Anime World Order Show # 155 – The Japanese Somebody Goofed Isn’t By Chick or Carter

In this episode, Gerald reviews the just-recently concluded (for now, anyway!) Saga of Tanya the Evil. Will this turn out exactly as envisioned, or exactly the opposite? ONLY ONE WAY TO FIND OUT.

Introduction (0:00 – 32:20)
The Anime Content Wars of 2017 rage on. While The Anime Network is no more, it has been replaced by HiDive, which is currently the exclusive home of the legal release of Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Somewhere in the mix we end up talking about Patlabor, because of course we do. Since the world has forgotten (or tried to forget), we also saw fit to mention Mighty No. 9 and Lucky Star. But also Gamera. It all made sense at the time. Oh, by the way, we are approved for Otakon panels!

Promo: Right Stuf Anime (32:20 – 34:27)

Review: Saga of Tanya the Evil (34:27 – 1:21:21)
Gerald gives his thoughts on one of the more recent popular titles of 2017 which has been embroiled in its share of online fan debates with regards to its content. Was Daryl right to summarily judge the content of the series by its thumbnail image and description, or is there more beneath the veneer as is often claimed about these things?

Not enough AWO for you? We were on the latest episode of the SpeakerPodCast to give our thoughts on Macross Delta. Remember that show even existed?

16 Replies to “Anime World Order Show # 155 – The Japanese Somebody Goofed Isn’t By Chick or Carter”

  1. First, I agree that Tanya is a messed up show with a weird premise, and that it’s possible that the person who wrote it really did start with “how do I get a loli girl on the front lines of a brutal war”.
    However, the show actually goes to great lengths to show that what Tanya is doing is, for the most part, an accidental result of her trying NOT to participate in the war (or at the very least, not get in harm’s way).
    When she’s at the orphanage, it’s made clear that they’re running out of resources, and that the only organization that is almost certain to keep its people fed and sheltered is the army. She joins the army so that she doesn’t starve. She states that she’s looking for a role at the rear, a “comfy desk job”, and that’s still what she’s aiming for, at least in the first ~60% of the show. Every time an event takes her further into the line of fire, she’s angry at herself and her fate (and at being-X).

    A few events happen that keep moving her into more aggressive roles:
    1) Early in the series she and her squad are overwhelmed by enemy forces and they’re given the order to stay where they are and fight. Knowing that she has no chance, she plays a stunt that makes it look like she was being brave, by making sure she’ll get injured, but not killed.
    What she didn’t count on was getting a medal for it, and making her superiors even more likely to push her forward.
    2) When she gets to this new position, she’s interviewed by one of the higher-ups, and they ask her what she thinks they should do next. The show then pauses to give us her internal reasoning: she must not seem weak or timid, because that’s not acceptable in the current climate/culture. She has to appear forceful and have faith in the side that she’s on. Then she makes up a plan to create a much stronger mage force that will take point on vital missions. She thinks that this seems like a plan that, while isn’t stupid, would be too risky, and thus rejected. To her surprise, not only is it accepted, but she’s chosen to form and lead this team. She’s extremely frustrated with this turn of events (she says so explicitly).
    3) Now she has to put together this force, and decides to make it impossible to meet her expectations, or at the very least have it take too long. She drafts out the “wanted” posters herself: “little pay, high risk of dying, horrible conditions, and only glory if you succeed” (or something to that effect). She expects this to deter any rational person. It doesn’t, people line up to join.
    4) She sets up an almost impossible interview process, where only people who can discover that the interviewer is an illusions are allowed in. This works for a short while, drawing out the recruitment process, but eventually she’s forced to accept some candidates in, though much fewer than expected.
    5) She then decides to make “bootcamp” for these new recruits hell. She puts them in constant mortal danger, and keeps “daring” them to drop out. They do the opposite — they’re driven to do whatever they can to stay in the squad.

    Around this point in the show there’s a kind of tipping point. She decides that the only way to end this war is to crush the enemy with overwhelming force, otherwise this war will last forever and her chances of survival are slim. It’s at this point where she abandons all “fairness” (what little she had…), and goes into extermination mode. The very last decision that she makes, and fails to persuade her commanders of, is a wholesale eradication of a retreating, mostly civilian populace. She knows that in that group there will be countless people (kids, at the moment) that will swear revenge, and she wants to stop this from happening with, effectively, a small-scale genocide. She’s *disappointed* that she isn’t able to persuade the higher-ups of this plan, and is angry at them for thinking that they’ve “won” the war.

    So yes, it’s a very convoluted way of going about this plot, but her motivation is always selfish — to minimize danger to herself. All the while, being-X keeps taunting her, mocking her for placing herself in the path of death over and over.
    Mind you, I think the show’s pretty fucked up even when this is taken into account, but I’d at least give the script some credit for consistency in this respect.

  2. I can imagine a lot of the audience for this just likes seeing evil lolis in uniforms, or at least using them as avatars for questionable real life political movements. But, the thing is, plenty of other folks got into it too.

