Tag Archives: Shinobu shinotsuki

Manga Review: Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts Vol. 7

The theme of love transcending appearances is a popular one in fairy tales, and Yen Press’ Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts fits that genre. The fantasy manga tells of the relationship between a girl and her beastly fiance, and you can read on for the review of Volume 7. (For reviews of other volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

At last, Sariphi is able to carry out her first official job as Acting Queen Consort-giving a royal blessing to the newborn prince of the nation of Sarbul. That same night, Leonhart whisks her away to a place far from prying eyes. Once they’re alone, he tells Sariphi of his tumultuous past, which only deepens their bond. But just when Sariphi believes she and Leo can overcome anything together, a new duty may pull the two apart…

The Review

The Sarbul arc looked pretty much wrapped up with Sari and Leo rescuing the brash Princess Tetra. However, it extends two more chapters. As it turns out, the neglect suffered by Tetra not only allows Sari a path to reach out to the lonely princess, it dredges up painful childhood memories for Leo.

The mystery of Leo’s human form has been a mystery from the start. When I read on the back flap teaser that Leo “tells Sariphi of his tumultuous past,” I eagerly expected to learn the secret behind his parentage.

Unfortunately, that secret remains one. Turns out Leo has no siblings and no memory of his mother. He’s completely ignorant of his human origins, but his father was fully aware of and took pains to hide that aspect of Leo. Thus, we merely get more cold-hearted parenting and awful childhood memories, which is turning into a repeated theme for this series.

We then get a single-chapter interlude of Sari expressing her love and concern for Leo through the timeless medium of food before the story moves on to her next assignment as acting queen. This challenge is twofold. One, she must ratify the new lord of the city of Maasya without Leo’s company. Two, she must select a captain to lead her personal bodyguard.

I thought Anubis had softened somewhat towards Sari, but the manner in which he foists this task onto her indicates otherwise. Despite the supposed importance of the captain selection, Anubis gives Sari virtually no time to make her choice before rushing her out the door to Maasya. At any rate, we get new character Lante added to the cast.

Lante is a hyenafolk, whose tongue perpetually hangs out in a really distracting way. That aside, he draws nearly as much suspicion as Sari. Once more we get a chunk of hitherto unknown history and prejudices within Ozmargo. While it’s fine that Lante is a bit of a double edged sword, Sari’s personality feels inconsistent in her interactions with him. With Tetra, she was a trusting fluff-head who couldn’t interpret Tetra’s vindictive actions as anything but play. With Lante, she’s aware of his sketchy motivations from the get go and makes the conscious decision to trust him in spite of everyone else’s doubts. At any rate, she’s well on her way continuing the pattern of winning beastfolk hearts despite their universal hatred of humans.

Extras include embedded author’s notes about the characters, bonus sketches, and the bonus manga, “The Beast Princess and the Regular Servant.”

In Summary

We get a glimpse of Leo’s childhood but, disappointingly, no revelation on his human roots. Rather, Tomofuji-sensei gives yet another portrayal of a rejected child before continuing with Sari’s next challenge. Although the test ostensibly is to execute royal duties without Leo’s supportive presence, ultimately it boils down to the same formula of her conquering beastpeople’s prejudices about her.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Saga of Tanya the Evil Vol. #08

The Saga of Tanya the Evil anime was a surprise favorite for me in 2017. With a title like that, I was almost too scared to give it a try, but conniving little Tanya turned out to be nothing like I anticipated. Yen Press has released Volume 08 of the manga adaption, and you can read on for the review. (For my reviews of other Tanya the Evil works, click here.)

The Review

This volume, like Volume 7, kicks off with a glimpse of the divine. However, rather than an interaction with humans, the divine forces discuss among themselves the most effective means to manipulate humanity. These characters are depicted as a rather jarring collection of religious figures. Fortunately, the interlude is brief, and we quickly return to Tanya’s battle against Colonel Sue’s aerial unit.

