Although we aren’t quite finished with the Winter 2017 season yet, and I’m admittedly not entirely caught up on everything I started watching this season, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Scum’s Wish will handily secure the position of my Anime of the Season. I haven’t seen an anime in recent seasons that has so maturely dealt with ideas such as, but not limited to, sexuality, sexual identity, views of self-worth, and the various ways in which these factors affect people and their interactions with one another. It’s a drama unlike any other I’ve seen in the genre, and each week I have consistently come back eager to see what new element of the story is going to unfold before me. In watching the show, though, it’s impossible to get around one of the integral themes that some of the characters wrestle with – are they scum for using others in the ways that they do for their pleasure? By extension, are we scum for watching these events unfold, and using their pain and drama for our own enjoyment?
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.