(WARNING: This article will contain a few heavy spoilers to the series to help explain a few points. You have been warned. If you want a score and recap of what I like and dislike just scroll to the bottom of the article.)
Right now the anime world is buzzing after Netflix released an English dub of one of the more popular manga/anime franchises in Japan. On Nov. 1, The Seven Deadly Sins arrived stateside, and certainly blew up the internet once it became available. Many people were expressing on social media for their love for the dub, and certainly seemed to enjoy the entire series. I for one was also interested in this series coming to the U.S., and was curious how Netflix would produce the dubbed version. So if you haven’t had the time to binge the series or just haven’t gotten around to watch it, don’t worry. I’m here to give you a review on the series as a whole (with a few spoilers), and why I think this could become one of the best series to be produced in the next few years.
For those who are unfamiliar with this franchise, it started off as a manga series that began all the way back in 2012 for Kondasha Comics. The manga is still on going today (each chapter being released on Crunchyroll for fans outside of Japan), and doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon (especially with the awards it has received). It’s set in an fake world loosely based off of Medieval Times; where the legends of knights, dragons, and magic are common place. So the author, Nakaba Suzuki, let’s his imagination run wild during this time period with all kinds of battles and lore that are staples during this timeframe. He does so to take readers on a wild ride that has become immensely popular with the public.
Our story begins at a tavern called “The Boar Hat” with a young owner taking care of his customers. Here we are given a broad overview about the world and how a group of dastardly criminals called “The Seven Deadly Sins’ are rumored to be either dead or on the run. Just uttering these names scare even the most hardy of men in this world. The story then moves on to where someone wearing a large suit of armor scares off all the customers by chanting “The Seven Deadly Sins”. We later find out the person in the suit of armor is Princess Elizabeth from the Kingdom of Liones. She’s on a quest to find the criminals to stop the corruption of the Holy Knights of Liones. She believes that The Seven Deadly Sins are the only ones strong enough to complete her quest. So she must do whatever she can to save her kingdom from evil. The tavern is then attacked by Holy Knights, and the owner of the bar, Meliodas (Dragon Sin of Wrath), saves her. It is then revealed that Meliodas is the leader of the Seven Deadly Sins, but doesn’t remember why he and his crew were labeled criminals and traitors. So after rescuing Elizabeth, he agrees to team up with her to Save Liones and find the rest of The Seven Deadly Sins. Thus the story is about the two searching and fighting to reach their respective goals.
What makes this series as popular as it is, primarily deals with the main cast of characters. Most of them are very interesting and through a 24 episode season, we see quite a few of them grow and develop right before our eyes (rewarding viewers). However, there’s no story more tragic and compelling than that of Ban (Fox Sin of Greed). Ban is a thief who seems to have had a rough life hating everything. He then decides to go on a quest to drink from the fountain of youth for reasons that any person would have. He ends up finding it in the magical fairy forest, but is chased away by the guardian of the fountain, Eliane. After finding out that drinking the fountain would destroy the forest, Ban decides to leave without causing trouble. This shocks Elaine, and the two end up spending their days together (a short amount of time). Then out of nowhere a demon arrives to the fairy forest attacking everything in sight. The monster ends up killing both Eliane and Ban, with Eliane deciding to save Ban with the fountain of youth. Ban ends up killing the demon afterwords, but is terribly saddened that Eliane saved him without his consent. Thus Ban travels all over the world to try and resurrect the only person whose cared for him, giving him the feeling that he will forever be isolated in life.
Ban’s story is something that anyone who has felt alone can relate to. He feels distant from everyone even though he’s part of the Seven Deadly Sins. He’s lost the only person he’s cared about, and it’s what drives him to move on in this world as his only purpose to live. Because he drank the fountain of youth, he can never die (something that turns to a gag at points in time). So even though he wants to be with Elaine in the afterlife, he can’t perish due to the after-effects to drinking the fountain. So Ban lashes out and teases anyone else who comes close to him. He tries to play it off that he doesn’t care about anyone, but has developed a longing relationship with Meliodas and the rest of the Sins. Thanks to The Dragon Sin of Wrath, Ban can at least lose a little of the huge pain he has in his heart due to losing the woman he loved. I found myself drawn to this aspect of the story, and had to find out if Ban could ever find true happiness, since his past comes up at various points. After all sins can never be erased. It’s an emotional story that will pull at the heartstrings anyone that watches. I think it’s because of his tragic story that he’s one of the more popular characters in the series.
“A lick will add ten years to your life! A swallow will add a hundred! Drink it all, and you’ll live forever!” – Ban
I was also partial to King’s (Grizzly Sin of Sloth) back story since it’s one of the sadder past in the series as well. He’s had to deal with loss of his Sister Eliane, not knowing what truly transpired when she died with Ban. King cannot forgive himself for not being around when the demon attacked the very forest that he was supposed to protect. He left because his best friend went missing after living amongst the human race. So King searches, against the wish of his sister, and later finds all of the fairies that travelled with his friend dead. King ends up also getting attacked and forgetting much about his past. There he meets up with a giant whose named Diane (and who later becomes the Serpent Sin of Envy). Throughout the years his memories begin to return and after a major tragedy (involving humans killing other humans), he remembers everything. It’s also revealed that his best friend is also causing the tragedy. King is then forced to kill his best friend, and must deal with his sin of the forest being destroyed and the deaths of many humans caused by his best friend. Not to mention that time he spent with Diane from before is completely forgotten by the giant woman. That was when Meliodas eventually has him join his crew of The Seven Deadly Sins.
