This is review number four hundred and forty. This anime is part of the Fall 2014 lineup, and it’s called Nanatsu no Taizai or Seven Deadly Sins. It’s a twenty four episode anime about a guy and a princess. I think they’re trying to save a kingdom or maybe level up for a boss fight. Yeah, this review is long. Let’s read on.
The anime follows the owner of a travelling bar on top of a giant pig called the Boar’s Hat. Melodias soon meets a girl in a rusty armor trying to look for the knights that once tried to overthrow their kingdom. The Seven Deadly Sins are some of the most wanted people there are, and the girl needs them to save the kingdom from the knights now planning to ruin it. Turns out, the girl is a princess and Melodias is the captain of the group. He agrees to help her, and they soon set out to find the rest. They’ll meet a lot of people along the way including a bunch that wants both of them dead.
Taking the Pants Off
I’ve been avoiding this anime for a long time because a colleague of mine oddly loves this title. I don’t really want any reason for us to talk, so I keep putting off watching this show. The more he keeps pushing that I watch, the more I shove it back on my PTW list. Since I’ll never talk to the dude ever again though, I figured I owe him one. He suffered in my workplace far longer than I did. This anime is really clunky though. It’s a Shounen anime, so it’s easy to like, but its pacing is a bit titled. I guess that’s my only concern here. The story was a tad problematic, since it’ll start slow then go super fast then suddenly get mellow until it decides to explode again. It’s like a bus driver f*cking around with a fat guy trying to catch it, and the driver will move the bus every time the fat guy touches the doors. It’s weird, but it doesn’t end there. It has a lot of sore spots, but I also think this show nailed it. I mean, it took me one episode to decide to invest on the show some more and now I see the beauty my former co-worker sees in this title.
In terms of first impression, it’d be “wow, someone’s a fan of Akira Toriyama” in how Dragon Quest~y the characters are. Dragon Quest is a popular video game in Japan, so I might not be far off that it heavily influenced the author. This video game has its own day in Japan. If you’re unfamiliar then just imagine Chrono Trigger, since Akiyama also designed the characters there. It’s not just design that gave off the video game vibe though, since the action and the world building also screams like it’s inside a video game. I love anime like this, since the world building is always given strong emphasis. In the first episode alone, we are treated to a pub scene that is emptied by a giant armor guy that turns out to be a princess that is seeking help. If there were slimes in the first episode then I’d really be sold on it. Actually we got something even better, since we got the supposed leader of a powerful traitorous group accepting the princess’ mission. This explodes into a fight on top of a hill that really gives you an idea how the show will go from here. It’ll basically be explosive with a lot of cool character moments from both sides. Yeah, the show stays consistent with that. Characters, both good and bad, soon become a big feature of the anime.
Towns and Dungeons
But the character showcase doesn’t really start until halfway through the anime. In the opening episodes, we are treated to some fabulous world building. I especially love how the characters would visit different towns and you’ll get the needed exposition there. So the Seven Deadly Sins once tried to overthrow the kingdom, but the mighty Holy Knights somehow stopped them. Throughout the different towns though, you’d see the Holy Knights suppress the people meaning that there is something more to the story than meets the eye. As the Seven Deadly Sins try to regroup, their re-emergence stirs the Holy Knights and this kinda sets off the story in its various chapters. Before that though, we are treated to backdrops of picturesque villages, mountain sides and quiet places that really sets the mood for the show. It is even better in the manga, I am telling you. Nakaba Suzuki is obsessed with making art in each panel, so you’ll really have to stop and acknowledge the amazing uses he has for lines. A-1 Pictures toned down the detail work, but I still think Nakaba’s style is carried through. He established a video game-like world where the characters are promised to rumble in, and the only thing left to do is to let them rumble.
The anime has three different speeds with its own stories and characters to focus on. I guess we’ll call them chapters here. The first chapter is simple enough. It establishes the world, introduce the main characters and it focuses on them re-forming the Seven Deadly Sins. The band went their separate ways ten years ago, but the princess and their captain want the group to be whole again. It’s your typical collect-all-the-heroes deal here, and I’m honestly getting flashbacks of Akatsuki no Yona upon realizing this setup.
There is one big wrinkle in the format though. The main character, Melodias, seems to be overpowered from the start. He isn’t your typical Shounen hero that is a bouncy newbie trying to win with grit and training to beat bigger foes. Instead, Melodias is just cool to begin with. I’ve honestly wished we have characters that can remain calm and skilled enough to withstand any enemy attack in an anime. I realized though that I actually don’t like seeing it now since if the main character looks calm then he kinda looks bored. It erases any kind of stakes that the fight can have. Melodias never panics and you just kinda always assume he’ll win at any cost in any fight he is in. That’s really how the first few episodes go. We are presented a problem, an enemy, or a life or death situation but Melodias just default gets out of it. It doesn’t matter who it is, he just comes out on top every time.
