The Seven Deadly Sins: Grudge of Edinburgh Part 1 is now streaming on Netflix. A release date for part 2 has not yet been announced.
It can be difficult to place theatrical releases of popular anime. Most movies function as filler in feature length – 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 also entertain, 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 consisting of an original story from Deadly Sins manga author Nakaba Suzuki. Directed by Bob Shirohata, this first installment picks up 14 years after the events of the anime, where the Kingdom of Liones is finally experiencing a time of peace. However, that all changes when a new threat emerges from the shadows. Residents of the Giant and Fairy clans begin to disappear from their homes. Hollow suits of armor march between villages as cloaked individuals weave dark magic in secret. New monstrosities are born and sent to sow seeds of vengeance. A prominent figure is cursed, which brings hasty efforts. Total war seems inevitable.
It would be easy enough to call upon the seven deadly sins to deal with what is to come. Instead, the story focuses on King Melioda’s (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 particularly troubling given how their manifestation usually results in Tristan going on a violent rampage against friends and enemies alike. His dream of becoming a strong knight falters as the thought of accidentally hurting someone takes precedent. This personal situation parallels the overall attack on the Kingdom of Liones, creating an interesting dilemma on the battlefield.
Grudge of Edinburgh can be seen as a new arc in The Seven Deadly Sins anime. Similar to movies like Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train, the story feels a little too open for a standalone feature. It’s a notion promoted by the segmented release; this first part runs just over 50 minutes, making it feel like a long episode. Rather than showcasing a complete arc from start to finish, it acts as a bridge between past events and what comes with very little in the way of on-board exposition. The importance of the clan hierarchy, the shifting power dynamics between characters, the relevance of certain groups – all of these things are presented as if the viewer already knows what has happened. Even the villain’s goals, simple as they may 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 parents’ footsteps. Newcomers, on the other hand, will be completely lost in that regard, with only the main conflict to hold their attention. Fortunately, Grudge of Edinburgh does just enough to warrant a watch, even if you’re not caught up in the anime. While the main conflict comes from past events, the situation Tristan finds himself in is relatable: an evil force is abducting people and someone must stop them. How that task falls to him and not the deadly sins, especially given who his father is, is somewhat puzzling. That and other small narrative problems never distract long enough to derail the action.
Speaking of action, Grudge of Edinburgh doesn’t have a ton of fights. 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 add texture. It layers 2D and CG instead of switching back and forth between them. This approach is combined with a colorful palette, resulting in light pastel-like aesthetics that feel grounded. The character’s movements are always fluid and their attacks are fast, but have a sense of weight in relation to their surroundings. It’s a nice touch that really helps sell the matches.
Otherwise, the fight choreography is decent and the cast does a good job expressing their respective characters. There’s even a bit of humor thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, Grudge of Edinburgh’s short running time doesn’t do it any favours. It feels like it’s over just as things heat up; the revealing aspects of the ending aren’t enough to negate 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 installment to be released before diving in, especially if you’re new to the series.