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Shinmai Maou no Testament: Exile's Ani-TAY Review

Otherwise known as The New Testament of Devil Sister Devil of the New Testament Sister New Sister of the Testament Devil I Couldn’t Become a Sister So I Reluctantly Decided To Devil A New Testament The Testament of Sister New Devil. Yes, really.

Shinmai Maou it is!

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The show has a main character in the form of the scarred-and-broody Basara Toujo, who is randomly told by his father one day that he has gained two new younger sisters, as yon father has decided to get remarried. Whilst waiting to meet them for the first time (their mother conveniently absent) Basara gets fed up with his father’s blasé existence and goes to the bathroom, only to open the door upon a voluptuous redhead he then quickly restrains and silences to prevent her from making a ruckus. Because that’s a great idea. After that plan goes about as well as you’d expect, the girl is naturally revealed to be one of his two new sisters, Mio, and the happy family goes to move into the new house Basara’s father has arranged for them all.

Hilarity ensues. Really though, who wakes up someone they’ve just met, and doesn’t like, in such a way?

So, everyone spends a day getting to know each other; Mio and Basara go out shopping and he finds the whole Big Brother thing quite appealing after all (in the family sense, not omnipresent surveillance and Thought-Police), shortly after which Basara’s father receives a phone call and decides to fuck off overseas for a while, leaving three attractive adolescents in a house by themselves, unrelated by blood yet needing to form bonds with one-another.

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The expected is then avoided however, by the two girls immediately telling Basara to fuck off because they want the big new house for themselves, beginning the confirmation of every paranoia any misogynist has ever had about women. With Basara rather naturally going “Eh?” the younger of the two sisters continues the trend; slamming him up against a wall and revealing herself as a demon and Mio as the Demon Lord, as well as rather contemptuously mentioning the existence of Heroes and Gods to our average everyday protagonist. Turns out succu-loli charmed Basara’s father into thinking he was getting remarried and then made him leave, and now she’s going to do the same to Basara himself. Some parting words from Mio, then look at the hand, smile, and wait for the flash...

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Except it turns out Basara is a little too pissed off to fall for a demonic loli’s Charms, and he proceeds to flashstep around the two girls a couple of times before manifesting a rather oversized sword and mocking the girls’ surprise given that they just told him about the existence of Heroes. Making it quite apparent that he could kill them both, Basara instead restrains his obvious fury at their deception and merely tells them get out, before going to his room and having PTSD flashbacks about an event that obviously will feature in the story to come. Calling his father to update him on the situation, Basara is told in turn that his father knew about the two girls all along; Mio being the daughter of the former Demon Lord who brought an end to the war between Gods, Heroes and Demons and the other “sister” Maria being her protector. To keep her safe from those dissatisfied with his rule, the Demon Lord sent Mio to live on Earth unaware of her nature; a state of affairs that was ended some months prior by his assassination and her being forced to flee for her life from those who would use her. Thinking that Mio was more a victim than anything else, Basara’s father decided to help the two girls given that no-one else who could was going to. And possibly just to piss off the Hero’s Village given that Basara and his father seem to not have the greatest of opinions towards them, thus why they aren’t living there. Basara comes around to his father’s point of view after their little pep talk, though not until after pointing out that being told about this stuff might be a good idea as it might have prevented him from kicking them out, and he realises that the girls are probably already under attack and charges off to save them.

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He naturally arrives in the nick of time, and convinces the girls to return home with him, pulling sappy “we’re family” stuff, and their hijinks together continue from that point: Heroes and demons alike coming after Mio’s life, Basara’s past with the Hero’s Village being explored, the main cast all growing closer, and the general feeling that a better story could have been told about all this had they made more of an effort...

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Oh, and an excuse for fanservice lulz is introduced by way of loli-cubus making Basara agree to become Mio’s servant through a binding ritual, as a way of allowing each to locate the other at distance; a handy effect given the risks she faces.

