It seems like an ominous title for a show, Sunday Without God. It should have stood out among the comedic, light-hearted season of summer 2013, but for the most part, it was overshadowed. Many of us don’t have time to watch every single show that comes out each season, so we watch the most popular/interesting shows, while playing catch-up for years to come. And that’s what’s happened here. So although Sunday Without God was ignored by fans that season, it’s a good one to watch if you’re doing the catch-up game like so many others.
Ai is a twelve year-old little girl living in an isolated village. In her world, God ‘abandoned’ his creation on a Sunday fifteen years ago, claiming that He had ‘failed’. This resulted in the gates of heaven being closed, and people could no longer die or reproduce. Then God created the ‘grave keepers’ to deal with the problem and force the undead to pass into the next world. Ai is one of those grave keepers. She has prepared 47 graves ready for the eventual death of her 47 fellow villagers. But one day, a mysterious man comes along and slaughters everyone, changing Ai’s world forever. Just what is going on, and who is this man? And why does he have the same name as her father who abandoned her before she was even born?
You’d expect the whole plot to focus around Ai’s true identity and the identity of the mysterious man, but you’d be wrong. Instead, it takes the unusual route of focusing on very separate arcs. Maybe two or three episodes in one location, and then bam- new location, new side characters, with a couple of small veins running through the series to link them together. Despite each plotline being short, you quickly fall into the rhythm of the show. They’re not trying to rush the plot unnecessarily. Besides, they do it well. Even though very little time is spent on some characters, the emotion is always there.
Emotion seems to be the key player in Sunday Without God. With each small plot, with each new character, Ai learns something new and her world view changes. There’s heart-breaking goodbyes, a death thrown in there, and a lot of cheesy friendship bonding. And watching it as an adult, you pity the preteen girl and all she has to cope with. Although it’s a bit frustrating when characters yell things like ‘What, you don’t even know that?’ or ‘Get a grip’ to a little girl who’s just witnessed the slaughter of her entire village and has just had to bury them all.
So why was it overlooked? Maybe because a certain Kyoto Animation bishounen man-candy show reared its head. That’s right. It was the year of Free! Iwatobi Swim Club. It was fan service for those attracted to the male physique, it was like panty shots and jiggle physics but with guys, and the fans ate it up. With all the hype about Free going on, it was easy to overlook other great shows that were being released in favour of KyoAni saying ‘Hey, look at how well we can animate water!’. (To be fair, Free is pretty good). Instead of admiring KyoAni’s waterworks, it’ll do us good to look back and unearth the shows that were pushed to the sidelines. If anything, the fact that it was animated by Madhouse should be an indicator that at least the show looks incredible. With anime like Death Note and Death Parade in its arsenal, you should guess at what kind of mood Sunday Without God is going for.
Sunday Without God was less showy, less ‘out there’ than the others. If you get watching it, it won’t blow you away with romance or anything like that. Instead, it’ll blow you away with some gorgeous Madhouse animation and intimately emotional scenes. And don’t worry- the age of the protagonist won’t spoil things either. With Ai only being twelve, things are certainly not dumbed down to suit an audience her age.
By no means is the show simple or light-hearted. It’s just warm and cute, and really, really pretty.