The Testament of Sister New Devil
Episodes 9 & 10
by Rebecca Silverman,
I have a difficult time with the character of Yuki. On the one hand, her determination is admirable, and the way she is able to see that Mio is far more than the villainous spawn of darkness that the heroes have painted her as, thus allowing her to switch sides and protect the demon princess, shows that she's more than just a mindless hero drone. On the other hand, she appears to have little-to-no self-respect, as the first of these two episodes opens with her throwing herself at Basara in a bid to have him do exactly what he did/does to Mio, thinking that engaging in sexual behavior with him is the only way to achieve a similar status in his life. In fact, almost none of the girls seem to have a much idea of self-worth in this show, with even demon-bunny-girl Zest wishing that her Master could be Basara instead of Zolgia because his girls seem to be having so much fun with him in a carefully blurred-out bath scene. (In her defense, in a choice between Basara and Zolgia, I can't think of many people who would choose the latter.) Sex is really the primary motivating factor in this show, and while that's not unexpected, and in the case of Maria makes perfect sense, episodes nine and ten really strain it as a viable way to move a (thin) plot along. Would I be more forgiving of the classmate who, apparently possessed, straddles Basara and lifts up her shirt had I not watched two episodes in a row? Very possibly, but that such a weariness could come from only two episodes says that the formula is dragging.
The major plot points of these two weeks that can be revealed without major spoilers is that Basara and Yuki form their contract (and we learn that her butt is her weak point) and that Mio is captured by Zolgia, who plans to murder her with sexual pleasure. In other words, once again there is a fairly clear divide between fanservice episodes and action episodes. While both nine and ten do contain both elements, it still feels very clear that nine is more interested in titillation while ten is looking to move the plot forward. Therefore it is interesting that episode ten is the one where we almost get a full-out sex scene, although it is aborted to return to the fighting plot. Overall ten really is the more interesting of the two, possibly because we get to see Maria play a different role than she has been. She also undergoes a major transformation directly related to her powers – we've all seen that keyhole in the bodice of her succubus outfit, right? As it turns out, she can summon a key to infuse it with power, allowing her to change from a loli fantasy into something quite the opposite. Her new guise comes with much more physical and magical power, rendering her a formidable opponent and solidifying her position as the most interesting character in the show. She's also the object of one of the funnier censorship attempts, as a small “keep out” sign covers her nipples until she pulls her “shirt” down, causing it to fall off onto the floor. The creative censorship really does remain one of the better aspects of the show, changing chibis and signs regularly and taking some of the sting of censorship out of the show by at least making it silly. In fact, the censorship moment I just spoke of is the only light moment in episode ten, and with the threat of sexual violence looming over Mio, it's one that is needed.
Unfortunately there's a generally odd, uncomfortable vibe to both of these episodes concerning Mio and Yuki's relationship with each other. They seem be bonding through the fact that they are both in a sexual(ish) relationship with Basara. Yuki wants to be on the same level as Mio, and a couple of times references are made by the girls to them having the same master and that bringing them closer. Whatever image this calls to mind for you, it is an odd one, and while it fits with the show, it also can feel a little awkward. That same word can be used to describe some of the usual off-model shots, although in all fairness they do not appear to be as prevalent as they have been in the past.
It definitely feels as if this show is drawing to a close, although not perhaps the close. Seeing the flashback of the night Mio's parents died feels as if it should be more significant than it appears to be thus far, but with her powers finally becoming useful in episode ten, hopefully we'll learn more about how her past will affect her future. I'm curious to see what choices Maria will make next week, and if that isn't enough to make me actually look forward to watching this show, it is enough to make me not dread it. Sadly, at this point that feels like the most positive endorsement I can give this censored mess of a fantasy.
The Testament of Sister New Devil is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Rebecca Silverman is ANN's senior manga critic.
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