The Fall 2018 Manga Guide
The Seven Deadly Sins: Seven Days
What's It About?Skilled bandit Ban hears tell of the Fountain of Life, a magical fountain housed deep in the Fairy King's Forest that imbues those who drink it with immortality. However, not a single person—adventurer, bandit, or king—has returned after seeking to drink their fill. That is because Elaine, sister of the Fairy King, has guarded it faithfully alone for 700 years, after her brother left the forest to seek his kidnapped friend. When Ban arrives, climbing up a steep rockface, Elaine flings him down the mountain, only for him to climb back up again and again. After he almost succeeds in drinking from the fountain, Elaine explains that if he does, the forest will die—which gives Ban pause. Instead of drinking or returning home, Ban stays, befriending and slowly falling in love with the fairy princess.
The Seven Deadly Sins: Seven Days volume 1 (10/2/2018) is part of a two-volume prequel to the long-running series The Seven Deadly Sins. The original story is credited to Nakaba Suzuki, with the light novel by Mamoru Iwasa, and the manga by You Kokikuji. It is available in paperback from Kodansha Comics for $10.99. A 52-episode anime adaptation of the original The Seven Deadly Sins story is available streaming in is entirety on Netflix.
Is It Worth Reading?
Even without more than a passing knowledge of The Seven Deadly Sins, readers picking up The Seven Deadly Sins: Seven Days will find a self-contained story full of romance and character development. The action is confined almost entirely to the Fairy King's Forest with brief jaunts to the surrounding town, but with the laser-focused setting, character takes center stage over a grander adventure. In part because Elaine has had nothing to do for so long, she has a less pronounced personality than Ban, whose cheerful optimism makes him memorable in every scene he's in. True, it's not the most original character type, but it's an excellent execution of the strong, charming playboy adventurer and he plays off against Elaine's shyer, though formidable, ingénue well.
Kokikuji does a good job of capturing Suzuki's original designs, the fairies all having a childlike, ethereal quality to them that contrasts with Ban's and other humans' gruffer appearances. The Fairy King's Forest is almost a character in and of itself, as it permeates nearly every panel in beautiful detail. There are a number of instances where Kokikuji relies on screentones or blank spaces, but they're used skillfully to accentuate the character development.
The Seven Deadly Sins: Seven Days offers a closer look at how Ban and Elaine fell in love before the start of The Seven Deadly Sins series, but it's also entirely accessible to people new to the franchise. It's a slower-paced read than the original series is likely to be, with more of an emphasis on romance and character development than action, but it's all the stronger for it.
I am thoroughly (and pleasantly) surprised by this manga adaptation of a light novel spin-off of Nakaba Suzuki's The Seven Deadly Sins manga series. Part of that is how readable this is even if you're not familiar with the main storyline. If you're more into romance than action, you really could pick this up without having read the original series, although there's definitely a major something you'll miss out on if you don't then go on to read Nakaba's work. (Or, you know, look up spoilers. Your call.) There are also one or two gags that won't make sense, but they're negligible in the grand scheme of things.
The story here follows Ban and Elaine's relationship twenty years before the start of the main story. Arthurian buffs will already have noticed that “Ban and Elaine” are the names of Sir Lancelot's parents, and also that nothing good really comes of being named “Elaine” in an Arthurian context. Kokikuji does a nice job of implying all of that in a story primarily from Elaine's point of view. In this story Elaine is the sister of Harlequin, the Fairy King (he predates Oberon in mythology), and she's been left to guard the Spring of Life in the Fairy Forest when her brother leaves for what turns out to be 700 years. Again, we have a nice nod to Arthurian lore, as the way that the Spring is drawn makes it look like the Holy Grail – something that later legends have Arthur's knights going after.
My own Arthurian obsession aside, the slow budding of Ban and Elaine's feelings for each other is quite nicely done. Given that we rarely get to hear Elaine's inner voice in the main story, having this be from her perspective is a nice touch, and we can also see that Ban's basically good underneath the bravado. Both of them desperately need someone to care about them (and for), and if we don't see that come to fruition in this first of two volumes, we do understand how it will happen. Like many good romances, this is equally about building trust with each other – especially on Elaine's part – as it is about love, and that makes it have an undertone of sweetness. While you may already know where things are going, that doesn't detract from this book on its own, and with Kokikuji able to mimic Suzuki's art style while softening it a bit, this is a good read overall.
I've never read or seen Seven Deadly Sins anything. I went into this prequel manga completely blind. And given that I assumed the series to be trite Shonen without much invention, I was immensely surprised at how much I enjoyed Seven Days.
The story of Ban and Elaine feels like myth in the way it marries things of great scope and import to small moments of grounded emotion. The conflict between the humans and the fairies is classic in how it boils down a cosmic debate over the soul of our species (i.e., does human atrocity make all of our species evil) to hurt inflicted by single individuals, with how humans harmed Elaine's friends. Though Ban and Elaine's connection is a deeply personal one, it is also Elaine's every dark thought about humanity, honed and hardened through literal centuries, being upended. The scale of that shift is dug into so beautifully, both in Elaine's characterization and the way the forest, usually hostile to humans, reacts to Ban's earnestness.
But the deep humanity of Seven Days is the thing that caught me the most off guard. Elaine has been alone in this forest for seven hundred years, and you feel the length of that isolation in how she views the world as a place of nothing but evil humans and deep ennui. Ban is a classical thieving archetype in the vein of Robin Hood, but has experienced enough pain and heartbreak to have a unique motivation in his desire for immortality. And the thing that brings them together is that pain; that seeing in each other something they never saw in a person before. A kindness, a reflection. Even though Ban and Elaine are stock archetypes, the sheer delight they take in their interactions and the root of their desire to be near one another is so emotionally resonant that I was genuinely moved by their story.
I don't know if the thoughtful writing of Seven Days carries over into the main series, but it has made me more interested in it than I was before. It's a definite must for fans, and if you've always been a little wary of Seven Deadly Sins, I recommend at least giving this one a shot. It's sweet and smart and surprisingly touching. Maybe I'm just a sucker for romance, but this one left with a warm feeling.
Ban the Bandit is a world traveler with a penchant for collecting ale labels. When he hears that the Fairy King's Forest contains The Fountain of Life, Ban feels the need to explore it for himself. After crawling up the mountain, he's met with Elaine, the Fairy King's sister. Elaine has been forced to be the protector of the Fountain of Life for the past 700 years, without any fairy or human interaction. Now that Ban is here, will Elaine finally have somebody to ease her loneliness?
Though The Seven Deadly Sins: Seven Days is obviously a part of The Seven Deadly Sins universe, this stand alone two-shot can easily be read without having any knowledge about the popular anime and manga series. I knew nothing about the series and I was able to figure things out with ease.
The art of Seven Days is wonderful. I was familiar with the anime's art style, but seeing it as a manga? It's stunning! The art translates so well on paper, and the detailing from the labels of ale to the flora and fauna of the Fairy King's Forest, it is definitely something to applaud. The writing itself wasn't spectacular, but I was too distracted by the art to care! With an average story and predictable writing, I was satisfied enough, but not completely dazzled.
The trope of 700-year-old all-powerful being that looks like a child is kind of tiresome, not to mention the all powerful being falling in love with a human mortal is kind of cliché at this point too, but, at the end of the day, it could be a lot more painful.
The Seven Deadly Sins: Seven Days is nothing to praise but for some, having the relationship of Ban and Elaine in the form of a manga is big deal. I have no emotional attachment to the series, so who am I to say something was boring if I don't have the complete context? As a stand alone romance story, it was alright at best.
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