In the summer of 2018, I got set up on a blind date with a girl, sadly I struck out and nothing came of it. This of course happens, but I was bummed out enough that I needed something to rid my sorrows. Earlier that year I had recently come back into the anime world after several years “in the wilderness,” so I decided that a good ol anime binge-fest was what I needed. The binge I chose was a buffet table of harem and ecchi anime. Date A Live, Shomin Sample, Majikoi, and more. Over the next two days I shut myself away and just enjoyed the onslaught of comedy and harem hijinks that High School DxD had caused me to fall in love it. At the end of the binge-fest I came across another series, one that I had been told about, but I had somehow waited to the end to watch.
That series was Shinmai Maou no Testament, or The Testament of Sister New Devil. And I fucking hated it.
I disliked it so much, that hours after that final episode of season one rolled, I was literally pacing back and forth trying to figure out my feelings. How could have something I should have loved turned out so bad? How could a show, with all the ingredients for a home-run hit, just completely shit the bed? Had I just reached peak harem? Had my binge caught up with me? Or was I mad that it wasn’t another High School DxD?
This provided the catalyst for me to create Shallow Dives in Anime. For months I had been humming and hawing over creating a anime blog where I could get my thoughts on, hone my writing skills, and just have a project to work on. It was Shinmai and my anger towards the show that finally made me bite the bullet and do it. On September 9th 2018 I threw up my first post: Indulgence, Self Reflection and Shinmai Maou no Testament. A few months later in December, I published my second post examining the character of Basara Toujou called Shinmai Maou’s Basara Toujou: Anime Blue-Balls, Sexual Independence and A Moment of Greatness
Over year and the dozens of posts on dozens of different anime, I had dropped references to Shinmai Maou, and my dislike for it, always in jest and so much so that it became a running gag. Yet as time went on and it got closer and closer to a whole year of blogging, I realized that I would need to do something to celebrate. I have always believed in second chances and watching something again with your “fan expectations” set aside. Part of me wanted to go back to the series and see if my hatred had dimmed, or if I had misjudged the series because, as I said in my first post on the series, didn’t indulge my personal tastes. I thought it was the right thing to do, the mature thing to do, instead of just sitting in an echo chamber of self-eating hatred of something that frankly, isn’t really important. So I did that, I watched the entire first season again.
This is Shallow Dives in Anime, and welcome to my One Year Anniversary Post.
This is my re-dive into Shinmai Maou no Testament.
((You know what this show is. NSFW shit coming up))
This is going to be a different type of shallow dive, as it is not so much a review, but more of a personal unloading (again) of feelings.
I do not hate like Shinmai Maou no Testament, I just find it boring.
My anger at Shinmai Maou at the time I watched it could be pretty much summed up in the first post I did on it. The show didn’t indulge me. Instead of catering to my interests and what I wanted from the series, it decided to go it’s own way and do it’s own thing. That made me angry, because I had seen that the harem and ecchi genre was capable of doing amazing things when the effort and time is put into it.
Coming back one year later, my anger has completely vanished, and instead it has been replaced with another feeling: disappointment. I’m just disappointed in Shinmai, because it is a series that has such a potential for greatness that it never once attempts to seize it. This is most seen in the character of Basara Toujou, the male lead of the series who feels like he is torn between a push pull of what the series IS, and what the series COULD be. His backstory of being a hero who lost control his powers and caused a great accident, of being exiled from his village and then being saddled with the responsibility of protecting a devil princess and her servant is a good enough story to hook you in, but the story never really puts in the time to expand it. There is little world-building, little time spent on examining his feelings and reactions to the events around him. When enemies from his village come to try and take and then kill Mio, there is little if any time spent showing how this would affect Basara, to fight his old friends and allies.
Even his design, which is a great one: a toned body full of battle scars and wounds that indicate a hard life, a tortuous life are never mentioned, even though there are so many moments where Mio or the other girls could bring it up. I’ll be honest, on paper, Basara is a cool character, everything about how he looks just says “cool,” but the series doesn’t do anything with it. Too often it feels like Basara is being dragged along the plot because it demands him to, and that is no better seen in the major idea of the series: The master/servant pact.