I could go on about every character, but these were the two that stood out the most due to how emotional viewers could become watching. The author of the series uses tragic irony almost perfectly, with Ban living forever when he’d rather die to join Eliane. And King with how he’s with Diane whose forgotten the time they’ve spent before. Most of these characters are well written, and are relatable to readers/viewers. Having characters that can draw in an audience in is what makes a show popular. I believe that the ones in this series are some of the most intriguing characters around in anime. I couldn’t stop watching to find out how each one would evolve later in the series (whether it be for better or worse). It will get you hooked onto the series as much as the story does. Terrific characters can turn a lack-luster story into something people want to watch. The story in this series is above-average, but it’s characters is the show’s major strength.
Another thing that stands out about this series to me was the artwork. The fluid animation, especially in fighting scenes are what drew me in at the beginning. I really enjoyed watching the action scenes, and think that many fans of the action genre will love them as well. There weren’t any scenes, that I noticed, that had any awkward moments like you could see in Naruto (the first series). Every battle was enjoyable, especially at the finale where you see teamwork between the Sins (kind of like One Piece with the Straw Hats all facing Oars). I enjoyed when a character shouted out their attack, text would appear. I just found it fun to watch, and Meliodas’ attack of “Full Counter” was truly fun to see in any fight he was involved with. The artwork shown during explosions and major weapons being used looked cool throughout the series. Every time a major attack sent a character flying, the brushback scenes zoomed in or out looked detail-oriented. To me that proves how animators at A-1 Pictures wanted fans to enjoy this series. They normally do a great job with producing anime in general, but fans should especially be pleased with the company for their work on The Seven Deadly Sins.
Another aspect that was better than I expected was the music for the series. I’m normally not the biggest fan of Medieval style of music (bagpipes and all), as it’s not the kind of music I listen to on my own. The musical scores provided in this series were phenomenal to say the least. The music played during the action scenes had me excited and entertained during major battles. Plus the slower and sadder songs really touched me emotionally during conflicts. The scores helped viewers feel the mood the director would want in the series, and dictated how fans are supposed to feel. The musical numbers in anime is always a key factor to help gain viewers/fans. If done incorrectly, it could detract viewers due to how they would feel conflicted. Throughout the series I felt that the music helped enhance important scenes in the series. I believe the songs will connect with the audience.
Overall there aren’t any filler episodes for the first season, which will be a plus to those who cannot stand anything that isn’t canon. The story stays pretty reliable to the source material, which is was pleasant for those who have read the manga. Those who have read it will feel rewarded watching the anime adaptation. Gother’s (Goat Sin of Lust) introduction story was shortened in the anime, probably due to the episode count. Some might feel that they were cheated out on some interesting developments that you see when Gother is first introduced. But it didn’t detract from the story as whole. At the finale, a major side story from the manga involving Gother might have been glossed over, but it might be re-hashed in the second season. Hopefully it does, because it was very interesting when I came across that story in the manga.
Going deeper into the English dub, I felt this show was casted PERFECTLY (which is a huge plus for Netflix). I normally don’t think that an english cast is ever dead on, but I can’t think of anyone else playing these characters any better. The most notable job was Christina Vee as Hawk. The giant pig became one of my favorite character due to her acting and lines given (the script writers did Hawk justice). She does a great job with the humor and really felt like her voice was made for that role. Even during scenes where Hawk was running fans were treated to Vee giving sound effects with her own voice (I was in stitches every time). He is the cute mascot character in the series, but he never seemed to overstep his role or was annoying. He was funny and just like Elizabeth, I’d love a giant talking pig as a pet too! However as the series progressed Hawk certainly wasn’t just a comic relief character, his role grows as the series does. Due to the English dub, he could become the most popular character in the series.
It was a nice balance of newcomers and veteran voice actors for the entire cast. While we have the usual veterans like Bryce Papenbrook and Ben Diskin, there are some virtual newcomers like Max Mittelman and Erica Mendez that are heavily featured (which was awesome to me). They all sounded great together in my estimation, which is key for an English dub to be received well by the public. I was especially impressed with Erika Harlacher voicing Elizabeth (which sounds like it was a lot harder than some would think that role was). I’m not as familiar with her work as I am with other voice actors, so it was a treat to hear someone that’s “newer” to my ears. I thought she did a phenomenal job voicing her through some of the tougher scenes that Elizabeth is involved in (crying, sad, yelling, etc.). Even though some fans might have heard her (or others I mentioned) in other dubs, they still gave this series a breath of fresh air when it came to new voices. I also enjoyed listening to Diskin as Ban, considering that he fits the bill with someone as who could voice the character’s laissez faire attitude. He was certainly convincing when you see some of the deeper scenes that involved Ban. Plus Ban had a lot of humorous moments in the series (like a straight man), and Diskin delivered those lines perfectly. Those were the actors who stood out to me, but in all honestly the voice acting was tremendous. It didn’t have any awkwardness that you can see in dubbing anime, and should be looked at as a prime example for how a series should be dubbed.
