Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi – 13

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If one were to name a blemish of Sunday Without God, it’s that the show ended before Ai’s original mission to Save The World That God Abandoned could truly get goingin earnest. Granted, it was a naive, audacious mission devised by a tween, and it is true in this world that the best laid plans of graveskeepers and their retinue often go awry. This special (which came with the final disc volumes of the series) does not aim to mend that blemish, nor should it be expected to. It’s just an extra episode, split into three vignettes showing scenes of the series we weren’t privy to the last time round.

The first is the…least good; it’s just an onsen scene packed with fanservice. If one had to analyze it, you could call it something of an incomplete fable centered around boobs and the women who own them. Scar has the biggest boobs, but has never noticed (and hence enjoyed) them. Dee also has good size boobs, but being a ghost, she’s the only one who can touch them. Ai, who is alive and has physical form, is able to enjoy boobs, but at her age has none to speak of. There’s similar situation with the guys: Yuri is old yet ripped; Alice is young yet…not ripped.

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The second vignette is Alice-centric, as he wanders through a ruined Ostia going over his actions in the looping dreamworld in which he’d been trapped. Dee is notably absent from this, but he eventually runs into Hampnie, and they have a little duel in which shots are fired but we don’t see the outcome. Alice is roused from his reminiscing by Dee, and he continues to contemplate how “foolishness can’t be cured, even by death.”

The third and final vignette shows a wounded Hampnie wandering into some very beautiful church ruins. There he finds his future lover Hana bathing, looking every bit like her daughter Ai as a full-grown woman; somewhat interesting symmetry from the hot spring segment. She asks him to join her, and he accepts. Then he’s woken up by the product of that meeting: Ai herself. While none of the three vignettes are particularly momentous (and the first one is just silly); the special does what a special should do: provide a brief return to a world we fell in love with, adding a smidgen of depth and color to it in the process.


Rating: 6 (Good)

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Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi – 12 (Fin)

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Sunday Without God comes to a moving close full of twists, tears, and drama. First of all, when Dee sees Alice and Ai playing basketball, she decides to end the status quo right then and there by making Class 3-4 remember the incident that led to their wish, then makes them act out April 28 as she jumps from the window once more, bringing it all to an end. But not only does Alice have no intention of letting Dee disappear, but Dee wasn’t even dead to begin with; he was.

In a twist that we were too preoccupied with Dee to ever see coming, it’s revealed that he was the one that had fallen to his death while trying to save Dee, and then forgot when he got caught up in the loops. The wish he got was Buzzer Beater, while Class 3-4 wished not for him to come back to life, but for eternity, a semantic difference that ends up making a huge difference in everyone’s lives. Alice and Dee aren’t as unaffected from the loops as they had thought, resulting in roughly fourteen years of believing the wrong person died.

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The scene of a leaping Dee being caught at the last second by Alice, who in turn is caught by Ai and the rest of the class, is stirring, poignant moment that also illustrates conceptually what takes place to complete this arc: Dee resigns herself to a false fate but Alice saves her, and in the very end, Ai makes a wish that saves Alice. There’s a great “this is it!” finality to watching the town vanish as its inhabitants clear out, once the truth is known, but it turns out not to be the end for Dee or Alice.

Was that a cheat? It’s a matter of preference, but we didn’t think so. The ending followed the rules the show had established from the start: in abandoning the world and ending death, God gave people what He thought they wanted. It became a world where wishes could come true, and they did, resulting in all of the colorful characters with strange powers we’ve has come across. Alice had come to mean a great deal to Ai, so it’s no surprise she wished not to forget he ever existed, or for things to go back to happier times and never change. She simply wished for him to remain in her world.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)
Final Cumulative Rating: 7.833
MyAnimeList Score (as of 1/5/14): 7.72

Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi – 11

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This week more of the mystery of Class 3-4 is revealed, testing our theories about what’s going on, while Ai is caught between two people with differing goals hoping to enlist her aid, when all she wants is a resolution amicable to all parties involved, which may not be possible. Turns out we were right about Dee falling out that window, but it wasn’t her wish for what ultimately became the timeloop; it was the rest of the class. After that, for fourteen years she stayed by the side of Alice, someone she knew was a nice guy but had barely spoken to before her fall.

So here we have Dee desperate to keep the looping world going, not only because she doesn’t want to disappear, but because she wants to keep living in a world with Alice, even if she doesn’t deserve to have him return her feelings. She’s so desperate, she even killed Alice many loops ago in hopes that his need to break the timeloop would reset when he respawned. Instead, he was granted Buzzer Beater, which made his passion of basketball a meaningless bore, since he could never miss again. And he continued to save the world—the only world where Dee could remain alive—by destroying it.

