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Monday, 03 October 2011 00:00

Sacred Seven

Used to be I would look forward to new shows from Sunrise - you could usually count on them trying to do something a little differently, or telling a decent story. Sacred Seven was their contribution to the Summer 2011 season - and it seems that Sunrise may have lost their mojo...

Alma Tandoji, aged seventeen and very tall for his age, is someone who likes to keep other people at a distance, thanks to an incident in his past that saw him seriously injure a large group of schoolmates who had been taunting him. His ability to keep to himself may be coming to an end, though, as he's approached one night by Ruri Aiba, a young girl with secrets of her own. She pleads with Alma to help her battle against the Dark Stones, creatures that can only be defeated by the power of the Sacred Seven - a power that Ruri believes lies within Alma, and that she can help him draw upon...

Ruri is the little rich girl of the show, using the fortune that her dead parents amassed to continue their work with researching the Dark Stones and protecting the world for them, and hoping to find along the way a way to reawaken her twin sister Aoi, who has lain encased in crystal since the night their parents were killed. Ruri is assisted in her search by researcher Kenmi, who claims to be working to make sure that the power of the Sacred Seven is used only for good; by her implausibly good-looking and efficient butler Kagami; and by a maid army the likes of which hasn't been seen since Gravion. I happen to like maid armies, so bonus points from me there. On Alma's side of the fence, there's chairman of the Rockhounding Club, Wakana, perhaps the only person in their school who's willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and treat him like a normal person, despite his reputation. Put them all together, and you have a decent cast to take into battle against the Dark Stones.

The pitch for this one, when it was first announced at Comiket last year, was for a "school battle action project" with the tagline "People's memories change the world!". The first part of that I can see easily enough - Alma's high-school life is front-and-centre in the series - but the "memories" thing I have a harder time picking out. The warning signs, I guess, were in the staff credits, with a director whose previous projects include the Aquarian Age TV series (pretty, but messy plot) and Galaxy Angel; and a script supervisor best known for Yu-Gi-Oh! and the almost-impenetrable Karas.

"Pretty, but messy plot" is an accusation that can quickly be laid against Sacred Seven too: it really does look good, but the story is nonsensical or lacking in so many ways that following it soon becomes a chore. The main issue is the so little is explained: what is "sacred seven"? Where do the Dark Stones come from? Whatever the appeal of a maid army, surely Ruri could have come up with something better to save the world with..? And more besides. Sure, a show can ride on visual appeal alone for quite a while, there's a lot to be said for wow value, but unless you're doing a slice-of-life story where setting and characters are the reason for being, you have to get down to telling a story eventually - especially when, as here, you've set up a backstory and issues that clearly need to be resolved. Sacred Seven never really tries too hard in that area, settling only for tying up one story arc involving Kenmi & Aoi and otherwise doing very little.

It's a poster child for wasted potential, really. Yes, the girls are cute, the maids are fun, and it's a visual spectacle that's up there with the best of the season on that front. But there's so little else to it that it's hardly worth bothering with, ultimately, as there's just so little to get the teeth into. Shame, really.

Rating - ***