Review/discussion about: Shinmai Maou no Testament
The Testament of Sister New Devil seems like a rather generic anime. And for the most part, it is: there is no shortage of magic, nakedness, and harems within it. But it at least attempts to play with the theme of protection. Which is funny when you think about it; in an anime whose strongest aspect is the very “ecchi” it thrives on, you’d think that “protection” would be the furthest idea from its mind. Regardless, this is what the show hones in on. Protecting the things you love, especially those people dearest to you, is something that we all do whether we know it or not. And while this one tries its best to flaunt this motif, the majority is mediocrity that suppresses any sense of worth it may have.
Testament pits Basara Toujou as the male lead. One day, he obtains two new “relatives,” Mio Naruse and Maria Naruse. As events pile up and paths cross, it’s revealed that Mio holds the greatest demonic power within her, Maria is her succubus servant, and Basara is an exiled man of the Hero Clan.
If Testament does anything correctly, it is in the “ecchi” service that it provides. While nearly all of it is censored, what is shown and what can be inferred is some of the greatest to grace the medium. The show refuses to hold back; it never shows full-blown genitalia but it gets rather close to crossing that line, making the anime nearly pornographic in its presentation. Not just kissing but make-out sessions; not just showing breasts but fervently fondling them; and not just holding hands but hip grinding, butt squeezing, and even orgasms. Testament revels in the sex that permeates the show, going so far as to make one of its key plot points follow down this path. This plot point of course being the “master-servant” pacts that cause a disobedient servant to undergo immense pleasure. And then, in order to strengthen said pact, going through with these perverted actions “deepens” the relationship, making both people come out for the better. Literal and figurative hot shower scenes, body-on-food eating, a succubus whose proportions grow; the diversity of the “ecchi” scenes and the originality of many of them easily demonstrate its overall execution in the genre it itself made a pact with.
As talked about in the introduction, Testament’s prominent – and only – theme is the idea of protection. Or more specifically, protecting the ones you love. Many of the characters have this sense of righteousness about them: Yuki wishes to protect Basara, Maria wishes to protect her mother, and Basara wishes to protect everyone. Surprisingly, the show here as well showcases quite the range in relation to its theme. Protecting someone sometimes means doing what has to be done as opposed to what is the right thing to do. Maria’s betrayal to save her mother is an easy example. It may also involve a sense of self-lost protection; Basara, through his actions, protects those around him but makes others incapable of returning the favor. The structure of the series follows essentially three separate arcs, each focusing on one of the main girls and their reason for protecting. The developments therein always lead to the same outcome – Basara adding one more woman to his ever-growing harem – and the actual exploration of the theme isn’t expansive – the morality mentioned previously isn’t discussed nor is there ever any “bad” conclusions – but Testament is at least consistent in its thematic presence from start to finish.
Testament’s art is a testament to boringness. While the protection theme was inching towards the generic field, it’s here where the anime begins to fully find itself in. Many of the locations visited are typical, tried, and tired: a school classroom here, a dark forest there; the anime, despite having all of these characters from various backgrounds, never provides the audience with a look at anything even remotely interesting. And while the “ecchi” moments are top-tier, most of them are sadly censored. Not so much that it is impossible to discern what is occurring behind the miniature caricatures they use to hide it, but enough to make you frustrated that all of the goodness is being kept just out of reach.
The character designs fair a bit better in comparison to the art style that surrounds them. Sticking to its sexy roots, the women are often clad in such a way as to make their signature assets that much more appealing to look at. Mio’s black-and-white school outfit with long, red hair helps to magnify her breasts that much further. Yuki’s skirt is just short enough to reveal her butt when needed. And Maria’s garb is black-and-pink – a sultry combo – that doesn’t leave much room for the imagination, since they’re not so much clothes as they are a single piece of lingerie. Basara’s design – cuts and scars across his entire body – provides him with the physical evidence needed to demonstrate just how much he is willing to protect those he loves.
When looking at the show’s actual animation, it’s a tougher call. The anime can bring its game during certain action sequences, and especially so during the “ecchi” material. But since these are usually seen about once or twice per episode, the majority of what the anime offers in terms of movement is average.
When it comes to Testament’s cast, many don’t see a huge amount of development. Basara is far and away the weakest character and isn’t an interesting person in the slightest. He’s the super strong, super nice, and super gung-ho guy who exists as nothing more than the leader of the harem. He’s the same from start to finish, seeing only minimal investigation in the form of a small flashback. Meaning, while he exemplifies the theme that the anime focuses on, his actual character suffers through monotony and severe lack of development. The majority of the cast is treated the same way; that is, as not really changing over the course of the season despite having their own “arcs.” Part of the problem is due to the segmentation of the season itself and due to their overall powers. The characters being a trained succubus, a renowned sword fighter, a daughter of the Devil, and a man who is capable of reversing any attack against him are unfortunately written into the corner of “no improvement” rather early on. However, all is not completely lost on the girls, for Basara does aide each of them in becoming a better person.