Of course, there’s a story behind his demeanor but it does bring a different style of Shounen that I am not familiar with. I think I now understand why most Shounen heroes are naïve and impulsive, and it’s because they are easier to relate and engage with. You can hammer Melodias with all your might, but he comes out of it unscathed. It’s a bit upsetting. It actually gets more ridiculous when the first chapter hits its big climax of rescuing one of the members inside a dungeon prison. Ban, the prisoner, is actually immortal and yeah, the entire thing looks unbalanced. I love the take of having strong main characters, but it’d mean the enemies would have to be even stronger. Except, how strong do you have to be to kill an immortal? The anime did try to answer this ridiculous question.
Problems also started appearing towards the big climax of the first chapter. The uneven storytelling is evident and there is this weird purposeful short sightedness in how it is presented. Fights look creative upon setup, but they often end up quick and disappointing. It’s really a problem that harks back to having overly strong main characters. They can end a fight fast. That’s just how it is. My problem though is that nothing is really foreshadowed or cleverly established to slowly become a recurring plot point of the series. The story often stops just so the characters can focus on a fight. In that fight, we could find out the characters were actually “sentenced” with their sins and it’s not just a gimmick. It comes out of nowhere and it just looks awkward. I remember a fight where we suddenly discover the enemy is the best friend of a main character, and wow, no flashbacks to even hint at that beforehand. I keep thinking maybe the show is just written for kids, but that’d be an insult to the genre.
My complaints feel more like nitpicks though, because I still did find myself enjoying the show. It’s also the first chapter, so the show is still just finding its legs. There are still more episodes to really fix the course of the show. I also like the overpowered heroes in the moment, since seeing the enemies fumble is kinda fun. Of course, this doesn’t last long since we all know stronger enemies are soon to come and I will have more nitpicks to follow.
The journey kinda segues into a weird tournament where the current members are trying to collect their sacred weapons. This is actually a detail that will be dropped as the chapter progresses, but it’s fine. We have a lot of fun fights here, including Melodias and Ban trying to kill each other. I also love the backdrop of this fight as we are perched on a giant rock overlooking the village. The tournament is really just an unusual detour before the eventual third chapter. Before the chaotic third chapter though, the second chapter setup the emergence of the new generation of holy knights and the group of baddies that’ll eventually try to end our main characters. We are also introduced to recurring characters outside the Seven Deadly Sins. Shounen is known for its side characters, right? I always believe that Dragon Ball Z wouldn’t be complete without a green alien in its roster. That’s just a fact. The second chapter gives us all the green aliens needed for the story. Ironically, not all of them participated in the tournament and it kinda displays the short sighted storytelling at hand here. Sure the Melodias/Ban brawl was fun but nothing was really accomplished. It’s not like the captain successfully killed the immortal.
Speaking of short sighted, we are also introduced to a flashback side story seemingly out of nowhere. Yeah, the whole thing was just random when we discover how Ban became immortal. It also kinda weirdly ties into the new generation of holy knights, but it was also a random detour. I mean, we know little of Melodias or the other Seven Deadly Sins member but we’re apparently getting to know more of Ban. Cool. Again, the storytelling is tilted. We are suddenly thrust into a backstory that supposedly we should care about, except Ban isn’t really the kind of character that needs sympathy. He’s f*cking immortal. The flashback also didn’t really made sense. He fell in love with a woman and he became immortal. It doesn’t really tie with anything we’ve experienced up to that point. Ban was just recently introduced, so the flashback is just sorely misplaced. Short sightedness kinda gives the story a reason for characters to kill Ban though. I just think it’s a missed opportunity to feature flashbacks about the Seven Deadly Sins when they were still a group ten years ago, maybe hint at Ban’s dead lover there, before pulling the trigger. One Piece can make a dog guarding a pet store become the most heartbreaking thing ever, and it’s really just a matter of setup and payoff. I guess it’s something Nakaba doesn’t have a good handle of. We are told about the awesome group of seven that almost overthrew the kingdom, yet no flashbacks were ever used to feature them. Actually, flashbacks really just happen at random and often to create a quick connection from one moment to another. It’s not as refined as it can be, and it borders on amateurish a bit. I’m not sure if the author is doing this on purpose or an editor is poking him to quickly change stuff. Either way, the further the show goes then the story kinda falters as further.
