Sometimes, people are dicks. Sometimes, “God” is too.
A cold, cruel man is visited by a supernatural being and ordered to repent. As a consequence of his life of sin, the man is forced to go on a fantastic and magical adventure. No, it’s not A Christmas Carol. It’s Saga of Tanya the Evil, and the supernatural entity is as much of a bastard as the protagonist is.
[Note: This article contains major spoilers for Saga of Tanya the Evil.]
Saga of Tanya the Evil is the story of a Japanese businessman reincarnated as a young girl in a war-torn world where magic exists. The first episode of the series showed us Tanya a good deal of time after her reincarnation, but the second episode offered us the events that led up to said reincarnation–and they are very, very interesting.
I originally selected Saga of Tanya as my most anticipated series for the winter season due to the “formerly a Japanese businessman” aspect of the story. My assumption had been that… Let’s just call his previous life version, “Pre-Tanya” to save myself the trouble of trying to find ways around the fact that the character isn’t given a name. My assumption had been that Pre-Tanya was a low-level peon in a large company. It turns out he is a low-level manager who happens to be shoved off of a train station platform by someone he’d fired earlier the same day.
Pre-Tanya is a cold and calculating individual who already has his future career all planned out. His hopes to climb the corporate ladder to mid-manager level and retire with a nice pension are quickly shattered in the headlights of the oncoming train, but at the last moment, time freezes. Pre-Tanya is left hanging in air as he hears the voice of an individual calling itself the “creator.”
The conversation that follows is fascinating on multiple levels. Pre-Tanya observes his situation and calmly adapts to it. More curious than terrified, he notes that he does not accept the existence of a biblical god. Logically speaking, a biblical god would not allow such an unjust event to occur in the first place, so therefore, the being he is conversing with must either be the Devil or an equivalent entity that he quickly labels as “X.” Right from the start of the conversation, we see Pre-Tanya’s cool, calculating side at work. He is suspended in air, moments before his own death, and yet he is collected enough to make a logical argument.
The entity–X–on the other hand, may in fact be a biblical god. Unfortunately, for Pre-Tanya, the god in question is God of the Old Testament. X notes that Pre-Tanya is a cruel man, devoid of empathy. But more importantly, he is a man without faith. X is a deity that places more weight on whether an individual is pious than if the world is just or not.
X explains that it is a deity responsible for the reincarnation of humans in the karma-driven circle of death and rebirth. X notes that managing the lives of seven billion people is a huge burden and that reincarnating faithless humans is nothing but a pain in the ass.
Pre-Tanya argues that one cannot expect people to find faith in this world of science, and that faith is only found when people are placed in situations where they will cling to anything if they believe it will save them. X takes this reasoning and concludes that if it places Pre-Tanya in such a situation, he will find faith. X decides to reincarnate Pre-Tanya as a young girl in a war-torn world where magic exists and tells him that if he dies there, he will not be reincarnated again. Thus, Tanya is born.
That’s right, X doesn’t care whether Pre-Tanya believes or not: X’s existence is already proven with the whole time-stopping thing. It’s no longer up for debate. No, X is so fixated on being worshiped that it is perfectly willing to toss Pre-Tanya into a hellhole of a world to suffer just so that Pre-Tanya will come to worship X. I hate to overuse the term, but that is some Old Testament scary stuff right there.
Saga of Tanya the Evil is not exactly what I expected. Even so, the story I’ve been given is both fascinating and captivating. It’s not just a story about magic and war with guns and bombs, but also a story about an individual fighting against the will of a god. Of course, as we’ve seen from the first episode, Tanya seems to have lost that fight. Now I’m interesting in seeing how.