Book Review: The Saga of Tanya the Evil Volume 1

December 29, 2017

The Saga of Tanya the Evil Volume 1 cover

I hope that everyone is having a good week, and are enjoying
the holidays, in addition to looking forward to the beginning of the new year.

Things have been going fairly well here, with a few
annoyances, as I can still do things that I can enjoy.

After covering the last of the books I was expecting for the
month and deciding to drop a show I had followed since October, I thought that
nothing more would come, but Barnes & Noble decided to ship another title
earlier than expected and that title arrived recently.

Today, I will be reviewing that title, which is called The
Saga of Tanya the Evil Volume 1
by Carlo Zen.

In modern times, a business exec in the HR department is
enjoying life, and making sure that the companies resources are used
effectively, believing that he would live a long and fulfilled life, but that
all comes to an end when he suddenly dies and confronts a being that calls
itself God, whom he criticizes for creating a lousy world, and gets reborn into
a new world.

However, unsatisfied with his new peaceful life in the body
of a little girl, called Tanya Degurechaff, he joins the military, in order to
take down the so-called God and relax in a position of power.

When I first heard about this series, the anime
adaptation
had concluded its run and FUNimation was streaming all of the
episodes, and because I had enjoyed that anime thoroughly, I thought I would
check out the original source.

After taking the time to read this book, I have to say that
I was extremely unimpressed.

Now, when I do reviews, I liked to talk about the things
that I liked and hated, in order to give a work the best possible assessment
that I could, in spite of my own biases, but there are times where I can only
talk about what I hated, and this is sadly one of those times that I must do
just that, even though I do not particularly like to do so.

From the moment that I opened up this book and started
reading it, I had a hard time getting invested in the book that reading this
felt more like a chore, rather than something that I could enjoy.

The first step to creating a great work of fiction is to
grab the audience's attention, which varies depending on the medium used to
present that, and seeing as this is a work that is mostly prose, the way to do
that right is by creating images in the person's head, as well as having the
writing flow well enough that the reader can become absorbed in, regardless of
the errors and typos present, which is why something like iWoz was
so enjoyable in my eyes, other than the fact that I have a strong interest in
technology.

Here, however, the writing style and the flow of things just
did not seem to be done well enough that I could read an entire chapter of this
book, which could be as long as 78 or so pages, in one sitting.

When I watched the anime adaptation from NUT, I remembered
being so absorbed in the work that I wanted to watch all 12 episodes in a
single sitting, because it was able to pull me right into the world and made
things seem to be so interesting, even giving an example of how an unlikeable
character can still be somebody interesting to follow, and I was expecting to
get the writing equivalent of that, though I well aware that an adaptation and
the original are not exactly the same work.

While I would want to ridicule Carlo Zen for having
delivered such a poor product, I cannot do that because I only have access to
the edition published by Yen Press and the afterword of this book claims that
Enterbrain, the Japanese publisher, did not ask for a single edit during the
revision stages, so the only one I can blame right now are Emily Balistrieri
and Kevin Steinbach.

Translation might be hard work, and the people that
undertake it to bring readers their favorite titles put in a lot of work to
make sure that the translations are as accurate as possible, while not making
it so literal that it is off putting, rather than engaging, but the job of the
translator is to bring the voice of the author to people who normally would not
be able to read it, and the text provided here does not seem to be that of a
work that should have been published.

Yes, this could be more of Carlo Zein's fault than the fault
of the translators, as Carlo Zen was amazed that this book saw the light of
day, but writers, myself included, though I have only written five books, kind
of have a habit of viewing that their own work is absolutely terrible most of
the time, so I cannot really determine that unless I could actually read things
not using the Roman alphabet.

Still, this is a travesty that one should not need to deal
with in a book, because readers read so that they can entertain themselves.

If the first volume of a series cannot capture the attention
of the audience, the readers have no reason to continue on with the series,
because it was so unimpressive, as well as makes it hard for people like me to
see how this series could even be good to be considered being adapted into
anime.

This is not what readers want to see, and this book
completely and utterly failed to accomplish that very thing.

Maybe, the nerdy crowd would thoroughly enjoy it, because it
has everything that they would enjoy, as the afterword just note that it is
hardcore nerdy, but if only the target audience is impressed with the book, it
cannot be considered a great work.

I also hated Tanya Degurechaff, the character.

Now, the fans of this series would be screaming at me,
saying that Tanya Degurechaff is technically supposed to be unlikeable, and the
book just does as good of a job at making me hate her guts as the anime did, if
not more so, but Tanya Degurechaff in this book is the worst kind of unlikeable
character, in that she is both unlikeable and uninteresting.

When I watched the anime, I remembered not particularly
liking her, due to her cruelty, but the way that she was portrayed still made
her seem like she was a person and made it fun for me to see how she would
torment people.