There is a lot to like when watching The Seven Deadly Sins, but not everything about this series is perfect. It has it’s flaws that which may detract people from watching or liking the show. It begins with the main character Meoldias’ character trait (or flaw to be exact). He is very “handsy” when he’s involved in scenes with Elizabeth, and when I say “handsy” I mean to point where he should be arrested. I know that the author is doing this for humor, especially when he hides his head underneath Elizabeth’s skirt at points facing her crouch (saying this might heal my wounds). Yet it is just him sexually assaulting the female lead. It left a horrible taste in my mouth, which detracted from the overall enjoyment I had from this series. People have had their issues with One Piece’s Sanji after he and Nami switched bodies during a particular. Meliodas takes One Piece’s situation to a whole new extreme when I finished the first season. That is a very real problem to the overall show, which has been pointed out with the manga as well. So it will depend on how you feel personally when watching the series. Clearly it didn’t detract from my viewing, or my overall rating, since I enjoyed this series. However, it can lose viewers from the “relationship” that grows between Meliodas and Elizabeth.
Not to continue to just harp on Meliodas, but to me he’s also one of the more uninteresting characters in this series. That hurts The Seven Deadly Sins overall, due to the fact that he’s featured as the main protagonist of the series! I just find him very dull considering he’s so powerful. Even during the series it’s stated how he uses crappy swords because if he used a real one, enemies would die on the spot (thus the drama out of fights would be completely gone). I enjoy a lot of the fight scenes he’s a part of due to the artwork and the fighting choreography. But as a character, I’m just bored with him. Obviously there’s something different about him that makes him ridiculously strong. However, I never found myself interested as to why he is what he is. Even the with the flashbacks that fans are treated to, they never really gained my interest. To me, Melodias is just around to move the story forward by beating up the main adversary the Sins’ face.
Although to be fair to Meliodas, all of the main characters are too powerful in the series. During every fight I never took any threat the protagonists faced seriously. Most of the time whenever a Sin “lost”, it was mostly played off as the Sin didn’t use their full power or not take it seriously. Even at the end against the final “boss” in the series, I still didn’t get the feeling of a truly compelling fight (drama wise). I don’t fear that anyone will die, and I don’t worry that a ridiculous plot device saves the day. The Sins just continue to fight and beat up the enemy. I enjoyed the fights on a visual and entertaining value, but for plot and story they didn’t do enough for me to be completely wowed.
Some viewers might have issues with the series due to how cliche it is. One thing that I’ve come to grips with when dealing with anime is that the people who are supposed to be good are evil (One Piece, Bleach, etc.). And that it’s the criminals who everyone should cheer for. I don’t mind things being set up like that, but it’s repetitive and can be a drag for veteran viewers to anime. Other cliches are in full force when dealing with characters in The Seven Deadly Sins: such as a perverted male lead and someone being blackmailed to help the bad guys. Plus when it comes to it’s female characters, no cliche goes unnoticed with a female lead who starts off as stale (Elizabeth develops over time), a female character who wants to become stronger than any man, and a character who has an unrequited love for the main protagonist. Story wise there were very few “plot twists” that surprised me due to how many predictably the cliches are used. While some things from this series are original, I have a sense that some people might feel that this is nothing new to what’s already available in anime.
Putting the negatives aside, I still find The Seven Deadly Sins to be one of the better anime series available in the U.S. Not to mention that fans are given an English Dub which will help the anime industry grow, and Netflix possibly producing their own anime for the future. The work done by both A-1 Pictures and Netflix should be applauded, as I for one found this series truly amazing. Now that there is a second season being produced, hopefully Netflix can get the rights to that season to continue on the story for those outside of Japan. If you think that characters such as Ban, King, and Elizabeth are done growing, you’d be mistaken, as there are still issues to be resolved. There are even stories that haven’t been touched yet in the anime, and will be eye opening for those who haven’t read the manga. I humbly request that everyone who enjoys anime to watch the entire series. It’s a great new action series that can attract new viewers to anime, and if you don’t watch it, that is your sin to bare.
Strength: Characters enhance the story, sweet animation during fights, musical numbers sound amazing, English dub cast sound excellent and casted perfectly
Weakness: Meliodas’ habit of sexually harassing Elizabeth, main characters seem overly powerful, no threat seemed legit in the story
*C.J Maffris is an editorial contributor to GeekEInc.com and Toonamifaithful.com. He believes this could be a series that rivals World Trigger, Food Wars, and Akame ga Kill in popularity. Feel free to give C.J a follow on Twitter @SeaJayMaffris