Saga of Tanya the Evil has been one of the highlights of the winter season, and one of the most entertaining military anime in recent years.
Despite being memefied as an “evil Nazi loli,” Tanya turns out to be one of the most original characters of the season. Most of the first season’ plot has to do with her philosophy and her conflict with Being X, and so the biggest challenge the anime had was Tanya’s characterization. Fortunately, it succeeded.
And it did not look like it would at first. The synopsis sounded pretty average, we had just come from another somewhat disappointing fantasy-military anime, and it seemed like the only hook for the show was seeing a loli go to war. The first episode did little to dissipate the doubts, as the show started with throwing viewers in the middle of a battle, introducing Tanya as a jerk, and giving very little context. Everything was solved in the second episode, as the series takes viewers back to the beginning when Tanya was a salaryman from modern Japan. The following episodes dealt with Tanya’s inner monologues, her cynicism, and her disagreement with God (or, as she calls it, Being X). The fact that Tanya has to pray to the God she hates so much to get stronger powers is also a nice touch.
From then on the series only gets better, and way more entertaining than originally expected. However, the series is at its best when it focuses on Tanya and Being X. Tanya refuses to accept the benevolent existence of Being X, and believes war times show the true nature of human beings and their hatred. She believes that at the end of the day, humans will choose feelings and emotions over logic, and she despises them for that. Unfortunately, one of the weakest aspects of Saga of Tanya the Evil is its side-characters. Not much is said about the members of Tanya’s battalion, or the reason behind them was enlisting in the army in the first place. It’s something that the series could have benefited from, especially when it came to raising the stakes during the battle scenes.
The music by Myth and Roid and Shuji Katayama did wonders for the epicness of the show and made up for the subpar animation. The character design has been criticized for being quite bizarre (especially in the eyes and lips of female characters), and for not making the light novel’s illustrations justice. The animation did shine in some action scenes, but it was pretty bland for the most part.
The story of Tanya Degurechaff is not done yet. Not only is the Light Novel on-going, but the final episode strongly hints at a second season/cour. In fact, the finale seemed to focus more on setting up a sequel rather than on giving closure to the story. There’s the introduction of Mary, a very religious girl who’s drunk with vengeance, as well as Tanya’s atheist motivational speech right at the end. The war is far from over.