Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi – 06

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There’s a solemn, melancholy beauty in the ceremony performed by Princess Ulla, revealed to be the Idol of Murder who takes life from the living so they can be admitted Ortus. The hundred-plus whose lives she takes do so of their own free will, having come for no other purpose. When they rise to join the death of the city, they’re elated and relieved. Even when we later learn that she was partially aware of what was going on, we can’t really call Ulla evil.

Since he first met her when she was a tiny, adorable little kid, Kiriko has treated Ulla as a precious artifact, isolated from the harshness of the world and even the truth about her power. But we can’t really even be mad at him for doing so. He loves her, and swore she’d never come to harm, and the truth hurts. Instead, he waited for the time when there would be no more living for Ulla to kill; even if that meant she’d grow old and frail in the process. Even if he deceived her and obstructed her free will, we can’t really call Kiriko evil.

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Too many anime deal with immensely-powerful, insidious, oppressive, greed-driven, categorically evil, boring systems with real-world parallels to politics and/or religion, leaving the audience no doubt who to root against. It takes great skill and care to contrive a similarly powerful system with the initial trappings of malignancy that refrains from doling out facile moral conclusions that go down easy. Sunday Without God does this. Neither pure evil nor easy answers exist in this world. For all its imposing battlements and foreboding towers, Ortus is a dazzling, wondrous place, surging with life despite the status of its citizens.

In the last episode we opined: “Why should Ortus change if their system is working out brilliantly for them?” In this episode, we get the answer: they shouldn’t. Death isn’t some curse or dark affliction: death comes to all. No one, not even Hampnie, can escape it, or ever will. But Ortus is proof that burial need not immediately follow death, at least for all. On a planet abandoned by God, a measure of mankind dwells in a heaven of their own making—imperfect, but serene.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

 

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Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi – 05

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Ai moved up fast this week, having met the retainer of the Princess of Ortus in the back of the van, then Pox, Rex, and the royal doctor Diva, and finally Princess Ulla Eulesse Heckmatika herself (that’s a mouthful, but she’s royalty, so we’ll allow it.) She finds all of them to be friendly, kind, and hospitable. So she wonders: why can’t the living, dead, and gravediggers live in harmony in Ortus? Why is death only way to become a citizen?

There’s no straight answer, but history, trust, and fear clearly all play a role. The dead had been oppressed and forced to wander the earth because the living feared they’d turn into monsters. That oppression rendered most of the dead unable to trust anyone who wasn’t. Finally, it’s precisely because Ortus is so large and grand and happy a place that the dead who live there fear losing everything they’ve built if they’re not constantly vigilant.

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As a practical issue, that fear seems misplaced: they’ve been able to handily deal with any gravediggers who came by, while gravediggers are too rare to muster a force large enough to overpower the city. Yet the fear remains. Moreover, the living who wish to remain so either stay away or limit their contact to trade, while the living who wish to be citizens of Ortus must give up their lives. In short, Ortus’ system is working out just fine…for them. Why should they change it?

This episode wasn’t quite as strong as the last five, juggling lots of plot less elegantly as previous outings (plus Dr. Diva was kind of annoying). Still, there was lots to like: the lion-mask guy’s warning preceding a large group of cloaked people approaching Ortus, only to learn they were peaceful migrants, not raiders? Nice misdirection. Also, the show’s unrelenting truth onslaught on Ai continues, showing her new friend Princess Ulla participating in the “acceptance” (read: killing) ceremony.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi – 04

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Sunday Without God continues to impress with its flair for quickly and efficiently building its world and mythos without losing the sense of awe and grandeur. With one last glance at the valley that was her entire world, she, Yuri and Scar set off in rundown old Volkswagen Kombi, and the scale of the world expands exponentially, along with the possibilities.

Kiriko, the young mugging victim they find in the back seat, serves as their key to the first landmark on their journey, and awe-wise, it’s quite a doozy. Ortus, population 1 million-plus, is one of those vast, gorgeous old city-states we love to see in fantasy works. The episode perfectly captures the wonder and excitement in the lush way the city is lit the first time Ai sees it. Ai is a particularly easy heroine to like and connect with, since like us she’s seeing everything for the first time, and soaking it up like a sponge.

Regarding her youthful enthusiasm about her mission to Save The World That God Abandoned as recited to Kiriko, we appreciate nods to the fact Ai is still twelve after all (her ‘out of the mouth of babes’ moment to Pox/Rex was also adorably (adorbs?) meta).

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But Ortus doesn’t just represent a new paradigm for what constitutes the world, but also fundamentally calls into question Ai’s defining ideals, when it’s explained to her Ortus is a city-state of, by, and for the dead, and the dead alone.

Commenter Cytrus told us Ai wasn’t in store for more Foes-of-the-Week like he gang that killed her father, but rather “systems, truths and ideals,” something we’re decidedly jazzed about; that’s far more interesting than glorified zombie-hunting. Ortus is one of those systems; an ordinary city full of ordinary people living ordinary lives, only they’re all technically dead; a place where the very idea of a gravedigger is anathema; and yet a place that Ai cannot deny has just as much as right to exist as she does.

What’s sad for Ai is that the living and dead aren’t co-existing; the living who trade with Ortus are segregated. Without the aid of the Kindly Kiriko and Pox/Rex, Ai wouldn’t have even been able to enter the city. When she sneaks out she has to wear a mask, and even then, a random passerby grabs her playbill and curtly tells her to leave. Thus “Saving the World” may not mean giving all of the dead a burial, but finding a way to bring people together.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)