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Except Maria totally unintentionally messes around with the ritual and ends up binding Mio to Basara instead. And as it turns out, she hadn’t mentioned the side-effect of Mio becoming Fantastically Aroused anytime she thinks about going against her new “Master’s” wellbeing, requiring Basara to make her “submit” to him as an enforcement of loyalty to make the effects subside.

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Yeah...

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Maria

Maria is one of the best characters of the show, in my opinion. Using succubi in media is often a cheap and easy way of including a licentious woman who does not require anything beyond the barest [pun intended] justification, and all too often the stereotypical loli succubus is a one-note ecchi hijinks agent who never comes across as actually being an embodiment of sexual desire, but also never moving beyond the archetype. Maria manages to accomplish both.

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Whilst it is true the vast majority of her behaviour involves sexual elements in some fashion, as you might expect from a lust demon, it isn’t all there is to her personality. Sex merely comes across as her preferred vessel for acting within (often without reserve) but when it is inappropriate she’ll put it aside and take things more seriously.

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Or knowingly double down for humour in a way that inevitably ends badly for her. Either way, she is a multi-faceted entity with perhaps the greatest amount of displayed character depth of the entire cast.

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In-Universe Justification

This is actually something I appreciate: there’s a minimal amount of handwaving going on with Testament. At the risk of being slightly spoiler-y, much of what the main cast does is actually justified to a deeper degree than might be expected. Even when things don’t work as planned it’s apparent that they had reason to think it might. I’ll give this show that, considering so many of its contemporaries prefer induced plot development...

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Though naturally there is an exception... Note I said “main” cast. >.>

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Basara

Basara is a surprising protagonist. He is surly and short with his father, yet they have a good relationship. He has a temper he indulges from time to time, yet never actually comes close to losing control. He’s observant, analytical and gratifyingly ruthless on occasion, yet not infallible. And ironically for an ecchi show, he demonstrably has a libido. That he always holds back from satisfying it is one of the more externally driven aspects of the show: no reason as to why he shouldn’t is ever provided despite it not being that difficult to come up with a selection. Really, no sex occurs in this show because the show is not hentai, and no other reason. Of everything, this was the thing that stretched my suspension of disbelief the most, frankly.

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Censorship

I still find this section being included under “Not Bad” highly amusing. Honestly, I found the censorship in this show one of the funniest elements, and were I to watch the uncensored version in turn I think I’d find myself significantly less interested in what would be occurring. In fact, the only reason it’s in the “so-so” section rather than being one of the recommended aspects is because the methodology used for censoring the non-bluray releases is inconsistent.

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One the one hand you have the typical censor steam/light beams/hallucinogenic fog.

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And at other times, hilarious uses of caricatures of the cast to block out the scenery.

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The cariactures on their own are amusing enough...

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But when they start being employed with relation to the scene itself, I found myself quite impressed. Softcore ecchi can be found in many places, but intelligent self-aware humour is a little rarer. This is a show that I actually think the censorship improves, and I consider it a shame they didn’t ditch the generic mist clouds entirely.

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That said, even they can be amusing. I mean, what is that even masking? It’s just in that scene for no reason, hiding nothing at all that I’m aware of.

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In-Universe Stupidity

Not so much the show forcing stupidity on the cast as a plot device, but just some elements of the setting are so stupid they could hazard the immersion of the viewer. Obviously this is a subjective judgement and going into exactly what these elements are would involve significant spoilers, but let me just say: there is irrational anger and hatred, and the behaviour that can lead to, and beyond that there is the attitude held by some characters towards our main cast.

