Story/Interior Illustration: Carlo Zen/ Shinobu Shinotsuki
Translation/Adaptation: Emily Balistrieri
What They Say
After being reborn and becoming a magic wielding soldier in the Imperial Army, Tanya Degurechaff bemoans her fate of being placed at the very edge of the front lines instead of a comfy place in the rear. Swearing revenge on Being X, she plunges head-first into battle, dragging her subordinate along with her!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The second volume of The Saga of Tanya the Evil is as much about Tanya’s newly formed battalion, the 203rd Aerial Mage Battalion, as it is about Tanya. The battalion’s very existence came about because of Tanya, and its fate is intricately connected to hers. While Tanya often curses Being X, there is no real dialogue between mortals and immortals in this installment. It’s all about human actions, individual and corporal, and as the beleaguered Empire faces enemies on three sides, it sends the 203rd jumping from front to front.
As in the anime, the 203rd first obliterates a Dacian invasion and then gets sent to Norden before finally going to the Republican Front. As a result, the book starts with a positive tone, which gets progressively darker as battle conditions worsen and enemies get tougher. Meanwhile, Tanya continues to be misunderstood by friend and foe alike; no one would think that she wants peace more than anyone.
Although the situations Zen sets up in Volume 2 are quite intriguing, his particular writing style requires effort to slog through. Just as in Volume 1, the text is plagued with abrupt POV shifts and lack of dialogue tags. On top of that, Zen has a tendency to overexplain the decisions of military and state heads. In addition, the narrative is full of redundant statements. So even though the reader winds up learning exactly what everyone’s doing and how they came to that plan of action, reading all that minutiae gets tedious.
However, there are fun bits. While the anime delves into the training of the original 203rd members, it glosses over the raw recruits that the battalion receives AFTER arriving on the Republican Front. Tanya’s praises to the shovel rather remind me of the way the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy hails the towel. The new recruits’ baptism by fire in the trenches did not get animated, but reading about it from Second Lieutenant Warren Grantz’s perspective was thrilling.
Another Volume 2 arc that wasn’t included in the anime is the botched Norden-Commonwealth smuggling attempt on the high seas. Although the text flowed like cold tar and Zen takes a ridiculous amount of time before revealing the ultimate fate of the Commonwealth submarine, this skirmish is a gripping collision of coincidences and mistakes from everyone involved. If Zen could somehow streamline his writing, it would definitely make for on-the-edge-of your-seat reading.
Extras include a map and fold-out illustration in color; appendixes explaining military strategy and history timeline; author afterword; and six black-and-white illustrations.
Carlo Zen’s longwinded prose continues to test the endurance of those who would read about his alternate world. (He even admits in the afterword that this volume is a bit thick.) However, if you’re willing to take on this 406-page behemoth, you’ll be rewarded with a Norden battle and a Republican Front “training exercise” that weren’t included in the anime. In addition, you’ll know all the details that lead up to each of 203rd Battalion’s orders— whether you’re interested or not.
Content Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: C+
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: March 27th, 2018