- Genre : Supernatural, drama, school, action, fantasy
- Episodes: 12
- Studio: MADHOUSE
15 years ago, God abandoned his creation. Admitting failure, he left humanity to its fate and moved on. 15 years ago, with nowhere else to go, the dead got stuck in the living plane and had to go on as if nothing happened. 15 years ago, with nowhere to come from, babies stopped being born. The world goes on but it’s slowly grinding to a halt. In order to regulate itself, supernatural beings known as gravediggers started to appear. In this godless world, they are the only ones that can lay souls to rest by giving them a true and proper burial. Is there any way to stop the slow and investable decay that is bound to take over everything? And how is it that Ai is only 12 years old?
Sunday Without God is a flawed but pretty exploration of our relationship with life itself. It’s a disjointed cautionary tale of the dangers of holding onto wishes too tightly. It ferrets out hope in the oddest places. I have no clue how Sunday Without God ended up on my watch list and that’s quite fitting. It’s the sort of series that comes out of nowhere.
Visually, it’s quite beautiful. I do encourage you to take a look at the imgur gallery I put together as it’s the best way to truly appreciate the art through the series. It’s not so much original as it is luxurious. Rich in detail and lush with colours. The animation isn’t quite as impressive, but it holds its own. I was surprised to have never even heard of such a good-looking series. It’s a show that often exists on the borders of the day. Early morning and sunrise scenes get followed by dying sunsets or still twilight. As such, you often get the chance to see environments bathed in unusual colours and ever-changing shadows.
The soundtrack is actually quite good as well. Not in the sense that you’re likely to listen to it on your way to work but it was very fitting and often added to the scenes. I think it’s important for me to mention the voice acting. It was good, very good. Clearly above average for just about every character. However, the standout for me was Toyosaki, Aki as Ai (the main character). I’m not the biggest fan of overly cute slightly squeaky voices but she managed to make it sound not only pleasant but oddly powerful. It was a great performance that brought what could have been a very bland, even annoying character to a whole other level.
I will do my best to avoid spoilers, certainly all the major ones but if you truly want to go in without any details, you may want to skip this part. I will give my general impressions in the last paragraph.
As I was watching Sunday without God, I started comparing it to a Victorian play. There’s a stage quality to the writing. In my head, I dubbed it: Sunday Without God – A Tragedy in Four Parts:
Part un: The Tragedy of the Man-Eating Toy
In which Ai is told a million sweet lies and one bitter truth
The first arc establishes the universe of the series in a dynamic and interactive way. This is crucial as the lore is fairly complex, if not downright convoluted and it’s absolutely crucial for the audience to understand the details if we are to follow along or form any bond with the characters. It was impressive and a very strong start. Despite being somewhat generic, Ai is very easy to get attached to and the series has a gift for quickly developing characters. I found myself caring rather deeply about the faith of people that had been introduced only an episode prior. In this, we see the faith of Ai’s hometown and hear ominous about the world beyond.
Part deux: The Tragedy of the Necropolis
In which Ai meets and looses her very first friend
The fact that people are no longer dying isn’t a twist, it’s spelled out clearly in the first few minutes of the show. The implications of it, however, are staggering and explored in most detail in the second arc. Basically, when people die in Sunday Without God, nothing happens. The get back up, maybe they need to heal some wounds, and go back to their business. On a social/economical level, this is huge.
As the changes happened 15 years ago, humanity is basically right in the middle of trying to figure out what to do. The great city of Ortus is a reaction to the changes in the world and the mysteries it holds kept me binging episodes to get at the truth. Ultimately, the reveal was not as great as it could be, somewhat predictable, but still satisfying.
Part trois: The Tragedy of Highschool
In which Ai learns that adults are not to be trusted and neither are children
To me, this was the weakest arc. So far, the series had been mostly a suspenseful action mystery with a heavy supernatural aspect. Although all these elements remain present here, in structure, this arc is almost like a school-based comedy slice of life, complete with wacky bathhouse shenanigans.
That’s not actually a bad thing. The heavy ominous tone of the series was getting a bit oppressive and a lighthearted interlude was welcomed. And even though I call it the weakest arc, I didn’t dislike it. It was more underdeveloped than anything else.
We meet an assortment of wacky students we never get the chance to know well enough to care about and the purpose and existence of the school are just laid out in flat exposition making it seem like an afterthought. Compared to every other arc, this one was the shallowest but that’s probably because it was mostly a vehicle to introduce us to Alis/Alice (the subtitles spell his name out as Alis but in the series we see his name written as Alice several times so that’s what I’m going to go with).
Part quatre: The Tragedy of the Comfortable Cage
In which a girl who has lost everything is asked to lose it again
By far the most emotional arc, this goes back to that thriller mystery vibe and the show is that much more interesting for it. The arc heavily depends on Alice and thankfully he is a very good character. Well balanced and flawed, he brings the viewer along in his own personal pleasant nightmare and I was right there with Ai desperately trying to save him.
That final episode was a roller coaster and may have been the strongest in the series.
Overall there are three general themes that resonate throughout the entire series. The importance of family and friendships, what life means for sentient creatures and continuous warnings of “be careful what you wish for”. At times it reminded me of Battle Angel Alita, a coming of age story of a remarkable young girl under very difficult circumstances, at others, it reminded me of Pandora Hearts, with all the symbolism and goth sensibilities.
It’s hardly perfect, there are plot holes and some slightly tedious melodrama at times. Scar’s character is great, but the narrative doesn’t know what to do with her and eventually saddles her in a dead-end b plot. It definitely a flawed series but it has some great moments. It also resonated with me and I’m very glad I randomly decided to watch it.
Also, for some reason the Sunday Without God universe is French. As in all the in-show writing is in french and generally pretty accurate. I’m not sure why though. It’s never mentioned or anything and everything gets translated but there you go. The end of the world is French… somehow I always knew that.
Favourite character: Scar before the parenthood bit (I guess that says something about me
What this anime taught me: be careful what you wish for – honestly if I hadn’t learned that by the end, there would be a problem with me.
The drunk mind speaks the sober heart
Suggested drink: Deathwish
- Every time Ai mentions her father – take a sip
- Every time anyone says “gravekeeper” – take a sip
- Every time Ai calls anyone pretty – awww
- Every time we hear about “15 years ago” – take a sip
- Every time someone doesn’t age as they should – take a sip
- Every time there’s an eye close up – get some water
- Every time anyone’s wish comes true – uh hoh
- Every time a male character has a traditionally female name – take a sip
- Every time there’s a massacre (yes that happens a lot) – take a sip
- Every time we see graves – stretch
I’m going to try to give you an idea of the visuals, as usual, Imgur and Pinterest have more!