The Testament of Sister New Devil
by Rebecca Silverman,
Don't you just hate it when you suddenly realize that the room you're standing in is actually part of the digestive system of a hellbeast? I know I do. Basara and his bevy of buxom beauties, however, seem to take it pretty much in stride. Of course, given that they've just had a battle with Zolgia, the man who assassinated Mio's foster parents and exploded Shella, Maria's mother, fighting their way out of a monster's intestinal tract is small potatoes.
Unfortunately this week's episode of The Testament of Sister New Devil really doesn't do its climactic battle much justice. We have seen at least semi-impressive fight choreography in earlier battles, but this week proves to be more powering up than actually fighting, with a few swipes and cuts on Basara's part and Zolgia himself turning invisible for much of the action. While this does make for a neat scene where we see the imprint of his fingers around Basara's neck (without actually seeing his fingers), for the most part it's rather a let-down. The same can be said for Mio, who as you can see in the screencap gets a chance to, as they say in Shounen Jump manga, show us her true power. Regretfully that is apparently the power to glow as if she's channeling Shakugan no Shana's eponymous heroine while summoning a breeze to fluff out her hair. There's no doubt that she has amazing amounts of power...now if only we actually got to see it.
That's sort of the theme this week – everyone has skills and powers that we know or can at least infer are amazing and astounding and all that, but the show choses to eschew an epic battle in favor of people standing around talking at each other or Yuki and Mio screaming Basara's name. There is the obligatory fanservice scene (not counting Maria's and Zest's outfits, of course), but it is even more blocked by censoring than normal, with the final orgy being almost entirely obscured by a chibi of sword-waving Basara. This is actually pretty hilarious, as the girls' limbs sort of stick out from behind the censorship sticker, making Basara look a little like a mutant spider.
The lack of action does seem to make the animation stay more on-model than has been the show's wont, but what may make up the difference for some viewers is getting to actually see Maria's mother Shella, who had been obscured by light previous to this episode. If Maria in her regular, non-succubus clothes is your cup of tea, you're going to love Shella. What really saves the episode, however, is Takigawa's role in it. Pay attention to the opening scene before the theme song – in an unusual move for the show, it really sets up the end of the episode.
The theme of family, which was absent for the middle portion, or at least weaker than it was at the beginning, once again shines through, reminding us of at least one of the ways this story could have been better. Family is what really matters to Mio and what drives Basara more than any hallucination of an orgy. Maria's mother is what motivates her and what made Basara's dad do what he did in the first episode that jump-started the entire chain of events. Had the story focused more on that aspect of the plot, this could have been a very different show, one that might have had a bigger impact than this penultimate episode (barring OAV) does. It's a shame, because every time that story that might have been peeks through, it becomes much easier to be dissatisfied with this one.
But, hey, there's still one episode left. Who knows? Maybe this will be one that ends on a high note. Or at least a less-censored one.
The Testament of Sister New Devil is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Rebecca Silverman is ANN's senior manga critic.
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