Sunday Without God – Reinventing the Zombie Genre

Sunday Without God

 

  • 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.

Sunday Without God ep7-9 (40)

such a colourful 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.

Sunday Without God ep1-3 (17)

the style is quite shoujo

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:

Sunday Without God ep1-3 (33)

great hair!

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.

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each arc has its own palette as well

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.

Sunday Without God ep7-9 (3)

sounds like highschool

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).

Sunday Wihtout God ep10-12 (19)

s’okay

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.

Sunday Wihtout God ep10-12 (35)

indeed

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 

Sunday Without God ep1-3 (5)

I’m going to try to give you an idea of the visuals, as usual, Imgur and Pinterest have more!

 

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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12 Responses

  1. ManInBlack says:

    I *think* I may have watched the first episode of this show way back when… :\

    • Irina says:

      The first episode is not a great representation.

      • ManInBlack says:

        Unfortunately, the first episode is where you need to grab the viewer’s attention and encourage them to keep watching.

        But I’ve reviewed many shows where they’ve wasted the opening episodes with poor content, just as much as I have seen shows with great openings that turn into nothing.

        Anime, eh? 😉 😛

        • Irina says:

          I really liked the first episode but thre’s a pretty major tonal shift early on in the series so you can’t realy gage your personal reaction to it from the first episode. In my opinon

  2. David Boone (moonhawk81) says:

    Honestly, I never cared for this show. . .

  3. Dawnstorm says:

    Ah, I remember this show. If nothing else it was unique. I’m mostly indifferent to it. It definitely was very pretty, I remember the concept being interesting, but the philosophy being annoying. I don’t remember much about the plot. Overall I remember it slightly more positively than negatively. Reading your post I’m tempted to re-watch parts, but not the whole thing. A so-so show, IMO.

    • Irina says:

      It faltered in execution but I did enjoy it a lot. Mind you it was speaking to teenage goth me on all sorts of levels so the experience probably won’t translate.

  4. Scott says:

    I’m putting this one on my list too. My very long list that keeps growing. It does sound like something I enjoy a lot 😁.

  5. Cytrus says:

    Hi, Irina. Just wanted to point out that the word loose is the opposite of tight. You can lose an important person, but not loose them. It’s something that pops up relatively often in your entries, so please watch out.

    This show, alongside School-Live, somehow has me respecting shovels as a melee weapon.

    • Irina says:

      I really should proofread more but I just don’t have the time. I really appreciate when fans do it. Thank you.

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