    In fact, a certain amount of people who initially objected to the ugly militarist ideals that Tanya the Evil represented, which many of the reviews and twitter reactions reflected at first glance, still ended up liking it.

    Why? There’s a variety of reasons (for instance, Nick Creamer has written some interesting thoughts about the show and its “Unlikely Conscience” in an article on Crunchyroll), but here’s a big one: because they enjoyed seeing the contrast between Tanya’s ridiculously petty attempts to get promoted into a “safe” position within the military and the actual consequences which, more often than not, tend to increasingly piss her off.

    In other words, how her own success keeps pushing her into greater danger throughout the war, not greater safety, sometimes because of stuff she says and other times due to unrelated circumstances. There is some poetic justice and dark comedy value involved, which a lot of folks consider entertaining even though they find Tanya herself unsympathetic because of her personality and atrocities.

    PS: Nah, Clarissa, this isn’t quite like Code Geass. Not only because Tanya’s story is more straightforward and less plot twist-y, like Daryl says, but also because that older show had more interesting character dynamics, among other things that viewers may well consider to be good. In short, that series has earned both genuine love and genuine hate (hi, Gerald), plus everything in the middle, not just an uniform bunch of “ironic” or “loltrainwreck” reactions (which are loud and significant, sure, yet not exactly representative of the absolute majority of anime fans worldwide).

    1. OK but it *is* like Code Geass in the sense that they’re both dumb shows with weirdly right-wing elements 😉

      1. Well, kinda. Let’s be honest…most anime, good or bad, is pretty dumb. I’m not really going to argue against that. However, I will say that Zero the terrorist/freedom fighter was more left-wing than right-wing in his politics.

  3. I originally thought that this series was a critique of capitalism in that we saw, in almost caricature form a proper (well-behaved, quietly committing acts of economic violence) rational subject rage for order against a mysterious supernatural force (and the possibility of such a being against what ‘Transparent I’ can control) committing horrible atrocities along the way, since it was pretty silly.

    But given that Tanya somehow manages to succeed, expanding her military career, killing folks directly instead of allowing the market to do it for her and it is played up as almost heroic, the interpretation that it is alt-right, white nationalist-y makes a lot of sense. Especially since they always present themselves as victims with emo-esque Kierkegaard quotes over martyrdom for the white cause, and given the series’ absurd existentialist set up, Gerald seems more right.

    TL;DR, you’re on to something.

  4. I feel like the whole premise of “Trying to one up a deity that reincarnated me into wartime.” is wasted in this series.

    Also loli girls…..meh…..just….meh.

  5. What’s with the explosion of loli stuff in anime recently? And what is it with all those otakus who want to BECOME lolis?? The world of anime is obsesses with lolis AND I DON’T KNOW WHY.

    Can we talk about this?

  6. Seems to me the director of this show thought, how can we capitalize on all these booming moe tropes J-kids are into nowadays? Military pandering, check. Light novel basis, check. Strange Days reincarnated Lolita protagonist, check. Psycho-yandere facial expressions, check. Magical gun-powers, check. Vague reference to an evil God, check. Attack on Titan’ish themes of poverty, check.

    The animation was fluid & nice, though the character deigns are really wonky. It’s thematically similar to Code Geass, but since anime’s primarily a visual medium, it just didn’t have enough bright colors or Clamp’s signature looks to make anime nerds give a flying witch hoot.

    Overall I disliked it cause the whole premise reeked of Visual Novelty. And while it made for good social media fodder, I don’t think this’ll be on anyone’s anime shelf… or memories for that matter.

    Regarding Kawamori’s Delta on the Deculture Podcast. I remember wanting to shoot myself when people were getting excited about the previews. An otaku can both like stupid Idol moe shows like Love Live and the Itano Circus sex of Macross Plus, but not simultaneously.

    In Dave & Joel’s words, let’s put those hands together, is probably what Kawamori’s staff was thinking. Except that Delta ended up taking everything bad about Macross Frontier, forgetting what made it good, and just pumping that moe fluff to 11.

    Happy 10 year anniversary to Otaku USA. I lost my Kawajiri Highlander issue, but remember every single word in it. Here’s to 10 more years of clown pistols, cheers! ?

  7. Pretty sure that other “military witch in 20th century European war” show you were thinking of is “Izetta: The Last Witch”, from Fall 2016. It too was quite [WE DON’T USE THE “P” WORD ROUND HERE –Daryl].

    Also, Gerald, thank you for the observation that we seem to have drifted into this thing where protagonists can either be absolutely ideal or completely evil… you are either Harry Potter or you are Walter White and there is no room in between for flawed characters, indecisive characters, failed characters, etc. And it’s so boring for things to be like this!

  8. I have heard of the complaints about Tanya joining the military instead of running away if her goal was to survive. If she just ran away, she had no money, no status, and no means to sustain herself on her own. Also there was too many variables that could hinder those chances further. So with her magical potential, she decided that the military was the best chance of surviving.

    I also think surviving was just one of her goals. The other goal was to have power back when she was a salaryman. Now her previous life as a salaryman is a double-edge sword. Much of her success can be contributed to it but at the same time, every time she tries to get closer to the cushy desk job that thinking backfires on her.

