This is review number two hundred and thirty five. This anime is part of the Summer 2013 lineup. This is one of the shows I’ve seen everyone give praise to so I was a bit excited trying this one out. It’s Kami-sama no Inai Nichiyōbi or Sunday Without God. It’s a twelve episode anime about the big guy upstairs watching too many zombie flicks and decided to have an actual zombie apocalypse. It’s a different kind of a zombie outbreak though and you’d be surprised how the show spin the idea. Let’s read on.
God created the world on Monday. On Tuesday, he drew the line between Order and Chaos. He arranged each and every number on Wednesday. He permitted the flow and ebb of time on Thursday. On Friday, he explored every nook and cranny of the world. On Sunday, he rested.
And on Sunday, God abandoned the world.
“Heaven and Hell are too crowded. It won’t be long before this world is, too. Ah, I have failed.” When God abandoned the world and left only those words, people stopped dying. Even as their heart stopped beating and their flesh rotting, the dead kept moving.
It is said that in order to save those people, God sent to this world one final miracle. The Grave keepers. Only burials by grave keepers can grant a peaceful slumber to the restless dead.
Taking the Pants Off
Try and imagine this concept: a drama story about the zombie apocalypse. Instead of all the awesome head bashing zombie chain sawing action, you focus on the drastic effects it had on people. Not the kind of survival horror kind of angle though but more of a personal one with a loved one now forced to cry over their now dead close relative or friend. This was the pitch of Sunday without God. It’s not really a direct zombie apocalypse type story though. It’s more of a light hearted dramatic story of life adapting to the idea that zombies exist. There is a touch of sophistication in the overall premise though and there are a lot of supernatural elements injected in the story. I was instantly sold on the very concept of the anime. It’s refreshing and gladly inviting because of how it spins such a gore filled idea. Sadly though, the adaptation is a bit bumpy. The direction of the anime is confusing and the approach to the story is certainly questionable. This anime had a lot of downsides to it that will really ruin the experience. I was still urged to finish the anime though. Well, yeah, I’ve been reviewing completed shows for close to two years now, but the stunning cinematography helped a lot as well. I see a promising director who has gladly found his niche. Only time will tell though if the potential behind the cinematography can truly be unleashed and elevate this man to greatness. I’m hopeful but it’s too soon to call. I can tell you though that this show was certainly promising but it’s another adaptation gone wrong.
The premise of the anime is simple. A girl named Ai Astin decided to travel the world. This is no ordinary world though. It’s a place where God realized that Heaven and Hell is too crowded so he abandoned Earth. Now the dead cannot die and the living can no longer reproduce. When you die, you basically become a zombie still functioning as a human with the exception that your heart isn’t beating and your body is deteriorating. There is a way to truly kill off the dead though and that’s by having dirt shoveled by a “grave keeper” hit the dead person. Grave keepers are special people that were created to help the dead make peace. It’s a final miracle by God before he went and abandoned the world. Ai is one of these grave keepers and she decided to see the world. The things she’ll see will surprise her though and her bright disposition might not be enough to fully embrace the heavy burden of this world. She will not give up though and her persistence will see her through. Along with her companions, she travels the world deserted by God and witness the effect of that event that happened fifteen years ago.
When I watched the first episode, I was instantly hooked. The concept of the show is really intriguing and I wanted to see how they would pull it off. The wonderful idea that dead people still have humanity inside them despite no longer possessing a beating heart is pretty powerful. There are no slow moving zombies out to eat brains in this anime. Instead, we have people who are trying to live their lives adapting to the cruel fate God has placed upon them. I was honestly expecting a story about Ai seeing the various dead people of different places and then a profound storytelling about humanity only a light novel can tell. It’s pretty obvious though that the anime crammed too much content into twelve episodes. The promising premise was hastily wasted just so the anime can cover as much of the light novel as possible. The end result is a badly paced anime with a confusing plot and an overwhelming content. It wasn’t as much fun as I thought it’d be. There are a lot of things at fault here but it basically comes down to the show being a bad adaptation.
