Overview/ Review (with Spoilers)
I want you to imagine Izetta: The Last Witch and up the violence while toning down how memorable some of the supporting characters are. In episode one “The Devil of the Rhine” that’s what you get. But believe me when I say this show will likely far surpass the best of what we got out of Izetta.
The Imperial Empire is at war with the republic. At the point we’re introduced to this world, the Imperial Empire is on the defensive and surrounded on all sides by what appears to be a Nazi-like government. One which, as does the Empire, uses mages, as well as normal guns and mortars, in order to defeat their enemies. However, while the empire is on the defense, they have among their ranks Lt. Tanya Degurechaff. This person, who appeared a mere two months before we meet her, looks no older than 10, is a girl, and yet has gained quite a fearsome reputation. Something that you’d think is because of her leadership qualities but is really thanks to her power and what’s she’ll allow to happen if you disobey her. Leaving her childlike disposition to be a falsehood for there is a Lucifer-like demon behind the façade.
It’s What I Wanted Izetta To Be and So Much More
Like Izetta, the world of Youjo Senki takes place in fictionalized version of Europe which seems to borrow from the history of the World Wars. Also like Izetta, magic plays a role in the battles and the ability of one side to dominate another. That is where the comparisons end, however.
In Izetta, our heroine was originally given some sense of guilt over killing which is completely absent in Tanya. With that, we are given the opposite in a way. We witness a character with bloodlust whose ambition to rise in the ranks, defend their homeland, is done by any means necessary. Perhaps even if it means some form of friendly fire. Though what really pushes Youjo Senki is the violence. While we only see one trigger-worthy act, at the same time, even if the weight of war isn’t necessarily seen in the characters, you feel it as you are reminded of the atrocity which is war.
On The Fence
So Many Names, But Hardly Any Are Attached To Memorable Characters
We are introduced to more than a dozen characters and only two really stick out. Our lead Tanya and this young woman named Viktoriya. The rest have no real distinguishing looks or personalities. To the point, the only reason you don’t get confused by which side of the war they are on is thanks to the different colors of their uniforms.
Which is a bit worrisome to me since, as of episode one, Tanya’s insanity and unforgiving nature is the sole thing to latch onto. There isn’t an established story, villains, or even really heroes to grab hold of. Heck, even in terms of why this war is happening, that isn’t established in episode one. It is pretty much built around establishing Tanya and showing the duality of her personality. On one side she seems like an extraordinary prodigy. A young girl who has worked her way up the ranks and desires to climb higher. Yet, at the same time, this desire for rank and power drives her to insane feats. Also, it makes it so she can be callous when disobeyed and almost take pleasure in those who disobey being punished.
Making it so while Tanya may snag you, the world and characters she is amongst seems almost lifeless in comparison.
Overall: Mixed (Stick Around)
While I will certainly review episode 2, I do feel this show has to do more than provide name, rank, and title to characters and actually give them tangible personalities. For while Tanya is interesting, her character doesn’t have that oomph to carry this show. The world needs more building as do the characters in it. Otherwise, this show may seem good for the first few episodes, but once you get used to Tanya it will lose all its luster.