Unlike the anime, where Tanya kills the Colonel without much trouble, he puts up a serious fight, and Tanya only survives due to luck and Imperial reinforcements (who thankfully are considerate enough to show up with a spare coat for the naked Major). From the Tanya/Sue dogfight, the action zooms out to the positions of the 203rd unit. Then it takes a further step back to a macro level perspective for the Imperial Northern Sea Fleet’s invasion and the tremendous damage they dish out to the Alliance troops. Overall, Tojo-sensei does an excellent job conveying the fight’s progression and the chaos wreaked upon Os.

Having survived the Battle of Osfjord, Anson Sue handily provides a window into two groups within the defeated country: the ordinary citizenry and the politicians. The loss of their homeland is inevitable, so the Colonel arranges for his family to escape the country, and we witness his touching farewell to his wife and daughter Mary. Mary doesn’t do much but smile and look charming, but quite a few pages are devoted to her introduction. Oddly, even though the Entente Alliance is a northern country and it is December, she frolics in a meadow in a spring dress. Even odder, she’s half her mother’s height, which makes her look twelve at most, but she’s drawn with a C-cup bust. That aside, the manga shows the means by which Mary obtains her submachine gun present to her father, a detail that was not included in the anime or novel.

As for Colonel Sue, he’s stuck with carrying out his defeated government’s plans to continue the fight against the Empire. With the enemy closing in, the Entente politicians desperately reach out to the Albion Commonwealth. The two countries scheme to smuggle out a high-level Entente official for the purpose of establishing a government in exile, and Colonel Sue is assigned to accompany that official out. Although it’s somewhat dense, the diagram that explains the Alliance and Commonwealth plan to get around the Imperial naval blockade is super helpful. By the way, this arc was part of the light novel but not the anime, and I look forward to seeing Tojo-sensei’s visual interpretation of it.

Extras include battle log thus far, character introductions and detailed glossary of terms between chapters.

In Summary

Aerial dogfights, battleship salvos, and marine landings, oh my! Military buffs will get their fill of action in the conclusion of the attack on the Osfjord. Then the cloak and dagger types will get their turn as the Alliance schemes with the Commonwealth to smuggle out a high level official to form a government in exile. The focus is less on Tanya and more on the plight of her defeated enemy, but the narrative remains a compelling one.

First published at the Fandom Post.

 

 

 

Light Novel Review: Saga of Tanya the Evil Vol. #06

The Saga of Tanya the Evil anime was a surprise favorite for me in 2017. With a title like that, I was almost too scared to give it a try, but conniving little Tanya turned out to be nothing like I anticipated. Yen Press has released Volume 6 of the light novel adaption, and you can read on for the review. (For reviews of other Tanya the Evil works, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Through the bone-chilling winter wind, the clashes of war can be heard. Equipped with fragile weapons and machinery, Tanya and her unit march toward the Eastern front. There, Tanya realizes the primitiveness of it all, and that it’ll take more than a miracle to emerge unscathed…

The Review

As with the previous volume, this one begins with Tanya on the Eastern Front dealing with a dilemma. Whereas before the Salamander Kampfgruppe was struggling against guerrilla attacks, it’s now contending against a greater, nondiscriminating enemy: winter. Although they do have the assistance of the newly formed Council for Self-Government, their collaboration is mostly in name only. Yet Tanya once again sees through the mess of problems and to find solutions that protect her forces and cement relations with the Council for Self-Government. While her insights aren’t as revolutionary as the not-everyone-in-the-Federation-is-a-Commie realization of last time, watching her rational brain deal with the challenges that beset her still makes for an engaging read.

Of course, the Commies aren’t taking the PR fallout from the formation of the Council for Self-Government lying down. They counter with their own campaign: a multinational mage unit to display their international ties. Leading this unit are Colonel Drake of the Commonwealth and Colonel Mikel, recently a resident of a Federation concentration camp, and embedded in their group is Lieutenant Mary I’m-gonna-kill-the-Devil-of-the-Rhine Sue. Perspectives on the anti-Imperial side have bounced from character to character throughout the series, but that role looks like it’s going to be carried by this threesome moving forward.

