I love Isekai anime, but I’ve made it clear on this blog and elsewhere that I feel that the Isekai genre is pissing away it’s vast potential by chasing the same plot points over and over again. Simply put, every Isekai seems to be more than happy telling the same story about a shut in NEET who becomes a god figure with his own harem, every time.
That has led to some great shows, but I feel Isekai could do more, and if they don’t try to do more with their blank check of a premise they have, then fans are going to get turned off.
In preparation for watching this seasons’ Isekai Quartet, a comedy series featuring the four most popular Isekai shows, I realized I had watched only three of them, so I quickly loaded up the fourth show in order to understand their relevance to the rest of the cast, and I am glad I did, because the show I watched is everything I needed from this genre. After the cut let’s take a dive into Saga of Tanya the Evil.
Tanya the Evil seems to have been tailored made to address all of my hang-ups with the Isekai Genre, and it does with excellence. Instead of the NEET shut in, we have a ruthless business man. Instead of the god-like powers, we have a vengeful and arrogant god who wants to make our lead suffer. Instead of a fantasy world of swords and sorcery, we have a parallel world of our own in the late 1920s. There is little in this story that bares any connection to the more common Isekai stories, though it in itself is very much a story about reincarnating in another world.
Tanya herself is probably one of the freshest leads in recent memory. Once a no-nonsense Japanese salary man who prioritized the ends over the means, a staunch no believer in god. An act of fate throws her in the path of “God” or as she calls him: “Being X” who, wanting more people to believe and worship him, forces Tanya to reincarnate into a world that if she dies anything else than a natural death, she’ll be removed from the cycle of reincarnation forever. Tanya, now a little girl with all her knowledge of the business world has to apply those skills to a brutal WWI style conflict, which pays off in spades. What makes it even better though is that while Tanya is treated as “the devil of the Rhine” and with good reasons, the show doesn’t go all in on that premise and gives her wiggle room to be both a excellent battlefield commander, and a inspiring if strict leader to the men under her command. If you can survive her training regime and her brutal methods, you will probably end up swearing undying loyalty to this little brat.
Furthermore, the world of Tanya the Evil is probably one of the coolest in recent memory. While very much a WWI setting, the use of magic is done extremely well and feels very much a built in part of the world, not just added on because that is what they think will sell. Having the characters zoom around in jet packs, or magical skies if they are the enemy is a brilliant idea, helping bring WWI aerial dog-fighting to more classic anime battle scenes, which again I loved. It just goes to show that the author and animators cared about trying to create something new and fresh, instead of depending on tropes such as MMO game mechanics or loosely defined “magic”.
Honestly, I could spend pages upon pages just gushing how much I loved this show, but I don’t want to waste your time. What I will say this is that this is one of the best shows I’ve seen since ReZero and, if you put aside ReZero’s masterful breakdown of the genre, this is probably the best Isekai ever made since the genre exploded into the anime mainstream. A show brimming full of originality, action and interesting story beats that boldly tries to do something fun and fresh with the genre, Saga of Tanya the Evil is everything a lapsed Isekai fan needs. If you aren’t watching this show, then change that at once, you need to check this anime out.