The story of how I came into watching Nanatsu no Taizai (or Seven Deadly Sins, whichever do you prefer to call it) is rather an odd one. The series isn’t exactly on my anime watchlist back when it aired on Fall 2014 (surprisingly, I don’t see the series being talked about much by the people I followed on anitwitter), and I only watched it when I noticed Animax channel in my region began airing the series during winter. Considering the series seems like a good harmless shonen fun, I decided to finally watch it since I don’t watch that much anime in that season. And it is quite good fun shonen, although it takes a while to get there.
Anyway, the series sets in the fantasy land of Brittania. In Brittania, there was once an infamous group of criminals charged with a crime for attempting to overthrow the kingdom, Liones, named ‘The Seven Deadly Sins’. Ten years after the attempt, the holy knights of Liones staged a rebellion and overthrow the kingdom. Now, Elizabeth, the third princess of Liones, sets out to find ‘The Seven Deadly Sins’ to help her save the kingdom, believing them to be the good guys all along as her father have told her.
The series story are pretty much what it says in the synopsis and follow the standard ‘gather comrade in arms to overthrow evil ruler’ plot. In a way, it make sense to see why Nanatsu’s appealing to its fans due to the series old school JRPG-esque setting and plot (which is rather refreshing personally), but infused it with enough shonen action trope to make itself distinguishable. The reminiscence, however, doesn’t stop there, with both the artstyle and character design are noticeably influenced by Akira Toriyama’s ,who also did the character design for JRPG such as the Dragon Quest series and Chrono Trigger.
Nanatsu start quite weakly for the first few episodes with, at the time main characters, Meliodas and Elizabeth, aren’t quite an engaging characters with the former being a frank, shameless, and brave pervert, while the latter being the stereotypical weak kind-hearted princess with aren’t much complexity. It doesn’t helped either the series recurring humor is Elizabeth being groped by Meliodas. Fortunately, the series picked itself up when the rest (well, the majority of them anyway) of the Nanatsu no Taizai are introduced. There’s Diane, a cheerful giantess who has a massive crush on Meliodas. Ban, an undead thief who’s also a somewhat loveable ass. King, a fairy with a crush on Diane, and also the general straightman and the ‘sensible’ one of the group. And Gowther, who’s practically a stoic robot with a human skin.
The main cast dynamics are definitely the series main core strength. While the Nanatsu crew aren’t exactly colorful, each of them had a solid personality and flaws which allows all of them to bounce off well with each other. And with the establishment that the Nanatsu crew are a very strong warriors, it also allows for a quite funny slapstick humor. The rest of the cast, both on the holy knights side and the non affiliated one, also fares pretty well. The holy knights in particular, have a distinguishable personality and also different sides to each of them which prevents them from becoming one dimensional.
Also, special mention for the series composition, done by Shotaro Suga (Oregairu, Uchouten Kazoku). Each scenes and plot beats flows pretty nicely and the overarching story also progressed quite quickly with almost no meandering around or pointless episodes without feeling its rushed (although it does feels rushed at times). For example, during the tournament arc, one episode literally covers three fights. But each fight are short enough so it doesn’t worn out its welcome, but long enough to be entertaining and meaty.
As for the fights themselves, they’re pretty entertaining spectacle with dynamic direction and some nice animation. Each of the characters have their own core magic skill and moves set that derives itself from it. While the core magic are simple in nature, they bounced off well without one power overwhelming with the other. Few of the skills derivatives and the way it work in conjunction with their weapon are also quite creative. One character has the core skill of mind invasion, which allows him to trapped his enemy in an illusion, rewrite their memories temporarily and even trigger a nightmare inside. And since he channel his power through a bow, he can do it in long range.
On the technical front, Nanatsu had a generally solid aesthetic with a bright vivid colors and distinct crisp character design, but unfortunately it’s bog down by a rather generic medieval fantasy background and landscape (with one exception, that is the land of the dead). The music, done by Hiroyuki Sawano, features an appropriate range of upbeat battle music with some classic medieval instruments to enhance the atmosphere. But compare to Sawano’s previous soundtrack work such as Kill la Kill and Attack on Titan, the music in Nanatsu are surprisingly rather tame. While it did fit the mood and the tone of the series, if I hadn’t know beforehand that Sawano’s in charge of the music, I wouldn’t even recognized who’s the music composer, due to the lack of his usually more grandeur and bombastic pieces.
There are, however, some niggling issues I had with the series. Asides from the aforementioned weak first few episodes and the show use of Meliodas perverted action toward Elizabeth as a recurring gag, the problem is on the way the series handle few of the character’s arc, in particular, Diane and Ban’s. During the final arc, Diane, out of nowhere, suddenly have loneliness because of her being a Giant. The problem with this is on the fact that Diane, up until that point, had been characterized as a cheerful girl who has a crush on Meliodas. Loneliness has never been something of a problem for her in the earllier episodes. While the series does dedicated an episode behind this later on, it still felt out of place for her character because of the lack of foreshadowing she had this problem and the lack of build up. The problem with Ban’s are, quite interestingly, the exact opposite of Diane’s problem. His flaws and problems are something that’s already been established and explored right after he joins the crew, but it falls short on its conclusion. There’s also some occasional fanservice, but it’s not exactly intrusive, so its not much of a bother.
So, that’s pretty much Nanatsu no Taizai. You have to stuck up for the first few episodes, past that, and what you have, is a pretty entertaining shonen fantasy action with fun characters and some nice battles.