「勝利の使い方」 (Shouri no tsukaikata)
“How to Use a Victory”
There might be no sequel announcement, but at least Youjo Senki goes out with a bang. Well, metaphorically. Besides the founding of Free not-France and the creation of the Empire’s very own not-Afrika Korps, the story this week was the laying of groundwork for the bigger war to come. If the talks, speeches, and monologues were anything to go by, not-Britain is finished with neutrality, not-Russia is eager to test its big boy guns, and not-USA has gone full Hearts of Iron IV with its volunteer forces. The future Tanya definitely has her work cut out for her.
The larger portion of this episode, however, was devoted to philosophy, where Tanya has arguably shown her first serious development. Our little loli has certainly not abandoned rationality, but it’s evident her thoughts have now changed. Unlike the Empire who rigidly adheres to realism (the political version mind you), Tanya, whether from God and/or personal experience, has accepted the innate irrationality of humanity. She can now see why men may act “incorrectly”, why in certain circumstances emotions will best even the most stoic of men. Quite a shift from the beginning where Tanya couldn’t understand the reasoning behind certain key actions. Makes it all the more ironic—and fitting— too that Tanya ends things with her own little act of irrationality. Seemingly through with God’s manipulative ways, she has now dispensed with the pleasantries and openly and brutally declared war on God and his dominion. I seriously doubt a statement like that will remain divinely unanswered for long.
Of course the new Earthly threat specifically rests in Mary Sue, who has now assumed the role of rival from her deceased father. This was always the inevitability given earlier emphasis on Anson’s family, and it’s fitting given that Mary’s name should at least impart some stronger plot armour than the previous poor suckers. I’m really curious to see how Mary ends up fairing, because with the number of dramatic faces flying about, I’m hard pressed denying the giddiness at the potential battles to come. Considering Tanya too is now being given the truly hard missions, I’m expecting quite a few difficult fights in the near future. There’s no question, if/when Youjo Senki returns we have some serious red meat to look forward to.
Out of every show I’ve watched this season, Youjo Senki was the quirkiest. It was a thoroughly military anime, but one meshing its foundation with a unique twist on the “trapped in another world” premise. Couple that with the absolutely ridiculous main character (in a good way), and the show easily left no stone unturned. Normally such an idea would quickly run off the rails, but Youjo Senki kept the ship upright by using Tanya and the world switch as a starting point, not the key point. This show was about Tanya surviving and reclaiming the luxurious life, not returning home or finding the purpose behind her resurrection. While she later added besting God onto her wish list, it always remained within the confines of her rear line goals. God for Tanya was simply an adversary to the enjoyment of 9-5 days and the comforts of managerial life. A decent twist on the usual premise execution.
What primarily made Youjo Senki work though was its military basis. WW1—beyond July-August 1914—is not a common topic, with only one (one!) serious synthesis work. Having an anime use it as a thematic basis easily deserves kudos when WW2 Germany is the ubiquitous go to inspiration. Yes, WW2 events and weapons did worm their way into Youjo Senki’s plot, but this story remained WW1-driven in atmosphere and development. The battlefields were muddied wastelands of shell craters and mutilated bodies, armies advanced under the watch of newfangled aircraft, and the war’s direction was determined by those general staffs infamous for WW1’s epic slaughter. Couple that with excellent attention to detail regarding weapons and uniforms, and Youjo Senki tickled my fancy in all the right places. Yes, it’s arguable the show romanticized Germany a little too much—especially when following on Shuumatsu no Izetta’s heels—but that largely boils down to personal preference. Considering Youjo Senki found the time to delve into war crimes and rarely treated the Empire as the only morally correct power, I had little issue with the show’s thematic direction.
Not everything was peachy, however; Youjo Senki did falter in terms of struggle. Tanya may have been hurt and bloodied a couple of times, but she never really “lost” in her fights; her men always survived, the antagonists always died, and she always won. To be fair this does not account for overarching events (i.e. the war itself) or the exhilaration watching each battle, but I still wouldn’t have minded seeing Tanya physically lose something in her pursuit of peace. While a second season will likely also correct this issue given the raised stakes and Mary Sue’s appearance, when treated as a single cour it’s difficult denying the show went for flair over seriously testing Tanya. Again personal preference will certainly determine one’s opinion here, but I felt the show could have been better in this regard.
For a military anime though, it’s hard doing wrong with Youjo Senki. I thoroughly enjoyed blogging this one, and will definitely return should a second season pop up. There might have been issues here or there, but as a piece of military fantasy, it did everything right it had to. I’ll quite miss watching this on Fridays, but if we can get a similar military show sometime soon, I don’t think I’ll have much to complain about.