WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 5 of The Seven Deadly Sins, now streaming on Netflix.
In terms of world-building, The Seven Deadly Sins is about as ambitious as it gets. A Kingdom of Holy Knights protects the realm from the Holy War between the Demon Clan, the Goddess Clan, the Giant Clan, the Fairy Clan and humans. Following the titular group of characters, as they attempt to save the world in the way that best suits themselves, the charm of Seven Deadly Sins is undeniable. Unfortunately, the series is weighed down by its large cast of characters, ever-expanding mythology and some pretty shoddy animation.
In such a diverse world, it is only fitting that the titular group would be diverse as well. The Sins are comprised of the heir to the Demon throne, the Fairy King, a Giant, an immortal human, a human possessing an Archangel's Grace, a mage and a doll that was brought to life by magic. Throw in a talking pig and a princess, and the core group is as eclectic as it could possibly be. The warriors known as The Seven Deadly Sins operate from their bar atop a second, even bigger talking pig as they travel the land drinking and saving people.
This group of characters is the series' greatest strength. There are so many overlapping character dynamics in this large group, every second they are together is a delight to watch. There are friendships, love, rivalries and even some tension between various members of the Sins. They are a family in almost every sense of the word.
However, the best aspect of the series is also one of its biggest weaknesses. The drawback of having nine main characters is that it forces certain characters to spend large amounts of time irrelevant to the plot with little dialogue, if they appear at all. Despite being the title of the series, all seven of the Sins are rarely together at one time -- Escanor doesn't even appear until the second season. So many characters are difficult to service all at once, so it's understandable that the group must be broken up from time to time, but by doing so the series forfeits its greatest asset.
As the world of the series continues to expand, so too does the cast of characters. The 10 Commandments and the Four Archangels also play major supporting roles, causing an additional 14 characters to cut into the already limited screen time of the nine leads. Not to mention that Gilthunder and Hendrickson are still lingering at the edge of the story all the way into Season 5. The overly crowded series struggles to give these characters meaningful screen time, and even killing off most of the Commandments does little to alleviate the problem.
The series' mythology is also constantly growing, which goes a long way in keeping the world interesting. However, the series makes a minor misstep in its habit of expanding the history and depths of a character's power over developing their, well, character. Screen time in The Seven Deadly Sins is precious, and too often a character's time in the spotlight is spent achieving a new power rather than growing as an individual.
The Seven Deadly Sins has become notorious for its lackluster, and sometimes egregiously bad, animation. Characters like Escanor and the Demon King are intended to possess godlike power beyond mortal comprehension, yet many of their respective fights feature the character standing on one spot, having what looks like a stop-motion slap fight. It's not entirely fair to label poor animation as a shortcoming of the story itself, but in a series like this one that relies heavily on titanic battles between gods, the impact of the battle, and therefore the story, is lost if it is visually underwhelming.
While certainly not unpopular, The Seven Deadly Sins deserves so much more. It is a unique and compelling fantasy world filled with remarkably interesting characters that play off each other beautifully. Unfortunately, the series is its own worst enemy by trying to do too much, overloading on characters and failing to course-correct on its subpar animation. Unlike Elizabeth, the series won't get another chance once it meets its end.