Tag Archives: tanya the evil

Manga Review: Saga of Tanya the Evil Vol. #09

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 09 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

Only a step away from their demise, the Regadonia Entente Alliance desperately push for a government-in-exile. Meanwhile, the notorious “Rusted Silver” Tanya von Degurechaff faces off against Colonel Anson Sue in another fatal battle that threatens to change the course of the entire war…and her chances of promotion!

The Review

Volume 8 ended with a glimpse into the far future, and Volume 9 continues that meandering path by detouring back to the assessment that revealed Tanya’s magic capabilities. While this look to the past includes her rationale for volunteering for the military, it mainly serves as a framework for explaining how technology and magic work in this world. If you’ve ever been curious about the origins of aerial mages, these pages lay out a fairly detailed explanation.

We then return to Tanya’s present-day and the summons that cut her leave short. The pace gets bogged down as the narrative presents a status report on the northern conflict against the Alliance, an initial survey of the battleground to come, the announcement of search and destroy orders to Tanya’s battalion and an update on the Alliance official at the center of this activity. It’s a lot of information for a complicated setup. Tojo-sensei makes these giant chunks of information more digestible by placing some of it in a lunchtime chat between Visha and an Academy friend and by interjecting humor through the contrasting responses of Tanya and her subordinates. Even so, it’s a dense read. (Not nearly as dense as the original novel text though).

However, there is a purpose to laying out the broader landscape for these multiple moving parts. When those parts finally converge, the payoff is huge. The collision of air, sea, and undersea forces is astronomically improbable, but it makes for splendid chaos, and Tojo-sensei does a great job conveying the frantic thoughts of all parties involved.

In the midst of the furious battle is a turning point for Mary Sue that doesn’t occur in either the anime or the novel. Being X and his cohorts in the higher plane haven’t meddled much since the Elinium 95 arc. Now they intervene directly and in a significant way. Whereas the anime and novel implied Mary’s powerful mana was something inherited from her father, here her powers are the result of not one, but three miracles. The divine backing she receives is quite dramatic and brands her as a force Tanya must contend with down the line.

Extras include a world map, battle log thus far, character introductions, and detailed glossary of terms between chapters. Unfortunately, the font on the character introductions is so small (4 point? 3 point?) that reading it feels like an eye exam.

In Summary

After a lesson on the history of mages, the narrative returns to the abrupt summons to Tanya’s battalion. These orders might be sudden, but the explanation of the circumstances surrounding it takes a while. However, if you’re patient enough to process that information, it pays off in a thrilling ocean battle.

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: 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: 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.

 

 

 

Light Novel Review: Saga of Tanya the Evil Vol. #04

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 04 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

A devil wanders the battlefield in the guise of an adorable young child and her name is Tanya Degurechaff! After returning from the sandy southlands, Tanya receives an incredibly suspicious order from headquarters to embark on a training exercise. In reality, command has sent her on a covert mission to initiate a border conflict with the Federation. Soon the Empire finds itself embroiled in another fight it cannot back down from, even if it means making the entire world their enemies!

The Review

Having fought on the Empire’s north, south, and west fronts, Tanya now gets sent east. The Federation is the one neighbor that has maintained peace with the Empire, so when the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion gets yanked from the Southern Continent and receive orders to infiltrate the Federation under the pretext of a training exercise, it’s clear trouble’s brewing.

In previous conflicts, the narrative generally described the war’s outbreak and provided a heap of commentary before throwing Tanya into that battlefield to participate. This time she’s actually a witness to the outset of the war. And because the Federation and the Empire are being highly secretive—even to their own officers, the tension in the opening chapter is wonderful.

Once the fighting breaks out, things get even better. Against previous adversaries, Tanya never harbored personal hatred; taking them down is just her job. The Communists, however, fall into a completely different category. Our former salaryman and believer in market values loathes Communists, and seeing Tanya get so het up about an enemy is a fascinating change. The lengths she’ll go to undermine the Commies are surprisingly extreme and not only from a military tactical standpoint. Suffice to say, her raid on the Federation capital is a thrill to read.

I am guessing that Zen-sensei himself is also not a fan of Communists because he depicts the Federation as the worst type of Stalinist regime. Not only is it a state whose soldiers are as terrified of the ruling regime as they are of enemy armies, but Comrade Loria, the dictator’s right hand man, is a pervert with no redeeming qualities. He’s definitely a villain with a truly icky POV.

After the initial clash with the Communists, Zen-sensei switches back to his usual style of over explaining the rationale behind everything. In Chapter III, Tanya and her officers spend 9 pages debating whether or not they should rescue forces trapped at Tiegenhoff, and the text describing the actual mission only takes a page. Fortunately, he’s more generous with his play-by-play of a daring combat-search-and-rescue in Commonwealth Territory.

In contrast to Tanya’s brilliant individual victories, the fortunes of her country continue to decline. As result, we get a refrain of an earlier theme: efforts intended to snag a cushy desk job result in yet another assignment on the front lines. In spite of Zen-sensei’s long-winded prose, the twists and turns of the plot remains compelling, and I look forward to the next volume.

Extras include map and fold-out illustration in color; appendixes explaining military strategy and history timeline; author afterword; and six black-and-white illustrations.

In Summary

A new front breaks out for the already beleaguered Empire. Previously, we’ve had precious little about the Federation to the east; now the Stalinist leadership clashes head to head with Tanya, who absolutely detests Communists. If you’ve stuck with the series this long, Tanya’s passion against this new adversary will be a fun and engaging new element in this military chronicle.

First published at the Fandom Post.

 

 

 

Light Novel Review: Saga of Tanya the Evil Vol. #03

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 03 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

Has Tanya finally done it!? The cushy office desk job assignment she’s been waiting for at the Military University is finally hers to enjoy. That is…until there’s a hiccup in her assignment!