This is a nice development because we’ll actually get a chance to truly get acquainted and attached to the people stuck with carrying out the orders of Commonwealth and Federation. Despite being representatives of very different ideologies, Drake and Mikel hit it off right away. Both are talented mages with a keen understanding of the political forces that have teamed them up. With a Communist political officer attached to watch the multinational unit’s every move, the two men are continually thrust into situations where they must put on a show for the Commies so that Mikel doesn’t get tossed back into the concentration camps.

While the Mikel and Drake walk a political tightrope to keep themselves and their subordinates alive, Mary tears about like the proverbial bull in a china shop. She might’ve gotten sympathy points before as the bereaved daughter of a fallen Entente Alliance mage, but now she’s just a thoughtless officer causing trouble for everyone around her. If Tanya has an antithesis, Mary is it. She’s fighting for completely personal reasons, has no regard for rules and procedure, and despite the line in the narrative, “[Mary] wasn’t a girl who couldn’t read the room,” Mary really can’t read any perspective but her own. Any appearance of Mary inevitably causes a headache for her commander Drake, and I’m groaning right alongside him.

As far as the broader scope of the continental conflict goes, things get muddled further when the kingdom of Ildoa does some saber-rattling. The introduction of a potential new player on the current theater of war turns the narrative into a bit of a slog. Zen-sensei’s tendency toward untagged dialogue and minimal setting descriptions, unfortunately, means that all the conjecturing about Ildoa’s intent and motives results in confusion rather than an aura of intrigue. As such, I look forward to the manga’s version of these events to clarify the situation for me.

Extras include map and fold-out illustration in color; appendixes of the history timeline and general commentary; author afterword; and six black-and-white illustrations.

In Summary

Characters on both sides keep the story lively with challenges physical and political. We still have Tanya struggling to compensate for the gap between General Staff’s view of things and reality, but now the Commonwealth’s Drake also provides a similar perspective as a commander in the multinational mage unit. The high level scope of the growing continental conflict unfortunately remains a difficult read, but the scenes of those in the trenches cut straight to the heart.

First published at the Fandom Post.

 

 

 

Manga Review: Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts Vol. #6

The theme of love transcending appearances is a popular one in fairy tales, and Yen Press’ Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts fits that genre. The fantasy manga tells of the relationship between a girl and her beastly fiance, and you can read on for the review of Volume 6. (For reviews of other volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

The Grand Consecration to celebrate the founding of the Kingdom of Ozmargo is nigh…but the king of beasts remains in his human form despite the dawn! Thanks to Sariphi’s quick thinking, disaster is averted and the ceremony goes off without a hitch, prompting Chancellor Anubis to declare an end to Sariphi’s trials. But having assumed the role of Acting Queen, Sariphi is faced with her first job…which just might turn out to be insurmountable!

The Review

Volume 6 begins with the conclusion of the consecration arc. Surprisingly, although the judge Set injected an insidious air right before the arc’s climax, he doesn’t appear at all during Leo’s consecration speech or the falling action. Even so, Set left enough of an impression that he’s likely to cause problems in the future. As for Leo and Sariphi, an unexpected outcome results from the incident: Anubis appoints Sari as acting queen consort.

It seems like a big win for Sari, but when Anubis lays out the conditions of the position, the concession merely sounds like a continuation of her queen trials only with higher stakes. So even though she now has a title, her newfound standing grants her no security. Thus, her fight for acceptance in the beast realm continues.

The narrative then takes a single-chapter detour to focus on another couple. Although Princess Amit’s feelings for the dashing Jormungand continues to be one-sided, her maidenly fluster is plenty entertaining as she waffles over whether to wish him well on his next military assignment. And as always, her toothy looks provide a humorous contrast to her blushing personality.

