I almost don’t wanna mention AnoHana, because everyone else is certain to bring it up, but I almost have to, don’t I? Our story begins with Haruto, our bog standard anime hero, being approached separately by two of the girls in his guild. There are actually three girls in this story, but like AnoHana, the last one (she even wears glasses) doesn’t appear to have any interest in Haruto. Not yet, anyways. But I digress. Right off the bat, you can probably already tell how the two main love interests will be portrayed. Satsuki is a redhead, so she’s obviously going to be tsundere. So to confirm our worst fears, the poor girl can’t even hand the generic nipponjin a special ring without blushing and insisting that he doesn’t have to repay her kind gesture. Sure, he doesn’t. Opposite of Satsuki is Asahi, the girl with long, silverish hair. She’s obviously too nice and precious for this world. As a result, she gets to be the Menma of the show and die! Ding ding ding, we have ourselves a love triangle.
Like I said, even though I don’t want to bring up AnoHana, I literally can’t avoid the comparison. The anime is literally begging for it. The biggest difference here, however, is that this “Menma” shouldn’t be dead in real life, but she ends up dying anyways. Y’see, these kids play Union, an MMO that prominently features permanent death. That’s pretty hardcore; one wrong move and you could flush hundreds of hours down the toilet. This sort of thing doesn’t appeal to me, but hey, at least it’s better than losing your actual life, right? Plus, our kids normally don’t have anything to worry about, because they’re awesome at the game! You should know that Haruto and his buddies run the greatest, bestest, most splendiferous guild across the entire server. Naturally, our hero plays the role of a great warrior. Satsuki is the beautiful mage who can commend all of the elements. As for Asahi? She can apparently predict the future. No, I’m not shitting you. She can literally predict what will happen next in battle. In a video game. I don’t know how that works, but hey, maybe she can see the enemies’ move list. Maybe she can see all of the if-statements that comprises the monster’s AI.
Unfortunately, Haruto got a bit cocky one day and put himself in danger. As a result, Asahi had to sacrifice her in-game life to save him from permanent death. She literally jumps in the way and takes a laser beam to the chest. Oh well, she can just start up a new character, right? It’ll be fun to level up all over again! Kinda. Unfortunately, Asahi never returns to the game. In fact, her guildmates soon discover that they can’t contact her in real life at all. When the group meets up one day to try and console her together, they discover that the girl has literally died in real life from a heart attack. What? No, seriously, what? Talk about some crazy odds. Die in a game, then die in real life right afterwards. Yeesh. Anyways, the rest of the guild had already blamed Haruto for Asahi’s in-game death. Now they get to blame him for her actual death. Kids can be so cruel (and stupid). Just to kick a man when he’s down, Union suddenly decides to end service. Randomly or did the girl’s death somehow play into their decision? But I mean, why would it? Are they somehow responsible for her death? Is this now SAO all over again? Either way, the rest of the kids go their separate ways. Subaru, the greatest guild that the server has ever known, is no more.
Six years later, our hero is told that Union is back… as Re’Union! Clever name. No, really, it’s not that bad. It’s a good way to remind people that the old game is back. It’s better than just slapping a “2” to the end of the original title, anyways. But again, I digress. Not only is Union back as Re’Union, Haruto’s old account can be carried over to the new game. Obviously, the kid is hesitant to jump right back into the thick of things. No one wants to relive the trauma of their dead childhood friend. Nevertheless, his current best bud keeps bugging him to give Re’Union a shot. The former and some girl needs a third, and Haruto is the only person they can turn to. Plus, our hero hears on the news that Re’Union’s top players will get the chance to become an executive candidate for Pleroma, the company that developed the game. Again, what?! Yeah, you have no business, programming, or design acumen, but dude, you can really slay a virtual dragon! Not only that, there’s some weird bullshit about how players must possess a trait called “Sense” in order to play the game in the first place. I’m not going to bother unpacking that for now. Just know this: shortly after logging into Re’Union, Haruto stumbles into Asahi in a giant treasure chest of all places. She nonchalantly yawns as if she’s been sleeping this entire time.
The show obviously wants to be dramatic, but it hasn’t quite managed to engage my emotions. First, the premise is a little too silly for me to buy into the story just yet. They then go and make it worse by piling on this weird reward from Pleroma. More importantly, however, the characters just aren’t compelling or charismatic at all. Their interactions with each other are currently threadbare, so they can’t sell the tragedy of Asahi’s death. The story would’ve been better served focusing on the hero and his pain alone for now, but instead, we spend way too much time in the first episode on a bevy of generic MMO-flavored scenes. All of a sudden, a girl is dead, and I’m suffering from a whiplash in the story’s sudden change in tone and atmosphere. Happy-go-lucky questing to “IT’S YOUR FAULT SHE DIED YOU PIECE OF SHIT.” Yeesh. Obviously, Shichisei no Subaru‘s lacks Mari Okari’s melodramatic flair (for better or worse). But don’t get me wrong, ’cause I’m far from her biggest fan. After all, when it comes to executing a story’s themes and subtext, Okari clearly hails from Planet On-The-Nose. Nevertheless, if I have to praise the prolific writer for anything, it’s that she generally has an aptitude for appealing characterization, something which Shichisei no Subaru could sorely use at the moment. Maybe this flaw will correct itself in later episodes, but I’m not going to hold my breath. One look at Haruto is enough to make me a skeptic.
But that’s enough for now. I’ll be back later with the other shows. Here’s your moment of zen:
Speaking of MMO-related funsies, I’m reminded of this ongoing drama in the Final Fantasy XIV world. I can’t wait until someone turns that into an anime.