Time to return to Britannia and see what our heroes will be up against in the second volume of Seven Deadly Sins. Is it good?
Writer/Artist: Nakaba Suzuki
Translated by: Christine Dashiell
Lettering by: James Dashiell
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Here’s the description for this volume:
To save her kingdom, Princess Elizabeth has pinned her last hope on the infamous traitors, "The Seven Deadly Sins" and has set out on a journey with Meliodas-the Dragon Sin of Wrath-to seek out the rest of his fellow knights and former friends. Deep within an uninviting forest they find Diane, the Serpent Sin of Envy. Before they can celebrate their reunion, they must deal with an attack from Gilthunder, an electrifying Holy Knight!
The first volume was a solid start to the series, introducing us to Britannia, the evil Holy Knights that are causing problems, Seven Deadly Sins themselves (only two of them so far), and kicking off a fun, adventurous tale. While I was sold on all of that right away, what held the manga back initially was its lead character. He had problems–underdeveloped to a character’s most prominent trait being that he’s a sleazy pervert. This volume more than corrects these mistakes by providing us with some excellent characterization and insight into the cast, while also ratcheting up the action and developing the story rather well.
Story wise, we wrap up the issue with Gilthunder showing up at the end of the first volume and working on rescuing a Sin from his captivity. But, there’s much more going on than just that in volume with Meliodas getting injured, meeting new villains, getting some good development for the cast, and even picking up on both subtle and not so subtle hints about things to come. It’s a very meaty package because of that and it isn’t just fluff content either. It continues to build up this new world, how things are operating, how these characters work, and makes you wonder how the world got this bad. It’s a solid follow up to the first volume in that sense and with the manga now really getting into some action, it is also helping to add thrills to the experience overall.
A brother who strangely hasn’t aged a day since I was five apparently.
But as mentioned, the true improvement and what helped to make this volume shine brighter than the first was the improved characterization and depth. For example, I mentioned Elizabeth has pretty flat in the first volume given that she really didn’t do much other than the kick the plot into gear. She was mostly just a bystander, observing what was happening but not making much of a difference. That holds true for most of this volume as well, until towards the end when she finally steps up. She has a big moment of realization after someone dies and vows to improve and throw herself out into situation more, which she gets to do very soon after. In fact, she ends up saving the day during a brutal, but powerful moment (giving a metaphorical middle finger to a villain as well). It was a great showing for her and I’m hoping this is the beginning of a nice, long character arc for her.
Meliodas’s personality and attitude is pretty much the same as before. He is still shown to be courageous, a champion for justice, very cool-headed, and very much a sexual harasser sad to say. However, the book builds upon his positive traits, shows different sides to him, expands on his history, and pushes the unwanted behavior into the background (still there, but thankfully not as prevalent as before). It even shows he’s not as strong as he acts or looks at times, indicating he may be out of practice given his encounter with Gilthunder. This volume really helped to flesh him out a lot, diving into his background and giving him some rather powerful moments that make him a bit more likable. For instance, there’s the final chapter and every single moment of that or when he has a serious conservation with Elizabeth about their mission, the manga interlaces it with an intriguing flashback. This is overall a step in the right direction for the character and hopefully this is good news for things to come.
I wonder if that helmet is bad on your neck?
The rest of the characters, from the other Sins to the new villains, are a lot of fun and make a great impression that can make you want to see more of them. Hawk is still an enjoyable team pet character, helping out when he can and adding some nice levity at moments. Diane doesn’t get to do much in the book (she even oddly disappears towards the end for some reason), but she has a nice character moment with Elizabeth regarding her own insecurity and does help to get rid of Gilthunder early on. Ban, the newest Sin to be introduced, is interesting. He’s far more villainous-looking and acting than either Meliodas or Diane, and has a masochist edge to him and a willingness to kill. However, given Meliodas’s trust in him in the first place and saving someone in the prison, he may not be completely awful. He’s definitely someone to keep an eye on. The villains themselves are all very nasty, to the point where I’m not even sure why one is trying to keep his secret about his evil deeds. The Weird Fangs are an over the top group of knights with wild powers and cool armor designs, serving as good initial villains for early on in the series. Gilthunder gets a bit more depth as we learn about his connection to Elizabeth and see that he has more of a reason to track down and kill the Seven Deadly Sins than you may expect. Given what happens to him, I look forward to seeing his return to the series and what he’ll have up his sleeve then.
The writing so far is still holding up pretty well. The dialogue is good and there are some nice exchanges and banter between the characters, in particular the big moment between Meliodas and Elizabeth. It doesn’t always sound real–it can feel a tad awkward at points, but it does its job. The humor seems toned down compared to the previous volume, but that works given the volume this time out is more serious. So far, the manga handles seriousness pretty well, occasionally sneaking in some levity to keep things from feeling too much of a downer. Also, the heavier focus on action helped to liven things up, because, especially compared to other shonen series, the first volume felt rather light on it. Overall, no real complaints about the writing and technical parts here at all.
The artwork looked terrific and with there being more action in the book, it allowed for Suzuki to really show off his skills. While the main characters are drawn rather well with a good range of expression, I must praise some of the designs of the characters and layouts. Everyone looks so distinct and some of the shots are just phenomenal, like in Ban’s introductory double page spread to when the Weird Fangs appear and attack in some of the panels. Backgrounds are mostly filled out, so the world doesn’t look empty or like a blank void, and the level of detail in the scenery, attacks, or characters is impressive. But then there’s the action and that is what steals the show at times. More than a lot of other manga series, Suzuki has a great eye for panel layouts and conveying a sense of motion, helping you see how everything flows from panel to panel. You can really feel the energy of the movement and each blow as characters fight back and forth. One of the bigger highlights of this is the fight between Meliodas and Golgius/Ruin with the sense motion or power in it. Unfortunately, there are some off moments where it’s hard to tell what exactly happened and the fan service comes across as too awkward or out of place, like a panty shot during an intense, brutal moment. Otherwise, the art is fantastic here.
Seven Deadly Sins Vol. 2 is a wonderful follow up to the first volume, fixing the issues of the first while improving upon the strengths it already had. While we are still only at the start of a very long series, things are really looking up, with stronger characters, a fun plot, and tons of great looking action. Here’s hoping the rest of the volumes are just as good as this book was.