One of things the anime did that I wasn’t a fan of was segregating the story of the anime into arcs. Three episodes for each arc and there is four arcs in the twelve episode run of the anime. You can already tell that this is going to be a big problem. The first arc of the anime is actually pretty good and it’s the arc that launched the anime into its actual status quo. It’s the arc about Ai Astin herself. She is an ordinary girl who inherited her mother’s job after she died. Her mother is a grave keeper and she must carry on the tradition. She lives in a small village with a lot of caring people who understand her important job. One day though, an absolutely handsome man dressed in black came into the village and killed a bunch of people. Ai is outraged but this man doesn’t care. He has no respect for the dead and he doesn’t care if the living hates him. Ai wants revenge though on the man that killed her village. The man has one thing to tell Ai though. Apparently, Ai isn’t what she appears to be. Ai isn’t a grave keeper. Of course, this can’t be true. The man is helpful enough to convince her otherwise.
The first arc pretty much setup what you can expect from the anime. The show would have a wonderful backstory to work with and build a story around. In the first arc, it’s about the odd circumstance of the village and the man that turned it into a ghost town. The show had all the elements to make a gripping story about this arrogant man and his views. There is enough to build intrigue and pull off one heavy climax. The idea of humanity is also strongly presented in both the living and the dead in the first arc. The anime took a different approach though. It’s another thing I don’t like about the anime. Instead of focusing on the rich story and the wonderful premise, the show is character centered. It means that the story progresses on how it treats the characters. The story is told through how the characters develop, interacts and progresses on their own. The premise and the potential for a gripping story is mere backdrop to the actual focus of the anime: the characters and their relationship. In the first arc, it actually served the anime well. You have enough time to familiarize with the characters and the unfortunate burden they carry. It’s personal yet also very magical that you can’t help but be enchanted by it. In the overall run of the anime though, it proved troublesome because you are expected to watch four different stories establish themselves through the characters introduced. It gets tiresome and a bit stale. The way the first arc ended was surprising and a bit hasty but I didn’t mind. The show still had a lot of time to produce a great experience and I just need to be patience. It sadly goes downhill from there though.
The second arc is about the city of Ortus. This is a city ruled by the dead with a residence of over a million. All of them are dead and the living are encouraged not to enter. This one was pretty intriguing as well. Ai was on a journey to basically help the dead get peace and then you enter a story about the dead having authority in this world. Like the first arc, this anime had an interesting premise as well. Once again the idea of humanity is played with. The dead are living normal and happy lives inside the city. Ai is now feeling a bit weak hearted about her goal in this journey. She has caught the fancy of the princess of Ortus though. Wouldn’t you know it? She’s human.
Once again, this is a character centered story. All of the events that transpired in the second arc are nothing more than to help tell a story about the characters and their relationship. The fascinating idea of a grave keeper, who is meant to kill the zombies, in a city of zombies is mere plot device to further develop the characters. The wonderful status quo the anime created about the dead finding a place of their own and it is thriving more than any city full of the living is just a plot device to help establish the characters. Perhaps the idea that the show is light hearted and all the promising potential of the second arc goes down the drain was the bitter pill to swallow. I’m guessing the circumstances of the characters meant a lot more in the light novel where you can establish them fully but it doesn’t work in the anime. The main story about the princess of Ortus felt a bit hollow in its progression and the whole thing was a bit unsatisfying. Maybe if the anime spent more time introducing the characters rather than establishing convoluted ideas all throughout then I might’ve enjoyed the character centered approach of the show. I understand that the sophisticated approach of the light novel was nicely captured by the anime but it didn’t help make it more interesting. I think the subtle touches actually held back the anime. In the end, the audience is tasked to fill in the gaps to fully appreciate the value of the character driven show. It’s something I don’t mind doing for a show with one main idea. For a show with four different stories, it’s not as fun. In the end, the dramatic aspect of the show didn’t hit quite as hard and you’re often forcing yourself to cry in the tear jerking scenes, to be honest
The third arc is about Goran Academy. This is where the anime truly felt rushed. Ai was suddenly kidnapped by a bunch of people from Goran Academy. It’s a school where children are forced to study. They’re no ordinary children though. It appears that they had a wish granted by God and now they are all here. The academy is a brutal place though and their freedom is certainly held captive. They decided to escape. Ai and a boy named Alis will now try to convince everyone to leave the academy together. Freedom is all fine and good but some of them has responsibilities holding them back. Ai wants them all to leave together so she decided to give a big push to those uncertain.
