This week, we wrap up the Winter 2017 anime season with a surprising mix of solid and…not-so-solid shows. Highlights include in-depth discussion of harem vs. rom-coms with Mythos and Owningmatt93, an overview of some of the great (and just okay) picks of the season, and General Tofu getting way in over his head with Hand Shakers.
This podcast was recorded on April 6th, 2017.
Intro Song: Barakamon OST – Track 14 – Dassai Sensei
Outro Song: Barakamon OST – Track 07 – Shizen he no Kanmei
Intro/Outro Music by Kenji Kawai
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?
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.
For a show I was mixed about at the start, I have to say they’ve sold me on this story. This has gone on to be an incredible ride and this episode was definitely my favorite so far. We have action, comedy, evil, struggle for survival, and an explosive ending that teases the end of a world war! Tune in at ten for the action! (Check your local listings for channel information.)
To be serious for a moment, Tanya has come a long way since the beginning of her journey, rising through ranks and becoming an accomplished leader. Yet we also see why this show has such a dark and enticing title, especially with the horrifying decisions our protagonist decided to make last episode, sweeping away responsibility and hiding behind a very apathetic defense that wouldn’t quite hold up in the Nuremberg Trials.
Episode 7 of Youjo Senki presented us with a view of the ongoing war not just from the perspective of Tanya and the Empire, but also from that of Entente soldier Anson Sioux. Among other things, such as giving a perspective from outside the Empire, expertly weaving in tonal shifts that made for a rather dramatic and fantastic episode, and fully fleshing out Sioux as a solid, memorable side character, episode 7 used these factors to give the viewer pause and to really consider the morality of the 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”?
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.