Then it’s back to Leo and Sari as they head to Ozmargo’s protectorate, the nation of Sarbul, for Sari’s first official duty as acting queen consort. The decision to instate her has not been a popular one, and Sari must confront the prejudices of the population at large. Leo’s authority keeps the behavior of adult beastfolk in check, but that restraint doesn’t extend to children.

Whereas Sari had to win over a battle-hardened geezer a couple volumes ago, now she must deal with a bratty kid. Princess Tetra abounds with smart remarks, which is to be expected. However, her threat to make a suicidal leap is not, and the parallels drawn between Queen Calra and Sari’s substitute mother feel forced.

Extras include embedded author’s notes about the characters and the bonus manga, “The Beast Princess and the Regular Princess.”

In Summary

Sariphi’s trials come to an end! Well, not really. She attains the role of acting queen consort, but there’s no security in the position whatsoever. As such, even though her new title supposedly means that she and Leo can face the challenges of the crown together, the story still continues with the theme of Sariphi having to convince beastkind that humans aren’t awful.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Saga of Tanya the Evil Vol. #07

The Saga of Tanya the Evil anime was a surprise favorite for me in 2017. With a title like that, I was almost too scared to give it a try, but conniving little Tanya turned out to be nothing like I anticipated. Yen Press has released Volume 07 of the manga adaption, and you can read on for the review. (For my reviews of other Tanya the Evil works, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

With undeniable wit and charisma, Tanya manages to charm her way into the warmth of the office…not. When an order for a military march launches the dumbfounded Degurechaff into the freezing depths of winter, fluffy pillows and five course meals are the last thing on her mind…That is, until the Major discovers another tempting course of action…

The Review

I commented in my review of Volume 6 that Being X has been absent a while. Well, apparently he doesn’t want us to forget him because he pops in at the opening of Volume 7. Although the chapter is titled “Norden VI,” nearly half of it is Tanya’s reflections on her previous world and the philosophies and events that formed her character. In the midst of this walk down memory lane, Being X interrupts with images of a life the Japanese salaryman could’ve had. The interaction between divine and mortal is brief, but in addition to the usual spite and venom that reaffirms our main character’s disgust toward his creator, we also see a rare instant of vulnerability.

Then it’s back to Norden and the winter offensive so hotly debated in the previous volume. Tanya calculated that such a push would only wear down the Empire’s already ragged resources, but General Staff is treating the Northern Army’s offense as part of a larger plan to subdue the Regadonia Alliance. Tanya piecing together the top-secret attack through her conversation with von Rudersdorf is covered in all three incarnations of this story, and as usual, the manga provides the clearest version. Whereas the anime breezes through the massive pincer plan too quickly and the novel’s narrative is a bit hard to comprehend, the manga’s depiction of the von Rudersdorf interchange followed by a cartoon outline spells out the operation in understandable terms. Granted, the outline is somewhat dense, but that’s only because so many elements are involved in the multipronged attack.

Having explained what the imperial forces are about to do, preparing to execute it is the next order of business. Thus far, we’ve only seen Army forces at work, and in “Norden VII” we get a first glimpse of the Navy. Despite the tension of the impending fight, these scenes are good for giggles. In addition to the usual contrast between Tanya’s train of thought and those of the adults around her, Tojo-sensei has fun with the character designs of the imperial sailors. (Battleship Yamato anyone?)

The volume concludes with the start of the strike on Os. While the illustrations deliver excitement with clarity per usual, they also included an artistic choice that made me really uncomfortable.  Not to say that getting one’s clothes shredded is an impossibility in combat, but it just seems wrong when Tanya’s the only one fighting naked in a zone filled almost entirely with adult men. I really wish Tojo-sensei had let her stay clothed or leveled the field by making everyone naked.

Extras include battle log thus far, character introductions and detailed glossary of terms between chapters.

In Summary

General Staff chooses to make a winter offensive on Norden! But before the fight begins, the narrative delves into the strategic nitty gritty of what the higher ups really have in mind for this seemingly foolish attack. While we don’t get any combat scenes till the very end of the volume, the lead-up to the fighting plus a glimpse into Tanya’s previous life keeps things engaging.

