Reviewby Theron Martin,
Seven Deadly Sins: Revival of The Commandments
Episodes 1-24 streaming
The “story of ancient times” continues. As several of the Sins go their separate ways, a threat that was long a concern finally rises: thanks to the broken seal, the still-alive, demon-possessed Dreyfus summons the elite demons known as the Ten Commandments into the world. Though slowed at first by a need to rejuvenate their sapped magical power, they eventually start wreaking havoc on Brittania and prove to be formidable foes. As the Seven Deadly Sins and their allied Holy Knights (including one former enemy) train up to face this increased threat, they also seek out their long-missing final and most potentially powerful member: Escanor, the Sin of Pride. But will even his presence, the restoration of Meliodas's full power, and the addition of some Holy Knights who had previously been on the sidelines be enough to protect Liones or Brittania in general once the Commandments get serious?
Revival of the Commandments is the true second season of The Seven Deadly Sins. Viewers could probably get by with skipping the four-episode interlude Signs of Holy War and still fully understand what's going on here, as this is where the main plotline continues, but I still recommend watching the latter first. A couple of character developments from that series do carry over and it provides at least a bit more up-front insight into what Meliodas is and why some of the character interactions are the way they are.
For better or worse, this season contains the same kind of story construction as the first season and the same balance of humor, super-powered action, emotion, crazy characters, and deadly serious content. On the downside, this means that Meliodas is still fondling Elizabeth or peeking at her panties at every opportunity and she's still mostly tolerating it, and it's still every bit as awkwardly and ineffectively forced in as it has ever been; the outfits (or lack thereof) that Merlin and one of the female Commandments normally sport are sexier, and that's still not saying much. Fortunately fan service has always been a minor sidelight to the franchise rather than a focal point, so this element does not drag the series down much.
On the plus side, the strengths and appeals of the first series are also exactly the same here. This is still absolutely a series cut from the classic Dragon Ball Z formula; in fact, it is a more direct descendant of the franchise than just about any other shonen action series out there, down even to the character design style. Epic battles are fought, power levels increase from training and restoration/awakening of previously-lost powers, former enemies become allies, new and increased dire threats arise, and secondary characters power up even though they will continue to be mostly ineffective. There are even characters literally coming back from the dead, a (thankfully abortive) tournament, and the introduction of numerical power level ratings that are done with the magical equivalent of a DBZ scanner, too. All of this is executed with writing and a production staff which understands exactly how to make the most of it, hence resulting in a production which can, at times, be quite thrilling. This series is a full spiritual successor to DBZ as well, and that is meant as a compliment.
Like with the first season, this one gets a surprising amount of play out of its character development and interactions, and also like with the first season, Ban is the improbable heart of that. Elaine is still in the picture, and scenes of her with Ban are still among the season's sweetest and most satisfying moments, but the new addition is an emotional encounter with the thief who was his veritable foster father, which results in a flashback which fills out his early backstory. Though King and Diane's relationship regresses due to yet another memory loss issue, both independently get stories about returns to their homelands (Diane's mostly in flashback) which flesh out their characters more. Meliodas remains frustratingly unchanged, though we finally find out why he probably maintains the unflappable temperament that he has and get at least some hints about why he's so into Elizabeth. Jericho and a couple of newer character get their moments, too, but the exciting new addition is Escanor. The way his power is implied to work is not entirely without precedent but still very interesting and even more suitably dramatic, and rarely has calm, supreme arrogance been so justifiable or so deliciously portrayed. Of all the sins, he's the one who most embodies his title: Lion Sin of Pride.
By comparison, the Ten Commandments are a far less compelling lot. They may have interesting powers and dramatically-varied appearances but they are, on the whole, a mix of eclectic baddies the like of which might be seen in any other super-powered shonen action show. Their power levels and the powers they possess do make for some lively fights, however, ones full of tremendous blows, dramatic displays of power, and bold maneuvers. Solid animation support, effective musical backing, and a good sense for fight staging all contribute on a technical front towards making many of the action scenes exciting to watch. Even outside of the fight scenes this is still a good-looking series, with a color palette that fits well despite being on the brighter side and remarkable consistency with staying on-model. The one minor visual downside is that the CG use can be hit-or-miss; it looks good in the coruscating black energy bands but less impressive in its portrayal of Hawk's mother. Two different each of openers and closers get used but none are standouts.
The voice work here also deserves some credit. Not every casting choice and performance is a home run – I'm still not sure how much I like Erika Harlacher's wispy interpretation of Elizabeth, for instance – but there are a lot of great efforts. Cristina Vee, Ben Diskin, and Chris Cason are still delights as Hawk, Ban, and the narrator respectively, while Kyle Hebert handles Escanor beautifully in both forms, especially the brawny one. Many other parts also fit very well, especially Brianna Knickerbocker as Elaine and Erica Lindbeck as Jericho, and in general they contribute significantly to the content working. Netflix is also offering its standard array of dub and subtitle options.
With its action, humor, and characterization elements fully intact, this 24-episode installment offers a lot of potential entertainment value. The series ends on a reasonable stopping point but the story is nowhere near complete, with only the most immediate threats dealt with, not all of the Sins together, and a few plot threads still left dangling. By all accounts the franchise movie released a couple of months ago is more a side story than an actual continuation, so another TV season is probably going to be necessary for the story to be adequately resolved. For now though, the series does its job respectably well.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B
Animation : B+
Art : B+
Music : B+
+ Several strong English dub performances, plenty of exciting action and power displays
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