Tanyastuff

One of the nice things about writing a blog by me for me is that I don’t have to go chasing after the Next Big Thing. I can sit and chew over a topic of interest. In this case, it’s continuing thoughts on The Saga of Tanya the Evil (Japanese title – Young Girl’s War Journal). Part of the reason for this is that even people who like the series get major parts of it wrong (Berry,over at Angry Anime Bitches is the only one who got Tanya mostly right). As I said the last time, Tanya isn’t really a female and “she” isn’t really evil. The body is that of a young girl, but the mind is a middle-aged Japanese salaryman. For that reason, I’ll refer to Tanya as he. And I’ll talk some more about the lack of evility.

Tanya is a good combat commander. At a personal level, he’s exceedingly brave. In Episode 7, he’s first out the door when they sky-dive into the fjord.


In Episode 9 he leads the V-1 strike,


and in Episode 10, he’s first into Facility A, a possible enemy headquarters bunker.

As a unit commander, Tanya exhibits a certain audacity. After taking out the Dakian command post (Episode 5), he decides, on his own initiative, to press on, strike the Dakian capital itself, and destroy a munitions factory there[1].

In Episode 11, he realizes that he’s the only one who knows what the Republican Fleet is up to (withdrawing the army to not-Algeria to continue the war). He decides to exploit a loophole in his status[2], ignore a Theater directive, and lead a V-1 strike on the embarkation port.

At a personal level, Tanya is not the sadistic killer that many make him out to be. Yes, there’s the incident at the training school, but the trainee involved had already said that ‘she’ reminded him of his little sister, and that he didn’t find her particularly scary.  Extraordinary situations require extraordinary measures.

In building his rapid response force, Tanya’s main goal was to avoid combat as long as possible. In this he is hampered by his lack of understanding of human nature. His recruiting poster was designed to discourage recruits[3], but instead attracted the most daring. His harsh training was designed to encourage them to drop out, but only succeeded in producing an elite, high esprit unit, a fact that leaves him somewhat befuddled.

Nothing that he did was hurtful simply for the sake of causing others pain. He is not, as some would have it, a Yoshikage Kira (from Jo Jo’s Bizarre Adventure) , because he’s not a natural killer.

From time to time, Tanya demonstrates deep personal concern for others. In Episode 7, he becomes positively insubordinate when he thinks the Northern Front is about to launch a major attack without proper supplies.

And even though it was his paper that exposed the loophole that allowed Imperial forces to destroy the city of Arene (Episode 8), he is not happy at being part of the operation, again to the point of insubordination. Nevertheless, he assuages his conscious with the Nuremberg Defense, and later, in a soliloquy on the train in Episode 9, he says that his hands are clean, ‘probably’.

The only things that make Tanya seem evil are the English title, the fact that it looks to be a nine-year-old girl doing these things, and that LtCol von Rerugen says ‘she’ is a monster in the form of a little girl, in both the first and the last episodes[4]. If the title were changed to Rambo Isekai[5], opinions would be totally different.

Finally, a reminder that the Empire Tanya fights for is not Nazi Germany, nor even Wilhemine Germany. They did not start out to conquer Europa. Instead, they were an existing empire that suddenly began to modernize, and to expand its economy. They were surrounded by countries that were ahead of them economically, a situation that usually leads to war on its own. These natural forces, helped along by Being X[6], were enough to coalesce the peripheral countries against the Empire.


[1]In Austro-Hungarian terms, that’s like stopping an invading army near Belgrade at lunchtime, and attacking Bucharest that night.

[2] His mission is to support the Theater forces, but he’s still under the command of Strategic Headquarters, and their task was for him to ‘test’ the V-1s.

[3]It is, in fact, a paraphrase of Shackleton’s supposed advertisement in a London newspaper, seeking volunteers for his Antarctic expedition: “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.”

[4] There are some elements of the Wiki article that run counter to this, but those are based on the light novel, which I have not yet read.

[5] Isekai, or ‘alternate world’, is a light novel/anime genre where the protagonist somehow ends up in an alien or fantasy world.

[6]It’s not that Tanya doesn’t believe in God (although he doesn’t). It’s that he doesn’t believe that Being X is God, because of how absurd his creation is. As he said in Episode 2, if X is anything, it’s the Devil.

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