「ラインの悪魔」 (Rain no akuma)
“The Devil of the Rhine”

Germany, girls, and magic. You can be sure at least two of these things will pop up in any given military anime, especially those attempting to emphasize the gritty, realistic side of war. Just this past season we saw Shuumatsu no Izetta and Drifters which even featured all three, and it is in this vein that Youjo Senki continues along the well-trodden path. Previewing this series left me little doubt Youjo Senki would be all fantasy-war, and indeed this adaptation wasted little time in giving it to us. Trench warfare and all its dressings—mass charges, artillery barrages, senseless industrial slaughter—are quickly laid out among the trappings of yet another fictionalized Europe. We have the Germany insert at war with damn near everyone, a not-France (and a British wannabe) at war on this story’s Western Front, and the ever ominous Russian bear bearing down from the east. At least Youjo Senki is breaking from Japan’s traditional fascination with Nazi Germany by using the earlier Second Reich as its model. If anyone is still in doubt, this guy is all but Paul von Hindenburg, we have pike helmets, and Plan 315 is a cute imitation of Germany’s revolving East-West offensives post-1914.

Beyond all this First World War eye candy, however, there is a noticeable bit of confusion. This episode—for better or worse—has largely skipped over the entire series introduction. Tanya’s (Yuuki Aoi) origins are unexplained, her personality left void and the reasoning for her actions largely ignored. The reincarnation, gender swapping premise hyped up? Seemingly passed over in favour of blowing things up. While the basics are certainly established—Tanya is harsh, absolute, and possessing a sinister sense of humour—without the backstory Tanya could easily be interpreted as a nationalist thoroughly enamoured of her country when the truth is, well, a slightly different. I’d imagine this episode was designed to lure in attention before laying out the backstory next week, but it’s hard denying for anime-only viewers that Youjo Senki so far has a gaping hole where the central premise should reside.

The one thing I must hand to this show so far though is the aesthetics. Not many military series feature such a dreary, melancholy colour palette of browns and greys, which in this fantasy WWI setting does wonders for highlighting such harsh, devastated battlefields. Particularly on point is the music, which easily performs the task of emphasizing just how crazy our preteen blondie can be—if those eyes weren’t a signal already. Too bad character design leaves something to be said, especially poor Viktoriya (Hamayi Saori) who currently walks a fine line between cute and monstrosity. It’s a strange artistic change from the source, as those familiar will attest to, but I’ll be damned if it didn’t start growing on me by episode’s end.

With much of Youjo Senki’s premise still unknown, it’s hard forming an opinion on this one yet. While it certainly hits all the right buttons for anyone with an interest in war (*blush*), until Tanya’s origins are fleshed out and we see just where this story decides to go, Youjo Senki is little more than a pretty bit of wartime fantasy. Grab your tickets and step in line, just going to have to wait and see what next week brings.

Random Tidbits

You don’t know love until you’ve witnessed some fantastically modelled French 75s.

Tanya is probably the first demonic character I’ve seen proudly featuring an ahoge.

The prototype Strike Witches devices strapped to our mages’ legs are funny because they’re an anime-original. Magic actually is channelled through a pocket watch of sorts (hanging just below the necks of Viktoriya and Tanya here), which is an important bit for explaining why our little loli is so magically powerful.


  1. Fun one. Despite the titular “Saga of Tanya the Evil”, I was under the impression that the MC was a caring and innocent girl. She showed signs of caring for others, until the end where she gave that evil face.


  2. War is hell.
    Sherman was right…
    but demons and salarymen thrive in hell.
    wait, salarymen?
    trap alert!!!
    well, technically… how do you classify mind and soul of cynical salaryman in a loli witch body?
    anyway dont take anything she says at face value, she might seem caring to subordinates or deeply patriotic but those are all poses, and only her inner monologue sometimes shows true intent…

  3. Although youjo = 幼女 directly translates as “little girl”, the term is associated with describing girls involved in underage porn. Even Youjo’s LN author was very surprised that his editors hadn’t changed the title given the connotation, musing on what was becoming of Japan to let this slide.

