On Monday, God created the world…
On Tuesday, God separated chaos and order…
On Wednesday, God went into meticulous detail creating the many wonders of this earth
On Thursday, god allowed time to flow
On Friday, god looked over each and every corner of the world
On Saturday, god rested…
But on Sunday… God abandoned us…
Considering the number of anime releases which nowadays receive both a DVD and Blu-ray anime release in Australia, I find myself a little bit sceptical when a dual-audio (English & Japanese) title from Madman Entertainment is only made available on DVD when the US has it available on Blu-ray. While I am always up for a series if the storyline sounds interesting, I can imagine some might be left wondering if there is a flaw such as poor visual quality or a bland plot which has led to this format decision being made.
If you are in that position, I can happily say that from my perspective, Sunday Without God (Aka. Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi | 神さまのいない日曜日) proved to be a creatively produced and appealing anime series overall. While the whole “world is ending” concept might not be the most unique thing to base a storyline around, the way it approaches the different elements which underpin its storyline was clever and ultimately helped it stand out among the crowd.
Want to know more? Keep reading for my review of this series.
Sunday Without God takes place in a world which has supposedly been abandoned by god. While its inhabitants are still able to wander across the planet, child birth has come to a halt and nobody can properly pass away. Instead, those considered “dead” are still able to wander across the land and retain consciousness. Although the world might be abandoned, entities known as gravekeepers exist. With their shovels in hand, these beings are the only ones able to perform proper burials, which allow humans to pass away.
Fifteen years have passed since the fateful day. As one of the world’s only remaining children, twelve year old Ai acts as the gravekeeper of a rural village – a role she took over from her mother when she was just seven years old. But with no deaths in the village since taking on the role, her life is simple but pleasant, supported by loving guardians and townsfolk. This is until one day when she heads home after finishing work to discover all the villagers killed, which coincides with the appearance of a gun-wielding man calling himself Hampnie Hambart. This serves as a catalyst for the journey Ai undertakes, as she sets out to save the world god had abandoned. But the world outside her village is different from what she expects… and her encounters call into question who exactly needs saving.
The 12-episode plot contained within the series can be broken down into five clearly identifiable arcs ranging from one to three episodes apiece. Each of these arcs present a new idea/concept, manages to develop its core characters well and contributed something to both the overarching storyline and overall world building. What is first presented as a world abandoned by god and teeming with lifeforms equivalent to zombies turns out to be a lot more than one might expect – with the boundaries of morality regularly questioned, the blessings/curses of wish fulfillment in a warped world investigated and the construction of a new society manned by the undead explored. It was a series which didn’t always present things as simple black and white, with Ai’s world views constantly challenged. Some open-ended events also invited the viewer to make up their own minds about they would do in a similar situation.
Unfortunately, cramming five arcs into one 12-episode series meant that everything felt a bit too rushed for my liking. While there are plenty of interesting ideas and concepts present, as a viewer I felt like I was being hurried through the tale rather than being given the time to fully appreciate the characters, locations and more. In a way it felt like I was being given the “express” route through the storyline, with all non-essential events simply taking place off-camera. This series really needed to be double the length in my opinion, where a steady pace would have provided the writers and production team a lot more time to go in-depth and explore. It didn’t help that the series concludes on an abrupt ending which seems to have been paving the way for a second season – something which hasn’t come to fruition in more than two years since first airing.
As you might have already noticed from the screenshots above, Ai is an absolutely adorable heroine. In many ways I don’t think choosing a 12 year-old child as a heroine in a series like this is a bad thing, as she clearly has some level of nativity about the world and a lot more room to grow and make her own decisions. But that being said, the show does take advantage of Ai’s cuteness at times – although not to a degree that it hampers the storyline. This is mostly accomplished through the occasional scene which centres on her wearing some form of adorable outfit or generally acting cute, such as: wearing a school uniform, putting on her gravekeeper outfit or running around town wearing a kitsune mask. But while they may have taken advantage of her cuteness, outside of the OVA episode, there is fortunately very minimal fanservice.
Sunday Without God is a series I would have liked to have watched on Blu-ray, as the designs presented were overall of a very high quality. Granted there was the occasional shift in quality of animation and character designs, but the picturesque landscapes and effective use of lighting turned the dying world into a really beautiful one. The characters all stood out in their design as well, with even the secondary and minor characters all being easily identifiable from one another. Providing good attention to detail and an aesthetically pleasing experience overall, Sunday Without God is one of the better designed anime I have watched over these past few months.
This show has a single opening sequence and single ending theme across its twelve episodes + OVA. The opening theme is “Birth” by Eri Kitamura, the Japanese voice actress for Dee Ensy Stratmitos, and while a fairly average song overall has some good animation to complement it. The voice actress of Ulla Eulesse Hecmatika (Mikako Komatsu) performs the ending sequence Owaranai Melody wo Utaidashimashita. This is a really nice song overall, but has a couple of animation variations throughout the series. The theme songs are complemented by solid musical backing, with a score by Hiromi Mizutani.
As mentioned above, Sunday Without God comes with both the original Japanese and a newer English dub. Caitlynn French, who has taken on other child roles recently including Miyu Edelfelt in Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya and Shiro in No Game No Life, has taken the lead as Ai in this series. While she initially made the character sound a lot older than the Japanese voice actress Aki Toyosaki, her voice grew on me as the series continued. Other notable cast members include Andrew Love as Hampnie Hambart, David Matranga as Yuri Sakuma Dmitriyevich, Genevieve Simmons as Scar, Mike Yager as Alice Color and Luci Christian as Dee Ensy Stratmitos. Quite a few of Sentai Filmworks’ other regulars take on the roles of other secondary characters. Overall, the English dub was competent enough, although the Japanese dub is also solid for those who prefer the original dub.
Sunday Without God’s DVD release only comes with a small assortment of extra content. Aside from the bonus OVA episode, the only other extra features are textless opening and closing sequences. Madman Entertainment’s release also includes trailers for Soul Eater Not!, Inari Kon Kon, Magical Warfare and Noragami.
While I am concerned that this is another anime adaptation which will be left abandoned without a proper conclusion, overall I enjoyed watching Sunday Without God. Granted it felt rushed and in my opinion needed a lot more than 12-episodes to present the tale it was telling, but it was an interesting series which brought some memorable concepts and themes to the table. It does help that the show has great visuals, music and English voice acting. While the anime may or may not have a sequel in the future, would love to see the light novel series it is based on by Kimihito Irie localised into English.
Storyline / Character Development: A-
Music / Voice Acting: B
Personal Opinion: B+
Final Score: B+
This review is currently being transitioned over to the new review system.