The Review

With the third volume of The Saga of Tanya the Evil, we reach the end of the content covered in the anime. This installment also provides a much more detailed account of the fall of the Republican homeland than is depicted in the TV series. In the anime, the Republican Army’s defeat gets presented as a series of rapid action scenes that take only about half an episode. In the novel, however, we get all the nitty-gritty of Zettour and Rudensdorf convincing the imperial brass of their plan, Tanya’s thoughts as she speeds deep into enemy territory at Mach 1.5, and her anguish when the Empire fails to end the war. Most interestingly, the narrative includes an unwitting blow to a hidden spy complex that was completely excluded from the anime. Although I can see how production constraints would result in this detail getting cut, the Commonwealth’s espionage activities lends the novel a juicier political landscape.

Unfortunately, these intriguing additional layers are presented in Zen-sensei’s particular storytelling so it does take work to interpret the confusing parts and stamina to get through the dry and repetitive ones. As in previous volumes, a lack of setting details and dialogue tags in scene openers meant that I sometimes had to read a couple pages into the scene before I figured out which characters and which place the narrative had shifted to. For instance, Zen-sensei includes a conversation between angelic beings in the heavenly realms, and it wasn’t until I was over two pages into the scene that I realized there were more than two characters involved in the conversation. Also, the beings converse about taking action in the mortal world, but even after rereading the scene three times, I still don’t understand what they are plotting.

By the way, this angelic conversation is the first glimpse of the divine that we’ve gotten since Volume 1, and it’s the only one in Volume 3. Although Tanya’s rebellion against God is what caused her current predicament and she spouts plenty of venom against him, God doesn’t actually appear in the narrative much. However, that’s actually fine because Tanya’s personal circumstances and the geopolitical situation contain more than enough conflict to keep the plot interesting.

The last third of the book is devoted to the Southern Campaign. The anime ends with the 203rd’s arrival on the Southern Continent, but this volume dives into the imperial army’s conflict against the Commonwealth and the remnants of the Republican forces. A new character, General von Romel, gets introduced as the head of this campaign and a master of maneuver warfare. While I’m not certain whether he is intended to be a tribute to Germany’s Desert Fox, he does provide a fresh perspective on Tanya that the generals at Imperial HQ lack.

Extras include the map and fold-out illustration in color; appendixes explaining military strategy and history timeline; author afterword; and six black-and-white illustrations.

In Summary

After reading this volume, my general impression is that Carlo Zen has created a truly fascinating multi-layered plot—and I can’t wait to read the manga version of it. As with the previous volumes, his prose continues to demand quite a bit of effort on the part of readers in order to visualize settings and characters and to comprehend all the military and political forces at work. However, those willing to continue to investing time and energy in this series will be rewarded with Tanya’s gripping struggle for survival as her country spirals toward a world war.

First published at the Fandom Post.

 

 

 

Manga Review: Saga of Tanya the Evil Vol. #04

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 04 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

Zero candidates was Tanya’s ultimate key to forestalling a new project that would send her to the front lines. But plans backfire after waves of applications from fresh, promising soldiers flood the office. And just when things couldn’t get any worse, the Elinium 95’s mind contamination begins to take effect on the young captain who-before realizing it-is now the official leader of a battalion?!

The Review

A recurring theme of this series is that, in spite of Tanya’s best efforts, nothing ever goes the way she wants. Thus, upon graduation from war college, instead of the cushy desk job she’s been striving for, her orders are to form a new mage battalion destined for the front. Shortly thereafter, her ploy to scare off prospective candidates results in a literal avalanche of applicants. Despite this continuously repeated pattern of attempt and failure, it doesn’t get old. That’s partly because the manga, unlike the novel, allows readers to see the disconnect between Tanya’s thoughts and those of the people around her, and mangaka Tojo skillfully uses those situations for maximum hilarity. And it’s partly because Tanya’s refusal to let fate (and Being X) get the better of her leads to amazing creativity.

In the case of Volume 4, most of those creative efforts are aimed toward a nightmare of a training regimen designed to weed incompetents out of Tanya’s battalion (i.e., her personal shield). The manga, like the anime, takes this opportunity to show off Tanya’s wicked side, and because the novel doesn’t provide much detail on Tanya’s boot camp, the manga and anime each have different versions of the pint-sized commander kicking her subordinates into shape. However, the manga version goes into more detail about the rationale behind Tanya’s intense regimen, and the manga’s explanations of the different combat formulas are vastly clearer than what’s provided by the novel.

Tojo-sensei definitely has a talent for taking what’s in the novel and bringing it up to the next level. In Chapter 11, Tanya’s concerns about her stunted physical development take her to the doctor. In the novel’s account of the doctor’s visit, we’re so much in Tanya’s head that all we see is her worry. The manga, on the other hand, shows how the adults perceive Tanya’s concerns, which makes for a livelier and more entertaining scene. Tojo-sensei has been doing this consistently, and I look forward to more of her work.

Extras include battle log so far, character introductions, detailed glossary of terms after each chapter, and interviews with cover designer Toshimitsu Numa and scriptwriter Satoshi Oshio. While the interviews are interesting, Yen Press used a teeny font for those pages, so reading is hard on the eyes.

In Summary

Those who’ve missed watching troops in life-or-death situations will once more get to see imperial soldiers fight to stay alive. And the funny thing is that they’re not even on the front. Dark humor abounds as little Tanya puts battalion candidates through a modern-era Hell Week. Even if you’re familiar with the novel or anime, the manga provides such a rich, detailed, and entertaining perspective of Tanya’s messed up life that you should still pick it up.

First published at the Fandom Post.