This is where the anime gets overwhelming in a bad way. The third arc is really badly rushed. The worst part is that there were a lot of characters introduced. In such a short time, you are forced to understand the status quo, get to know the characters and follow the character driven story. There was very little to look forward to because there was no time to setup a decent story. The third arc is devoid of excitement and the events that transpired are sadly anti-climactic and a bit boring. The toll of trying to keep up with the anime also hits around this point and it just wasn’t worth the time anymore. The original premise was abandoned at this point. The smart theme of humanity is slowly getting weaker and there was just very little of value, storywise. Of course, there is potential. If the anime had twelve more episodes then this arc could’ve been develop some more instead of the rushed presentation it gave us.
The fourth arc is about the city of Ostia and the class of 3-4. Alis is revealed to be a boy that wants to destroy the world. It’s something Ai is completely against but she decided to help him in his quest anyway. Alis’ journey led them to the town of Ostia and a closed dimension where the class of 3-4 is on a loop experiencing the events that happened fourteen years ago. This is the world Alis wants to destroy but the world is too strong to be destroyed. With the help of Ai, they decide to find a way to truly stop the loop. It’s easier said than done though because if they aren’t able to stop the loop then Ai will lose her memory of the outside world and now be part of the loop. Class 3-4 hides a terrible secret though that even they aren’t prepared to face once again.
The last arc is pretty decent. It had familiar characters so the overwhelming progression of the story was stabilized a bit. You can focus on the character driven story with ease because the third plot point helped in introducing them. The way the story is told is really nice. It had a nice mix of supernatural and fantasy that worked well together. The way the theme of humanity is introduced in the mix was a nice touch too. Even though it still had a few bumps here and there, I actually loved the fourth arc. The way the twist was handled is really good. It was a bit predictable but you were really connected to the characters so it had the effect you expected it to have. It was truly dramatic and something worth noting despite the downhill progression of the show at this point.
Despite the anime having four different stories to tell, there is something common among them. Let’s call them plot points and further draw out this review. The first one is about God abandoning the world. The stories all share the idea that these are all the effects of his decision to forsake the world. Throughout the anime, it’s evident that the colossal effect really changed the world. A lot of the characters talk about heartfelt stories about the things they endured adapting to God’s decision. It was a powerful component of the story that I really enjoyed because it helped paint the big picture of the current state of this world. From the dead holding firm to their existence to the survival of the living reduced to one final generation, it’s a thrilling idea that you can’t help but love. I actually hoped the anime would’ve delved into the plot point some more through Ai’s journey. Instead, the show focused on arcs and this wonderful plot point is merely a subplot compared to the four stories of the anime.
The second plot point is about wishes. That’s it. The four stories shared this plot point as well. Majority of the characters in the anime wished for something and it was granted by God. It’s like a miracle of sorts because the characters did the wish in desperate times. It was granted in such a way that truly defined the characters afterwards. It’s like a bad joke and also a miracle performed by God. The wishes helped the characters but it also consumed them. From people wishing their loved one wouldn’t die to the blind wishing they could see, these wishes were a great way to flesh out the characters because the various flashbacks and monologues felt deeper once you understand the feelings they had for their wishes. Sadly, this is nothing but a plot device in the show though. It served as a mere tool to improve the character driven story. It was a needed food for thought though while you watch the show.
The third plot point is simply the humanity of the show. I’ve mentioned this countless times now. When I say “humanity”, I’m referring to the vulnerability of the characters. It came to a point where the three core values of humanity come up in the show. Love, kindness and treasuring the bonds they form with others are the things that make up the humanity in the show. I know I’m talking a bit too deep here but the character driven show is remarkable because of how the characters retain their humanity in a world abandoned by God. In the first arc, a man so arrogant and self-centered would find a soft spot for this little girl. He would tell her of how her views of the world is too innocent and misguided but, at the end of the day, something inside him wants to hug the girl and tell her it’s all right to be innocent. In the second arc, a dead person sacrificed everything to make a person happy. Despite building a wall and living on as a dead creature, he still had the capacity to love and care for someone. It’s something you wouldn’t expect from a zombie show yet it’s an idea the anime strongly plays with. In the third arc, a bunch of the final generation kids are held up in school. They had wishes granted that basically destroyed their lives and forced their parents to disown them. Despite the feeling of resentment from the people they expected to love them, these kids were still able to understand how their parents felt and continued to love them through and through. In the fourth arc, a bunch of kids loved each other so much that they would do everything they can to be together even in desperate times. It’s hard to describe it without spoiling the story but I hope my explanation helped. This is also something I hoped the anime strongly presented in place of the character driven plot it decided to do.
