Youjo Senki is perhaps one of the best series to run this anime season. I’d originally discounted it as some ridiculous looking pseudo-moe-blob garbage but after sitting down to it with a friend I’d found myself enjoying it from the first episode forward without a dwindling interest. I’ve sat through a lot of bad anime and almost as much that is merely par for taste or even the season it aired. Despite being war themed in a fantasy setting, it doesn’t give the concept of war a rose tinted view. It certainly has been surprising me every time I take a look at it.
The plot seems ridiculous when written down. Corporate elite right sizer and salary-man is seemingly spared from death to have a chit chat with a being that calls himself god, offering him a shot at redemption for praise. The salary-man tries for a debate with the self proclaimed god and after angering him, is forced into reincarnating as a blonde haired, blue eyed girl in an alternate history earth. In Germany. In a world where there is magic but a world war is something that has never occurred before. And here our formerly male protagonist is born into, as an orphan in a newly formed country being watched by the rest of the world, in a situation that is meant to put them in enough a pinch that would make them praise that self proclaimed entity the main character calls “Being X”.
As I describe the plot I can hear the calls of some to say “This is just historic revisionism!” And I would have agreed with you aside from a detail or two I slipped in. And some other details I’ll give you now. Firstly the technology is for the most part on par with the era of the first world war. The combat seemed to be very inefficient and largely center of the tactic of trench warfare. If you don’t believe me about the technology level, feel free to hit up a Google image search for bombers of WW1. Plenty of open air cockpits. Urban combat was also a thing that wasn’t common in the alternate world, due to established international laws that made it difficult to do. By the second world war combat in cities was a thing to be expected. At this point we’re deviating from revisionism or even axis powers cheer leading. “But the original light novel.” Do we really need to revisit the topic of how far adaptations can deviate from their source material? I didn’t think so. And so far the series looks to be 8 for 22 for its run. I’m sure if we give it time it’ll get worse.
Moving on to the art which has some ups and downs. There is use of CG and at points is sub par even for the standards of ten years ago. I’m referring to a certain naval scene with an abysmal frame rate. I do not have a problem with CG provided it fits and doesn’t feel like an obvious shortcut. Sadly there are a couple moments like this. Animation and artwork however is fairly decent even if some of the faces on Tanya can be a bit psychotic. Those rapey faces of Eureka Seven have nothing on Tanya’s more psychotic facial mannerisms. Honestly I can almost forgive most of the CG shortcuts used in this series. Even at the moments of highest disconnect I still found myself able to enjoy the series for the strong points.
Audio and music are something of a mixed bag as well. The opening song had some hype. Honestly when I first listened to it I didn’t think it was Myth & Roid, I honestly thought I was listening to something by Mell. I actually had to take a couple hours to search and check if Mell was working with Tom-H@ack, but alas it seems Mell didn’t give herself a new name. But hats off to MythRoid for not being as generic sounding as Garnidelia. As for background music, I cannot give it bad marks but at the same time it wasn’t something that always stood out. This can be good or bad depending on context and there were times, when the music, while staying in the background, helped to add impact to certain points of an episode. Which honestly is the best way to leave an impression. Granted of course I’ve noticed songs being re-used, but we cannot expect every single anime to have a multi-disc or even multi-album soundtrack for every single season, much less what is likely its only season. I’m looking at you Gundam Unicorn. So a song gets re-used here and there. It worked for Trigun so what’s to say it can only work once?
The series so far has my attention and seems to have a number of people I know suggesting it to others and after seeing what the fuss was about I have to agree. There’s a main character that might seem to lack a certain degree of empathy but rather fills the mold of the corporate psycho. Every situation they land in, every discussion is about climbing the ladder to get away from the front lines while playing as though they’re dedicated to the cause. And when the main character manages to get away, it always seems brief and short lived. With Being X always so close behind, taunting them, telling them they’ll give in eventually. It makes for an interesting game to watch. The being wanting to be worshiped or reviled as divine or demonic, and the salary-man that refuses to accept them at their word on the principal of putting them in this position in the first place. The plot moves to that purpose, and unless the writers completely derail everything they’ve established so far it will likely be worth a second season if the cards are played right. I’m giving this series a 7 out of 10 because the final episode isn’t out yet. If it keeps this up, it’ll be worth a solid 8.
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