This week’s anime is interesting for two main reasons: firstly it has a British connection, as it is loosely based on the Arthurian legend. Secondly is the company that released it English – Netflix.
The Seven Deadly Sins started as a manga by Nakaba Suzuki in 2012 and was adapted as a 24-part TV anime series starting in 2014. A second series will begin later this year, but if the release of the first series is anything to go by you might have to wait a bit longer to see it. While most streaming services dedicated to anime normally release each series an episode at a time, Netflix waited until the entire series had been released, not releasing the series until 1st November 2015.
The series is set in the kingdom of Britannia, a map of which seems to depict the country in Scotland and Northern England, at a time when the world was still connected to one which had magic and strange creatures. 10 years prior to the story the main military might of the country was the Seven Deadly Sins, a band of seven warriors of various clans each baring an animal tattoo representing a particular sin. However, the group where framed for planning a rebellion and so they fled, leading to the military now being ruled by the magical Holy Knights.
Moving to the present day, the Holy Knights have staged a coup, taking over control of Britannia from the king and his three daughters. The youngest daughter, Princess Elizabeth, manages to flee and decides to find the Seven Deadly Sins in order to help restore her father to the throne. One of the places she finds a pub called the Boar Hat (great beer, terrible food), run by a perverted young boy who keeps a talking pet boar named Hawk (eater of all the leftover scraps of terrible food). The boy takes Elizabeth in but soon the Holy Knights track her down. However, when they take on the boy they discover to their horror and Elizabeth’s delight that he is in fact the captain of the Seven Deadly Sins – Meliodas, the Dragon Sin the Wrath. He manages to defeat the Holy Knights and decides to help Elizabeth track down his comrades, taking his pub with him. This is possible as the Boar Hat really is a boar’s hat: Hawk’s gigantic boar mother lives under the pub, wearing it as a hat, and so the pub moves from town-to-town.
The series then sees Elizabeth and Meliodas tracking down the other Seven Deadly Sins. These include the giant Diane (the Serpent Sin of Envy), the immortal Ban (the Fox Sin of Greed), the fairy King (the Grizzly Sin of Sloth), and the dream-manipulating Gowther (the Goat Sin of Lust). Together they try to find old magical weapons they previously lost, battle wrongs caused by the Holy Knights, and attempt to restore their reputation.
The Seven Deadly Sins is typical of what are referred to as “shonen” series; anime aimed at boys that intend to run for a long period of time. It features the typical lead heroes, the long fights and the cartoonish humour that you expect to see in such series, with other famous examples including One Piece (No. 6) and Naruto (No. 95). It makes for excitable viewing, although some critics have also criticised for being too similar to such shows and thus being predictable. Others criticised Meliodas for his perversion, as he is often seen groping Elizabeth.
Tackling the points mentioned in the beginning, the first point of interest is that The Seven Deadly Sins is connected with the legend of King Arthur. Indeed, the character of Arthur Pendragon, ruler of the neighbouring kingdom of Camelot, appears in the series. However, there are plenty of differences in relation to the original legend. For starters, another one of the other Seven Deadly Sins is Merlin (the Boar Sin of Gluttony), but in this series Merlin is a woman.
The other point of interest is that this series was released by Netflix in English-speaking territories. This leads to one point of annoyance for me personally, which is that when people talk about services like Netflix they often talk about how brilliant it is in offering a wide range of shows and making its own shows like Orange is the New Black or House of Cards, but no-one really focuses on the stuff they release that is not in English. Netflix stream lots of anime, much of which has been covered in this column previously. Anime on Netflix currently include Death Note (No. 8), Black Butler (No. 10), Attack on Titan (No. 11), Bleach (No. 15), Pokémon (No. 25), Fairy Tail (No. 52), Magi (No. 67), Vampire Knight (No. 75), Blue Exorcist (No. 77), Ghost in the Shell (No. 83), Yu-Gi-Oh! (No. 88), Blood Lad (No. 92), Space Pirate Captain Harlock (No. 107) and Tokyo Ghoul (No. 108). However, as mentioned, Netflix’s main problem with anime is that unlike their competitors they do not release each episode as it comes out. A series might take a year to be released when a service like Crunchyroll will release each episode as it comes out, with English subtitles.
One other problem that The Seven Deadly Sins also has specifically is that so far they have only shown six of the seven sins. The character of Escanor, the Lion Sin of Pride, has yet to appear in the anime, but presumably will make his debut in the second series.
The Seven Deadly Sins is released exclusively on Netflix.