I’ve been on a bit of an isekai binge lately, revisiting and re-watching series I’ve always deeply enjoyed. At the top of that list was this anime, one that I’ve gushed about before and frankly, couldn’t wait to do it again. My praise was high the last time, but would it hold up on a second (or third) look? Well after the cut let’s take a re-dive into Saga of Tanya the Evil and find out!
I’ve been watching Eighty-Six this season and I’ve been enjoying it a lot, but it was through watching both it and Tanya, that I was able to come to a conclusion regarding the series we are looking at today. This is my third re-watch of the series, and as I was trying to put my thoughts together, the summation hit me easily.
“We will most likely see another version of Eighty-Six again, but we probably won’t see anything like Tanya the Evil.“
That right there is best way I can describe this series. Out of all the anime I have watched, out of myriad of shows ranging from all genres and and types, there has been nothing quite like Tanya the Evil. An isekai at heart, it is a show that decides to abandon the trappings of what you expect from the genre, and goes down its own path. The setting, the powerset, the cast and most of all the protagonist are all something you won’t ever see in another anime series, at least of this writing.
If you don’t know the story, let me try to sum it up. Once a cut-throat, work obsessed and militantly atheist Japanese salaryman, the person who would become Tanya von Degurechaff finds himself reincarnated into a new world by a figure known as being X. Though only after blatantly and arrogant dismissing his powers at the exact moment of her death. Now stuck in the body of a young girl in the midst of an alternative World War I Germany, Tanya not only has to fight a war where the only thing she wants is a cushy rear-guard position. But also content with a supposed god who will literally upturn world events in order to make her a believer.
Now if that doesn’t interest you, I don’t know what will. While the show is not perfect, Tanya the Evil is something that again, has not been seen in this age of isekai. It exchanges swords for guns, fantasy for reality, cute anime girls (except Viktoriya) for gruff military generals, and your generic pretty boy isekai lead for a woman who could be summed up as: “What if Klinger from M*A*S*H was Rambo and Machiavelli rolled into one?” It leads to great moment after great moment as Tanya tries her best to be a good solider but also avoid combat at all costs, even if she often ends up shifting the entire scale of the war in her nation’s favor. There is action, dark comedy and moments of genuine brotherhood and horror as the aspects of war through the eyes of both soldiers and generals are examined, though thankfully not in a way that comes off as lecturing or overbearing.
Of course like I said, Tanya the Evil isn’t completely perfect. While the Major herself steals the show, she often ends up acting like a sponge, soaking up the attention of all the other characters who often come as superfluous and barely there. The rest of her squad are a good supporting bunch, but aside from Viktoriya they don’t have much going for them. The same can be said for the military staff who pretty much just stand there to give orders and comment on the goings on of the war. The villains don’t fare much better, often being disposable and one-note, though Anton Sue does help introduce a character who probably has the best use of her name I’ve ever seen and leads into the sequel film that, while its good, should probably have been its own season.
When it comes to the Isekai genre, something that doesn’t look like it is slowing down, you got your pick of the litter. And while there will be other Overlords, Saint’s Magics, Next Life as a Villainess, Jobless, and Smartphones. I really truly believe there won’t be anything like Saga of Tanya the Evil ever again. It is wholly completely and wonderfully unique in a genre that has been rightly criticized for becoming too samey. If you love Isekai, but are tired of the usual servings of fantasy, girls and overpowered boys (or reverse harem girls), then The Saga of Tanya the Evil is the perfect show for you. While it doesn’t secure a perfect 10, that won’t stop me from giving it the highest recommendation I can possibly give. You NEED to check this show out, and if you have, then you should absolutely watch it again. I know I will, because it is in a class of its own.
And this clip is always fucking great.