"The Seven Deadly Sins" is a shounen action/fantasy manga that seems like it would be about as generic of a story as you could imagine something in this genre being. But only at first. It certainly clears that up quickly by introducing a world and a complex cast of characters that are anything but generic.
Beginning with a meeting between a princess and a man with a childlike stature acting as a barkeeper, the manga begins with the duo deciding to find a powerful group of warriors known as "The Seven Deadly Sins" in order to defeat the evil that has overcome the kingdom's monarchy. What
is soon revealed is that the barkeeper is no ordinary person, but actually the leader of the Seven Deadly Sins, Meliodas, the Sin of Wrath. He is a legendary (and might I add, incredibly overpowered) warrior who the Holy Knights of the kingdom of Britannia (yes, it's not a creative name) has claimed was responsible for the death of the Great Holy Knight. Holy Knights are basically the strongest protectors of a nation, and the Great Holy Knight is the strongest out of all of them. The Seven Deadly Sins were originally allied with the Holy Knights, but ten years ago, everything changed and the members split up as they fled from the Holy Knights. Now Meliodas and the princess named Elizabeth begin their search for the other Seven Deadly Sins.
Still sounds like a fairly generic setup, but trust me, that doesn't last long. So what makes it unique? Aside from the characters, the complexity of the world is slowly showed to the reader in a way that will keep you focused and wanting to know more. This story hides an incredible amount of detail from reader, dangling it just out of reach, but not too much to the point of being annoying. It makes you wonder many things:
(1) What are the sins that each of the Seven Deadly Sins have committed? This is a huge part of the story and one of the most interesting features of the main characters. Even the other main characters do not know what sin each of them has committed, and they don't ask. So far (as of 82 chapters into the story) only two have been revealed so far, which is done in lengthy side chapters. The reason I'm mentioning this in so much detail is because the first one to be shown in chapter 25.5 is one of my absolute favorite backstories ever (and I'm a huge sucker for a good, emotional backstory). It also creates one of my favorite couples in a long time.
(2) Who are the real villains in this story? Most of the people of Britannia and the Holy Knights initially believe that the Seven Deadly Sins are the villains and that the Holy Knights are the heroes because of what happened ten years ago. However, that's not how the Seven Deadly Sins and Princess Elizabeth see it. But just because they are the protagonists does not necessarily mean they are really good. If you think the main characters are going to be similar to something like how the Straw Hat Pirates in One Piece really are good and are just seen as being bad because they're pirates, keep reading and you'll see how conflicts in that belief will arise.
(3) What the hell is up with Meliodas' power? It's obvious he's incredibly strong, but... Well you'll know what I mean when you get to the end of the Byzel arc.
And those are just a few of the questions that I wonder the most. Given that each of the Seven Deadly Sins is incredibly strong beyond belief, and most of the Holy Knights are as well, it creates some of the most intense battles I've ever seen in a shounen battle story. Every fight in this manga is exciting and the outcome is unpredictable. Despite being very overpowered, the main characters do lose and do underestimate their opponents because of their power.
While the Seven Deadly Sins as well as many of the Holy Knights are very interesting and unique characters, Elizabeth is about as boring of a female protagonist as you can get in a shounen manga. She's your typical damsel-in-distress and only has a couple useful moments. There are mysteries surrounding her, but aside from being the catalyst to start the story and a motivation for Meliodas and the others to spring into action, she hasn't done very much so far and has less fighting skill than the talking mascot pig character, Hawk.
As for the art, it starts off a little rough but eventually settles into an excellent groove. This manga has some of the most detailed battles I've ever seen in a shounen manga. The character designs are also interesting and good. Despite being ecchi, it never pushes it too far and only has it as a backdrop occasionally with Meliodas' perverted side and the occasional ripped clothes in a battle. The scenery of the fantasy world of Britannia is also beautiful. The world has a Middle Ages' European style as many fantasy stories do.Each town is unique and shown from a distance before the characters enter it (and sometimes destroy it).
What I originally thought would just be another typical "find some allies and beat the bad guys" story turned out to be a much more complex tale then I could have imagined from the cover. The characters, the world, the art, the mysteries. It's all excellently executed. Despite the beginning being a little slow, Elizabeth's uselessness, and some other issues here and there, this is one of the best shounen action stories I've seen in a while. Plus it's still got a long ways to go. With an anime announced sometime in the future, hopefully this manga will continue on for a long time and be able to fully show what the world of "The Seven Deadly Sins" really has to offer.