First published at the Fandom Post.

 

 

 

Manga Review: Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts Vol. #5

The theme of love transcending appearances is a popular one in fairy tales, and Yen Press’ Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts fits that genre. The fantasy manga tells of the relationship between a girl and her beastly fiance, and you can read on for the review of Volume 5. (For reviews of other volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Having successfully entertained the true Duke, Sariphi has triumphed in the trials concocted to test her capacity to be Queen. However, her success has infuriated Chancellor Anubis. As Sariphi searches for a book alone in the library, Anubis approaches her…but what is the history between the King and his Chancellor, whose family has served the royal line for generations?

The Review

The Duke Galois arc wraps up with one last chapter. Nothing too surprising here. The Duke reiterates his support for Sariphi, who continues to regard him like an old grandpa, and the king reaffirms his love for Sariphi. The sharky general Joz provides some unexpected comedy with his crush on Amit though. Amit’s crocodile mouth is terrifying, but with Joz, they’re actually visually well-matched. One thing that was a bit odd is that characters kept asking for dances when the hall seemed completely deserted of guests, staff, and musicians.

Then the story shifts to the individual who’s been pushing for these queen trials: Anubis. It’s been clear from the start that he takes his chancellorship very seriously, and we learn why in a childhood flashback. If you’ve wanted to see cute chibi versions of the king and chancellor, you’ll get spades in Chapters 26 and 27. Anubis’ critical, cynical personality hasn’t changed, but his attitude toward the royal family was once quite different. In fact, he viewed the king with a disdain similar to his scorn of Sariphi. Predictably, the king wins him over, and the fact that Sariphi treats Anubis with similar consideration hints that it’ll just be a matter of time before the chancellor extends his loyalty to her.

But while Anubis’ antagonism toward Sariphi is starting to crumble, another threat continues to lurk. Anubis’ motivation for eliminating Sariphi is so that the kingship won’t be undermined, but the judge Set appears to seek just that. In the volume’s last two chapters, a literal perfect storm renders the king in human form on a day he must appear before the entire kingdom. Of course, it’s up to Sariphi to protect Leo’s secret as the palace frantically searches for him. Her confrontation with Set insinuates that the judge is less concerned about the king’s well being and more interested in an opportunity to increase his own power. How much Set conspires against the king remains to be seen, but if and when he does, it would give Sariphi and Leo an obstacle to surmount together.

Extras include embedded author’s notes about the characters and the bonus manga, “The Beast Princess and the Regular King (and His Attendant).”

In Summary

Fairly predictable storylines in this installment with Sariphi’s kind heart winning over the duke, and Leo’s kindness winning over prickly Anubis in their childhood. Of course, there is the bonus of seeing Leo and Anubis in adorable young versions of themselves. However, the end of the volume hints that the narrative will shift away from Sariphi’s trials to a challenge she and Leo must face together, which I think would make for a more interesting story.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Saga of Tanya the Evil Vol. #06

The Saga of Tanya the Evil anime was a surprise favorite for me in 2017. With a title like that, I was almost too scared to give it a try, but conniving little Tanya turned out to be nothing like I anticipated. Yen Press has released Volume 06 of the manga adaption, and you can read on for the review. (For my reviews of other Tanya the Evil works, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Extolled for her achievements in Dacia, Tanya makes her grand return to Norden! As the war escalates, so do the General Staff’s expectations for the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion (much to the young major’s dismay). From a barrage of enemy formulas to communication mishaps with higher-ups, it looks like everyone in the world-be they enemies or allies-will stop at nothing to sabotage the former salaryman!

The Review

Although it was officially a battle with Dacia, the so-called “live-fire exercise” in the previous volume was a fun romp for Tanya and her new battalion. Now they get down to business with an enemy that can actually deal damage on the Northern Front. The defense of the Kraggana Depot is also covered in the novel and anime, and the manga again provides more depth and humor than the other versions by presenting/contrasting the simultaneous perspectives of multiple characters. Not only does it highlight the disconnect between Tanya and her superiors/subordinates, the reactions of observers and enemies convey just how the extraordinary the 203rd is.

