ANIME REVIEW: The Seven Deadly Sins

The seven deadly sins, three sins short
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The Seven Deadly Sins is a mess. Not so badly that it’s beyond redemption, but more in the sense that it’s like a children’s toy box. It’s overstuffed with characters that would probably make good action figures and its main plot is the sort that kids might dream up on a playground. The story is mostly easy to follow, except when it bends over backwards trying to change direction. Overall it’s a solid distraction that can be burned through on a quiet weekend.

Let’s back up for a second though. The Seven Deadly Sins (7DS) is an anime new to Netflix all about a magical kingdom in increasingly dire straits. On hand to protect the kingdom are the holy knights, an order of elite warriors. When a group of holy knights called the seven deadly sins supposedly betray everyone and try to overthrow the king, they quickly become the kingdom’s most wanted. Except apparently it was all a set up, and now a princess has to reunite the sins to save the land.

This is a workable premise, and likely lives or dies on how it’s executed. If you’re expecting something as crisp as Attack on Titan you’ll be disappointed though. 7DS takes its premise and, over the course of 24 episodes, throws every good, bad and superfluous idea it can think of in theRE too.

Diane the giant
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Our hero is Meliodas, leader of the now scattered Seven Deadly Sins. He looks like a kid but doesn’t appear to have aged a day in the ten years since he became a fugitive. He’s also brave, laid back and an excellent warrior; something of a Gary-Sue in that the show is scared to give him any real character flaws. Except of course for the giant elephant in the room.

We’ll probably cover this in more detail somewhere else on Cultured Vultures, but Meliodas is a walking sex pest and it’s pretty boring from the get-go. Every chance he gets he’ll grope a different part of the princess, sometimes as a cheap “punchline” to a powerful character moment or story beat. For the first five or six episodes it’s so bad you might struggle to keep watching.

Most of 7DS follows Meliodas and the princess as they search for the other members of the Seven Deadly Sins, their group gradually growing as they find them. To its credit, the show at least finds interesting ways to reveal the other sins, who are each unique and at least interesting in some way. There’s the giantess Diane, in many ways the heart of the group, the immortal Ban and the fairy King Harlequin to name a few. If you know anime well, you might be able to recognise them as caricatures, but they play off each other in interesting ways.

Ban and King
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The fighting – and there’s a lot of fighting in this series, if you remember one thing – is firmly of the Dragon Ball Z variety once things get going. Punches don’t knock people to the floor, they send people crashing through walls in a mushroom cloud of dust. This isn’t a bad thing of course, and if you’re in the mood you’ll likely watch epic battles with a smile on your face. It does get a little exhausting as things progress though, especially as fighting abilities become more ridiculous and less consistent along the way.

Thinking about it, this might get to the root of what’s so frustrating about 7DS‘s writing. It really is a lot like a playground game, with new characters, powers and scenarios thrown in either randomly or to dig things out of a narrative dead end. Vague spoiler here, but the big multi-episode finale is all triggered when a major character is kidnapped through the power of magical teleportation – something that had never been mentioned as a possibility before.

This kind of thing happens all the time in 7DS. Random plot turns and new characters are thrown in with such frequency it feels like no idea was ever discarded. It’s an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach, as if the writers’ room was full of people saying, “hey wouldn’t it blow everyone’s mind if this happened?”

As a formula it can lead to some awesome entertaining moments, like Diane the giantess hurling characters 40 miles throw the sky like a supersonic javelin. It can also leave you confused, such as when one character’s arc basically boils down to “it was an invisible demon all along.”

A talking pig
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As mentioned at the top of the review, 7DS is a mess. So many ideas jostle for position that some inevitably don’t fit. Those that do fit, though, can be highly entertaining. Hawk the talking pig is a lot of fun, and infuses the whole story with much needed compassion. Each of the Seven Deadly Sins brings something to the story with their own personality and story arc. The whole thing never tries to be anything more than goofy fun, which is fine apart from all the weird groping.

The animation is good with characters and setting always managing to look interesting. A lot of anime, especially big bombastic ones like 7DS, can begin to look cheap in later episodes as budgets start running dry. 7DS looks colourful and energetic from start to finish. On the voice acting front things are generally solid, with actors doing the best with the material they’re given. Bryce Papenbrook, most famous as Eren Jaegar in Attack on Titan (I’m a dubs guy, sorry), elevates Meliodas into a passable protagonist while the rest of the cast also put in solid work.

If you’re looking for a hidden gem to recommend to your friends, you won’t find it here. 7DS is a big, chaotic adventure that admittedly manages to change things up often enough to keep the story fresh. It’s all fairly surface-level stuff though, so don’t expect any deeper meaning or complex characters if you dive in.

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