    In a way, Gerald could be right that Tanya is just a way to get a loli to fight in World War 1 because it doesn’t really matter to either Tanya or Being X. The whole of not-Europe and the rest of the world is just a huge chess board for Tanya to have her battle against Being X. They both don’t care about the people in that world. Those people are just pawns in a philosophical war between one human and one all-powerful being.

    So I guess it’s absurd that a world war isn’t the true conflict of a show but more of eye-candy.

  9. I would add that in episode two there is a significant showing of the protagonists personality in the cold blooded firing of a desperate coworker, and especially in the salaryman’s reference to the Chicago School of economics, as well as the supernatural being’s comments on the salaryman having no empathy. Now the reference to the Chicago School would be under the radar of many viewers who have not followed the effects of far right neo-liberal economic views of certain political movements such as Pinoche’s dictatorship during the 1970s-90s in Chile. I wonder how many Japanese caught this, perhaps there is more discussion on economic theory in Japan than in the U.S.
    This character’s personality is also reflected in Tanya’s tendency to blame X for the results of her actions. A tendency of some political and social movements in history where those belonging to minority races and religions are blamed for things they have no responsibility for.
    I found the show interesting and would watch a second season.

  10. Ummmthhhthhh (face red, bulging, spitting) Yamaga wasn’t president at the time Gunbuster was released and the writing credits got placed; Okada was president, and by a mysterious coincidence, he was credited as the writer.

    You don’t have to just take Yamaga’s word for it that he wrote Gunbuster–the director took on the job because of it. Anno’s biography states: “But one day, he happened by chance to read through the script of the 2nd episode of an original video animation project that had lapsed into development limbo because no director was attached to the project. This project was Gunbuster, and Anno was moved to tears by Hiroyuki Yamaga’s script. He agonized over the question for while, but he decided he would apply to assume the mantle of director on the project. ” uthhhthhhhh uthhhhhhhhhhh I believetthhhh it’s mentioned in the RSF fanzine uhhhthhhhhhhh

    1. That Anno excerpt is basically the origin point for that discussion more than Yamaga saying anything, so we knew that much. But you got me where it actually matters: Yamaga was not, in fact, President of Gainax at that time.

      1. (Face now purple, index finger stabbing and trembling) For sho sho, but I was just responding to “People argue that he was secretly the true writer of Gunbuster, only they took his name off of it and replaced it with Okada and Anno…He [Yamaga] claims that he’s the true writer of Gunbuster, based on I don’t know, whatever.” This makes it sound like it’s still up for debate–a matter of fan theories and Yamaga’s claims. But the quote of Anno’s saying that Yamaga wrote what he later directed it is from khara’s official site–that is, the one he set up after he left GAINAX, where presumably he could now feel free to speak frankly. The reason I felt prompted to remark on it was the larger context of the discussion–that after khara and Trigger split from GAINAX,* it became possible to determine who really did what. In the case of Gunbuster, it had been the other way around–Anno credits Yamaga’s script for actually bringing him back to GAINAX after he had drifted away for a while following RSF.

        Whether the Rebuild films were desirable is a separate question, but I think the general impression khara done fucked up with 3.0 and now needs to redeem themselves with the “final” film (“You may have noticed the movie was called ‘THE END’ OF EVANGELION”–Hiroyuki Yamaga, at FanimeCon 1998) may reflect some hardcore fan views, but it doesn’t reflect the reaction of general audiences–3.0 was the highest-grossing of the Rebuild films thus far at the Japanese box office. I personally think it was very romantic how Kaworu put Shinji’s explosive collar around his own neck, but not considering how he might later react to seeing his head blown off just goes to confirm how much Tabris coasts on his good looks, and is not ideal boyfriend material.

        –C.

        *I don’t mean to be more annoying than usual by spelling one all lower-case and one all upper-case; at least when it comes to official credits in English, that’s how they’re supposed** to be written (similar to how CLAMP is always all-caps).

        **Not “supposed” as in “fan theory,” but supposed as in do it that way if you want licensor approval for your main-gah.

  11. Having watched some of Tanya while it was airing, attracted more by the freakish character art than any serious interest in military goings on, I had a pretty similar experience with it to Gerald.

    The premise is interesting and I was intrigued to see where they were going to go with it, especially after the second episode, but by the time it hit the half way mark, I’d lost interest in the series. It just didn’t feel like Tanya was in any danger anymore. If Tanya’s goal is simply to survive, surely the best way to kill any sense of tension is by removing any serious threat to her? Being X may have still been around, but it didn’t feel like it or anything else was putting her in a situation she couldn’t handle with ease.

    I know a few people who’ve completed it and tell me they enjoyed the show, but I just can’t be arsed to go back to it.

  12. NYEEEEXCUSE ME…. it wasn’t United States – it was Unified States.

    Otherwise, I got nothing to add that you or the other commenters haven’t said already. Another garbage show for which I know that I shouldn’t take seriously (or sane/sanely?) anyone who says it’s great or awesome.

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