Additionally, the manga portrays a more complex battlefield. The anime mostly depicts aerial mages shooting at each other; the novel talks about the casting of various magic formulas, but the descriptions are so minimal it’s difficult to picture them. In this manga, the illustrations demonstrate just how the 203rd’s illusions thwart and misguide the enemy.

The story then takes another leap decades into the future where journalists continue to puzzle over what is Tanya’s shrouded legacy. What this chapter primarily offers is a look at how wrong their conjectures are. Because they don’t add new information to what’s happening in Tanya’s timeline, I’m not particularly interested in their pursuit of the “eleventh goddess.” Fortunately, the detour only lasts one brief chapter, and we’re back to Norden.

In the aftermath of Kraggana, the brass must coordinate their next move so the setting switches from combat zone to war room. We’ve seen these meetings before, but this time Tanya gets to weigh in on the discussion. The anime went through this scene so quickly that it wasn’t particularly fraught. While the novel provided a ton of detail, the writing was such that it was difficult to visualize the drama playing out. The manga, however, presents a very clear and sometimes comical three-way battle between the interests of Tanya, General Staff, and the Northern Army. So even though no bullets are flying, it gets plenty heated between Tanya and the Northern officers as she argues the futility of a winter offensive.

Extras include character introductions and a detailed glossary of terms between chapters.

In Summary

Once again, Tojo-sensei presents a brilliant interpretation of events that is distinct from the anime and markedly clearer than the novel. This installment has a little bit of everything: a prebattle speech, aerial combat, the future’s perspective on the war, and a heated war room debate. The only element missing is a confrontation with Being X, but I’m not enamored of that arc and think the story’s just fine without it.

First published at the Fandom Post.

 

 

 

Light Novel Review: Saga of Tanya the Evil Vol. #05

The Saga of Tanya the Evil anime was a surprise favorite for me in 2017. With a title like that, I was almost too scared to give it a try, but conniving little Tanya turned out to be nothing like I anticipated. Yen Press has released Volume 05 of the light novel adaption, and you can read on for the review. (For reviews of other Tanya the Evil works, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Barely two months remain until winter, and opinion is split over whether the Empire should launch a full-scale offensive or rest until spring. Time is running out, and the General Staff can’t make up their minds. While everyone else is frozen with inaction, the Salamander Kampfgruppe under Tanya’s command is singled out for a mission that will ultimately decide the army’s course. As they face attacks from a seemingly relentless enemy that leave them without even time to sleep, will Tanya’s troops be able to hold out?

The Review

I’m not certain if Zen-sensei’s writing has improved or if I’ve just gotten used to his style, but Volume 5 is a much easier read than previous volumes. While Zen-sensei still has a propensity to be too light on backdrop details, he’s reined in his tendency to overexplain to the point of tedium. On top of that, the war narrative takes on intriguing twists and turns which exposes hitherto unseen aspects of Tanya’s character.

The volume begins with Tanya’s newly formed Salamander Kampfgruppe defending a salient on the Eastern Front. We’ve seen her personally leading her battalion before; now she’s  commanding multiple units from base headquarters. Although she’s giving orders from a completely different vantage, those who enjoy the tactical aspect of this series will continue to see Tanya leveraging the scant resources at her disposal to attain victory. In addition to countering guerrilla attacks, Tanya must also deal with the Federation soldiers they’re captured. What starts as a kind of dilemma leads to a massive perspective shift on the Eastern Front. Whereas the Empire’s other conflicts are purely military in character, Tanya makes the realization that the war against the Commies will also involve fighting propaganda with propaganda.

