The Testament of Sister New Devil
by Rebecca Silverman,
In its final episode, the first season of The Testament of Sister New Devil brings it all to you: tentacles, censored boobs, major battles, censored French kissing, petty jealousy between girls, censored groping, gouts of blood, and censored violence. Well, that last one is up to your interpretation; there's no cutesy graphic blocking our view, we just see it in shadow. In any event, a distinct effort is made to wrap things up while still leaving plenty of room for the sequel (set to premier in October 2015 as of this writing) and if it never really rises above what has come before it, at least the Zolgia plot is officially resolved.
The episode begins with Zest leading Basara, Mio, and Yuuki through the castle that has turned into a monster's insides to the core that is the source of its life and power. There are some interesting visuals here, both from a double-entendre perspective and just from a design point of view – the immune system is visualized as toothy mouths opening from the walls and as fleshy tentacles protruding forth, and if we don't get a long battle scene, this at least keeps it worth looking at. Naturally Basara gets the most important part of the fight (although Yuuki's selfless act is a nice bit of character development for her), and even Zest has a chance at redemption as she sides with the heroes instead of Zolgia. There is the usual awkward imagery in places – Basara holds Mio in what is probably the stiffest princess hold I've ever seen (she doesn't bend quite right) – but creepy busty ladies embedded in the walls may help to alleviate that.
The more satisfying moment, however, is after the battle, when the girls lose track of Basara. While Mio is being kind to Zest, which I'll admit was nice to see, he slips off to finish his bargain with Lars...who has Zolgia tied up. Zolgia may not have been the most intimidating bad guy ever, but he was sufficiently unpleasant to make Lars' actions one of the better ones of the series. If you're partial to the character already, this simply makes him even more awesome.
This actually takes us to what one of the series' problems has been right along – that side characters Maria and Lars/Takigawa were much more interesting and likable than any of the main protagonists. The most touching scene at the end is not Mio's asking Basara to kiss her, but rather Maria's concern that due to her actions, no one will want her around anymore. Not only does this solidify her as one of the good guys, it also reminds us of what was so appealing about The Testament of Sister New Devil to begin with: the sense of family. While Mio's clearly ready to take it to a less familial level with Basara, to Maria the most important thing still seems to be that he's her big brother. (The fact that she's a succubus sort of excuses the fact that you really shouldn't kiss your brother like that.) The family thread wasn't used quite enough in this series, but it still remains one of the more effective components of it.
On the whole, however, The Testament of Sister New Devil ends on a fairly underwhelming note. Heavy censorship robs the almost sex scene of much purpose, and not all viewers will feel comfortable with Mio telling Basara that he did nothing wrong when he shoved her down and pushed up her clothes. The battle against the core of Zolgia's monster/castle doesn't take quite enough effort to classify it as “epic,” and the post-credits wrap up, while definitely more intriguing than most of the rest of the episode, isn't quite enough to make up for the rest of the show. (Also, does the current Demon King have wings growing out of his lower back?) With less heavy censorship this may have been a better series, but the characters never really develop and the art remains a little off to the end. Ultimately this is a demonstration of wasted potential, and we can only hope that season two will be better.
The Testament of Sister New Devil is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Rebecca Silverman is ANN's senior manga critic.
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