One of the biggest shonen titles currently on the market that’s NOT from Shonen Jump is Seven Deadly Sins. Let’s give it a look.
Written and illustrated by: Nakaba Suzuki
Translated by: Christine Dashiell
Lettering by: James Dashiell
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Here’s the description for this volume and what is going down in it:
When they were accused of trying to overthrow the monarchy, the feared warriors the Seven Deadly Sins were sent into exile. Princess Elizabeth discovers the truth—the Sins were framed by the king’s guard, the Holy Knights—too late to prevent them from assassinating her father and seizing the throne! Now the princess is on the run, seeking the Sins to help her reclaim the kingdom. But the first Sin she meets, Meliodas, is a little innkeeper with a talking pig. He doesn’t even have a real sword! Have the legends of the Sins’ strength been exaggerated … ?
The first volume of Seven Deadly Sins shows a series with promise. The setup here is very strong and offers plenty of adventure and excitement: a kingdom overthrown by its own knights and a runaway princess on the hunt for legendary warriors that are said to have tried taking over the kingdom many years ago. She finds one of them and they’re off to find the rest, traveling from place to place and facing dangers and these “holy” knights along the way. It’s a solid setup and the first volume gives the audience a great taste of what’s to expect, showing off Meliodas and his abilities, some of the over-the-top action with the knights, and crazy adventures. It even ends off on an intriguing twist of betrayal, a new Sin appearing, and the promise of a big showdown next time. While we really haven’t dived into some truly heavy moments or the true meat of the series, fans of shonen series are certain to find some fun here without a doubt.
As for the main characters, Elizabeth and Meliodas, there are some problems with them initially that can hopefully be corrected. For one, Elizabeth is pretty flat so far. While she had the drive and desire to save her kingdom, even finding Meliodas in the first place, she really does not do much beyond that. She’s mostly there to be saved and to be the object that Meliodas messes with. Speaking of Meliodas, unlike most protagonists of this genre, he’s very cool-headed and relaxed, already very experienced in combat and been through many things before. He’s even willingly throwing himself in harm’s way to save the day (a nice subtle moment was him rescuing a knight at a bottom of a cliff after he fell). However, his worst trait is that he’s constantly sexually harassing Elizabeth, groping her body and sizing her up in creepy ways. It wouldn’t even be so bad if it wasn’t that he’s is always doing it to the point where it sometimes feels like it’s his most defining character trait, and the manga wasn’t desperately trying to make it funny and failing at it. It’s just so incredibly awkward and takes away from what would be a decent enough protagonist.
Then we have the rest of the cast, who are an interesting set of people. First there’s Hawk, a talking pig, who is Meliodas’ friend and works at the Boar Hat, Meliodas’ bar. He’s the team pet, but a fun character with plenty of amusing lines, helping out at times when needed, and is genuinely a nice guy and calls Meliodas out on his bad behavior. There’s Diane, a member of the Seven Deadly Sins, introduced at the very end of the book and she’s okay so far; a giantess with a crush on Meliodas and a lot of power. There’s not a whole lot beyond that, but she was just introduced, so I’ll wait to see more before I judge her. There’s also Gilthunder, who is a Holy Knight and our first real villain of the book. He’s very stuck up, reeks of privilege, and cares little for other human beings. For an opening, first real villain of a series, he makes a good impression and has my attention right away. Overall, the characters need work, but there’s potential here.
Nakaba Suzuki’s writing was pretty good and helped to make this a very entertaining, enjoyable debut. The pacing is decent; the story moves at a good rate with very little sidetracks or moments that grind to a halt. The characterization is alright, though again, there’s work to be done with the cast to further develop them into beings with multiple dimensions. Despite this being a first volume, there’s very little exposition to be found. The manga never slows to unload a bunch of terminology, explanations, or do heavy world building, instead letting new information flow in naturally and at the right moments as it relates to the current plot. It certainly helps the quality of the dialogue and pacing on the whole. Speaking of dialogue, the use of Japanese suffixes, like san, sama, and kun are kind of jarring. In a story that’s so heavy on the use of British and medieval themes, elements, and naming conventions, the Japanese suffixes just come across as out of place and not fitting with this universe. Still, overall, the writing was done well.
The artwork also looks good overall. The style of art looks older in its character designs and the line work is rather scratchy, making its appearance rather unique over a lot of other series these days. The characters are all drawn and designed pretty well, and everyone looks very different from one another. They’re depicted with a nice range of expression and emotion to them, being able to convey what they are feeling and the mood of the scene very well. The action is very energetic and despite looking static at times, it’s able to convey a lot of power and motion in the movements, like in the first chapter.
The artist does have an issue with perspective and foreshortening at times, as some things and people lack consistency in heights. Though what I like is how wonderfully detailed everything is. There’s so much going on in a lot of the pages, from the backgrounds to the characters to even the action, allowing for a lot of subtle touches that add a lot. Not a bad looking manga and I’m excited to see what the creator will draw in the future.
Seven Deadly Sins Vol. 1 is a rather promising start to a series that has already been running for quite a while now. While there are certainly issues character wise, the story is a lot of fun, the writing is decent, and the artwork is pretty unique and helps set it apart in a sea of similar shonen action series. If you’re a fan of this genre and still haven’t checked this manga out yet, definitely give it a look.