have caused a massive amount of discussion about the concept of “show, don’t tell” between fans and critics alike. From my observations of discussions on recent anime, including Re:Zero, Mob Psycho 100, and Kizumonogatari Part I, along with many others, the community at large seems to have varying perceptions of which animated productions utilize this concept well and which ones do not. Many people seem to share a common opinion about the topic though, and that is “show, don’t tell” is a storytelling technique that is universally accepted as a standard for media or literature to always strive for, and when used, it is almost always presented in a positive light. Likewise, when there is a large amount of dialogue presented to the audience, it tends to have the opposite effect, creating a near universal hatred for moments that tend to use dialogue-heavy scenes. Although personally, I don’t think either of these expressions are a great way of thinking about the concept as a whole.