The Testament of Sister New Devil
by Rebecca Silverman,
This episode may not have done much as far as plot advancement goes – although it did resolve at least a little bit of the ongoing problem – but it was a major improvement in terms of the quality of storytelling. Motives were actually considered, characters' relationships were used to, if not their full potentials, than at least better than they have been, and fanservice was worked in more naturally than has been its wont. All in all, The Testament of Sister New Devil's seventh week was actually pretty decent. (Of course, next week's episode is called “Erotic Succubus Out of Control,” so this may be a one-shot improvement.)
The action starts right away, picking up with the battle that was about to erupt at the end of episode six. Takashi, Basara's former friend from the hero village and wielder of the spear imbued with Byakko's power, immediately seals off a section of the city so that destruction will be minimized, but also so that fellow hero Shiba can't interfere. Shiba is a member of that special anime group I've always thought of as The Brotherhood of the Closed Eyes, so you know that there's likely to be something shady about him. Clearly Takashi feels that way as well, and he wants this fight to be as straight-forward as possible. There's a definite positive to this for us viewers, which is that we get to see Mio, Maria, and Basara all enter combat. Mio shows a return to the strength she displayed in episode four, and while her control over her power is still somewhat shaky, her determination is out in full force, making up for her lack of magical skill. Her best scene is after the battle is over, however, when she confronts Takashi (and by proxy the entire hero village) over his treatment of Basara. She points out, rightly, that he's acting like only the village was affected by what happened five years ago, painting Basara as a willing villain, when Basara himself was as traumatized by the events as the rest of them. This compassion, displayed by the character deemed by the heroes the least likely to show it, is the first time we've clearly seen Mio as a person and not a fanservice vessel or a bundle of clichés, and it drives home the issue with the self-proclaimed heroes as well.
Naturally the heroines are much more likely to see Basara as human than the heroes, and Kurumi falls hard for Basara before Mio ever slaps Takashi. Granted, she's just been trying to protect Yuki from the start, but when Basara saves her instead of letting her die, she realizes that maybe there's more going on than she thought. It helps that she seems to find him attractive, and the speed with which she switches sides is almost dizzying. Yuki, too, proves that she sees the good in Basara and Mio (Maria's mostly on the sidelines this time except for a good line about her tanks being full thanks to Mio and Basara), making Takashi look like even more of a jerk than he usually appears to be.
There's only one blinding light beam in this episode, which is light on the fanservice, but also does a better job of integrating it into the plot. Kurumi's shirt/leotard gets ripped over one breast, but during a sword fight, that doesn't seem so far-fetched. Her nipple appears to be mysteriously sticky, and as you can see from the screencap a bit of fabric manages to stick to it for her entire multi-story fall, but it is less intrusive than the light beam or chibis we've mostly seen. There's a bit of swirling mist around a naked Mio's behind in a spirit-world sequence, but again, the mostly inoffensive nature of the censorship this time makes this a much more palatable episode, even if the fanservice is at a minimum.
While The Testament of Sister New Devil has yet to hit its stride or to be consistently both entertaining and titillating, this episode is a move in the right direction. There's plot, the animation looks better, and the nudity is more naturally integrated. If only we could count on it to maintain this level of quality, or improve upon it, this would be a much more satisfying series overall. Let's see what happens next week – maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised.
The Testament of Sister New Devil is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Rebecca Silverman is ANN's senior manga critic.
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