To be fair, I think the light novel was character driven as well. It focused on the personal relationship of the characters as well instead of the wonderful backdrop the anime was in. It was probably some sort of bait and switch tactic that might’ve worked tremendously in the light novel. You’re caught up in the idea of a zombie apocalypse yet the anime geared you towards something very sad and personal. I see the brilliance of the light novel and I think the anime wanted to convey that as well. If the show was twenty four episodes or more then I can actually see it happening. Sunday without God had a wonderful idea to present that was not only sad, it was also very friendly and warm. I am honestly being reminded of the arcs in Clannad as I watch this show. They had the same pull, the same sad progression and the same warmth that makes them really entertaining. If this show had more episodes to work with then I’m pretty sure it’d be as great as Clannad. It’s a shame but that potential can only be felt in the light novel.
The characters are all pretty decent. They carried the show so they really needed to be entertaining. Ai is an interesting character. Her biggest appeal is her persistent attitude and her pursue of the ultimate good. There is no black and white for Ai, it’s only white. Everyone can be saved and everyone can love. Her bright disposition was unsettling and also a bit refreshing when almost everybody else is massively depressing. There are a lot of sad people in this anime but Ai isn’t one of them. She is cheerful, cute, a loli and she thinks everyone can be her friend. Yeah, she is a bit saccharine but it’s the perfect sweetness for a show that’s on the bitter side. The only thing I don’t like about her character is that she doesn’t really develop. In order to be the light in the show’s darkness, she needed to be the super cute and sweet character all throughout the show. It does get a bit tasking hearing her do her best on almost everything in the anime. Most times, you often just want her to shut up and just sit down. The story did her wrong and she wasn’t utilized in a more meaningful way, in my opinion. With such a rushed story, the way her character develops is decent enough to enjoy the character driven stories. The way she relates to the sad stories of the anime is also pretty ingenious. She’s an innocent girl looking at the abyss and she interestingly sees innocent on the dark pit as well.
The recurring characters are pretty decent. They had a specific role and it really ends there. They did their job really great though that it was able to elevate the story. The way they establish a relationship with Ai is the main core of the story so they were able to become meaningful in the long run. The various flashbacks, monologues and fleshing out were smartly utilized by the anime as well. You can blame the rushed pacing for the poorly developed characters as well. There are a lot of dramatic scenes in the anime and the show was able to present everything that’ll make you cry but it’s not enough. It’s a half-baked experience despite the efforts of the show to make the characters interesting. There are a lot of standouts though and most of them sound extremely interesting. From an immortal guy that loses his memory when he dies and reawaken then a story of a ghost that whispers to other people that’ll make them unconsciously do things, there is whimsy and fantasy on the way the characters are conceived. There is also a touch of a deep and very personal side though that is supposed to make you cry but that doesn’t happen a lot in the anime. I love the sentiment though.
The rest of the characters are dreadfully bland and one dimensional. Again, it’s the effect of the crammed stories in the short run of the anime. I honestly think that they played a bigger role in the various arcs but I think there is just no way to accommodate them. Most supporting characters of an arc would be badly underdeveloped despite the story moving forward on its own pace. This point became extremely clear going into the third and last arc. A whole bunch of characters are introduced, wasted time on yet ultimately did nothing but take up space. I understand that they were important characters of an arc but they didn’t feel like so because they were so underused. In the end, they were useless clutter that really made a bad anime a bit convoluted. It’s often an audience task to filter them out sometimes and that’s too much when you just want to watch a show.
I have yet to talk about the good parts of the show though. They’re at the bottom of this review. Story wise, the show sucked. It was suffering from a common disease of a rushed and badly interpreted adaptation that most light novel anime cannot overcome. It’s a bit disheartening because Madhouse released this anime. I’m a big fan of Madhouse and I honestly think they hit gold with this show. The whole thing was really just messy and it’s a shame. Despite the visuals being a big factor in the anime’s enjoyment, the fact that the rest of the elements cannot carry the weight really ruins the show. It wasted its potential and it just tried to reach a height it cannot ever attain. It’s a shame.
