‘The Saga of Tanya the Evil‘ is a 2017 alternative history anime based on the light novels written by Carlo Zen and illustrated by Shinobu Shinotsuki. The show was produced by the Japanese animation studio NUT and dubbed into English by Funimation. It is directed by Yutaka Uemura.
In 2013, an atheist Japanese office manager (Josh Grelle) fires an employee who proceeds to push him in front of a train. Just before the train hits him, time freezes and a being claiming to be a deity gives a final chance to repent. The manager mocks him by calling the voice Being X (Bill Jenkins). As a result, Being X tells him if he does not die a natural death in his next reincarnation, he will be tossed into Hell.
Born into a new world similar to World War I Europe though magic is real, the manager is now Tanya Degurechaff (Monica Rial), a little girl with blonde hair. Seeking to avoid being starved to death, she enters the Empire’s mage division, hoping to rise to the ranks. Being X appears every now and then to taunt her, raising the stakes by blessing her. Now every time she does something to rise, she gets pushed the frontlines. Impressing her superiors and inferiors alike, Tanya does everything to win the war but fate always seems to take a turn against her.
Anime, particularly this one, rarely holds back on the tragedy of war. With the backdrop of Tanya’s story, we see the violence and tragedy. The show’s themes also touch on fate, faith, human nature, and man’s flawed idea of a deity. The show’s story and its presentation of these themes are contemplative and force you to think. As Tanya’s actions continue to escalate, she gains enemies in her own Empire, not to mention their enemies.
Ironically, the protagonist claims to have no belief that Being X as a deity, despite demonstrations of power over and over again. However, when Being X tells the protagonist of the grand plan, he begs for his life and for the “rules not to be broken.” To me, the show accidentally highlights a flaw in atheists’ thinking. They are fine in their disbelief, but call on the rules when it suits them. Not to mention, if Tanya does not believe in Being X, just ignore him and stop complaining every time there is a twist of fate. This aspect of the show was interesting, to say the least.
I enjoyed watching Tanya’s frustration, hatred, and anger, but also the descent into madness as she continually tries to get ahead only for a twist of fate brought on by incompetence or accidents to bring her back to reality. The animation was also impressive, especially in its display of Tanya’s emotions. This is shown in full display in the finale which has a twist you do not see coming.
Check out the teaser trailer below:
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Strong violence, Foul language, Scenes of war, Frightening images, Disturbing themes
This review is based on the dub.
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This article has been updated from a previous version which did not include “Operation Desert Pasta.”