Youjo Senki – 01 (First Impressions)

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The Gist: in an alternate World War I, where a certain Empire has been surrounded, Mages are deployed to hold the enemy back in an infinite delay game of mobilized defense.

Second Lieutenant Tanya Degrechaff is one such mage…except she isn’t. She’s a walking death dealer, easily able to rip apart enemies of the Empire with her magic bolt action rifle and…flying boot? She demonstrates this by defeating an entire company of enemy mages on her own (with a sort of nuke-bullet) after they easily kill off an Imperial mage company.

However, her platoon of mages is not so powerful, nor subordinate to follow her instructions and, during this week’s missions, either they are killed or accomplish nothing. Likewise, central command (and enemy central command, which we see during the closing credits) are also inept and terrified of this child murder-machine.

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Youjo Senki is a mixed bag, visually. When it wants to, it animates explosions and gesture reasonably well, and the moody clouds are top notch. It even risks drawing characters from quirky low or high angles. Unfortunately, all the characters look a bit weird, style wise, with exaggerate lip and eye shapes and positions.

The plot is problematic too, where individual battles are coherent but the flow between them, or the over all purpose is not clearly defined. Rather, there’s no build up for the characters, nor mystery about them, and everyone’s motivations seemed to be limited to ‘war.’ (edit: I’ve seen learned that Degrechaff has a mystery behind her but that’s not indicated in this episode at all)

Combined with the mostly mud-color pallete and a eye-rollingly juvenile ‘evil chant’ sound track, Youjo Senki feels like it’s trying harder for a mood than a coherent story or resonant characters.

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The Verdict: Youjo Senki doesn’t feel like it’s making a statement by using a child-soldier, which is something that has no real World War I context. It also doesn’t feel like it’s making a statement about World War I style combat either, nor about people, nor does it show any real relationships in the first episode.

If you are into loli murder-machines who are spelled out evil incarnate, or into alternate World War I aesthetics mixed with magic, you may like this.

If you find the anime tendency to misconstrue World War I and World War II Germany annoying, don’t ‘get anything’ out of evil little magic girls, or are looking for a cohesive plot with interesting characters, probably not?

16rating_7

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5 thoughts on “Youjo Senki – 01 (First Impressions)”

  1. Well, to be fair, the guys making the anime kind of butchered the first impression by starting in that scene rather than at the place both the manga and the LN begin in, and to be fair, the anime is kind of… bad in comparison to the original source.

    Not saying this due to some “the manga is always better” supremacy or silly stuff like that. The other versions are actually objectively better since the animation team took way to much leeway with various tech and how it worked on top of ignoring basic strategic thinking when it came to the armies and their equipment and gear, the enemy sorceress in particular are a horrible joke of the original version.

    I so much wanted to love this anime, since I love the original material, but the butchering of in-lore things and adding your own stuff in, possibly due their artist limitation, is not really a good way to start. Nevertheless, if you have never read the manga/LN then I guess it is a decent thing to watch, but it does the manga/ln no favors and I sincerely hope that in few years time we will get to see a revised version of the series on-screen.

  2. All I want to say is, remember the first aired episode of Suzumiya Haruhi? There you go. Not sure why some anime directors like to start in the middle of the story with no explanation.

  3. Wow Youjo Senki has really polarized opinions all over the net with just one episode, both for its story and art style. In fact, that makes me more interested in it. A lot of comment I’ve seen has jumped to conclusions based solely on the first episode which strikes me as possibly an unwise thing to do in this case. I’ll wait to see where it goes thematically before I comment on it again.

    1. (Note I haven’t seen the episode, only read Franklin’s review)

      It may not be wise or fair, but the medium of anime is not alone in being subject to a one-and-done mentality. A first episode can and often will define how an audience views the show from that point onward; it must be an animated “elevator pitch” that immediately impresses and convinces that audience to stick around. At the same time, it can’t do too much, lest it overshadow the episodes that follow (and eat up all the budget).

      People’s anime-watching/reviewing time is valuable, and if you don’t impress or are clear about what’s going on in the first episode, you are always going to lose a bunch of viewers for good, particularly viewers who are going into the show blind, as RABUJOI tends to do. That may be their loss, but it’s the show’s loss too. We’ve been burned by an abundance of patience far more often than we’ve been rewarded for it.

      To quote “Harry Plinkett”: “‘Brevity is the soul of wit.’ That means don’t waste my time!”

      1. I did have it in mind when i wrote my comment that it could be construed that I was having a shot at Franklin specifically there. I wasn’t in fact and should have made that clearer. I’ve seen far more condemnatory reviews out there on the net that had the entire show all boxed up on the strength of one, or in one case, half an episode, watched – and iI was thinking of them as I wrote. I actually found Franklin’s review quite balanced in comparison.

        You are right, first episodes are very important and can make or break a show. Yet it is a component that a lot of shows do badly on a regular basis. I’ve waded through a few bad starters to find the show can hit its straps in the later episodes and be a rewarding experience (Plastic Memories comes to mind here). Of course for every one that does that, there are more that sink into the mire of their own design, never to be seen again.

        In relation to Youjo Senki specifically we were introduced to Tanya, the world she inhabits in that form, her powers, and some things about her personality. So far we haven’t got to what the show is trying to say yet. That will come out in later episodes hopefully. It may turn out to be a show whose rationale is gratuitous spectacle or it may have something else to say. Since I haven’t read the manga, I’m at a disadvantage I think in that regard. :)

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