Youjo Senki first impressions

Youjo Senki was a 12 episode anime series by Studio NUT that aired in 2017, based on the light novel series by Carlo Zen. I consider it the most notable anime of that year (together with Kemono Friends, which is however something entirely different).

It’s a pity that the novel series was crammed in only 12 episodes – apparently this genre is not considered popular in Japan for some reason. Surprisingly the result is quite exceptional – the changes to the story are, in my opinion, all for the better, the art is great, the voice talent, music and sound design are excellent. The attention to detail is amazing. Above all, the direction is something else.

Presumably due to the limitations imposed by the 12 episode format, there is extreme economy in story-telling, exposition is kept at a minimum in favor of showing. As an example of this: most of the premise of the series is established in the first minute of episode 1, almost before the credits are done:

The first shot shows soldiers in unmistakable French WWI uniforms
being shelled by unmistakable WWI German artillery
the barrage is followed by an infantry charge, as it would have been…
(red is the only Waffenfarbe in this series, just get used to it)
Note appropriate Mauser and Lebel rifles for each side
the charge falters before the credits
80 seconds in, we are shown that this is an alternative universe where magic exists
main character Viktoriya Ivanovna Serebryakov is introduced
she just picks up this guy 🙂
the French don’t like it
magic can deflect bullets
we’ll see this random guy again later…
We see the shielding magic has limits. This is just 110 seconds into the episode.

I think it doesn’t give away too much to mention that only in episode 2 is revealed what this world is really about, but to avoid spoilers I just give some thoughts on the first episode.

What should be immediately apparent is the quality and attention to detail of the artwork:

(look it’s that guy from the first minute again)

Magic ability is a rare talent in this world so the army drafts even women and children. I appreciate the animators gave everyone the same uniforms. No shiny breastplates for the ladies in this universe:

Viktoriya donning her equipment simply but effectively informs the viewer without lengthy exposition:

One thing that takes some getting used to is the character design… though it’s certainly expressive, I probably would have gone a different route for the face designs: