10 years ago a small order of knights (known as the Seven Deadly Sins – and will be called that even when there are only 2, 3 or 5 of them) betrayed the Holy Knights and fled the Kingdom. Now Elizabeth (a Princess of the Kingdom, but not blood related to the King?) is trying to track them down to save the Kingdom from the corrupt Holy Knights (although a corrupt holy knight is kind of an oxymoron no matter how you look at it).
Well, if you were following my Twitter when I started this you will know I was a little underwhelmed by episodes 1 and 2. They do the job but between cheesy dialogue, boob groping, a talking pig, and villains that seem to have no real bit, these episodes are strictly set up and while watchable are pretty forgettable. And then something happens.
Mostly, we get more characters and the show seems to find it’s tone. Elizabeth and Meliodas are adorable as our core couple as they go from helping each other to friends to more than friends, but they can’t carry the show. Episode 3 brings in Gilthunder (what a name) as an antagonist of sorts and also Diane as another of the Seven Deadly Sins.
Once Ban and King are added to the mix and a few more villains of substance crop up, the show really gets going. And I mean, it really gets going. I went from, hey I’ll use my afternoon to watch a few episodes and write up my first impressions, to calculating what hour I would be up to if I just watched to the end. And I watched straight through to the end.
So I’m going to leave the characters for now and come back to them and focus on the plot for a little bit.
There isn’t much more to the story than the overveiw would have you believe. Oh, there’s a lot fantasy flim-flammery about gods and demons, and let’s throw some side stories in about fairies and the like, but ultimately it comes down to one order of holy knights being framed for a crime they didn’t commit and scattering only to be gathered by a Princess to save the kingdom in its time of need. And once again, I am going to question the definition of a holy knight because how Ban ever got that title (or any of the Sins for that matter) really makes you wonder. Plus, look at the group of ‘new generation’ knights below. The word ‘holy’ is not immediately springing forward as a key descriptor.
I think however it is the simplicity of the story that works. Right from the start we are given a clear goal by Elizabeth and Meliodas. Find the other sins and then stop the Holy Knights. That allows for a generous amount of side quests as they gather information and members and weapons and encounter various villains and personal dramas along the way but still gives us a clear focus.
Plus, a lot of the villains are just so over the top you can’t really feel a sense of impending danger (that and our Seven Deadly Sins are excessively unkillable at times – actually one is just unkillable period) so this isn’t about tension or drama but rather just a fun little fantasy adventure with some really big battle sequences to break up the hanging around in a bar scenes.
On the fantasy/magic side, while there doesn’t appear to be any direct inconsistencies, there is also very little explanation so you aren’t really sure what the limitations should be for various things. We know that characters have abilities, but are these unique to them? They seem to be in the show but that could just be because we haven’t encountered the six other knights that can also do a full counter. Not to mention, they tell us they have an ability, but then seem to have about three to six variations on that one ability that they pull out as the occasion calls for it. More detail would have been really helpful to make this feel like a real world rather than another generic fantasy land where ‘hm, magic’ is the answer to most things.
The visuals are a little hit and miss at times. Character expressions are not always clearly articulated and side characters in scenes regularly look a bit off. That and the general trend toward more cartoonish responses from characters and the colour palette just kind of make it viewable but not exactly pretty or interesting (once again an overuse of purple to scream, hey, evil).
I also had to watch this with the English sound track because Netflix doesn’t seem to realise that subtitles that are three lines of dialogue behind are not only unhelpful but distracting. I found some of the voice acting distracting but that was mostly me thinking about other characters I’ve heard voiced by the same actor in other dubs so that’s on me and not a real criticism of the show. Still, some of the voices didn’t seem to match the characters as well as they might have.
So back to the characters and this is probably what really drew me into this story. Individual characters are kind of ho-hum but the balance between the characters and the play between them works really well (which is why this show got more interesting once more of the cast were introduced).
My favourite character ended up being Gowther.
Yeah, I know Gowther doesn’t show up until the last quarter of the anime but he is great value. While at first his very literal way of speaking seemed overly affected, it kind of grows on you and he does make some of the more amusing comments during the final sequences of the show (which is much needed given the sudden serious turn of those final episodes). Also, Gowther’s ability is really interesting and I really wanted to learn more about it. Not to mention, what is Gowther? It becomes quite apparent he isn’t a human (and I won’t spoil anything but seriously?). if there was any character I was left wanting more of it was definitely Gowther.
I mentioned earlier that I really liked the relationship that develops between Meliodas and Elizabeth. Meliodas as a character is kind of a cliché all over. Exceptional fighter, failed to save a girl, touched by plea from the Princess, and excessive about keeping promises. Not to mention, highly overpowered and carrying a dark secret. That doesn’t stop him from being a fun character, but by himself he is pretty forgettable. Except for his penchant for panty stealing, sniffing and boob groping (with Elizabeth). That, unfortunately, I will remember about him.
Elizabeth on the other hand starts out as an utterly useless character and while you can argue she’s still useless by the end, it feels like emotionally she’s come a long way. No where near as much as the other characters seem to be crediting her (You’re so strong – gag) but she certainly has gotten stronger. Honestly, these two reminded me a lot of Natsu and Lucy from Fairy Tail.
Though, Elizabeth definitely had her Orihime (from Bleach) moment when she tried to surrender to the bad guys to save her friends. Okay, she may have had two or three of these moments, but at least it didn’t take three seasons to save her.
When we get to the final Romancing the Stone moment, it just seems like Meliodas’ and Elizabeth’s relatinsihp has come to the perfect place and that leaves the whole series on a positive note.
Lastly, I just want to mention Ban, King and Diane. As the sins we spend the most time with (other than Meliodas) these three really carry a lot of the entertainment of the story. Ban reminds me very much of Grimmjow from Bleach and he really carries that bad-boy look well (though he definitely has his softer moments).
I really like the relationships between these characters. King and Diane have a complicated back story that is revealed toward the end but King’s devotion to her (even as she has eyes only for Meliodas) and Ban’s egging King on to act in certain ways to get Diane’s attention works really well. Also, the genuine strain in the relationship between King and Ban is at times really well played. What I really like is that these characters are evolving throughout the story. They may be support cast but they are likeable and interesting in their own ways.
I’m avoiding discussing the key villains and motives because there isn’t a lot of suspense in this story and I’m trying to avoid spoiling it.
I watched this on Netflix after reading repeated reviews praising this anime. I really enjoyed watching it even if I didn’t find it amazing. Very popcorn on the couch worthy and certainly worth a rewatch at some point.
Let me know what you thought below.