Before I begin the review, I will say that this contains spoilers for a reveal that happens early on, which will work a lot better if you do not know what it is going in. So, if you have not yet watched The Saga of Tanya the Evil, then it’s probably best to avoid this review until you have.
When it comes to picking an anime to watch, there are two features which, if present, will usually make me avoid the show I hear they are in.
These two things are the genre of isekais and character trope of lolis.
I don’t have anything against isekais, it’s just that I have found that they usually do not appeal to me.
Then there are lolis, which I don’t think I even need to explain why I find them to be an automatic avoid requirement for an anime.
However, despite The Saga of Tanya the Evil both being an isekai and having a loli as the main character, I heard great things about it, so I decided to give it a chance and was surprised to find that I loved it.
The isekai aspects of the show only make its premise way more interesting and the loli Tanya (Aoi Yuki) is not sexualised in any way (thank god).
Directed by Yutaku Uemura, and based off the light novels by Carlo Zen, The Saga of Tanya the Evil tells the story of a salaryman in Japan, whose job it is to fire unproductive people at the company he works.
However, he is particularly ruthless and uncaring in his treatment of others, and this leads to a man he fired murderering him by pushing him in front of a train.
Just as he is about to die, the salaryman is confronted by a being who claims to be God, who is dissatisfied with the lack of faith in him.
It is at this time that the salaryman makes the unfortunate decision to declare that he is an atheist and does not believe he is talking to God, dubbing him Being X (Hideaki Tezuka) instead.
This leads to the first of many funny cases of miscommunication where the salaryman’s mocking comments cause Being X to believe that if the salaryman is reincarnated in a harsh situation then he will find faith in God.
Thus, the salaryman is reincarnated as the girl Tanya Degurechaff in an alternate version of Germany, known as the Empire, during a World War One where magic exists.
Wanting to secure a good life for herself, Tanya enters the military at nine-years-old with the hope of using her experiences from her past life to earn a comfy position safe away from the battlefield.
Only problem is that her constant miscommunication with people, and Being X’s interference keeps pushing her to the front lines.
And it is here the good usage of the isekai genre and loli elements come in, with the isekai storyline creating Tanya’s rivalry with Being X during the conflict, and the loli stature of Tanya creating the amusing display of a little girl as a military leader.
Or, as Erich Rerugen (Shinichiro Miki) would call her, “a monster in the form of a little girl!”
It is this “monster” who is by far the most interesting character in the show.
The other characters are good but it’s Tanya who carries the whole thing, with her military genius, often crazy personality, and struggle for her own human autonomy against what is essentially God.
Speaking of that crazy personality though, it does lead to a few technically-not-a-war-crime-because-of-loophole scenarios and, oh, boy, are those dark.
A lot of the military strategy surrounding these events are also quite interesting to sit through, and when it comes to the actual combat of the series, it does not disappoint.
However, the thing I want to praise most about the action is not the animation but the sound design.
Seriously, the sound of the explosions and gunfire is top notch and makes the world of this horrible war feel tangible.
It is not all action though because the comedy is also well done.
I have already mentioned that Tanya gets into a lot of difficult situations due to miscommunication with her superiors, and it gets funnier every time.
So, with an intriguing story which is lead by an interesting, morally grey character, featuring great action with terrific sound design, some comedic moments and engaging instances of military strategy, it is easy to recommend The Saga of Tanya the Evil.
It has certainly made me more likely to check out other Isekais in the future… not other animes with lolis though because I’m pretty sure most of those are going to be just as creepy as they appear on the surface.