Anime Review: Sunday Without God

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Today is the day before Sunday, so I’m challenging the concept of premonition and reviewing what is perhaps my personal favorite series to have come out of the year 2013. I’d like to tell you to just stop reading now and watch it, but that would be terrible of me to say as a reviewer.

We who have lived in a monotheistic society know the story. God created the world in seven days, performing the greatest of miracles to bring forth what we know of as life.

Considering that most of Japanese society is influenced by faiths and philosophies other than Christianity and the like, arguing that they “got it all wrong” seems kind of moot. But alas, this anime, based on a light novel, begins its story with a somewhat different, but familiar creation story. For the first five days, God performs powerful miracles which set balance, chaos, time, etc. into motion. On Saturday, God takes a rest.

“And on Sunday, God abandoned the world.”

According to the myth behind Sunday Without God, heaven has been filled, and no one is allowed to enter it anymore. Having said that, God decided to leave the living world behind, and so the living can no longer experience the miracle of birth, and the dead cannot pass on to the next world. That is, until a new race of people called the Grave Keepers (Hakamori) can give the walking deceased a proper burial.

The story that unfolds in this series revolves around a young Grave Keeper, Ai, and her journey to understand her purpose and to seek some kind of good in this new world. Her first understanding of it is the myths we have been given thus far, but as she continues on her journey, more discoveries about the truth of the world reveal themselves. The anime is told in five arcs, each bringing out an idea that might possibly be of concern or consequence in a world where people can’t give birth or die. Furthermore, it also asks a lot of interesting questions also regarding the world and ultimately life itself.

  • What can a society of the Dead be like?
  • How will schools operate past the age limit?
  • Where do the Grave Keepers come from?
  • How would a parallel world where the living inside it are in an infinite loop cohabit the real world?
  • What does it mean to be human?

The questions go on.

One thing I do want to point out is that this series does have a lot of French influence. I personally am not bothered by that (rather, I thought it brought some interesting reference to this world), since anime has taken a lot of influence from English as well. But for some, I suppose it might cause some suspicion where the ideas from this series came from? I don’t know.

Sunday Without God Scene

A scene illustrating the conversation between Ai and Ulla, the “Idol of Murder.” Ulla writes to Ai in French.

But of course, I can’t speak highly enough about the protagonist, Ai. She is too cute, for one. In fact, Crunchyroll has a group on their website devoted to the Adorable Ai Astin! But that’s not important.

At the early age of 12, Ai is robbed of her innocence once she realizes who she is and what it means to be in her position. Tragedy follows her from the first episode onto the very last one, as she discovers truth behind death. But despite her unfortunate predicaments, I can’t help but smile at the end of every episode with tears rolling down my face. Ai brings hope to her universe.

sunday-without-god-ep-03In one particular scene in the anime’s final arc, a ghost named Dee who is alive in a parallel world wants to keep her world in an infinite loop. When Ai and her comrades are brought into this world, Dee questions whether Ai would be enough to change it. She’s an addition to the loop along with thirty-five thousand other living souls since the day God abandoned the world; what could possibly make her special enough to change it?

As Dee witnesses a fly inside their car struggling to get out, she thinks to herself that the creature should just accept its fate. But then, Adorable Ai Astin acknowledges the fly, saying how full of life it had, and opened the window.

Sunday Without God Fly Scene

I think Dee finally got her answer.

Lastly, my words alone cannot do Sunday Without God any justice. This series is in my Top 5 favorite anime of all time; and someday, I would like to read the light novel (granted I will probably have to learn Japanese first). If there is anything among my reviews that I cannot stress more in recommending, it’s this series. It’s got a fascinating premise, leaves the audience with a lot of questions, and most of all, brings hope in the midst of tragedy.

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