Anime Spotlight: Sunday Without God

Sunday Without God is an anime based on a light novel series written by Kimihito Irie and illustrated by Shino. The anime is produced by Madhouse and is directed by Yuji Kumazawa. The series began airing in Japan on July 6, 2013.

The series is set in a fictional world where 15 years prior to the start of the story, people stopped giving birth, and the dead cannot find rest unless they are buried by individuals known as “gravekeepers.” The story goes that God abandoned the world on a Sunday, and this is why these things have happened.

The main character of Sunday Without God is a girl named Ai Astin. Her mother was a gravekeeper, and she died when Ai
was seven years old. At that point, Ai ended up having to take on the gravekeeper responsibility. She was also taken in by a couple named Yoki and Anna.

One day, after Ai had dug up enough graves for all the people in her small village, she returns home and encounters a man named Hampnie Hambart. The name surprises her, because this is the name that Ai’s mother gave for Ai’s father.  Ai thinks this is her father, but he’s adamant that it’s not him. After learning that Ai is a gravekeeper, he says he needs her to do a job for him. He leads her to the village, where she discovers that all of the people in her village are dead. It turns out Hampnie killed them all. At the end of the first episode, Ai ends up following Hampnie because she has nowhere else to go.

During the second episode, Ai and the audience is introduced to another gravekeeper called Scar, which is a nickname for someone who has been blemished. Through questioning, Ai learns the gravekeeper has undergone many nicknames and has never had an actual name. This gravekeeper also lacks any emotion. He tries to use this information to prove that Ai isn’t an actual gravekeeper. However, when Hampnie asks Scar to properly bury the people Ai already buried, Scar says
there aren’t any deceased nearby, and that she can sense that people have been properly buried. Hampnie is confused as to how Ai can be a gravekeeper.

While they’re in the village, Hampnie is shot by a huntsman named Julie Dmitrievich, who was once friends with Hampnie. Even though Hampnie is shot, he is able to get back up; it turns out that Hampnie never ages and never dies. Julie claims
he’s getting revenge for Hampnie killing his wife, but Hampnie points out she had died a year earlier, and that Julie had been living in hiding with his wife and daughter. After Hampnie deduces that Julie’s daughter is now also dead, he
realizes Julie’s motive is to have Hampnie kill him. Hampnie tells Julie to meet him at the village square at sunrise. Instead of meeting with Julie, Hampnie and Ai decide to leave.

In the third episode, Hampnie is attacked by a gang of deceased; however, before they attack, he kicks Ai off of a bridge into the water below. When Ai awakens, she finds Julie tending to her. At first, Ai is angry at Hampnie for kicking her into the river, but after Julie explains what happened, her anger subsides. And thanks to a picture that Julie has, it is proven that Hampnie is indeed Ai’s father. Unfortunately, Hampnie dies after learning at Ai is his daughter. Ai also learns that the people she had been living with in her village were deceased who had not yet been buried.

With Hampnie’s death, Ai decides to go on a journey to save the world. Accompanying her on the journey are Julie and Scar. As the series progresses, Ai finds herself going to the town of Ortus, being kidnapped and made to attend Goran Academy, and accompanying her new friend Alis Colors to try to free his world from a time loop.

I have to admit that at the end of the first episode, I wasn’t entirely sure if it would be a series I would enjoy for the long run. However, by the end of episode three, I became genuinely interested in the series and wanting to follow it every week.

The storyline that takes place in Ortus was kind of interesting. It turns out to be a land of the Deceased, and by the time Ai leaves there, she starts to find herself questioning her journey.

The series, however, really kicks things up a notch when Ai meets Alis Colors at Goran Academy. Alis is very a crucial character for the final story arc of the series. Overall, I thought the series had an interesting payoff, although I was scratching my head during the last few seconds of the final episode. While the dialogue tells the audience what happened, there’s no explanation provided as to why this event happened.

Something I found rather interesting was how the concept of God leaving was hit on rather heavily in the very early episodes of the series. In fact, even the concept of Ai being a gravekeeper isn’t emphasized very much during the last few episodes of the series. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The series does evolve in such a way where these particular facts just aren’t as crucial to the story.

Sunday Without God ultimately ends in such a way that if the animation studio really wanted to, it would be possible to continue the series. But even if this is all that ever exists for the Sunday Without God anime series, I’m overall satisfied with what we got.

When you first see Sunday Without God, the “moe” design for Ai can make you think this is going to be a rather simple series. However, as you watch it, you realize the series is a lot deeper than it appears at first glance. This is a series worth checking out if you’re interested in watching anime that makes you think about a little as you’re watching it.

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