Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
The Seven Deadly Sins
Now that the crisis is over, it's time for the kingdom of Liones to rebuild and recover from Hendrikson's actions. But peace is never long-lasting, and soon various other forces rear their ugly heads, from Ban leaving the Sins to the king not wanting Elizabeth to spend too much time with Meliodas, to something far, far worse. If The Seven Deadly Sins are the good guys, what does that suggest about The Ten Commandments…?
Technically speaking, this volume of Nakaba Suzuki's semi-concealed Arthurian fantasy picks up where the first season of the anime ends – Hendrikson is defeated and life is starting to get back to normal. I would not, however, suggest just picking this book up after watching the anime, as you can do with some other series – there are some substantial changes to the end of the Hendrikson-led plot between the anime and the original manga, and this volume relies on you knowing them. Perhaps the biggest difference is how Meliodas and Elizabeth interact – whereas the show gives us a fairly rosy picture, this volume of the manga takes a darker approach, with Meliodas' feelings getting tangled up in the rumored appearance of a new threat, one he calls “The Ten Commandments.”
If you recall, the major goal of Hendrikson's original plot was that he was going to revive the demon race, which the goddesses had sealed away some time ago. With Hendrikson's death at Meliodas' hands, it appeared that this was over and done with, but sadly that is not the case. (Also, always remember to inspect the bodies of your fallen enemies. Gloat when there's exactly zero chance of revival.) We knew that Meliodas himself had ties to the demon race, and the goddesses' price for bringing Elaine back to life, as they specified to Ban, was Meliodas' death, so clearly there's a lot more going on with the demons than simply being on the wrong side of history. His reaction to the news that there are once more demons free in the world is much more extreme than almost anything we've seen from him before, apart from when Elizabeth was directly in danger. This certainly suggests that, with Elizabeth's newly revealed link to the goddesses, these demons pose a bigger threat to her than he wants to let on. It also seems possible that their reappearance is somehow affecting his demon blood, perhaps making it harder for him to maintain his personality as we know it. While the volume ends before we get any definitive answers, tantalizing hints are dropped, making this story arc already feel more urgent than the one before it.
Meanwhile Ban has not given up the idea of reviving Elaine, his true love and King's younger sister. It turns out that he has pulled a Lorax while we weren't looking, and the Fairy King's Forest has begun to regrow from the single seed he planted…bringing with it Elaine's lifeless, but well-preserved, body. Ban doesn't appear to care at all about the fairies and the forest, still fixated on reviving Elaine, which leaves King, who followed him, at loose ends. Rejected by his people and still mourning Helbram, King is completely afloat this volume (no pun intended), and ultimately comes off as the character with the most to resolve. Luckily for him, this volume also puts more focus on the romantic subplots of the series, and we learn something that he will be thrilled to know if he is ever able to allow himself to put aside his guilt and depression.
This focus on the (potential) romantic relationships between the characters at this point in the story serves more to highlight the lack of progress in the characters' personal lives than as a touch of lightness. While that isn't necessarily true of Diane, for Ban, King, and Elizabeth the idea of romance represents something that is increasingly unattainable. This is saddest in Elizabeth's case; where she previously had every reason to believe that Meliodas returned her feelings, his sudden distance from her and refusal to allow her to continue with the Sins, telling her that since he's done what she asked him to (save Liones), they have no further ties, is a particularly harsh rejection. It's also very out of character for him, tying back into his shift in attitude once The Ten Commandments are freed. This ominous turn is best seen in Gowther, whose relationship with Guila has gotten to a very uncomfortable point – unable to truly understand human emotion, Gowther essentially traps Guila in their relationship so that he can study it better and learn about love. The frightening part is that he doesn't understand that his actions denote, if not the exact opposite of love, then at least a very alarming permutation of it. More than the demons, right now Gowther seems to be the biggest threat to the characters' well-being.
While it could be said that this volume of The Seven Deadly Sins is more set up for the next story arc than anything, it's also one that shows how the characters have become trapped in their own pasts and feelings. Only Elizabeth, who has just learned new facts about herself, and Hawk, who has literally been reborn, seem ready to move forward, and only she and Merlin seem really worried about where things are going from here. The story looks to be headed down a much darker path than it was previously on, and the final pages of the book drop what might be some very unsettling possibilities about Meliodas in our laps. Things, as Merlin says, are not always what they seem to be…and it may just turn out that the opposite of what you thought you knew is the real truth.
Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : B
+ Interesting character development, particularly for King, Meliodas, and Gowther. New villains and new plot have a lot of potential. Creepiness builds rather than just being thrown at you right off.
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