“God wills it.” It seems like a simple yet poignant statement from those professing their faith as they seemingly surrender the wheels controlling their destinies to that Supreme Being, ever stern, ever solemn, ruling over all beings with goodness being attempted to be emulated in order to have even a little of the greatness of that Being.
As humans humble themselves before that Being, ever admitting that they’re inferior, they look up to the sky, hoping that the Superior Being will pay heed to their insignificant woes. It understandably requires tremendous amount of faith and submissiveness towards a still relatively unknown Supreme Being to the point of suppression of common sense and reason with hopes of being granted passage to that paradise that was promised upon them.
The reason why people sought for that paradise lies within the sad reality that surrounded them. And as a result of them looking up to the hopes of paradise, many have averted their gazes from reality, and their submissiveness and their repressed sense of reason have been exploited upon by those who claim to represent that Being and those who assert their ascendancy over others through what they claim to be their connection to that Being. After all, deus vult was the battle cry of the foolish and self-righteous Crusades and the catchphrase of the cruel Inquisition.
All of those were the result of that Supreme Being being relatively unknown, for He, being all-knowing and all-powerful, does not need to impress Himself over inferior beings like us. And in that relatively unknown realm where suppositions were abundant and diverse, the demarcation that separates spirituality – which establishes that purpose in life – and morality – which establishes the definition of right and wrong – becomes non-existent, putting the notion that living within the established rules defines that individual’s purpose on life and beyond…rules that instead of only being imposed upon oneself become being imposed upon others. That exploitation, those misinterpretations, and that misrepresentation manifest into the creation of another separate being, a vile and malicious one, who took advantage of the unknown, the being that humans have conjured based on necessity, the being that let the absurdities happen upon the human race…whom a little girl has referred to as Being X.
But that little girl was having none of it as she cursed the being supervising above her, being true to her nickname as Devil of the Rhine, as the chronicles of that monster in form of a little girl became the center story of the anime series titled Youjo Senki: Saga of Tanya the Evil.
Youjo Senki focuses on Tanya von Degurechaff (CV: Aoi Yuuki), a young orphan girl who is a genius in magic and warfare. As a result, she was enlisted to the mage corps of the Empire, the fictional counterpart of the German Empire on a Nazi Germany setting. The wary times that surround Tanya and the dire straits that she is going through have given rise to the nationalism which has bolstered the militarization that has culminated into the war that Tanya has participated in.
The war’s center stage was situated at the western front where the Empire was duking it out with the Republic (France) for control over the Rhine on which Tanya gained infamy for her ferocity – fed by her fealty for the Father land and her show of religiosity – not only on her skirmishes but also to her defiant subordinates.
Her zeal and Darwinism had its roots which dated not only throughout her beleaguered life but also with the previous life which dated into the future in another universe in Japan. In that timeline, that Darwinism and the lack of empathy that constituted Tanya were once within a salaryman working his way up of the social ladder with such competitiveness in following the rules that he deemed as absolute.
Even so, the dreams of that salaryman were shattered with the absurdity amidst the perceived harmonious yet dystopian society committed by the disgruntled employee that the salaryman has unemphatically fired which led to the salaryman’s untimely demise.
In that flash of certainty of death, time seemingly slowed down as life flashed within his eyes along with the future that never was due to tat intervention. The circle of life would be just having another full turn if not for another intervention on which the time ultimately froze before the salaryman.
And in the moment of frozen time, an entity presented itself before the salaryman, taking over the living creatures witnessing the death of the salaryman. Instead of fighting against evil – what’s perceived as wrong just like the act that pushed the salaryman to his death – the entity was more interested in endorsing to the salaryman faith and reverence to itself. As a result, the salaryman boldly rejected that faith as he refused to submit himself to what he regarded to as a selfish and incompetent being, parallel to the line of arguments of anti-theist like Christopher Hitchens: not finding God’s purpose in suffering, but profiteering from the suffering by peddling a version of what is claimed to be God’s purpose.
The salaryman mocked the entity, whom he referred to as Being X, for preying on the vulnerability of the people going through dire straits just to have them submit to Being X’s will – the same atrocity that many preacher and pretenders of faith have done to increase their authority over others.
