The Saga of Tanya the Evil: Plus Ultra

By Carlo Zen and Shinobu Shinotsuki. Released in Japan by Enterbrain. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Emily Balistrieri.

So in the afterword to the second volume of Tanya the Evil, the author talks about how much his editors and readers want to see more of the guys in the cast rather than Tanya herself, and how he is adamant about keeping Tanya front and center. And I get that, he’s correct as far as it goes. But I also understand the feelings of the others, because too much Tanya, particularly when we’re smiling and nodding along with her point of view, is not only overpowering but actively harmful to a degree. The Saga of Tanya the Evil works best when it shows us the disconnect between what Tanya is thinking and what the rest of the cast thinks she is thinking, and there are several very amusing moments here where we see that. But it’s not nearly as many as the first book, and pure, unfiltered Tanya, which we get here for long stretches at a time, risks the reader coming over to her point of view. Which is not, I suspect, what the author is going for.

The title is, as are all the titles in this series, Latin, and means “further beyond”. It’s also the national motto of Spain, one of the few countries in Europe that doesn’t have an equivalent here. The “plot” of the second volume reads almost like a book of short stories, and those who expect to see more of Tanya vs. Being X beyond her constant grousing are going to be disappointed. Instead, Tanya and her unit perform like the A-Team, dropping into war zones and magically coming out successful even when they’re unaware of it. We hit the Tanya equivalents of Romania, Norway, and France here, and also take a little bit of time to perform a few wartime atrocities. There are occasional flashforwards to reporters discussing these events as history, and it’s made pretty clear that history is not going to be happy with Tanya’s actions. It’s also made pretty clear the Empire is not going to be on the winning side when the war eventually ends. Now that we’re getting England… sorry, The Commonwealth into it, who knows where the books will take us next?

But again, as I said, there’s a whole lot of Tanya point of view in this book’s 7,963 pages. (That’s a slight exaggeration, but is is punishingly long. Readers may feel better knowing that, although all Tanya volumes are long, none in the future are QUITE as long as this one.) There are a few exceptions – we’re introduced to a new recruit whose job is to boggle in horror at war and Tanya (possibly not in that order), and we also meet a man who looks like he’s being set up as a major antagonist, Anson Sue (whose daughter, god help us, is named Mary Sue)… except he’s promptly killed off without Tanya even knowing who he is, so the whole thing ends up being anticlimactic. We occasionally see some of the Empire higher-ups, or a brief POV of the other side. Even Visha gets very little to do in this book besides be Tanya’s adjutant. The readers want more of the other characters because it provides some balance and different coloring. All Tanya is like eating potatoes every day.

I’m still not ready to drop this series, which is odd given “this is too dark” is the main reason I tend to drop light novels these days. I think Tanya’s odd historical and military tone works in its favor – the book may be filled with ludicrous amounts of discussion of ammo, shells, and the rules of war, but its dry tone sets it at a remove from the actions it describes. And I can’t deny that I find Tanya fascinating, and I’m still not sure how much the author wants us to like her. If you enjoyed the anime (which I admittedly haven’t seen), I can only imagine this is a must buy, as there’s lots of stuff that must have been cut to ribbons in adaptation. As for me, I will read on, but I can’t deny that at the end of the day one word comes to mind reading The Saga of Tanya the Evil: Exhausting.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.


  1. As an anime viewer I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Youjo Senki novels. While I understand your frustration with how heavy going these books are, most people are probably coming to the LN as anime viewers. As you suggest, they have a great deal of added military, technological and political detail, but also the addition of perspectives in addition to Tanya and the segments with reporters in the future. The anime is all Tanya, mostly all the time, so the greater focus on her in this 2nd novel is something I was already used to I suppose.

    I do wonder if I’ll enjoy myself as much with the third novel which will overtake the first season of the anime, though I’ll probably be too engaged with what happens to Tanya after the anime’s cliffhanger to much care.

Speak Your Mind