The Saga of Tanya the Evil
The Saga of Tanya the Evil takes its place in a fantasy world that is eerily similar to pre-world-war Germany. The map is exactly identical but country names have been obscured.
Germany is called “the empire”, “the imperial”, and “the fatherland”. Other countries are called something else as well. But readers/watchers with some historical knowledge will immediately recognize what the original countries are.
The story views this fictional war through the eyes of Tanya Degurechaff who is a reincarnation of a modern day Japanese. He (yes, he) was a salaryman in Japan. He was a ruthless businessman. He was eventually pushed into an incoming train traffic by a disgruntled ex-employee he fired.
He is given a second chance, but the God is greatly displeased of his complete lack of faith and decides to place him in ordeals.
He is reborn as Tanya, an orphan girl in 1914. She retains the previous memories of his former self along with the knowledge of how Germany fared during the world wars. This puts Tanya in extreme advantage as she knows how the world will react to her nation’s warmongering ways.
The God has also granted her several blessings just so that she will thank the God. These include high resistance to damage and high mana.
Tanya the evil and her goal
It is made obvious from the very beginning that Tanya wants to survive. Her life was cut very short in her previous life, and the God has hinted that it was due to her lack of faith.
Since she is born as an orphan in a war-ridden era, she grows up malnourished, thus she is smaller than others of the same age.
And, when it is revealed that she has a sizable mana pool, she immediately volunteers to join the army instead of being conscripted. This is a pro move on her part since volunteering to join the army places her in a better ladder of promotion chain than starting from rock bottom after conscripted.
Paraphrasing her words from manga, she chooses to join the army to survive (food). She is malnourished from the lack of proper food from her orphanage and fears that she won’t make it into her adulthood. The army would at least feed her.
Then she goes through a military academy and graduates in 2nd place at age of 9.
Her ultimate goal is set out to prove the God wrong. She does everything and beyond to be placed in a desk job in the army. She puts forth bold ideas (for the era) to evolutionize the army and its logistics, just so that her nation will survive.
There is a reason Tanya is nicked named the evil because she appears to an evil. Even her former self was an extremely ruthless man. Those who know her realize that she is not an evil per se. She is simply ruthless and extremely pragmatic.
Sadly, what she does makes her too invaluable. She shows a great deal of talents for frontline combat as well. All these mean that exactly opposite of what she wants happens. Her bold ideas make others think she is extremely patriotic. Her desire to be placed in a desk job makes people think that she is itching to fight on front.
Everything she does is misunderstood in extreme ways. And, because she is placed in charge of several very important objectives, she has to make tough calls which eventually gives her the nickname “Evil”.
Overall, Tanya’s goal is simple in concept: Survive, prosper, live a full life, AND laugh at the God for thinking that she will repent.
LN, manga, and anime – which one?
This is one of rare cases where I will say manga is superior to its source material, light novel. Light novel gets too technical and loses its focus. And anime omits too much.
Manga sits in the perfect middle, providing you with visuals as well as a good chunk of technicality. It won’t hurt you watch the anime though just to witness the mad job Yuuki Aoi has done. She has done a real insane job here as Tanya’s VA.
Sadly, anime has cut way too much content. It cuts way too much to a point that it’s basically worthless.
As for its source, the light novel, it starts to lose its charm rapidly as the plot progresses. What I am saying is that it no longer focuses on Tanya, and you, as a reader, will watch a replicated world war where Tanya plays virtually no role as the plot progresses.
None of her suggestions to avert the world war is accepted. Thus, a world war occurs. You will basically read a fantasy world war is that identical to our own. Thus, no point.
In my opinion, if the war was a bit more unrealistic, it would have some charm but it’s too realistic. You might as well watch a world war documentary film and call it a day.
Now, what’s the problem of being realistic? Well, being realistic means Tanya, as an overpowered loli, can’t do jackshit. That’s what happens in the novel. Tanya is, after all, just a single person. She cannot alter the outcome of a world war alone without anime magic and she won’t be able to alter. She doesn’t appear that frequently later on, either.
So, the light novel is a let-down. Manga adaptation follows her closely at least.
My opinion on the series
It’s a brilliant series to watch or read. I started off with anime first and felt it was missing pieces. Then I read LN and found it too stoic. Manga hit the jackpot for me.
It doesn’t hurt to watch anime just to witness Yuuki Aoi’s masterful voiceworks. Once anime is done, head over to the manga version to enjoy the story in full.
I do not recommend LN.