Maria is a mommy’s girl; she is conflicted given the position she was forced to take, and attempts to do everything on her own. But Basara proves that sometimes, it is necessary to rely on others, because it just isn’t possible for us to do everything by our lonesome. Yuki fights the demons due to her Hero Clan status, but she isn’t blind. She’s honorable, following her own heart when dealing with the situations she faces instead of mindlessly following the “rules” set around her. This thinking was directly inspired by Basara who, as her role model, does the same; fights for what is right as opposed for what is “correct.” And Mio starts off pretty dependent, leveraging other people’s good-will to get her through the day, but still refrains from connecting with anyone too seriously due to her own dark past and familial loss. So through Maria’s guidance, Yuki’s friendship, and Basara’s love, she realizes that she doesn’t have to be alone. In essence, she “opens up” to those around her, becoming closer to those who had been close to her the entire time.
While the show doesn’t put too much thought into nearly all of its characters, it still manages to inject a bit of direction when looking at each of their move-sets. In essence, their outward actions symbolize their inner person. Maria uses hand-to-hand combat because she’s very hands on in her dealings with people as a succubus. Instead of fists, Yuki uses a sword that mirrors her personality: sharp, direct, yet extremely elegant. Mio’s fiery magic is easy to see; it reflects not just the immense power she has within her, but also the passion she has for her closest friends. And Basara’s “Banishing Shift,” his ultimate move, defines who he is deep down. That is, his ability to completely give back any move thrown his way matches how much he gives back to others through his constant need to protect the ones around him. The rest of the cast can be looked at in a similar fashion, demonstrating that the anime can appeal not only to our hormones but to our brains, too.
Testament’s weakest component is arguably the sound that makes up nearly all that it does. The opening theme isn’t so much grating on the ears as it is just painfully boring. And it knows this; it tries to make it more enticing by adding in faux-nakedness here and there, but the visuals aren’t enough to distract the audience from having to listen to the generic beat and overdone guitar playing. The ending theme is even worse, containing a lot of singing, choirs, and drums that all mash together in such a way that nothing seems to be working. In other words, it’s at this point that the anime’s inability to focus on what it does well – the “ecchi” and sexiness – begins to easily show.
Much of the original soundtrack contains pieces that are mired in heavy use of “powerful” instruments and group singing, in order to give everything a grandiose feel. It could even be said that the direction of the music is meant to sound “church-like,” given that the anime is entitled after portions of the Bible. At the same time, many of the tracks contain guitars, saxophones, and other, ambient instrumental effects that heighten “the mood” and therefore the sense of sexuality that permeates the anime during most scenarios. There are sad piano pieces for the melancholic times, flute arrangements for the laidback ones, and mysterious string tracks that fill those unknown moments. Unfortunately, like the OP and ED it finds itself between, nothing within the OST is memorable, let alone impactful, making much of what it sets out to do go unappreciated and therefore ends up unappealing.
And in order to round it all out, the voice acting for the show is average at best. There are no special shout-outs to be had.
This one is all about the “ecchi” content. Being a fan of such material myself, it was definitely a pleasant surprise when the show decided to go as far as they were going with nearly all of its offerings. It was nice to witness not just the daringness of the show but also the uniqueness of the content, contrasting hard with the rest of the generic aspects of the anime. I’m a big fan of Mio, adult Maria, and especially Yuki, so watching them on-screen being lewd every now and again was never a sight for sore eyes.
But while such promiscuity is very well-done, I never found myself to like anything else. The action sequences are a lot of explosions here and there, the emotional events never moved me, and while it tries to be comedic at times, it isn’t that funny, with maybe an elicited laugh at very specific moments. A large portion of the anime are long stretches where these kinds of developments occur, and when they were going on, I really just wanted it to back to doing what it did best – employing Yuki and the other girls in the “ecchi” antics.
While The Testament of Sister New Devil finds itself muddied by mediocrity, not everything within is entirely lost. The sexual content is executed nicely, its theme remains relevant both with the narrative and the development of the characters, and the designs of the girls are enticing to see. But it’s all dragged down by a less-than-stellar main male lead, an uninspired art style, and lackluster music that, when all combined, concocts a show that is simply run-of-the-mill.
Story: Good, fantastic “ecchi” elements, and consistent yet unexplored theme
Animation: Fine, boring art style, very nice character designs, average actual animation
Characters: Fine, Basara is bad, Maria, Yuki, and Mio experience some development, and everyone has purposeful abilities
Sound: Bad, lame OP and ED, below average soundtrack, average VA work
Enjoyment: Fine, the “ecchi” is great to watch but nothing else is
Final Score: 5/10
Thanks for taking the time to read my review. If you want, take part in the discussion below! :3