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We hear much of this from Alice’s own mouth, both in narration and in an initially tense scene in the library with Ai, when we’re not sure just how far she’s willing to go to maintain the status quo. And while Alice considers her “the enemy”, she doesn’t come off as a villain at all; she’s just trying to survive, and doesn’t want Alice, someone whom she’s fallen in love with, put in the position where he’d make any sacrifice to save Class 3-4, since that would make her “useless” to him. In any case, we’re sympathetic to her cause, selfish as it is, and so is Ai.

No, Dee’s no villain; if anything, she’s a victim. For one thing, someone really should have been spotting her on that tall ladder. Secondly, the class made the wish, not her. Thirdly, barring the magical cure-all solution Ai holds out hope for, things don’t look good for Dee or the status quo, as the very presence of Ai in Class 3-4 is gradually destabilizing the false world, drawing it closer to collapse. Alice remarks that granted wishes keep people from moving forward, but it’s small comfort for someone like Dee who literally can’t. We’ll see in the final outing if Alice means with he says, and after fourteen years with Dee, if moving forward is worth her sacrifice.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi – 10

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Ever since he first met Ai at Goran (and not Ortus, as we had thought; Lion Mask Guy was apparently someone else), Alice Color has remained pretty vague about what he’s trying to do and why; of course, one could accuse Ai of being vague about saving the world to, but in her case, it’s because she doesn’t know quite how to do that yet. Both Alice and the show have dropped hints here and there, but nothing solid until now, when images like the Ferris Wheel, ruined cathedral, and open window finally gain a measure of context.

In the strongest episode of Sunday since the Ortus arc wrapped, we, along with Ai, Yuri, Scar and Celica, finally gain access to the world Alice means to “save through destruction”, a that statement finally makes sense. Unlike Ortus, a city of the dead in the real world, Alice’s world is a city of the living in a false world, one he’s been adding people to in an effort to break the unending one-year timeloop in which he and his Class 3-4 is trapped. The episode begins with a bang—several, actually—as Alice guns down his entire class without any explanation, only to see them reappear outside, unharmed and unaware. Needless to say, the episode had our attention right then and there.

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A further gravity and sense of occasion is lent by the ominously dark entrance to this world, and Alice’s warning that AI & Co. won’t be able to leave until all is resolved. Once we’re there, seeing it from the perspectives of Ai, Yuri, and Scar, it doesn’t seem that bad of a place; peaceful, full of friendly living people; etc. Still, we can’t blame Alice—one of only two people who are aware of the looping—for wanting to bring an end to something that’s not supposed to be; something that was likely the result of someone’s powerful wish. Once in this world, Alice still withholds one nugget from the others, letting them form their own impressions first.

When he’s ready, he tells them he has an enemy in this looping dreamworld: Dee Ensy Startmitos. What’s more, there’s a strong inkling that Dee fell out the classroom window, and before dying, made the wish that set everything in motion. It explains why she’s a ghost in the real world, but solid in the fake; it explains why she’s the only other person aware of the loops; and it explains why Alice considers her an enemy: she doesn’t want the world to end. Further evidence of this is when says she’s hopeful Ai will want to stay there forever. It’s a very clever, intricate, meaty scenario with no obviously apparent resolution.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi – 09

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The latest system Ai comes across on her re-started journey is more personal than Goran: the system of how gravekeepers are created. While we witness the process itself, its actual workings remain wholly magical and mysterious, and thankfully the episode doesn’t get bogged down in silly details. Suffice it to say remote wastelands full of fog and crystals like “Story Circle” (awful name) are the prime spot for Gravekeeper-spawning.

We still don’t quite understand the bond between Scar and her adoptive daughter Celica, and her running away happened offscreen. Maybe that’s intentional; as Ai was dealing with Goran, the world kept spinning, and people changed. Scar’s time with Ai, Yuri, and Celica awakened emotions gravekeepers aren’t supposed to have, leading to an existential crisis and her flight to her birthplace. But as its little more than a factory for drones, she finds no comfort or answers there, now that she’s a changed woman.

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Scar chooses to embrace her new world with Yuri and Celica, and a family is born in the birthplace of Gravekeepers. Meanwhile, Yuri, Alice and Ai all experience visions of their past, and Ai in particular is disturbed by the polite but emotionless identical newborn gravekeepers who are more force of nature than people. She also tentatively agrees to help Alice in his fight to save his world, “Class 3-4,” as long as the world is saved.

Ai has become quite skilled at helping people: fulfilling her father’s dream to die happy; Tanya returning to her family, bringing Yuri, Scar and Celica together, and even making sure Alice’s birthday is properly celebrated (camp cake FTW!). She also knows if she wants to achieve her own dream, she can’t turn down help from people with similar-sounding goals like Alice, even if he uses words like “destroy.” It’s a little worrying that things seem to be heading towards another school setting, but we won’t underestimate the show’s ability to surprise.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

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)

 

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)