No sooner has the Salamander Kampfgruppe jelled as a cohesive fighting force than it gets disbanded. (As Tanya complains, “The higher-ups really just do whatever they want.”) Not only that, Tanya and the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion get yanked from the Eastern Front and sent to take on the monster ship, RMS Queen of the Anjou. This arc has a lot of similarities to the previous northern ocean battles in that it involves submarines, ships, and the Commonwealth.  However, it differs in that the Commonwealth’s collaborator is not the Entente Alliance (although Mary Sue is present to go berserk against her father’s killer), but the Federation. The Commonwealth-Federation alliance is one between two mutually distrustful parties, and the lead up to their collaboration is an indicator of how desperate everyone’s become.

The other major difference is that the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion suffers casualties. Tanya hasn’t lost anyone since the shovel training on the Rhine, which is astounding considering they’ve been in the thick of fighting on every front since. However, it’s because of this astounding record that the loss of nearly a quarter of the battalion hits so hard. von Lerghen’s accused Tanya of being an unfeeling monster before, but even though she doesn’t turn into a weepy mess, you can’t say she’s unaffected by her men’s deaths (which is probably why von Lerghen’s not spouting his usual von Degurechaff-is-abnormal criticism in this volume).

Then it’s back to the Eastern Front and a new Salamander Kampfgruppe. While the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion stays with Tanya, the mages sent to replace her fallen men are all raw recruits. In fact, the majority of her new troops are green. Thus, Tanya’s not only with faced with the problem of repelling enemies but also the challenge of managing difficult-to-work-with personnel. As a former HR professional, she ultimately finds a way, but she can’t do a thing to stop her next enemy: winter.

Extras include map and fold-out illustration in color; appendixes of the history timeline and rough sketches; author afterword; and six black-and-white illustrations.

In Summary

A really wonderful installment here. In addition to a decent narrative pace compared to the bogginess in previous volumes, we get to see Tanya command multiple units and figure how to turn political differences into a weapon. But probably the most striking part of this volume is when the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion encounters more than it can handle. She’s been accused of being an unfeeling monster before, but she’s strikingly human as she and her men mourn their fallen comrades.

First published at the Fandom Post.

 

 

 

Manga Review: Saga of Tanya the Evil Vol. #05

The Saga of Tanya the Evil anime was a surprise favorite for me in 2017. With a title like that, I was almost too scared to give it a try, but conniving little Tanya turned out to be nothing like I anticipated. Yen Press has released Volume 05 of the manga adaption, and you can read on for the review. (For my reviews of other Tanya the Evil works, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

As hinted at by Colonel Lergen’s ‘thoughtful’ words of advice, an attack on Dacia has been ordered by the Empire, and the fearsome power of the new mage battalion is deployed. Determined to unleash the power of modernity upon the enemy, Tanya prepares her freshly polished human shields for an all-out battle…There’s no holding back with a resume-worthy achievement on the line!!

The Review

The Dacian invasion is an entertaining arc in the novel and the anime, and the manga brings its own delightful spin to this material. These chapters are all about disparity—the contrast between Tanya’s ecstatic response and Lergen’s horrified one, the difference between the size of the Dacian forces and the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion, and above all, the imbalance between the might of a modern military and an antiquated one. The Dacian army, despite its overwhelming numbers, is a joke, and Tanya beats it down accordingly while the narrative provides engaging explanations of the evolution of military strategies and equipment.

A unique element of the manga is that it provides the thoughts of the people around Tanya. The novel keeps to one perspective at a time while the anime generally only shows characters’ reactions to Tanya’s actions. The manga, on the other hand, shows the thoughts of multiple characters at once. In doing so, the manga delivers a clarity that isn’t available in the anime and novel. For instance, Tanya’s interpretation of Visha’s reluctance to deliver the warning to the Dacian capital and the actual reason behind Visha’s reluctance. Tojo-sensei often employs this contrast in thoughts to illustrate the disconnect between Lergen and Tanya and generate humor at the same time.

