Sunday Without God

Sunday Without God

d4e0f7bb37eb53e7c79a355c948d665b1373186751_fullOn the seventh day, God forsook humanity and left them behind in a world where nobody could die. This created the need of gravekeeper (hakemori), who are the only beings who could really put a human being to permanent rest.

In a quiet countryside village lives the young Ai Astin. Her mother has just passed away, leaving her with the task of being the villages gravekeeper in her stead. However, her job is quickly curtailed when a mysterious man named Hampney Hambart appears before Ai and kills everyone.

Starting from vaguely Christian foundations, Sunday Without God focuses on death and the way it is perceived. Now, don’t go getting the wrong idea – it’s not as morbid as it initially sounds. It’s quite innocent and beautiful in a way that’s very compelling. The initial episode is very misleading, almost like it wanted to do something shocking and interesting in order to grab an audience. It doesn’t exactly make a whole lot of sense, but things slowly start to unravel as we continue on Ai’s journey.

Hampney Hambart shoots up the whole village – and yet, no one dies. As the gravekeeper, Ai is upset about this, and thus begins an explanation on why no one is able to ‘pass over’ to heaven. Essentially, Ai’s world was wished for and Ai, at twelve years old, is an anomaly herself as humans seemingly lost the ability to reproduce over fourteen years ago. After burying the entire village, Ai then, rather willingly, goes travelling with this unnerving mass-murderer. After this, the main story takes us through about three major arcs that effectively make up Ai’s journey.

imageThroughout the story, which I found to be more compelling than I initially expected, Ai meets some very interesting characters. After Hampnie Hambert then comes Julie, a grieving widower, and Scar, another gravekeeper. They then travel to Ortus, a large city of the undead, and meet Kiriko and Ulla. Even though Scar believes that the denizens of Ortus, being technically dead, need to be buried, we see Ai sympathising with the city and questioning her occupation as a gravekeeper.

The third arc is perhaps my favourite – with Ai’s stint at Goran Academy, a school for children with special abilities. Here Ai meets a range of interesting characters. I was impressed with the detail given to each of them being that there were so many. Everything was so intricate, mysterious, and had plenty of vivid colours and hazy scenes that it was if you were falling into the world. Since the anime is based in a world where something so fundamental as death has changed, it makes every situation open to interpretation. The logic, the ethics, and the definition of life and death itself. It was very refreshing and, in fact, a little endearing.

imageWhat this anime loses in the face of that is its validity. There is so much supernatural phenomena involved that eventually we’re just meant to except it without any real explanation. However, I was so invested in this anime that I wanted to know everything: why a gravedigger is the only one that can put humans to rest, why people stopped reproducing, and why Goran Academy was so full of people with all these supernatural X-Men-like abilities. Nothing is ever fully explained.

imageEven with this one particular snag irking me all the way along the story, I really enjoyed Sunday Without God. It really works as a 12-episode series and each episode is rather nicely self-contained, as well as bringing the personal motivations and stories of its many characters to satisfying conclusions. Throughout the anime, Ai goes on a journey to save the world. But to save the world you have to start small first, and with every group she meets she becomes an even bigger saviour.

A beautiful, moving anime that completely pulls you into the story and its characters. One I would definitely recommend.