This week, we discuss the Winter 2017 anime season so far and its surprising amount of solid picks to watch. Also, General Tofu and Owningmatt93 try desperately to cajole Mythos out of his Hand Shakers-sponsored salt mine.
This podcast was recorded on February 9th, 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
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.
Before I began writing these episodic articles, I never realized how much a show could change over just the course of a few episodes. From episode 1 to episode 4, Youjo Senki has gone through an unbelievable transformation from a show with a disorganized lack of information to a more thrilling show about politics, religion, and morality. Some of the original complaints I had in episode 1 were only those of that episode, and others weren’t really relevant to the upcoming story, if only because I had no idea what kind of story this was. While I think the show’s themes are still a bit mixed, episode 4 has started really delving into Tanya’s personality beyond the fact that she’s an evil militaristic girl that just wants to follow the rules.
How about we play a game? I transport you to an alternate dimension with amazing powers and then do you promise to learn your lesson?
I’d have to say that the second episode of Youjo Senki was a very interesting twist from the first. The idea of God (or Being X as Tanya calls him) giving our salaryman protagonist a second chance through trial by almost literal fire was a nice way to take what I initially thought was a simple but interesting idea and layering more and more interesting levels onto it. However, while we did get some much-needed explanation and characterization, as GeneralTofu pointed out, we also had more questions. What is The Empire and how does it function? What changed Tanya to invoke God’s name even through she adamantly has been against him, even denying the existence of a God. Well luckily, we’re starting to get the answers. Episode three explains to us primarily two things: That The Empire is a meritocracy and that Tanya has been forced into her newfound religious slogans.
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.