The idea that Basara makes Mio his servant, and has to sexually satisfy her (and later others) to increase their powers and protect their lives is again, a great hook. Let me clear here, the fanservice and ecchi of Shinmai isn’t a problem, in fact it is the series biggest strength. The characters all very well designed, and the ecchi moments are some of the best the genre has had to offer, there are some legit erotic and hot under the collar moments presented. A decade and a half ago, this series would have become a massive hit, but in the era where internet porn and hentai are button clicks away, Shinmai has to depend more on just boobs and butts to carry its story.
Yet there are two scenes that show that potential, the idea that there is actually something behind Basara and the series itself. The first is the cake scene, where when Maria (the best character of the series, who actually has a fucking personality) brings in some cake to the show. Basara, fed up with her hijinks, decides to take matters into his own hands and uses the cake to both dominate Mio, and Maria. This scene, as excellent piece of fanservice that it is, shows the viewer that perhaps under Basara’s aloof and cold exterior, is a real actual human being who maybe, just MAYBE gets off on the idea of being these two girls’ master. That deep down, he actually really enjoys the idea of just being with these two. The problem is that the scene is implied to have not happened, and that Basara just fainted before the cake came out.
Why not go the distance? Why not have that actually happen? Why not have Basara grapple with the idea that part of him is giving into his inner desires, desire that he maybe thought weren’t even there? Why not have Basara torn between the push/pull of doing his duty, and surrendering himself to his teenage hormones and the fact that he’s got multiple BOMBSHELLS who are more than willing to give him the green light? Why does the series pull back? This question still bugs me to this day. That right there is the moment, the chance for the series to be SOMETHING, and it just walks away from it.
The second scene of course, is both the best one of the season and one of the best scenes in ecchi history. In the final episode, Basara shares a dinner with Chisato, the school nurse who has drifted in and out during the season. During a moment alone together in the bathroom, Basara and Chisato give into their mutual attraction and surrender to their pent up desires. The scene, free of the blue-balling that all ecchi anime have to follow, and with no other characters to interfere or stop them, is the one moment where Basara Toujou actually feels like a real human being, a person seizing the moment given to him and indulging in a sexual experience with a partner just as, if not more willing. It is a scene that is both extremely erotic, and extremely effective as a piece of character development. Even when the show implies that it was “just a vision”, Basara at least walks away from the moment saying that he “has a lot to think about”.
Aside from these two scenes though, there is little else that can be truly impressive about Shinmai (if you don’t count the ecchi). The story is bare bones at best, and the characters feel one dimensional and just bland. Mio Naruse, the main female feels no more different from the dozens of red-haired Tsundere that have come before, both in and out of the ecchi genre. Yuki feels like a discount version of Date A Live’s Origami, though with none of the quirks and gags that help her stand out, and Zest and Chisato play light supporting roles. Only Maria, the succubus has any sliver of a real personality, with her obsession of video taping every lewd moment and helping Basara, but even she pales in comparison to the best the ecchi genre has offered before.
Shinmai Maou no Testament is not a bad series, it was just boring to me. There are many fans who like it, many fans who love it. I’ve been told the light novels expand on the scenes, and I’ve been told that the second season does take the characters in some new directions. In terms of ecchi and animation, this series is excellent, but it fails in all the places that matter to me: its characters and its story. I can see the potential for greatness, I can see the thread and plot ideas that, if just given a bit more time and effort, would transform this series into something far better than it is. However whether by the will of the animation studio, or the decision of the writer, Shinmai Maou no Testament is never brave, or willing enough to take that extra step.
But again, that’s just me, and I am one person with one opinion. This series wasn’t for me, but I am very glad I sat down, put my biases aside and gave the series another chance. I tried to be fair as I could be, and I did walk away with a greater appreciation for what it does well. I have great respect for author Tetsuo Useu, who has created something loved by thousands and that has sold millions. NOTHING will take that away, and this series deserves the respect and praise from those who have found joy in watching it. I just couldn’t find that, and that’s fine. Not everything is always meant for you, or for me, and we owe it both to ourselves and everyone to sometimes accept things for what they ARE, not what we want them to BE.
At this point I have said everything I need to say about Shinmai Maou no Testament, and I walk away from the series having made peace with the fact that, hey, this show wasn’t for me. Regardless, it was the anime that convinced me to start this blog, that convinced me to get my thoughts out into the world, and also convinced me to try my own hand at creating an ecchi/harem novel. I will always be grateful for that, and aside from one future collaboration post with a fellow blogger, I am now finally going to shut up about the series.
Also, Chisato is hot as fuck.