The Seven Deadly Sins – or Nanatsu no Tazai in its native japanese – is one of my absolute favourite manga series. Although it hasn’t been running as long as, say, the big three of Naruto, Bleach and One Piece, it has the potential to be a smash-hit and its storytelling, action and intrigue keep going from strength to strength.
If you’re not reading it already, you should be! Hopefully this brief introduction to the world of the Deadly Sins, their history and their enemies should get you as hooked as I am.
The Seven Deadly Sins
Where better to start than with the titular Sins themselves..? Formerly, a group of seven of the Kingdom’s greatest warriors, the Seven Deadly Sins were framed for the killing of one of the Great Holy Knights (more on them in a sec), disbanded and forced into a life as solitary outlaws and criminals. In the past, they were led by Meliodas – the protagonist of the manga – who is, at the outset of the series, in hiding as the proprietor of a restaurant mounted on the back of a giant pig. Neat.
Meliodas and the gang, in better days…
Starting off with Meliodas as the only known Sin, other members have slowly been being rediscovered and incorporated into the team’s fighting strength as the series has gone on; as it stands, we’ve met five of the seven. I won’t spoil anything here, other than to say that they are all great, unique characters whose interaction with each other is what drives the series’ story and brilliant humour. If you love great ensemble casts (and who doesn’t..?) then The Seven Deadly Sins has got you covered.
Honestly, all the Sins are great characters, so it would be hard to choose a favourite. If pushed, I’d probably side with Meliodas: short, unassuming and with a seriously perverted side, the Sins’ captain is an absolute badass, making up for his stature in terms of sheer awesomenitude (if that isn’t a word, it should be). And he has a dark streak a mile wide. I do love a morally-complex lead character!
The Princess Elizabeth
The female protagonist of the Seven Deadly Sins, Elizabeth strikes me as being very similar to Lucy Heartfilia of Fairy Tail in her friendly mannerisms and relationship with Meliodas (who resembles Natsu in more ways than one). She encounters Meliodas in the first chapter while a fugitive from her home – having fled the attention of the traitorous Holy Knights – and falls under his protection. Much of the series revolves around Meliodas seeking to keep Elizabeth from the attention of the Holy Knights – with varying degrees of success! In the current arc, for example, Meliodas and the Deadly Sins have launched an assault on the Holy Knight capital Liones in order rescue Elizabeth from prison (that’s three of them against an entire city. Yeh… Never tell them the odds…).
Elizabeth is a great viewpoint character, and her growing friendship with the titular criminals – and occasional incredulity at their more outlandish habits – make her a fun female protagonist.
The Holy Knights
The primary villains of The Seven Deadly Sins, the Holy Knights appear to be loyal to the kingdom of Liones but are in fact traitors, seeking to rule the kingdom for themselves – and using the Sins as scapegoats for their more nefarious deeds.
Aesthetically, they are certainly a diverse bunch. They all wear suits of medieval-esque armour, sure, but each one sports vastly different fighting styles and techniques, from conjuring impenetrable barriers to swarms of insects. Nor are these guys mere fodder for the heroes: each one is a beast in their own right, and there are rarely any easy fights for the series protagonists. When they win (and oh man, they do win…) the Sins do so through blood, sweat, tears – leaving an incredible trail of destruction behind them.
They’re a freaky bunch.
Another aspect I love about the series is that the Holy Knights demonstrate a wide spectrum of individual goals and and attitudes. They all want to capture or kill the Sins but within that motive their morality can vary enormously. Some, like the Great Holy Knight Hendricksen are blacker than black; others, like Griamor, or one of the first major Holy Knights featured in the series Gilthunder (no prizes for guessing his particular ability) come across as potential good men in a bad line of work.
What is particularly clever is that the Holy Knights currently have TWO leaders – the Great Holy Knights Hendricksen and Dreyfus who, despite superficially similar ambitions, rarely see eye to eye. Their mutual distrust and simmering conflict makes the story all the more unpredictable.
But, perhaps most importantly…
To put it simply, The Seven Deadly Sins really delivers on the action front. Like, really, really delivers. Hell, right from the get-go the fight between Meliodas and the Holy Knight Twigo in the first chapter sees the destruction of half a forest and a cliff. And that’s just THE FIRST CHAPTER.
Other series might take a while to get going, as their protagonists develop their skills, but The Seven Deadly Sins throws you straight into the big-time, with Meliodas and co already fully-fledged legendary fighters. Again, I don’t want to spoil anything, but trust me on this: The Seven Deadly Sins has action bordering on crazy, at least on par with the big boys (Naruto; One Piece; Bleach) and it’s only 63 chapters old. In time, it could really be something incredible!
So there you have it. I’ll be reviewing the series for Sleeping Geeks, starting with the latest chapter (there’s a really huge sudden arrival. It’s great..) and would absolutely recommend the manga so far.
If you love great characters, a truly labyrinthine plot and medieval knights with superpowers smashing each other to bits, I think you’ll love The Seven Deadly Sins as much as I do!