I’m going to be upfront: I like the graphic novel version of this story much better than I do the light novel. I saw this Tanya the Evil series on Crunchyroll (but haven’t watched it yet), and the premise looked interesting, so when I saw the books I figured I’d try those. If I hadn’t read the manga first, I would have given up on the series. The light novel version is just too confusing and monotone; it shifts between perspectives at random intervals and it’s not always clear who the perspective belongs to at times or why they might matter in terms of the story. The main narrator, Tanya, is also pretty flat with very little depth of character to her which is too bad given the general scenario.
Here’s the deal: a mid-career corporate hatchet man who I don’t think is ever named is totally into climbing that corporate ladder is dismissive to the wrong individual and gets pushed in front of a train. He ends up in front of “Being X” (his term) who claims to be God (the Christian one), and is rude and dismissive to Him to the point that He decides to make the corporate jerk an experiment. This experiment involves being reborn into a world that is going through an armed conflict on par with a World War, and includes elements of magic and technology. Not only this, but he’s reborn as a she. At the time of the first novel, “Tanya” is about ten years old, yet retains her memories of her previous life, making her scheming and intelligent enough to get through military school an earn some combat distinctions. Her goal is to survive and to earn a safe desk job, yet it never works out for her that way.
The draw in the graphic novel is that even though Tanya’s personality and inner self are completely terrible, I still want to know if Being X/God ever manages to convince her to believe in faith and the divine. In the light novel version, since the perspective is more limited and you only get one at any given time, this desire to see if God never really has a chance to develop; that and, at least in volumes 1, there are multiple divinities from various world religions in the manga, but not so far in the prose-only version. That and in the graphic version, you can really see the contradictions that Tanya is: cute little girl on the outside but heartless corporate suit on the inside. The one thing that the prose-only version does have that the manga does not (again, at least so far) are glimpses into the other side of the war. I think. A lot of these parts are in the perspective of a random person who usually has no idea what’s going in.
I think I’ll stick with the manga on this one, and at least try out the anime. It’s just kind of a pity that that right now there’s 2 volumes of the light novel out to 1 of the manga.