The Genre for Young Boys
As I watch this anime slowly loose its cohesion, I do wonder how easy it is to take the Shounen genre for granted. It’s the most popular genre there is, and you might think it’s an easy one to do. After all, you just take a bunch of powerful dudes then make them fight then make the good guy win then repeat the process. This anime did that exactly, and it really looks ridiculous. There seems to be more to it. The villains they are fighting, the reason they are fighting and the way to get to that fight also matters. The way the fight is build, the backstory leading to that fight and all other small details really matter in making the Shounen genre work. I keep thinking that a lot of the fights in this anime are really fun, but it could’ve been better. Showdowns should’ve meant a lot more if there was build to them. Recurring characters and villains should’ve been given more screen time to flesh them out. There were a lot of awesome moments in the show that you’ll easily forget because the anime didn’t really care enough to build up to those scenes.
There’s one about a guy hating Ban and if we had some flashbacks about how close they are before Ban’s supposed betrayal, like from when they were a group ten years ago, then the moment would’ve been more memorable. There’s this awesome one about the sloth guy disguising himself as a fat dude, and there’s actually a reason behind that. Again, if the flashback was given more care then it could’ve been a great way to flesh the characters out. Then there’s this twist of Melodias being strong because he’s a demon. If we had more chances to speculate on his demonic background then I bet the reveal would be more memorable. Eh, shoulda, coulda, woulda. I guess I just wanted more from this anime. Although it does make you wonder how ungodly talented long running Shounen Jump titles are to master the art of Shounen storytelling. One Piece has been running for twenty years. Jebus, that’s something to think about at night.
The last chapter is the craziest. It starts out crazy and it ends crazy. It’s one fight after another, sudden story reveal after another and the very first elongated Shounen fight in the anime. Yeah, most fights end in just one episode, but the final boss fight for this video game anime is long. It’s also very satisfying. I might have a problem with the narrative and its patched up style, but I was still enjoying the action from start to finish. It started with a sudden teleport and the entire kingdom soon gets involved. There are also a lot of plot points popping up one after another, but it really didn’t matter. All the face-offs were satisfying and it leaves you wanting more. I was actually surprised that the deal with the princess trying to help her kingdom is resolved in the third chapter too. Really, loose ends were tied by the time the anime ends. There are still some unanswered questions that the show intentionally avoided bringing up, and the second season might take care of that. The third chapter was a good way to end the series though. If you wanna try the anime, you should really just skip to this chapter and just enjoy the carnage.
The Green Aliens
There are a ton of characters in this show. By the time it ends, I think you’re following ten or fifteen characters and their arcs. All of them are pretty one dimensional though, despite the anime’s attempt to flesh them out. They can fight like any awesome character would, but it’s really hard to relate to any of them. Some are due to the lack of character development, like the bunch introduced in the second chapter. All of them had a role, but they didn’t really grow beyond what they were intended to do. Some characters are just bland though, despite their importance in the show. Most of the villains suffer from this, because the story just kept patching things into itself that the focus could never settle down. The main characters are harder to relate though. Melodias is cool to watch, but you can’t really root for him. He just always wins his fights, and it’s no fun cheering on a Mary Sue. I think the most decent character in the show would be the giant girl, but she is really as one dimensional as the rest. She seems the most normal though, and I like that. A bunch of the characters are either immortal or overpowered. I do love the lust character since he keeps dying in fights, but he somehow revives without the show ever explaining anything. Soon you just accept that he will fight, get stabbed and somehow recover. He’s just like Ban who’d often be the unwilling guy tasting the enemies’ ultimate move first.
You’ll see him torn in half, stabbed and he’d have chunks of his body cut off. He’s a fun character. I like the inventive take on him, but he just needed more character depth to really make him awesome. Yes, even his flashback didn’t really make him more interesting. He’s like the Zorro of the crew, except you wanna cheer for Zorro whenever he fights. That’s really missing in this anime. There is no engagement from the audience. You kinda just watch characters fight and it doesn’t matter who wins or not. The show never gave us any reason to care.
Okamura and A-1 Pictures
This would be Tensai Okamura’s last work before he returned in 2016 with PA Works. He storyboarded a lot of that studios misses, and it’s kinda weird he suddenly directed this show. It’s like the usual suspects at A-1 Pictures was too busy with other shows so they hired a freelance director. His directing is ok, just like the anime. It does give us some cool moments, but all the great parts of this anime came from its original source. Tensai didn’t really add anything to the series. Even the aesthetics and the color scheme are pulled from the manga. I guess I’d give points for him sticking closely from the manga. A-1 Pictures is kinda known for that though, so he didn’t really do anything special. It makes sense since the anime feels like it was done for a paycheck and nothing else. There’s nothing wrong with that, but this is an odd A-1 Pictures anime. They did One Punch Man and they kinda understood that shows they adapt need effort and love. I’m still crying over Lie with April, and it’s all thanks to their intense care with the adaptation. This one just feels cheap. I guess even A-1 Pictures has their off days, but it’s just so odd not seeing their usual animation quality in one of their titles. I mean, even a dud like Aldnoah Zero gets crisp animation. I thought the low level quality is done on purpose at first, but certain scenes look sloppy as that you can tell it’s just not animated that properly. All I’m saying is that Sword Art Online got more love and attention than this fun title. That’s all.