  4. It’s feels like Tanya’s a Ciaphas Cain expy and foil. Like Cain, she has a “perfect” facade that fools her peers and subordinates into thinking she’s the perfect Hero of the Not!German Empire. Unlike Cain who believes the Imperium of Man is best, however, Tanya isn’t a believer in the “Empire-uber-Alles” propaganda that’s been fed into the troops. Holy shit, it’s 40k in alternate!WWI Europe, minus the Xenos and the Chaos Gods. XD

  5. It was okay. Could be better, could be worse.

    The backgrounds were nice enough, albeit some of the animation made it feel like the characters were floating over a static background. The character models are kind of oddball but like you say, they grow on you. The magic is pretty. Her voice kind of surprised me, but it’s not bad; just not how I’d envisioned given the manga’s tendency to chibify her during nonserious moments.

    It kinda sucks that they glossed over a lot of Tanya’s entertaining inner monologues to set up the fakeout about her assholishness, and then that one probably didn’t surprise many people when they also plastered the tagline “Saga of Tanya the Evil” all over.

  6. Eeeeyyyaaaagh… That human trapped behind Tanya… Geh…

    I don’t know how to feel about that. I’ll watch another episode next week just to figure out my feelings on this. While I was originally intrigued by the synopsis given I’m starting to wonder just how much of ‘Tanya’ I can handle.

    I deeply appreciated the attention to detail and focus on depicting war realistically but if the show’s all about Tanya being a lil’ monster 24/7 then I might just teleport to unravaged pastures. Oh well, we’ll see how this goes.

    Nishizawa Mihashi
    1. @Nishizawa Mihashi: “…I’m starting to wonder just how much of ‘Tanya’ I can handle.”

      That’s the same concern I mentioned in the season preview given that Tanya is the protagonist (no issue if antagonist). Have to see how this plays out, but if he/she’s a total ass-hat and the story is ultimately his/her unbridled success, not sure I’m up for that.

      1. I’m not sure ‘placing her on a pedestal’ is the right phrase when all her successes lead her further away from all her hopes of a cushy post in the rear and into greater and more dangerous battlefields.

  7. LN readers say the source novels contain a lot of detail and attention to wartime strategy and activities, such as the practicality of supplying troops. Fantranslators have also said the LNs are very hard to translate.

  8. Watching this with my friend, he also pointed the backstory being left out, though for me bc I have read the synopsis I believe it’s okay to skip it. Now that you said it I guess it does still need explanation. I don’t understand/pay attention to the history/country reference, but I’ll keep watching for now.

  9. As you pointed out the action and atmosphere were good, but it’s too soon to tell about anything else. Can’t really form a judgement until the plot gets going.

    Dr. Hochmeister
  10. Izetta goes berserk and evil in a Strike WItches universe set during World War One. Am I missing anything else?

    I do however find the character design for the female characters to be… Urgh…

    [strike]Once again Europe has been threatened by the Neuroi and the various European nations band together to fight them[/strike]

    I thought he’d be based on Erich Luderndoff instead of Hindenburg

    Adam Taurus has a younger sister

    If Takami Karibuchi has Absolute Eye, Durgecheff’s ability’s called Absolute Targeting

    And Pancakes, I’m rather upset that you did not put up the closing end card where it states “This programme is fiction. All persons, groups, places, laws and names appearing in it have no relation to the real world”

    I almost fell off my chair laughing to that.

    Velvet Scarlantina
    1. I can only take so many caps sadly, although that one definitely made me giggle too because nothing here is remotely historical lol.

      Also I pin that Empire general as Hindenburg because he has a head of hair, while poor Ludendorff was balding by the time of Tannenberg.

  11. They cut the inner monologue? As fun as this was that just dropped the show from “can’t wait” to “thee episode rule”. Hopefully next episode kinda makes up for that with the backstory.

