Seven Deadly Sins is a solid piece of Shonen anime. The characters are likable, the animation is gorgeous, and the fights are high energy, explosive and fun. Sure, it doesn’t do a whole lot in terms of originality, but it’s so well executed that it hardly matters. If you’re looking for a solid Shonen to eat your time, this one is a solid pick.
And now that season two is finally on Netflix, the question must be asked: can the same statement be made again? Well…
I do think that season two is good. It does have it’s problems, but they never completely ruin the quality of the show as a whole. I wouldn’t say it’s better than the first season in any department except for it’s visuals and music (the first new opening song is fucking sick), but I would still say it’s worth your time. But if you didn’t like the first season… this one really won’t change your mind.
Spoilers ahead, by the way. If you haven’t caught up yet, you should go do that before reading this.
Let’s start with the plot. The inciting incident of the season is the titular revival of the Ten Commandments, a group of ten supremely powerful demons who are, individually, more powerful than all the villains prior. Combined. Resurrected, their goal is simple: conquer Britannia and wipe out the lesser races, and it’s up to our heroes to stop them.
In terms of basic set up, there’s nothing wrong with this. It’s not incredibly original, but not much in Shonen is anymore. At this point, it’s all about execution, and the plot here is… reasonably well executed. Why did I italicize reasonably, you ask?
Well, very few of the Commandments actually get much time to develop. We know so little about them that it’s hard to care about the threat they present. They give us little bits of how they’re connected to some of the characters, like how two of the Commandments are Meliodas’ brothers, one of them is the former God of the giants, and one is King’s predecessor as the Fairy King. Aside from them, however, we get very little characterization. Mustache guy and naked orange hair lady are a couple I guess, and orange hair lady hates the Goddess race a lot, but before that can get fleshed out further and make them more interesting, they’re murdered by a revived Meliodas within seconds.
The same can be said about the purple goop monster with a whole bunch of faces. We know that people can’t kill others while in his presence, and he can turn people into demons, but before we actually learn about him as a person, he gets sucked into a bottle by Merlin and forgotten about. The closest we get after that is seeing Merlin toss the vial he’s trapped in in her hands.
And then there’s Galand, who is easily the least interesting despite having the most screen time. He’s your typical Nappa-type character. He’s big and threatening, and he only exists to kick ass until an overpowered character shows up to kick his ass. The most interesting thing about him is his curse: the Commandment of Truth, which turns you to stone if you lie to him.
These curses, the Commandments, are the most interesting thing about these characters. The different curses are interesting, and they present a cool challenge to the heroes. For example, the tall brother of Meliodas (the one who killed him) can render anyone who harbors hatred towards him incapable of attacking him. It’s a fascinating power that makes each battle he’s in (all two of them) fairly interesting.
Luckily, while the new villains are a little underdeveloped, we get one new character who is anything but. A super cool, bad ass character who is easily stronger than every character in the show while still being super interesting.
The Lion Sin of Pride: Escanor.
Escanor has an incredibly interesting personality, motivation and backstory. He was born with a curse that grants him the power of the sun, making him the strongest character in the entire story, even topping Meliodas. However, without the sun, he’s a tiny and pathetic coward who can’t fight. The duality is both hilarious and interesting, and he almost immediately stole my heart.
And that’s before we learn his backstory. He was born into a royal family, and discovered his extreme power while being abused by his older brother. After his extreme and uncontrollable power emerges, his family ousts him and tries to kill him out of fear, only being saved by a servant, Rosa, who sends him to sea in a barrel to survive. A few years later, Escanor is picked up by Meliodas and Merlin to become a member of the Seven Deadly Sins, where he ends up falling for Merlin.
Which leads to his motivation: Merlin herself. Escanor is a good man, easily one of the most morally strong characters in the story, who wants to have a place in the world. Preferably one right next to Merlin. She gave him a reason to live, and he wants to live up to her expectations of him.
And then there’s his power, which directly affects his personality. Escanor is stupidly strong, and he knows it. He’s this shows equivalent of Saitama from One Punch Man; no one can beat him and he knows it. This is shown in spectacular effect when he faces Meliodas’ killer, who can’t be attacked by anyone who harbors hatred for him. While everyone else is petrified, Escanor just casually walks up to him. When questioned why he wasn’t being affected, he simply says “How can I hate someone I know is weaker than me? All I feel is pity.”
He then proceeds to kick the living hell out of the dude. It is suitably awesome.
Though the main reason I love Escanor so much is due to a big flaw this season has and how he manages to avoid it: the introduction of power levels.
See, Merlin gives Hawk an earring that can break down how strong someone is into a number so he can easily understand how crazy the others are. Yep. Merlin gave the talking pig a Scouter for some reason.
This is the biggest problem of the season. See, the power levels are treated like they are law. When someone has a higher power level than their opponent, they never subvert your expectations and have the weaker guy come out on top using cunning or strategy. The fights transform into a boss fight in an RPG: whoever has the bigger numbers wins. End of story. It sucks away all the tension in most of the season’s fights because they almost always tell you what the power levels are before the fight even starts, essentially telling you the result before you can see it.
Escanor is the only character who manages to avoid this problem. They do one simple trick to avoid this: his power level may as well be an infinity sign. It has no clear limit, so it doesn’t matter. Whenever he fights, it’s not supposed to be a tense contest of skill, power and wit. It’s a pure dose of explosive power, as Escanor is written to be stronger than literally everyone. The delight in his fights isn’t watching him overcome impossible odds; it’s watching the impossible odds tear the villains a new burning asshole.
Alright. So power levels deflate the tension, the new villains are underdeveloped, but Escanor is fucking awesome and the show still looks and sounds great. How’s the story itself? Well, aside from the lack of tension in eighty percent of the fights, it’s pretty decent. The pacing feels wonky at times, especially near the end, but there are plenty of moments that are exciting, heart breaking/warming, or really funny. Sometimes all three at once.
All in all, this is a solid season of a solid show. Sure, the pacing is wonky, the new villains are underdeveloped, and the majority of the fight scenes are devoid of tension due to the over reliance on power levels. But the animation is spectacular, the music is amazing, the story is very well executed, and the final member of the Sins is really fucking awesome. There are plenty of problems, yes, but I’d say the positives still strongly outweigh these issues.
That’s about all there is to say. If you enjoy Shonen (cause you’re hanging out with me in the trash can) then this is still one of the best picks for your time. It’s easily within my top five Shonen, and this season doesn’t change that.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to finish my marathon of Castlevania’s second season.