The thrashing of the Dacians is a fun romp, from the mages’ domination of the battlefield to Tanya’s reprimand of Weiss to the obliteration of the Daicans’ arms factory. Once they returns to base, however, the pace slows significantly as the narrative delivers the political and strategic repercussions of Dacia’s failed invasion. While this section isn’t nearly as engaging, it does convey the information necessary to set the stage for the war chronicle’s next clash, and it does so with a clarity and brevity far superior to the original novel. Once again, I’m grateful to Tojo-sensei for such a brilliant interpretation of Tanya’s story.

Extras include character introductions, detailed glossary of terms after each chapter, and an interview with voice actress Aoi Yuki from the Tanya anime. As with previous interviews, Yen Press used a teeny font for those pages, so reading is hard on the eyes.

In Summary

Unlike the previous volume, where Tanya’s subordinates are struggling to survive her training regimen, the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion gets a lucky break when the Principality of Dacia declares war. Normally, taking on three divisions is a daunting task, but Tanya turns an enemy invasion into an amusing lesson on the tremendous difference between modern and pre-modern military technology.

First published at the Fandom Post.

 

 

 

Manga Review: Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts Vol. #4

The theme of love transcending appearances is a popular one in fairy tales, and Yen Press’ Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts fits that genre. The fantasy manga tells of the relationship between a girl and her beastly fiance, and you can read on for the review of Volume 4. (For reviews of other volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Confronted with yet another challenge to prove she is worthy to become queen, Sariphi must now entertain the mysterious Duke Galois upon his visit to the palace. But will learning niceties and dance steps be enough to win over the duke, who is rumored to be a fearsome warrior with a burning hatred for all things human? Or has Sariphi been set up to fail her way out of the palace and the beast realm for good?

The Review

Now that the detour with Ilya is over, the story returns to Sariphi’s trials to become queen. Unlike the first trial, the second has nothing to do with magic. Rather, this one is about surmounting the prejudices humans and beastkind hold against each other. Duke Galois, a powerful lord and a military leader in the old wars against humans, has requested to meet the candidate for queen, and Chancellor Anubis declares that properly hosting this guest is Sariphi’s next test.

Previous volumes have hinted at Anubis’ opposition to Sariphi as queen. This volume indicates that he’s not merely advising the King against Sariphi but actively working to undermine her. While he has his reasons for doing so, his attempt to make Sariphi fail in a touchy political environment seems out of character for the otherwise sensible chancellor. In addition, Duke Galois’ visit is named as a trial when the palace learns that he’s coming; it’s not part of Anubis’ original “Trials to be Queen.” With Anubis adding tests as he pleases, the story seems as if it will wind up a struggle of Sariphi versus Anubis’ plots.

In this case, the ordinary girl must quickly learn the skills required of a beastperson queen. Watching friends Cy, Clops, and Amit bring her up to speed is fun, but when Sariphi actually has to greet the duke, Tomofuji-sensei draws Sariphi with a bizarre expression that makes her look hypnotized. And when Sariphi gives the duke a tour of the palace, the explanation of its layout is helpful but feels rather belated, considering we’ve been at this palace for four volumes now.

Much the way Naruto wins over his adversaries by sheer force of character, Sariphi does the same with the duke. However, the final outcome of this arc contains a major contradiction. At the outset, Leo tells Sariphi that the duke is stronger and more powerful than he is, and when Galois arrives, Anubis remarks that he’s someone indispensable to the kingdom. Yet at the end of the chapter, Anubis dismisses him as a person who can be easily replaced. While these sudden changes in opinion make for dramatic scenes, they don’t make a whole lot of sense.

Extras include embedded author’s notes about the characters and the bonus manga, “The Beast Princess and the Regular King.”

In Summary

The story shifts back to Sariphi proving her suitability to be queen consort with her second trial: acting as hostess to a hostile guest. This arc gives Sariphi a chance to show off her spunk, determination, and charm as well as the opportunity to dress up. However, like much of this series, the politics as well as the arbitrary addition of tasks to Sariphi’s trial list don’t make a whole lot of sense.

First published at the Fandom Post.