  12. From the character designs to the writing, it’s bad. Tokyo ESP bad, in that they’re taking something pretty good and making it into something pretty bad.

    And this is coming from someone who likes the LN and manga. The LN is pretty deep (unlike the anime), and the art in the LN and the manga is whacked in a glorious way. (But seriously, WTF happened to anime Viktorya???? She looks like some horrible experiment gone wrong.)

    The voice acting is good.

    But it feels like this production company is the low bidder for the job, with a character designer with some (bad) “ideas,” and a producer/director who never bothered to read the source material.

    This could have been so much better, but I don’t have high hopes, if this first episode is the best they can do.

    1. For this particular show, I’d say that’s too early of an assessment but we’ll see how things goes beginning next episode onwards. I told myself that for this show I’m giving it the 2 episode rule because I really do feel that the it’s the second episode that’s really gonna determine whether this particular adaptation is worth watching or not. Anyways, next week’s the deal breaker so hopefully we don’t break from the episode and retreat to the highlands.

      Nishizawa Mihashi
      1. We’ll see. I hope I’m wrong and it improves by ep2. I really WANT a good anime for this series. Honestly, I’d rather have no anime for it than a bad one. I don’t want another Tokyo ESP.

        What doesn’t give me hope: inexperienced studio (no experience producing shows as a group), character designs are all over the place (and some are downright abominable), and the scriptwriter has the attention span of a squirrel on speed. The storytelling is all over the place.

        But the VA talent does give me hope, some of the animation itself is pretty good, and maybe this was an “in medias res” stunt to get non-readers interested. Maybe.

        My biggest fear is that it will wind up like the Senjou no Valkyria anime where Faldio rewrote the script so he became the hero. (Which was just one long lol at the end.)

        That’s my main problem– I’ve seen too many series go off the rails and sail over the Glasslip cliff to have much hope. But hey, there’s always hope!

      2. Why, of course. There’s always hope.

        But Faldio being the hero huh? I never thought of him as the star of the story. He was interesting though. Actually I found his subordinate to be the one that’s shoehorned in and not the expanded role that he got in the anime. I found the show to be quite fine. It’s just that the extras that they added which weren’t in the game feel very contrived. Speaking of Valkyria, I dread the new game that they’re releasing. I really, really do.

        Nishizawa Mihashi
  13. Bit late, but my thoughts FWIW. Pretty much what the review said. Agree with Pancakes that they did a good job visually with the muted, dark colors for the battlefield. Definitely added to the ambiance. Also agree about the eyes for Viktoriya and IMO Tanya. O.o They’re huge compared to other characters, and I haven’t gotten used to them. That may take a while. Other than that, no real issues with the character designs, etc. Maybe not the best visual quality overall, but certainly good enough if not good IMO.

    “Beyond all this First World War eye candy, however, there is a noticeable bit of confusion.”

    Agree. There was some world-building for sure, but still quite a bit left to do as well. I for one definitely have questions. Personally, I’d like some particulars about the “magic system”. Not sure about how magic works in this world other than mages can be male or female (didn’t expect male mages for some reason), there’s some sort of “mana” level for everyone, and Tanya is hax/OP (sure seems that way right now). Also trying to get a handle on the tech level here. It’s 1924 and it seems this is loosely based upon RL with WWI of some sort is still going on given trench warfare and the weaponry.

    Yet, they also have wireless throat microphones/comm? Magic? It’s fine – fantasy world and all (there’s even a disclaimer that this is a fictional story at the end.), but trying to get some sort of feel for things here, and Ep. 01 didn’t do much on that front. There’s also Tanya’s backstory which as Pancakes rightfully notes wasn’t addressed. However,, only one episode = lots of time left to flesh things out. Anime staff decided to with more “hook” than setup for episode 1 and, well, it worked well enough for me so mission accomplished.

    Definitely in for “3 Episode Rule” at least.


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