For anyone who is even slightly intrigued by the historic military tales like that of the World Wars, Youjo Senki is truly captivating. In this post, I’ll be going through Youjo Senki, the book, the manga, and the anime, to explain what makes Youjo Senki so interesting for the viewers and the appeal of each medium.
At its core, Youjo Senki is a reimagination of WW1 with air power and a guy (or little kid) that knows everything. Even without all the additional parts that make up this show, this concept that makes up Youjo Senki is fascinating.
While I do not want to get too deep into historical information (as I don’t have too deep of a knowledge on this), Youjo Senki’s geography and war tactics very much reflect Germany of WW1 unlike what the time setting that the anime gives. The politics and ideology of the Empire is very similar to imperial Germany of WW, they are the militaristic superpower of Europe surrounded by enemy nations, they have defense tactics that took advantage of railways, and most of the tactics employed are second generation tactics that were outdated by the time of WW2. The battle scenes in Rhine, for example, show trenches — the staple of WW1. The weapons and uniforms are also very similar to WW1.
Of course the catch is that unlike the majority of WW1, air is a huge part of this war. Most of the battles from WW1 did not feature air armories and were basically all fought on land or sea.
The reason why Germany lost the first world war is largely due to the use of attrition warfare by the allies which wore down Germany’s limited resources and the failure of the Schlieffen Plan which was essentially Germany’s plan to bring down France and Belgium that required everything to go perfectly smoothly.
However, the former is more or less solved with the air power that the Empire has with the mages while the latter is solved as Tanya knows the outcomes of different tactics and knows the best course of action. These changes made in WW1 pushed the first large war in this world to the tactical and technological level of WW2 (at least on the Empire’s side). As the world that Tanya was sent to never experienced a large-scale war, the developed tactics that Tanya holds are incredibly influential and ingenious at the time. Because of this, although the viewers already know the outcome of WW1, as these changes influence the war in Youjo Senki so much, the show creates a sense of familiarity, interest, and unexpectedness all at once.
This gets even more exciting in the second part of the anime or the sections after the 3rd volume of the manga when Tanya’s plan of a specialized battalion is carried out. And all of it is given to Tanya to control, allowing the Empire to fully take advantage of the air.
I think this is one of the only times where a show actually uses the isekai setting to its advantage. A lot of the time, the main characters of isekais can’t employ their knowledge from the modern technologically developed world to the fullest extent. This is usually because either the characters aren’t smart enough to have extensive knowledge on these types of technology or the author isn’t smart enough to think of some clever way to employ knowledge into these worlds in forms other than Japanese food, smartphone or currency. In fact, most of these isekai shows end up using the isekai element for some type of sympathy (for example, the character was a loser in highschool before being teleported) or just ends up plainly not referring to events before the teleportation deep into the story.
While I think the show could have been more interesting with an adult protagonist that is going to war, I do understand why the author decided to make Tanya a young girl. The fact that he was reborn as a young girl — what was the most vulnerable and weakest position in these wars — functioned to show both the cruelty of the war and the uncommon genius of Tanya. Plus there is that cute character appeal for the audience.
Though it may seem a little boring for some, because these militaristic reimaginings are so intriguing to me, a lot of the in depth explanation that the show goes through about the setting and the tactics make Youjo Senki a conceptual masterpiece. Of course the comedic moments with Tanya trying to get out of the front lines are also a bonus.
While these conceptual ideas stay relatively the same, the book, the manga, and the anime are slightly different in their appeals.
First, if you want to dig the most deeply into just the conceptual stuff that I mentioned, the book is most likely the best medium. It goes very much in depth at the different tactics, situations, and setting of the war while going through what is going on Tanya’s mindset a lot more thoroughly. Of course, this just naturally comes from the advantages of having a lot more words in a book.
The manga, while naturally lacking the additional explanation that the book gives with extra words, covers them up very well with great visuals. The manga’s art is one of the best art in Manga that I’ve seen. The artist of the manga is really good at portraying the emotions of Tanya through different facial expressions. You sometimes get a heavily shaded face that shows the devilish appearance of Tanya. You sometimes get a brightly lifted face with flower backgrounds that show the sheer joy of Tanya thinking that she can escape the front lines. You sometimes get an awesome two page horizontal full shot close up of Tanya’s face before she shoots down her enemies. Or you sometimes get meticulously drawn buildings or explosion effects that capture the messiness of war. Not to mention Visa looks fantastic in the manga. Yes, if you only watched the anime, you may not believe it. But that photo on the top is in fact Visha.
The anime, however, doesn’t look anything like the manga. I think a lot of people can agree when I say that I was put off by the anime’s visuals. In comparison to the beautifully drawn manga, the anime is a lot more simple to put it nicely. Tanya’s mouth is closer to a duck than a human and the constant use of CGI continues to bother me throughout the show. Most importantly Visha looks literally nothing like its manga or novel counterpart.
While it lacks these artistic elements, it still has some value. And this is because of sound. Tanya is one of Yuuki Aoi’s best performances yet. She captures the child-like appearance of Tanya with her cute voice while still having the charisma you would expect from a war genius. Hayami Saori is also the voice actor for Visha and she is always great to listen to. The sound effects with the explosions isn’t anything too great but it definitely adds to the excitement.
Anyways, Youjo Senki is a pretty exciting show with a great concept for anyone interested in these type of military stories. Thanks for reading!