The Seven Deadly Sins: Grudge of Edinburgh 2022 Movie Review
It can be tricky to place theatrical releases of popular anime. Most films act as feature-length filler – an entertaining slice of life that could theoretically happen, but isn’t actually a meaningful part of any overarching story. Others, like Netflix’s The Seven Deadly Sins: Grudge of Edinburgh Part 1, are canonical to a fault. They entertain as well but mostly for viewers who are already personally invested in the series.
Seven Deadly Sins: Grudge of Edinburgh Part 1 is a two-part film that comprises an original story from Deadly Sins manga author Nakaba Suzuki. Directed by Bob Shirohata, this first part picks up 14 years after the events of the anime with the Kingdom of Liones finally experiencing an era of peace. That all changes, however, when a new threat emerges from the shadows. Citizens of the Giant and Fairy clans start disappearing from their homes. Hollowed-out suits of armor march between villages while cloaked individuals weave dark magic in secret. New monstrosities are born and sent to sow seeds of revenge. A prominent figure is cursed, prompting hasty endeavors. All-out war seems inevitable.
It would be simple enough to call upon the Seven Deadly Sins to deal with what’s to come. Instead, the story focuses on King Meliodas (Yûki Kaji) and Queen Elizabeth’s (Sora Amamiya) son, Prince Tristan (Mikako Komatsu/Ayumu Murase). A strong warrior in the making, he struggles with his inability to control his lineage-based powers; his father’s demonic abilities are especially troubling given how their manifestation usually results in Tristan violently lashing out at friends and foes alike. His dream of becoming a strong knight falters as the thought of inadvertently harming someone takes precedent. This personal plight runs parallel to the overarching assault on the Kingdom of Liones, setting up an interesting dilemma on the battlefield.
Grudge of Edinburgh can be viewed as a new arc in The Seven Deadly Sins anime. Similar to films like Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train, its story feels a little too open ended for a standalone feature. That’s a notion furthered by the segmented nature of its release; this first part runs just over 50 minutes, making it feel like one long episode. Instead of showcasing a complete arc from start to finish, it acts as a bridge between previous events and what’s to come with very little in the way of onboarding exposition. The importance of the clan hierarchy, the shifting power dynamics between characters, the relevancy of certain groups – all of these things are presented as if the viewer already knows what’s been going on. Even the villain’s goals, as plain as they can be, are anchored by vague nods to the past.
Fans eager to see returning characters will be pleased, even more so when they notice the offspring of certain heroes following in their parent’s footsteps. Newcomers, on the other hand, will be completely lost in that regard, with only the main conflict to hold their attention. Thankfully, Grudge of Edinburgh does just enough to warrant a watch even if you aren’t caught up on the anime. While the main conflict pulls from old happenings, the situation Tristan finds himself in is relatable: an evil force is abducting people and someone has to stop them. How that task falls to him and not the Deadly Sins, especially given who his father is, is somewhat perplexing. That and other small narrative issues never distract long enough to derail the action though.
Speaking of action, Grudge of Edinburgh doesn’t have a ton of bouts. That said, what’s here is pretty solid thanks in part to the film’s animation. It consists of computer-generated effects with hand-drawn details that provide texture. It layers the 2D and CG rather than switching back and forth between them. This approach is combined with a colorful palette, resulting in bright pastel-like aesthetics that feel grounded. The characters movements are always fluid and their attacks are fast but have a sense of weight in relation to their environment. It’s a nice touch that really helps to sell the fight
Otherwise, the fight choreography is decent and the cast does a great job voicing their respective characters. There’s even a bit of humor thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, Grudge of Edinburgh’s short runtime doesn’t do it any favors. It feels like it’s over right when things are heating up; the revealing aspects of the ending aren’t enough to forgo the incomplete feeling. While it’s easy to recommend a watch, it’s just as easy to express a need to wait for the second part to be released before diving in, especially if you’re new to the series.
The Seven Deadly Sins: Grudge of Edinburgh Part 1 is certainly worth watching, although it may be a better watch after Part 2 is released – and there’s a strong argument to be made that they should’ve been released together. Still, the brief action segments are entertaining, the cast is great, and the animation is solid. Unfortunately, fans will get the most mileage out of the content given the film’s open-ended nature and lack of needed exposition. The short runtime also doesn’t help in this regard as it further perpetuates a sense of incompleteness.