Sight and Sound
Character design is pretty awesome. Shino (light novel illustrator) really did a good job on conceptualizing the characters. There is a wide range all throughout and a wide variety of design among them. This was a good thing for the anime because even the one dimensional characters stand out because of how they look. The moe design coupled by the high details of their outfits really did a lot for the show. Ai becomes a whole lot more interesting simply because she is cute. It’s the addition of the big green eyes, the weaved hat, the shovel on her bag and the cute dress she has on that really elevates her character. It’s this kind of highly complex character design that really makes Shino’s characters pretty special. This was amazingly improved in the anime though. Shinichi Miyamae did a wonderful job of translating Shino’s light novel designs. This guy understood the balance of cuteness and flashiness in Shino’s design then made something more special with them. The addition of the bright color palette and the CG rendered characters made the characters all the more well-rounded. It often doesn’t matter if the characters themselves suck, storywise, because you can just stare at them while they talk about profound things that don’t really matter in the show. It’s all good. I honestly spent more time staring at Ai and the rest of the characters rather than following the plot. Shinichi’s experience being an animation director did the overall presentation of the character’s justice and I thank him for that.
I want to talk about the cinematography now. No, not just the animation. Usually, I’ll just talk about how the characters move at this point. It goes beyond that in this anime. The way the show is presented is pretty surreal. It’s hard to explain it well. Bear with me though. The way the light shines on an object in the show and it adds character to simple backgrounds was something I really enjoyed. It set the mood of the show without ruining the pace of the story. It’s like watching a Makoto Shinkai movie with how the show emphasizes on the setting and the vivid scenery before progressing the story. The way the sun shines down on the characters, the clouds waver around and the sights on Earth tell a story is pretty amazing and complex. It gets all the more amazing though when the characters move about in this setting. The CG rendering is a bit complex as well. With the mood set by the scene and the scenery porn on full attack, the animation then completes the package. Most of it is limited and flashy for flashy’s sake but they’re pretty incredible to watch. I hope that made sense but the cinematography really completes the experience of this movie. Yuji Kumazawa was able to present a show unlike any other. His style of presentation was something noticeable because you can tell he directed “Nobuna no Yabou” as well (if you’ve seen the show then you can see the common elements). If he is able to master this kind of presentation more then I’m pretty sure this director is destined for greatness. A few more Madhouse anime and I can tell he’ll give us a show that’ll make us tremble in excitement. Here’s hoping he works more on the story as well though because I hope he doesn’t become another Makoto Shinkai, all style no substance.
The anime’s OP is “Birth” by Eri Kitamura. This is a decent OP song. It has a solemn pace to it that I do admire and a nice message of hope that nicely fits the idea of the anime. Eri’s voice sounds a bit too plain though. At least, I wasn’t impressed. Perhaps it’s the song own pace that held her back. The OP sequence is pretty awesome. You can tell Yuji’s directorial eye on the OP sequence because of how stunning it looks. The small montage introduces all the vital characters of all four arcs with a hint of their arc nicely thrown in. It’s flashy and cool with no spoilers and I enjoyed it a lot.
The anime’s ED is “Owaranai Melody wo Utaidashimashita by Mikako Komatsu. It’s a nice sad song. I really love how Mikako’s voice adds a great personality to the song. The addition of the English lines is pretty stupid though. It ruins the song’s sad vibe a bit. Mikako can’t speak English well so it’s a bit forced. She does have an amazing high voice though. The chorus is bright and catchy though so it really made the song awesome despite the distracting English lines. The ED plays during a few minutes of the ending scenes of the anime. It then cuts to panning up portrait of the characters. It’s pretty cool.
6/10 “The production values are top notch. The story is sadly crammed and rushed to enjoy thus completely ruining the experience.”
This is a good example of a good light novel badly adapted. The idea is there and I can tell the light novel is truly good. The subtleness of the story is easily felt but you cannot fully enjoy it. How can you? It decided to fit four different stories into a twelve episode anime. It needed twelve more episodes to save itself. If you enjoy cute characters in your anime then you’ll enjoy this show. If you love a show with a light sprinkle of drama then you might like this one. The visuals saved this show though and if it wasn’t so awesome, I’d be rating this show a 4/10. If you do decided to watch it, proceed with a bit of patience and don’t expect too much.