First Impression: The Idaten Deities Know Only Peace

So yesterday I was looking for something new to watch, and remembered I hadn’t yet tried this new series, The Idaten Deities Know Only Peace. Since it isn’t an isekai, it slipped lower on my priority list; now there’s actually two episodes out. So I’ve seen both now, and, um, wow. It’s an experience.

The premise is thus: Demons threatened humans, humans prayed for salvation, and gods called “idaten” appeared. They defeated the demons and sealed them away at the cost of several of their lives. Fortunately, other idaten stuck around and continued to watch over a relatively peaceful world.

For 800 years.

I can’t say whether it was intentional to use a Star of David as the magic seal, but it seems to me in poor taste.

In the present, the next generation of gods is less than enthusiastic to train to fight demons that are apparently no longer around. So they aren’t all that prepared to deal with—and I know this comes as a total shock, but suspend your disbelief—the sudden reappearance of their ancient foe. A human army finds one of the demons frozen in ice and thaws it out, whereupon it sits down with them to tea.

No, actually, it carves a new sculpture in the landscape and decorates it with their blood, along with the entrails of several of the gods who step in. Fortunately, as explained in detail in episode 2, the gods don’t actually need a circulatory system or other organs to survive. After serving the demon a big helping of curb-stomp, the gods fly off to nurse their wounds and train under one of the last surviving idaten of the old generation. The villains also get some screentime to show off their evil personalities and dastardly machinations, and with that the stage is set for the season’s conflict.

The Idaten may know only peace, but the humans are having a rough time of it.

If I had to describe this series in a few words, it would be “Phineas and Ferb meets Goblin Slayer.” If you think these would go together about as well as oil and water—you win today’s Common Sense Prize! There’s a certain tonal whiplash between Dragonball-style hijinks and snappy dialogue one moment, and gang-raping a nun in the middle of church the next. There’s blood—oh, so much blood—and more than one character gets introduced in a way that suggests they’ll be key to the plot, then is killed off moments later. The art style also oscillates between goofy, gritty, and avant-garde.

A true hybrid of different styles and genres can be an amazing work of art. (Think Lord of the Rings, which blended fairy tale and epic.) Idaten just bounces back and forth between opposites without warning, however, and without any attempt to harmonize their differences. Thus, I cannot recommend it for any general category of viewer.

Maybe I’m spoiled, but I like my highly-detailed anime backdrops.

Yet there’s also a kind of alien undertone to the whole thing that can be enjoyed, like the sub-flavors of a very niche wine. Because the plot is so shallow and unoriginal, with perfectly bland characters, the jarring presentation style grabs your attention and becomes… entertaining. There’s something inexplicably attractive in the show’s schizophrenic spasms: St. Vitus’s Dance is, after all, a dance.

So if you like outliers, and can stomach the very disturbing subject matter that pops in from time to time, give it a whirl on its legal streaming site at Crunchyroll.

R86 adds: I am broadly in agreement with my colleague concerning the first episode of this series. While I enjoyed the Soul Eater vibes I felt I was getting, and certainly have no right to complain about blood if I cut my anime teeth on Saint Seiya, some of the other decisions left me very confused. And when I say “some of the other decisions,” what I really mean is “the nun rape scene.” Surely it cannot have served any real purpose? Unlike NegativePrimes, however, I have not yet watched the second episode, so I will watch that at least before I come to a final decision.

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