Presuming that the salaryman has lived a life of privilege which led him away from the sad realities that pushed people into seeking salvation through faith, Being X challenged the salaryman’s own lack of faith by reincarnating him into a period of dire straits and in the worst situation possible, the situation that surrounded Tanya Degurechaff, the salaryman’s reincarnated self. If Tanya were to live a long life, then Being X would let her off continuing with the cycle of reincarnation. However, damnation awaited her if the opposite were to happen, unless she renewed her faith. All of that just to test her rejection to faith. And al of that just to have her faith renewed.
Being born as an orphan with the assumption that the nuns would convert her back to faith, Tanya found her way out by capitalizing on the growing nationalism that countered the growing worries of the destitution. And thus, the chase between Tanya’s clever wits, Being X’s sabotaging interventions, and the backfiring ripples from their attempts to outmaneuver one another began.
Tanya pulled off an act of valiancy in her very first mission with hopes of being honorably sidelined into the rear. That instead made her regarded as the ace who would bring triumph in the frontline where she was subsequently deployed.
Her attempts to curry the favor of the central headquarters led by Kurt von Rudersdorf and Hans von Zettour – with hopes of being promoted to an office job away from battle – has led her into organizing a mobile mage unit that would be deployed immensely at the frontlines.
Her attempts to move away from the trench-heavy frontline was heavily similar to that of Blackadder’s attempts in the poignant Blackadder Goes Forth: always backfiring.
Her attempts to stall the formation of the mage unit by warning the applicants beforehand of the hellish training and the low compensation again backfired with capable applicants being inspired more to show their fervor to the Fatherland. Her hellish training and aggressive authority which she meant to discourage the trainees and delay their deployment have instead made them battle-ready in a shorter amount of time.
Tanya, going through some tough skirmishes against the zealotism of Anson Sioux, has managed to lead the Empire to victory by participating in the crucial parts in the plan to decisively defeat the Republic for full control of the continent, but as a result, the whole world began to turn against the Empire, as its growth and power began to threaten them.
And even though Tanya has led the Empire to victory once more to ensure its security by eradicating further threats imposed by the coalition of countries, the looming repeat of Stalingrad, and the vengeful daughter of Anson, Mary Sioux (VA: Tomatsu Haruka), her assignment for an office job at the headquarters has been short-lived as her war exploits led her into leading a combination of mages, artillery, and tanks back at the frontlines again, much to her bewilderment as cursing Being X for indirectly directing such turn of events against her.
The results of such events and intervention on Tanya were the opposite of Being X has been hoping for. Well, perhaps the same string of causation applies to all attempts to force an individual to do something against his will on which most religious sects are inherently guilt of with their coercions and manipulations, ranging from psychologically, like guilt-tripping and peer pressure, to physically, which I refused to elaborate further on.
Being X has managed to make Tanya to pray with its intervention with her orb. However, as Tanya exemplified, prayer does not always equate to faith.
Being X’s interventions culminated into Tanya’s greatest nemesis in war, Mary Sioux, who represented the peak of religious hypocrisy in her quest to avenge her father’s death, portraying a necessary evil in order to justify her aggression and vengeance, justifying acts of violence, no matter how grave and atrocious, as long as it was claimed for the name and sake of the Being that she claimed to represent. Such hypocrisy, like her powerful orb that resulted into destructive laser beams, was lethally and destructively out of proportion.
Such hypocrisy and religious pretention were never meant to last, as Tanya, already pushed to her limit, managed to put the sealing bullet to them and to Mary whose blood painted the religions that misrepresented faith with the toll of such misinterpretation: blood.
Overall, Youjo Senki has presented itself as one of the isekai series that has managed to break out from the typical mold that constituted an isekai anime. It was like Blackadder Goes Forth in an isekai setting, however our main character was more cynical than Captain Blackadder (played by Rowan Atkinson) will ever be, to the point of rebuking order, laws, and even faith, as Tanya laid bare – in her quest of slapping the pretenders of faith, represented by Being X, in the face – the prosaic nature of a liberated madman within ourselves.