I loved this show’s first three seasons, and even though it’s not canon, its 2018 film “Prisoners of the Sky.” In my opinion “The Seven Deadly Sins” early seasons are a great formulaic action-adventure anime with likeable characters, a focused plot, dastardly villains and heroic heroes, although I admit that I liked Season 1 much more than Season 3 (which is Season 2 in Japan and is technically the real Season 2, as Netflix’s Season 2 is a 4-episode limited series they reformatted), as while Season 3 did conclude a story that made sense between Captain Meliodas (Bryce Papenbrook) of the Seven Deadly Sins and the Demon Fraudrin (Chris Cason), it felt like it ran out of steam rather than reach a natural, satisfying conclusion.
Season 4 “Wrath of the Gods”, which landed on Netflix this year, is both much more grand in scale in its storytelling, but also more unfocused. If Seasons 1-3 were a tightly constructed, but contained tail in the “Seven Deadly Sins” world, much like what “The Hobbit” novel is for Middle Earth, Season 4 would be the show’s “Lord of the Rings,” with an army of new characters being introduced, most of whom do contribute to the season’s narrative in interesting ways, but are too one dimensional to be of interest on their own. I don’t mind epics, in fact I enjoy them when done well, but turning a story like the “Sins” into one this late was destined to do only one thing to the show: Turn it into a gigantic mess.
The basic plot of Season 4 sees Meliodas and his six other Sins reunite to take on the remaining members of the Ten Commandments, an elite squad thats serves the evil Demon King led by Zeldris (Papenbrook). But a revelation is made about Meliodas’s girlfriend, Elizabeth (Erika Harlacher), that reveals her true nature as well as her and Meliodas’s relationships with the world’s two Deities, the Demon King (Jason Marnocha) and the Supreme Deity, which triggers a curse that will cause Elizabeth to die in three days. This makes Meliodas desperate, and he eventually gets cornered by the Ten Commandment Melascula (Mela Lee), which forces him to revert to his true demon form, which is devoid of emotion but is infinitely more powerful than his regular self. It’s also how he was like over 3,000 years ago.
Season 4 sees the Sins fight against an evil Meliodas and other demons that have been released from the Demon Realm, like Chandler, Meliodas’s mentor who taught him his iconic Full Counter move. We see a much darker Meliodas, and his Sins team experience the exact same situation the Ten Commandments faced in Season 3: Confronting their former leader, who no longer stands with them, who is acting much differently than the person they love.
Season 4 is great because we finally get to see the dark Meliodas previous seasons’ antagonists have alluded to for so long, but that we never got to actually see. Unfortunately, it seems that his evil self is about as deep as Frieza from “Dragon Ball Z” — a villain gifted with world-destroying super powers completely numb to the suffering he causes, who destroys mostly because he can and he likes it (although I admit, Frieza is much more fun as a villain). Some shred of the old Meliodas does seem to be in him, as he directs his dark self with the singular purpose of amassing enough power to break Elizabeth’s curse, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s not much to Dark Meliodas. He talks in a deep voice and is generically evil.
There are a lot of upgrades this season, so much so that it seems that many of them are there just to sell merchandise, as the sheer amount of them can be numbing. Though, there are some necessary and useful ones that drive the plot forward, such as the ones that Sins giantess Diane (Erica Mendez) and current Fairy King King (Max Mittelman; he is a king and his name is also King) get from Ten Commandments Drole and Gloxinia (Marianne Miller), the former Kings of both the Giant and Fairy races, who joined the Commandements out of necessity. Drole and Gloxinia atone for their sins by helping the Sins (ironic), and in return, Diane and King learn from both kings of old, and it’s one of my favorite arcs in this season because it serves a clear and meaningful purpose, and it gives Drole and Gloxinia a reason to exist in this show beyond just being more powerful bad guy versions of Diane and King.
This season’s “villain”, the Ten Commandment Estarossa (David Vincent), who is Meliodas and Zeldris’ middle sibling, falls completely flat. Estarossa is alluded to be a fallen angel who is deeply in love with Elizabeth after a wall of exposition, and his commandment eats away at his psyche, making him go crazy. Despite his backstory, Estarossa comes off as an unlikeable psychopath who becomes the series big bad at the last minute, and the fact that he is not defeated makes Season 4 feel even more incomplete than Season 3. Maybe Season 5 will flesh him out a bit more, and indeed, it didn’t help that he was unconscious for most of Season 4, when he should have been given necessary character development. But as it stands, I’m not a fan of him. He’s a grown-up, color-swapped version of Meliodas whose defining character trait is that he’s crazy; far from a fully-developed, interesting villain.
There’s much more in Season 4, but if you want a plot summary, I recommend reading the show’s wiki. Truth be told, I think Season 4 has a lot of fat on it that could have been cut with no ill effect, and while I’m glad a lot of backstory and lore was revealed this season, I’ve honestly wondered if the mystery behind what the Holy War was and the intrigue surrounding that conflict and the backstories tied to it was much more enjoyable than what the actual conflict that is portrayed in Season 4.
“The Seven Deadly Sins” Seasons 1-3 adopted a formula very reminiscent of Matt Smith’s run on “Doctor Who,” in which our main characters would get themselves into a trying situation, and either Meliodas or someone else would get themselves out of it at the last minute, often in exciting ways with an excellent theme song playing (for “The Seven Deadly Sins”, this was the song “Perfect Time”). The show was by no means perfect, but it was exciting, intriguing, and every time “Perfect Time” played at the conclusion of an episode, you were sure to get an adrenaline rush. And that’s all I wanted out of Season 4.
Instead, we get what feels like an exposition-heavy meandering fanfiction that is a slog to sit through. For Seasons 1-3, I was spellbound by each episode. For Season 4, I couldn’t wait for it to be over, and I am not looking forward to Season 5.
The dubbing of this season also has unique issues, as while the acting itself is serviceable, the scripts they were given to read are so cliche they will make you fall asleep. Perhaps the sub version of this show is much better but I definitely noticed a huge drop in quality with Season 4’s dub.
“The Seven Deadly Sins” Season 4 English dub gets a 4/10