Youjo Senki means “Little Girl War Chronicles,” but the anime was given the English title “Saga of Tanya The Evil.” There are several topics and main thoughts I want to touch on in this anime rant, with the first being the question, “Is Tanya evil?” Ready, Set, RANT!
At first I thought they were saying Tanya is evil because she’s an atheist. The religious west, especially the US with its growing trend toward theocracy, still widely vilifies atheists such as myself. The overwhelming frequency of this clouded my view, and you can’t really blame me. But in reality, Tanya is not called “evil” because of her lack of belief in god/gods. Rather, it’s because Tanya is a raging sociopath, which is unrelated to the issue of atheism.
Now, I don’t know if I would call a character evil; it is action and not innate being which is evil. We can be sure, though, that many of Tanya’s actions are ethically wrong, and show a complete disregard for the value of life and individual person-hood. It’s likely that she does not feel empathy or remorse, and is thus a sociopath. The dilemma of sociopathy has fascinated me for several years. If a person is stuck with the brain of a sociopath, which cannot be cured by any known means, are they really evil? For simplicity’s sake, however, let’s agree that it’s justified to denote Tanya as a morally corrupt character.
The early episodes alone provide plenty of evidence for Tanya’s twisted thinking and behaviors. In episode 1, she essentially causes the deaths of two lieutenants who angered her by arguing against their orders and not agreeing with Tanya’s high-casualty strategies. She is not remorseful in the slightest, but quite unconcerned with the matter. In episode two, during a flashback of her training, audiences saw Tanya attempt to kill a man of inferior rank because he argued against orders and called her a brat. She was seriously going to kill him until other officers stopped her.
The evidence is enormous and there are many other incidents I could cite. But let’s just stick with one. In episode 6, Tanya and her new battalion must conquer a small city that enemy soldiers are using as a base of operations. Tanya is required to give a warning before firing destructive magical energy from above. Over the speaker, she gives the warning in what is intentionally a childlike, innocent, and happy voice. This way, nobody would take the warning seriously.
Tanya’s company proceeded to release their magic artillery, destroying 16 buildings and nearly hitting many others. The destruction is so great that there are secondary explosions from gunpowder and machinery stored in the city. With a sardonic smile, Tanya calls these explosions congratulatory fireworks for her battalion. That should make things clear enough.
Even Tanya has a few somewhat redeeming qualities. Outside of her spells of angry mania, she’s impressively logical. Though she is trying to move towards an easy life, she’s hard-working indeed when there’s no choice but to fulfill her duty. She’s confident, which I believe is usually a positive trait. Although Tanya complains to no end, she still does what is expected of her, even partaking in dangerous experiments. She has occasional ability to compromise, too. For the sake of fulfilling her duty and winning the war, Tanya continues using her computation jewel even though it means praying to an evil being. Most of all, Tanya spirited, another trait I admire.
You should notice I referred to an evil being. Of course, I mean Sonzai X. When beginning to watch Yojou Senki, you might think it’s a retelling of the classic “god versus man.” In actuality, it’s more like “the devil versus human sociopath.” There is no doubt that the being calling itself God is actually more like a Devil. Tanya points this out in episode one. Perhaps this is not obvious to everyone and needs some explanation. So we’ll look next at the nature, actions, and capabilities of Sonzai X. (Oh, by the way, “sonzai” means existence or being, so I should be saying Being X. I got into the habit of saying Sonzai X because of how clearly Tanya says it in the anime.)
I’m assuming Sonzai X is a traditional monotheistic god, existing outside of time and space, who is all-powerful or nearly so. It may be a lesser god, capable of only a few miracles as well as reincarnating people into their next lives. In the first case, Sonzai X is an evil being because it allows disease, war, cruelty, and other forms of misfortune and evil to exist. In the second case, It is an incompetent god. Indeed, Sonzai X admits that it’s too much for It to handle the reincarnations of all humans. Why worship such a being?
Sonzai X is extremely arrogant, unreasonable, and petty. Not being able to handle reincarnating all people, It simply stops reincarnated those who have no faith in It. In other words, It determines whether countless existences will be terminated or not based on whether they suck up to It. Demanding faith and worship is absurd and shows the smallness of this being. In addition, it’s unreasonable. How does Sonzai X expect people to accept Its existence when it offers no evidence or reasoning for itself? Sonzai X’s absurdity also shows throughout the anime as it toys with Tanya and tries to force her into worshiping it, as if it had nothing better to do.
So far we know this being is incompetent and childish, but how is it evil? As mentioned earlier, it picks and chooses who to kill based on who is unreasonable enough to believe in it. Even though it’s not all-powerful, Sonzai X is capable of making miracles happen and interfering with the world. By altering Tanya’s computation jewel, it created a devastating power to be used expressly for war. Thousands more lives will be taken and people will continue to try to create jewels with similar power levels. Why did Sonzai X do this? To make one single human girl pray to it and praise it. That’s despicable. Tanya was spot-on when she called this being a vile piece of shit.
On a similar note, even a relatively incompetent god should be trying to make the world better, more peaceful, and more logical. We never see any sign of Sonzai X doing good works, or having any interest in humanity’s well-being. Rather, it seems to regard humans as tiresome and impudent. Sonzai X kills people who could be reborn, tries to force people to respect it, prolongs and worsens the war, and never uses its power for good. While Tanya may be evil indeed, it’s clear that the being she fights against is much more so.
Youjo Senki is anime I hold in high regard. Here are a few reasons why. In my opinion, Tanya’s refusal to be a sycophant to Sonzai X is her major redeeming quality. Her determination and resistance may not hold out for long, though. Tanya becomes less logical and more infuriated as the show goes on and Sonzai X continues making her life difficult. One of the main reasons I love Youjo Senki is that it’s mentally stimulating to see human and devil at odds. Also, it makes me excited to watch Tanya’s story and her increasing troubles with the war in her land.
There is so much rich irony in this show. I love it. Tanya does everything she can to secure an easy life, but it all ends up making her go into riskier battles and more dangerous positions. Another example of the great irony is that, if Tanya were a godlike being, she would actually be no better than Sonzai X. They are both devils. I like anime that isn’t so simple. Tanya is not a hero. Yet, I root for this asinine little girl with every watch.
That’s all I’ve got for today. Thanks so much for reading! If you have time, let me know your thoughts on Youjo Senki in the comments. Sayonara!
Support Anime Rants!
Please consider a small contribution to help this blog!