The Saga of Tanya the Evil, volume 1

A successful man working in HR died as he was pushed by one of his ex employee for revenge. In front of a god “Being X”, he showed no faith. Thus god cursed him into another world, with the body of a little girl and into war.

It’s not exactly the freshest LN, but I just read volume 1 recently and decided to review it. There is 11 volumes at the moment in Japan and 6 in English, courtesy of Yen Press.

Now, this is one work I needed some time to warm up, especially since I started by the LN. The beginning is confusing, the narration is confusing, and it takes some time to hit its stride. It’s an heavily layered story of conflict.

First layer is the war. In a pseudo Europe which had yet to have its first world war, the reader is propelled into the Empire, aka Not Germany, and follow the adventure of Tanya who has enlisted into the army as she is mage. Tanya uses her modern knowledge from our timeline post World War, and also her skill in human resources, reducing the army into business.

Second layer is rather humorous. Tanya doesn’t actually want to fight, but would rather chill in the rear line. But she is always pushed to the front, as she is an ace, good when fighting or leading. She is actually scheming to avoid fighting as much as possible, like making people do the impossible, just to have it backfire on her. Moreover, everyone either idolise her or think she is a war freak.

Third layer is the battle between faith and rationality. Gods get involved in the story as they bestow miracles and curses. Tanya, as a rational mind, does everything to deny them, reducing them to devils rather than gods. The course of events is sometime affected by them, just as the title of this first volume implies: Deus Lo Vult ( Gods will it ). They are that one constant yet rarely involved final boss to defeat for Tanya.

All these layers is like having a war on several front, or a cake with different flavour and texture layered. And it’s a rather successful assembly, all materialised in Tanya, the cold rational Japanese man in the body of cute little girl soldier. She is the driving force of the story, whether it’s clever tactics, funny comments or plain evil moment.

For the first volume, we have his reincarnation and the development of a new mage orb. All of this kept me puzzled at what I was reading as it was mostly Tanya ranting about everything. But after, the fights start and the story reach cruise speed, with as it gets into a loop of skirmish, Tanya getting to the rear, just to have orders to go back on the main line. The first volume ends a bit on a cliffhanger as the story hint at a new front for the war and with the generals pushing Tanya and her subordinates towards it.

The narration is quite an oddity. Imagine reading an Internet review full of rant. There is a bit of that, but luckily, in the good sense as it’s filled with sarcasm and misunderstanding. More weirdly is how her thinking is from first person, but actions are in third. Usually thinking would have a typographic emphasising like bolding, but here it’s just blended. I’m still not sure why it’s like that, and it’s quite distracting as I’m always trying to figure why it switches so often. Mainly, I’m always trying to figure how and if Tanya, the man, and the narrator are different people.

The art is heavily stylised into a heavy, dark, and gritty tone. There are sadly few illustrations, but enough to have Tanya’s trademark evil smirk.

At the end of the day, this is some bizarre work. I had no expectation, nor prior knowledge, and I was left with a rather original tensei isekai story. There is still magic, but in a World war context and not some high fantasy. Everything is conflicted and well thought, from the story, characters, and narrative. I like it quite a bit as it was entertaining. But stay tune as the adaptations this time are worth your time.

Adaptations

By half way of the LN, as I was puzzled by the diverse narration, I knew I had to check the adaptions in order to see how someone else interpreted it. And I was in for a surprise.

I started with the manga without prior knowledge. It is a masterful adaptation. It subverted all my understanding. Part edgy, it also featured cute! Just giving expressiveness to faces, lightening the narrative, it gives a whole another tone. At points, its borderline comedy, at other time, it’s insanity. While the LN blends everything into layered soft cake, the manga goes for the sheer contrast and absurdity of a lemon meringue pie. Nothing like a cute little girl with an angelic smile telling that she will go to war, just to switch then to an evil smile, or a praying angel nuking an army.

I do believe that the manga will affect how I interpret volume 2, and people should definitely check it if they already read the LN or watched the anime. It offers lots of differences worth checking.

I have checked the first few episodes of the anime. Introduction has been reworked, but the general tone is more inline with what I had in mind, unlike the manga. Fight animation is nice. Character design is step down from LN or manga, but that’s how it’s for anime. But the design also offer some more variety in visual, with the flying equipment of the different countries, which aside of orbs, can be metal horses, or skis. The gods are also portrayed quite differently from the manga, or even from what may I have had in mind when reading the LN, and heightened their mysticism. I probably won’t watch it entirely as I have limited time to check every version. Perhaps in accelerated for moments I enjoyed reading.

Informations

Author: Carlo Zen Website Twitter
Illustrator: Shinobu Shinotsuki Pixiv Twitter

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