If I had to say why, there was such a stark difference, it
would be because Tanya does not get enough time in the spotlight and things
shift around so much that it does not seem like I am still reading the same book,
because the shifting is something that only seems to work well for things like
comics and works of animation.

Yes, we find out what Tanya is doing and how much of devil
she is, but I just do not seem to be excited to see what is going on around
her.

Really, Carlo? Is this how to portray a character that many
of us are supposed to love to hate, yet have about as much fun following as
Light Yagami in Death Note,
before L was killed off?

I certainly do not think so, and that aspect of this book
led it to be much more disappointing than the anime adaptation that had no true
ending.

Another thing that I hated was how hard this was to follow
along with.

One of the best things that I liked about the anime
adaptation was how it seemed to be quite easy to follow, though it was nothing
more than a series that focused more on action and Tanya's struggled against
Being X, the self-proclaimed God, even if I were take take a short break away
from it, because things were so well put together and executed.

However, with this book, I felt like I could only have
followed this by making myself bored out of my mind and reading every chapter
without stopping, because I had kind of forgotten the small details of what had
occurred and the narrator, as well as point of view, changed on me regularly.

While a reader should be given reason to pick up a book and
read it from beginning to end, without stopping, a reader should also be able
to put down a book and continue reading without too much confusion, yet this
book creates confusion by moving away from Tanya and going other places on a
pretty regular basis, as if it was not a book.

Seriously, Carlo? Is this anyway to write a good book?

I might not be the best writer in world, but I definitely
know that there are things that might work well in one medium does not always
work too well in another medium, and Carlo does not seem to understand how the
medium of a written book works in this installment of the series.

This is not something that I should be seeing in any book,
especially the first installment of a series, and Carlos has done nothing but
disappointed me.

If this is what I get from the first installment of a
series, I am definitely not going to continue on with it, because all this does
is just wastes my time.

The thing that I hated the most though was the footnotes.

Even though it is nice to see things explained, because I
may not understand something, and it really cuts down on the need for people to
look things up, footnotes can be really distracting.

In the case of this book, the footnotes were more of a
distraction than something to enhance my enjoyment.

For example, on page 8, which brings up the term Chicago
school, it does things right in giving it a superscript number to look for, in
case I wanted to know what it was talking about, and the explanation is put at
the bottom of the page, but the way things flow, I feel like the footnotes are
part of the actual contents, rather than just some bonus, especially because
these boxes for footnotes do not always show up in the text.

Since I have no way of knowing what the actual Japanese
edition is like, though it would be easier to compare than the translation that
Yen Press provided, the only people that I can really blame is Yen Press
themselves.

If these little extra notes were put in the back of the book
and the footnotes referred to a page in the back, I would have been able to be
a little lenient, because the footnotes would not be breaking up the flow of
the book as much as they are here, and possibly make it easier to read, but
because they did not do that, it felt like I was wasting more time than I
needed and it took me a while before I could just mentally skip these
footnotes.

Footnotes are giving people references to look up, whether
in a book or outside works, not give outright explanations of things, as that
is what the text is supposed to do, regardless of whether the work is a work of
fiction or nonfiction, and because the staff at Yen Press did not seem to
realize this, it ended up making the book harder to enjoy than the actual
translation did already.

Really, Yen Press? Is manga the only thing that you guys can
get right when publishing something? I highly doubt that, because the Spice
& Wolf
translations were fairly good reads, even if they might not be
good enough to be considered the pinnacle of perfection, but this seems to make
me think that you guys are losing your edge, which makes me not want to follow
the series even more than I already did.

Hopefully, Yen Press decides that this series may not be
worth publishing, so that they can keep their good reputation with me intact,
but if they decide to release any more, which might be very likely, considering
how popular this series is, I will not be picking up more of them because of
how disappointing this installment was.

Thankfully, aside from things that are too minor to talk
about, such as typos, nothing else really bothered me too much, so I can just
end things here.

Because my attention could not be captured well enough to
read the whole thing in a single sitting, due to the translation not sounding
great, and possibly because Carlo only wrote this series in a way to appeal to
the nerdy type, I felt bored following Tanya because they way she is presented
makes her both unlikeable and dull, the book was hard to follow without reading
everything in one sitting, which was difficult due to the writing and how Carlo
seemed to forget this was a book with mostly prose, as opposed to a comic or
something else that could be considered a visual medium, and the footnotes
seemed more distracting than they should be, this was one of the worst book I
have read so far.

Considering that there was quite a bit to hate, especially
things that a reader should not have to put up with, this book was a complete
waste of time.

I recommend that everyone avoid this book like the plague it
is, though fans of the series are free to give it a try if they wish.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please
consider supporting me on Patreon
or, if you really want to see if I am right or not for yourself, buy a
copy of the reviewed title from Book
Depository
, who offers free shipping to many countries around the world, so
that I can find more worthwhile reads for you guys.

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