Sight and Sound
While I urge you to check out the anime, you should also check out the manga because it is just intense. Nakaba is a freak with his panels and you can tell he spends more time with the visuals than the story. He did admit that he is a fan of Dragon Ball, so maybe the character design is inspired by that show. In the anime, they look a bit rough but the manga is beautiful. Nakaba puts a lot of love on the bodies and the armors. The detail work is insane and he would frame fights in such an awesome way. He enjoys creating slender characters and then giving them a really manly look. I was surprised at how cool the pink hair guy is in the manga. He looked softer in the anime, and the change in style is jarring. The anime softened Nakaba’s style considerably. They took out a lot of his detail work and just gave us the basic look of his design. The lack of love on the armor is what hurts the most, but they oddly kept the focus on the fan service. I guess that’s a step up or whatever. The characters do sport the usual Shounen flair that I like, and the video game vibe is also brought on by the design. Nakaba’s pen work is also weirdly light, and it doesn’t resemble most Shounen anime. I really like his style, and it’s a shame it’s not represented properly in this show.
The animation is inconsistent. It ranges from awesome to sloppy, and often in the same episode. I do love how ambitious some fights are. I especially love how characters fly and the camera work goes after them. The giant fight with Melodias is my favorite scene in terms of animation, because he was just beautifully flying and being thrown in the air. This is really the big reason why the patched up storytelling isn’t much of a burden for the show. When it really matters, the animation steps up and just make the entire experience worth it. You’ll often be in awe at how the animation ramps up and becomes incredibly exciting. Sometimes the story doesn’t matter because Melodias is just kicking ass with his Mary Sue attacks. Hell, I don’t even care that he’s kinda Mary Sue because the animation is just so fun to watch. But, it’s not the consistent A-1 Pictures animation though. Some episodes look sloppy with body proportions out of whack. Character details would often look weird and it does suck the fun out of watching the show. A lot of heavy dialogue scene lacks care and some fights just don’t look right. I wish Nakaba’s insane detail was in the anime to at least hide the sloppy animation. Unfortunately, there’s nowhere to hide. Good episodes are good, great ones are great and bad ones are especially bad.
The anime’s has two OP. The first one is “Netsujou no Spectrum” by Ikimonogakari. It’s a decent song that certainly has a shounen vibe to it. It feels a bit subdued though, but I guess I just like big songs that hype me up in my shounen. Actually, the sequence feels a big subdued as well. The great animation is here, all the characters are introduced, but it just feels a bit lacking. It isn’t as exciting as I hope it would be, given its genre. But I do love the way the world building is present and the story is somewhat showcased all throughout. The second one is “Seven Deadly Sins” by MAN WITH A MISSION. I love this song, because it is just so catchy. I kept singing the English lines over and over again, and I just love how the song builds up energy. This is the kind of song I want in my shounen, and it really gets me hyped for the actual show. I am also slowly becoming a fan of Man with a Mission. Log Horizon’s Database was cool, but this song just hits all the right spots. I want more from them.
The anime also have two ED. The first one is “7 -seven-” by FLOW x GRANRODEO. Holy hell, these two bands joined forces on a song? That is awesome, and the song reflects that. This should be the OP, because it just has crazy energy. I love the guitar riff at the start and the chorus just makes me want to jump. You can notice the dip in quality for the animation here though. Some scenes just look weird and you can tell it wasn’t given proper care. I especially notice it when the girls are dancing to the song. It’s still a really cool song though. The second one is “Season” by Alisa Takigawa. Alisa has a smooth voice, but the song personally feels generic to me. Hey, I’m no music expert. I just consider it bland. I do love her voice though, and this is apparently her debut single so it’s a nice way to introduce yourself to the world. I guess it’s a nice song, but she certainly has better ones. Her song in Domestic Girlfriend is honestly a better one, in my opinion. The ED sequence is decent too, but it features the not so great animation of the show. I love the visual stills though.
8/10 “It’s a really fun show, but it can be a lot better.”
Shounen is both exciting in terms of the story and the visuals. This anime nailed one aspect and botched the other. I still think the show is really fun, but it is also really titled. When it gets going then nothing can stop it, but when it slows down then it really drags. It’s an enjoyable Shounen show so if you like the genre then you’ll love what this show is offering. It’s a very forgettable title though, and no doubt you have or you will watch a better title than this. I do recommend it just for the excitement brings and nothing more.
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