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roriconfan

  • Thessaloniki, Greece
  • Joined Dec 22, 2011
  • 32 / M

Sunday Without God

Aug 9, 2013

Here we are with another show with a very interesting setting and a very dull and randomly written plot. The premise is about God abandoning the world, which in the context of the story means no more people can be born. It also means no people die when they are killed *smirk*. They turn to zombies who act normally for awhile and only those with special powers can put them to eternal rest. Enter Ai, our heroine, an oblivious loli traveling the world looking for answers to all this mess.

… And that is literally all there is to it. It is one of those slow burner shows of the likes of Cashern Sins or Kino’s Journey where the atmosphere is more important than plot or characters. And for the same reason it is quite boring too if you expect action, suspense, or shocking revelations. It is also quite retarded if you try to make sense of it.

At least the atmosphere part is done right, as it makes good use of the premise and it’s not there as background decoration, like some shitty Dog Days variant. Most of the plot is dedicated to showing you how people are trying to cope with this new way of life (or should I call it unlife?). It also does that by having a balance between sad and cheery; meaning, not depressing and inhumane like Technolyze nor goofy and trashy like Neptunia. It stays true to its gloomy premise and makes everything to feel sad and even elegiac in a way without resorting to the overused goth fad we had a few years ago. Forget that macabre style of Nightmare before Christmass everybody was ripping off for almost a decade. It actually looks quite bright and colorful with the only indication something is off being the moody background music and the dull way everybody acts or lives. It even does a good job at keeping you wondering what is going on with this whole “God has left the building” issue as means to keep watching.

Aside from the atmosphere though everything else is barebones. The characters lack any real charisma and pass as too obvious plot devises to care about. They are also contradicting themselves every 5 minutes. It is also questionable if you can even tolerate Ai for more than 10 minutes, since she is yet another oblivious loli that is occasionally presented as a fetish for pervs.

As for the mystery part, the show is only 13 episodes and most of it is spent traveling to different places and meeting different people instead of focusing on fleshing out the main characters. That may feel like placing a lot of focus on world-building but only manages to leave the cast as empty shells and the setting as random ideas with no continuity. Meaning, there is nobody at the epicenter from which we can see the world. Ai has barely any personality that goes beyond that of a stupid girl going alone in dark alleys full of crooks. She is not worthy to cheer for and worths not even SE Lain’s pinky finger. The rest of the characters don’t even represent some ideal or mentality, since they change their perspective on live completely every 5 minutes. You can find several scenes per episode where a character says one thing, only to contradict it a few minutes later. Even the mystery which seems so strong at first fades away fast when you realize nothing is making sense.

What gives the gravediggers the power to kill the undead?

It can’t be God, that’s for sure, and there is no other reason given. “Ah, but they will explain it later” one may say but even then that means you are supposed to believe anything they tell you. If the whole setting is a mystery and you are supposed to gradually learn about it, you have no other source of information past what the characters are telling you. And they are almost deliberately contradicting themselves as means to confuse you and by the end of the episode not really telling you anything. Here are a few examples:

Ai: I am a gravedigger. Actually, I am not. Actually, I am a hybrid. Actually, I am too one of a kind to explain what I am, so just take it as granted. Humphrey killed all my friends and beats me up all the time. I guess he is my new best friend. Let’s have fun together.

Humphrey: I can’t die. Oh, now I can. Gravediggers are emotionless robots. But Ai’s mother was a kind woman. And she was also a gravedigger. And gravediggers can’t have babies. But she could. I want to kill Ai. No, I just want to beat her up. No, I just want to give her a piggy ride and do silly comedic stuff with her 5 minutes after I killed all her friends and family.

Yuri: I want revenge. Actually, I want to die. Actually, I am fine and don’t want revenge or to die, so let’s travel the world together.

The above mood swings don’t happen gradually throughout the show. They happen within the SAME episode. How can the viewer be interested in a mysterious setting that is changing every 5 minutes? There is no truth to look forward to if they are constantly trolling you like that. There is nothing to accept as granted and no time is invested on something for you to care about. And even if you manage to make sense of it all in the end, there will be no reason to wanna revisit such a series that is mostly trying to fool you with red herrings and fake claims. It is essentially making you feel like an idiot and it’s a very good example of bad storytelling. Also it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the answer to most of the mystery is Ai herself since she was born special; so again I am not made to feel I should care about the revelation if it has to do with a sexualized plot devise.

The show is not even being subtle about its topics to the point it trashes them, despite the good balance in atmosphere. It does not try to integrate the everyday lives of its main characters to the main conflict; since they are always on the move and their goal is to basically kill any undead they meet instead of using them as means to offer a steady way to learn about the world. And the themes are way too heavy and edgy, as they have to do with rotting corpses and occasionally mutilation while occasionally switching to Ai doing some moe-moe nonsense. This is nowhere near the masterful way Haibane Renmei used to show some really deep themes through basically nothing more than everyday life.

Bottom line: If you want to watch a show with good atmosphere, this one is a good pick. But everything else from characterization, to excitement, to subtlety are quite weak.

And now for some excused scorings.

ART SECTION: 7/10
General Artwork 2/2 (nice details)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (detailed)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)

SOUND SECTION: 5/10
Voice Acting 1/3 (silly and confusing)
Music Themes 2/4 (mediocre)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)

STORY SECTION: 4/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 0/2 (very slow and with no links between arcs)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (nothing much)

CHARACTER SECTION: 3/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 1/2 (simple to the point it doesn’t exist)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 0/2 (random)
Catharsis 0/2 (nothing solid)

VALUE SECTION: 3/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too little plot)
Memorability 2/4 (good concept but nothing to make it memorable)

ENJOYMENT SECTION: 2/10
Art 1/1 (looks elegiac)
Sound 0/2 (sounds meh)
Story 1/3 (good concept handled poorly)
Characters 0/4 (they are plot devises)

VERDICT: 4/10

4/10 story
7/10 animation
5/10 sound
3/10 characters
4/10 overall

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sortitus says...

Darker atmospheres within the traditional sunny art styles have been done recently with other shows like Kotoura-san, and I do agree that it's nice to see less emo style. I didn't notice any loli themes, unless merely having a young teen girl as the main character in a show for men/boys counts. By your review, it sounds like this show is like High School of the Dead with a younger, female protagonist, but that couldn't be further from the truth.

Did you write the review before you finished the series? If so, you might want to update it. You state that there were 13 episodes when the finale was #12 and the examples you give all fall within the first third of the series. In particular, the characters' reactions to the dead take a sharp turn in the second chapter, and Ai's strange lineage ends up having very little bearing on the series. There are also a few small misunderstandings that you seem to have that could stem from mishearing lines or a bad sub if you use them, but those would take too much space to set straight individually.

I do agree on a few points. I didn't follow the series and just chained it in one day, and the story was definitely rushed and disjointed. Even within episodes, there is definitely some whiplash as the characters internalize what they're told immediately no matter what their relationship to the person talking is. I feel that any of the 4 or 5 stories they told would have made an excellent half-season if fleshed out properly, and the overall story might have actually made sense had they been given a full season.

I probably wouldn't rate it much higher than you do, but your review misrepresents the show something fierce.

Sep 30, 2013