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Review

by Rebecca Silverman,

Seven Deadly Sins: Dragon's Judgement

Episodes 13-24

Synopsis:
Seven Deadly Sins: Dragon's Judgement Episodes 13-24
With the Demon King occupying Zeldris' body, Elizabeth's curse is renewed the moment it is broken by Meliodas. Determined to save both his love and his younger brother, Meliodas and the Sins launch an attack with the fate of Britannia also at stake. But even when that's taken care of, a happy ending isn't assured, with Arthur's revival and an unexpected betrayal putting the future in jeopardy.
Review:

First let's talk about what this final season of The Seven Deadly Sins does right. As has been the case right along, it does a remarkable job of remaining faithful to Arthurian lore. While this is abundantly clear in such plot details as the names of the next generation (Lancelot is, in fact, the son of Ban and Elaine while Tristan is the son of the rulers of Lyonesse, Meliodas and Elizabeth), and in the way that Escanor's character arc unfolds. As with Elaine, Escanor is the name of several knights in Arthurian legend, and again like Elaine comprises many of the Elaines in one, the same can be said for Escanor. In the French romance L'Atre Perilleux we find Escanor's power – he grows stronger till noon and then weaker as the daylight fades. Another Escanor (in the French romance that bears his name) duels Sir Gawain and becomes his friend, while a third from that same story is the son of a witch and a giant. It's not difficult to see that The Seven Deadly Sins' Escanor is the embodiment of all three of these – his stature when his power is at its height is certainly giantesque, while the revelation that he dueled Meliodas in the past can be seen as analogous to the duel with Sir Gawain (a character conspicuously absent from the series), especially since it helps to cement the men's friendship. But it is the first Escanor, from L'Atre Perilleux, whose end is mirrored in the show, mostly because he's the only Escanor to actually die in Arthurian lore.

That does make Escanor's end here feel a little out of the blue, mostly because it serves to develop another character's story arc. In some ways, Escanor fulfills more of the role of Niniane, Merlin's erstwhile lover; although he doesn't literally imprison Merlin in a tower or tree, his loss and confession of love could be said to have destroyed Merlin's goal in the Sins, largely removing her from her role with the group. Although she doesn't fully leave, her time with them does appear to be up as of the end of the season, and her role fully shifted to shepherding King Arthur. She comments that if Escanor had confessed his feelings to her earlier, she would not have ended up the way that she did, which seems to indicate that she sees herself as trapped in the role she comes to play after his death. Therefore Escanor's passing is less about him and more about her, which is an interesting choice (and not one we often see applied to male characters; this is much more commonly the manic pixie dream girl's part to play), although it does make him feel a bit like an underused character in the greater context of the group.

Merlin's defection to the side of Monty Python's “watery tart” is perhaps a bit less canonical, although it does open the door for another lesser known bit of Arthurian lore: his fight with the monster known as Cath Palug. An aquatic cat fairy, the Cath Palug surfaces first in Welsh folklore, but like Escanor owes its inclusion in Arthurian legend to Medieval French romances. Taking on the more French name of chatpalu, the cat is said to have either killed King Arthur or to have been killed by him, with sources disagreeing quite vociferously in some cases. (Seriously – Anglo-Norman writer André de Coutance devoted an entire work, Li Romanz des Franceis, to refuting it.) But the fact remains that original creator Nakaba Suzuki emphatically did his research, even in odd corners of Arthurian mythos, and that is shown to excellent effect here.

That's what makes it so disappointing that the show heads so steeply downhill in its final quarter. Up through the battle with Meliodas' and Zeldris' father, things move in a fairly positive direction. The upset over Elizabeth's curse is decently handled, and if things are unabashedly romantic to the point of being a bit corny, well, it works because of the way that the Sins are able to save Zeldris: with the usual shounen Power of Friendship, all working together to save someone whom they not only wouldn't have been able to on their own, but might not even have wanted to. We don't quite get enough Zeldris/Gelda time, but seeing the other couples come to fruitful relationships balances that out, and Elizabeth's declaration in episode sixteen that she's no one's damsel in distress is a wonderful moment that helps solidify her place with the Sins. Along with Zeldris' rescue and Escanor's backstory, it all helps to bring us to the culminating point in episode nineteen when we fully understand that everyone in the Sins was just looking for a place to belong. That all began when Elizabeth gave that to Meliodas, and he grew the Sins from that feeling.

It's at around episode twenty-one when things start falling apart. In all fairness, this could be due to the scant number of episodes left to deal with the Merlin revelation; if the story is going to essentially combine Merlin and Morgan le Fay into a single character, it really deserves more than a handful of episodes to do it in. But the rushed nature of Merlin's betrayal, the whole Goddess of Chaos introduction, and Arthur's fight against the Cath Palug happen so quickly that they barely have time to make an impact. It doesn't help that the art makes some questionable choices as well; while this season hasn't been beautiful in terms of art and animation (episode thirteen is a particularly bad one, with Diane's proportions looking a bit ape-like and Princess Margaret sporting some deformed breasts) the decision to make Cath Palug's battleground look like Wonderland with particularly phallic mushrooms is questionable at best. Were they trying to throw a little Alice's Adventures in Wonderland into the mix for no good reason? Trying to make a connection between Cath Palug and the Cheshire Cat? It's possible, but it simply doesn't work, especially given the rushed timing of the series' end.

That, more than anything, is what damns the end of The Seven Deadly Sins. Strongest in its first two seasons, the story was doing fine until it apparently took too long to finish up with Meliodas' dad and had to fly through its final arc. While there's a grim humor in the final episode talking about Tristan's future (I refer you to the story of Tristan and Iseult), things simply don't have the time they need to make an impact. It's an ignominious end to what is otherwise a good story with excellent research into its source mythology.

Grade:
Overall (dub) : C
Overall (sub) : C
Story : C+
Animation : C
Art : C+
Music : B-

+ Great use of lesser-known details of Arthurian lore, nice to see most of the romance plots work out.
Final arc is very rushed, art and animation go downhill.

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Production Info:
Director: Tomokazu Tokoro
Series Composition: Yuniko Ayana
Script:
Yuniko Ayana
Yuichiro Kido
Storyboard:
Toshimasa Ishii
Yoshikazu Miyao
Tomokazu Tokoro
Shigeru Ueda
Episode Director:
Toshimasa Ishii
Tsuyoshi Tobita
Tomokazu Tokoro
Shigeru Ueda
Music:
Hiroyuki Sawano
Takafumi Wada
Original creator: Nakaba Suzuki
Character Design: Keigo Sasaki
Chief Animation Director: Keigo Sasaki
Animation Director:
Takayuki Kikuchi
Hiromi Maezawa
Takayuki Onoda
Sachiko Tsuji
Hidekazu Yamana
Director of Photography: Toshiya Kimura

Full encyclopedia details about
Seven Deadly Sins (TV 2)
Nanatsu no Taizai: Fundo no Shinpan (TV)

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