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Another thing to mention here might be the initial behaviour displayed by Mio, though she does leave it behind her pretty quickly. I am no fan of the trope known as Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male, commonplace though it is in anime, and the first couple of episodes really have Mio indulging. An argument could be made that she isn’t in the best of mental places right then but it really does initially present her as a bitch. The situation does improve quite rapidly, but still, that scene of her waking Basara up makes such little sense. Even given that she is probably looking for an excuse to dislike him given she knows she’s going to fuck him over in short order, the scene opens with her waking him up by bouncing on top of him, wearing a tanktop she can barely fit into and shortshorts she hasn’t fastened (thus revealing that little panty-bow all such Japanese items of underwear seem to feature), moves through the standard “suggestive development that the guy is obviously confused by” and typical “tripping and falling on her” and ends with her kneeing him in the balls, calling him a pervert and storming off. Which, after her behaviour, makes her seems not so much irrational as insane. The alternative possible justification that she’s trying to make him hate her might fit, but has no supporting evidence in the show and I have a personal stance that if it requires fanwank to work, it doesn’t work. The whole scene comes across as forced and stands out all the more as such scenes do not occur subsequently; Mio becoming much more nuanced and, frankly, likeable as a character.

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Gratuitous Shallowness

Bluntly, Testament comes across as inconsistent with its tonality. On the one hand, there is the potential for an interesting story to be told; the setting is solid if simple, the main characters well-enacted and even the sexual humour is managed with commitment and intensity.

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Sometimes.

Other times, it kinda gives the impression that it’s doing a given scene just because it thinks it should, but isn’t really feeling it. Even so, at its worst I wouldn’t say it falls below the standard level of a fanservice show people watch despite a plot rather than for one. It’s just a shame that the higher levels it reaches aren’t maintained.

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Testament is is a pretty standard ecchi fanservice-rife show; not the worst of the genre by any means but also lacking enough character to really distinguish it from the rather glutted field. With a decent cast and a solid world, it does have moments that could make one wish it did a better job of telling the story it has available to it, but the insistence of forcing the usual ecchi staples gets in the way of what could be a good action story, with or without sexual elements which could be used for both amusement and actual character development.

With a second season already announced perhaps it could yet manage.

Yeah, not holding my breath...


The Testament of New Sister Devil can be watched on Crunchyroll.

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I was actually hoping for less from Testament; I had a whole mocking review format planned for a shallow display of fanservice tripe, which is rendered inapplicable by it having just too much substance to make it work. I’m slightly annoyed about that.

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Spoilers.

I do feel that there is the potential for a good story given Testament’s setting. The characterisation is good enough to make a story about these people worth it, and the inconsistent variance between generic ecchi blah, actually funny ecchi comedy and passable action places the show between either being recommendable and being crap. Improvement on that front would make the show much more viable.

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Whilst the characters do fill the standard slot for a harem show; tsundere, kuudere etc etc they do manage to establish themselves as people even so; Mio stops being so much a contemptuous bitch when she realises she doesn’t have to remain emotionally distant from Basara, Maria is a succubus who honestly values emotional engagements over shallow trysts (throughout the run she makes no serious effort to seduce either Basara or anyone else, yet that she is the one most deeply in love with Basara at the end of the series seems obvious to me. Also, when she is attempting to Dominate his mind during her betrayal she is regretful they couldn’t be together properly beforehand), Yuki is the emotionless childhood friend who isn’t so much “emotionless” as “driven,” marked by the same trauma as the rest of the Heroes yet much more rational about what happened, and Basara himself is the surly action type; carrying the guilt of an action he had no choice in, the hatred of his people and the subsequent exile of himself and his father from their home, yet he retains the forthrightness and integrity we see of him during the flashbacks to his childhood whilst being accepting both of others and their feelings (rather than tripping over his words trying to avoid the issue like some protags), and at the same time being ruthless enough to negotiate and calmly observe the killing of the one who murdered Mio’s parents and then came after her. A scene which pleased me greatly given the preceding “No Mio, you must not kill him, for it would make you as bad as him” had me ranting in the Ani-TAY chat about bullshit moralism and threat practicality.

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Also, everyone living in the Hero’s Village is fucking stupid.

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PS. Anyone else think Maria’s mother is a Chobit?

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