Shichisei no Subaru

Title:Shichisei no Subaru
Seven Senses of the Re'Union
七星のスバル
Overall:Rent
Keywords: , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - Lerche
OMORI Nichika
TAKANASHI Kengo
Six years ago Haruto Amo was part of a team of elementary school video gamers, known as 'Subaru', that enjoyed great success within the sword & sorcery MMORPG 'Union'. Union was a demanding game and when a person was 'killed' within it he or she was locked out of it permanently afterwards. At Haruto's urging, Subaru undertook a dangerous quest and his team mate Asahi--who was priceless due to her ability to foresee the future--was killed. Then, almost simultaneously, Asahi died in the real world as well due to heart failure. This was apparently just a strange coincidence, but Haruto felt responsible nevertheless. He didn't touch the game afterwards, but now a couple of friends have begged him into helping them out in Re'Union, the latest incarnation. And, while playing, he makes an amazing discovery: Asahi--or at least her avatar--is alive and well within the game.

12 episodes
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Rent Stretch [series:3555#628]
(All episodes watched):

Okay, this is more like it--a show whose first episode ends with a fascinating question that I absolutely must know the answer to. This is the sort of stuff that I will most certainly not have forgotten when episode two comes around. Here we have another show about what's possible when two worlds, the real-life one and the virtual one, interact. Initially I was put off by the modest character designs and the unlikely situation where elementary school age children are running roughshod over older players, and feared that this might be little more than a poor man's SAO. But with time a number of intriguing hints are dropped about possible issues to come; like, what is this 'sense' that a person must have to play this game? Is the Pleroma corporation up to something? Does the girl with pink hair secretly love Haruto? I liked the touch where one member of Subaru apparently is a foreigner; I wonder why that detail was included. And, of course, how in the world is Asahi still alive within the game, when she was most definitely killed at one point? Shichisei doesn't have 'Quality!' written all over it, but this was looking like a fun show, and when a show is fun it is hard to go wrong.

I was afraid that episode two might quickly dispense with the intriguing question of how Asahi is still alive within the game and turn to simple-minded nonsense, but to my relief it didn't, at least not completely. The characters don't exactly summon every ounce of brainpower they have to figure out what's going on, but they make an effort. They went far enough--like the interesting theory that the reason Asahi cannot log out is because she no longer has a real-world body to 'return' to. That made ideas like 'could this game be programmed to duplicate the mind of anyone who dies while playing?' occur to me. On the other hand, I felt that the other guilds trying very hard to recruit—or should I say kidnap--Asahi was a diversion from the main matter, but oh well. I wished that they would just get out of the way and let the story progress. The tone here is somewhat more silly than SAO, but I will not complain too much since this is an original lost-in-virtual-reality show. Actually, everyone but Asahi can log out whenever they please, which is sort of original in an ironic way.

Over time it slowly became clear to me—it wasn't completely clear until the very last episode—that the main premise of Shichisei no Subaru isn't solving the mystery of Asahi's continued existence, it's reuniting the six friends who have all gone their own ways and defeating a conspiracy to exploit players of Re'Union. If I had known this right from the start I might have chosen not to watch this show, but fortunately I didn't, because the show turned out to be fun anyhow. One by one, the former members of Subaru return, and are likeable people who we can root for. The question of whether romance will develop between couples within Subaru is always present. Hints are dropped here and there regarding what's really going on; for example, Asahi experiences a brief flash of memory (maybe) regarding what she's been doing in the six years since her character was supposedly killed. Another hint is dropped that the Pleroma corporation is somehow using the game and its players to develop some sort of highly valuable AI product without the players' permission. I wished that exactly what was important and what wasn't would be made a bit more clear, but I was still enjoying the show.

'Not brilliant, but always fun' seems like a fairly accurate encapsulation of this show as a whole. This is a show which seems to ooze potential, yet in my mind it repeatedly failed to make the most of it. I wished it would have delved more deeply into matters like what exactly Asahi has become, what the Pleroma corporation is up to, Todoroki's willingness to spend his life in a virtual world, etc. It seemed highly reluctant to do that, but the characters are likeable, the jokes are OK, and there was enough to the story to keep me interested. Indeed, it was my favorite anime of the season and the first one I watched (sometimes twice) each week. Given how it was seldom unquestionably brilliant, I sometimes found myself wondering why it was as much fun as it was. Perhaps we've gotten to know Asahi and Haruto and the others well enough that we absolutely must have a happy ending for them. We never really get a definitive answer to the question of how Asahi's mind has survived within Re'Union, but that's okay because the story has a definite charm to it nevertheless.

Last updated Friday, October 05 2018. Created Friday, July 27 2018.

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