What’s it about? In the virtual reality MMO Union, a group of six grade-school kids calling their group “Subaru” are known for being unstoppable players—until one of them dies both in-game and out of it. Six years later, Fighter Haruto reluctantly returns to the game’s sequel Re’Union to help a classmate with a beginner’s quest. But when he opens the chest at the end of the dungeon, he finds the avatar of his deceased friend waiting for him!
There’s a lot of world-building, table-setting, and plot packed into this first episode, yet it somehow all pretty much boils down to “What if AnoHana, but in one of them MMO animes that are all the rage with the kids these days?” There’s a paint-by-numbers quality to Seven Senses, as if it’s plucking ingredients from other recipes without much thought to how they fit together or what kind of seasonings would enrich their combined flavors. The result is edible but unremarkable, and I left it craving something with more substance.
Seven Senses spends its first few minutes in InfoDump Mode, introducing us to three characters we’ll probably never see again so they can explain Union‘s mechanics and build up The Legend of the Subaru Guild. While Union may look like a boilerplate western fantasy-style MMO, it is actually unique and difficult (Rando A explains) because, if your character dies, then you can never respawn or log in again, EVER. This is a laughably bad business model, but I’m sure it won’t be significant to the plot or anything.
We’re then whisked away to Subaru’s base, where the gang is talking about how unstoppable they are and how they’ll always play together, right before they decide to go fight a monster that nobody’s ever beaten before. Oh, and one of the girls, Asahi, appears to confess her feelings for protagonist Haruto right before they leave. Because there’s just no such thing as too many death flags, turns out.
Surprising exactly no one, Asahi dies protecting Haru and her character dissolves. What is surprising, though, is that Asahi’s heart gives out at the same time and she dies in real life, too. (But the game company assures us this was just a freak accident and had nothing to do with the game, wink wink.) The rest of the guild breaks apart.
Flash forward six years, when Union reboots as Re’Union and allows people to migrate their old characters over. Re’Union‘s business model is even worse than Union‘s, as not only is the Death Is Forever rule still in place, you can’t even play unless you have a special ability vaguely called “Sense.” The (almost certainly evil) company that makes the game is also offering real-world perks like scholarships and study abroad trips to players who excel at the game, which has led to a lot of people thinking of themselves as “the chosen ones” and playing for profit instead of fun.
There’s some potential to that concept, but it’s not explored much yet. Instead, like it says in the summary, Haruto raids a dungeon and finds Asahi’s avatar in a treasure chest. Color me shocked—not that he found his dead friend, but that Seven Senses broke the Law Of People Found In Boxes and kept her fully clothed when it happened.
There’s a lot of recap to this review because, honestly, there’s not much else to Seven Senses beyond the Stuff That Happened. This premiere spends a lot of time telling us what’s going on, but very little time giving its audience a reason to care about it.
The characters are blandly inoffensive archetypes—the confident leader, the cutesy girl, the tsundere, and so on—and we spend all of ten minutes with them before Asahi dies, so there’s no time to get a sense of their personalities, why this group was so important to them, or why it should hurt when their bond breaks. And, as my snarky asides may have indicated, this episode also runs on “big twists” that I could see coming from space, so any attempt to hook me with intrigue dissolved pretty swiftly, too.
Beyond that, I have… concerns. Grade schoolers using avatars that look like their high school selves gave me pause at first (especially with Satsuki’s obligatory Fantasy Boob Window™), but the camera didn’t ogle them and the time-skip happened quickly, so it was easy enough to shrug off. However, if Asahi pops out of that treasure chest with the same maturity level she had when she died, the Ick Factor in her inevitable romance with Haruto shoots through the roof, out of the stratosphere, and touches down on Mars.
There’s also an undercurrent about Satsuki liking Haruto and being jealous of Asahi for it, which is exhausting just thinking about. This premiere has not given me confidence that Seven Senses is interested in doing anything original with its characters or their dynamics, so I’m fully prepared for love triangles and Women Be Competing to raise their ugly heads at some point. (And, given the flatness of the cast thus far, I somehow doubt it will have the raw emotional honesty that made AnoHana‘s own messy teen crushes work as well as they did.)
Which, I suppose, summarizes my feelings about this premiere in a nutshell: It’s doing a lot of things I’d normally be interested in, but it’s not doing them in a way that’s actually interesting. A part of me is genuinely curious to know why Asahi’s here and what’s going on with this evil game company, but I’d just as soon read a plot synopsis on Wikipedia than devote 30 minutes a week to garden-variety MMO worlds and cookie-cutter characters.
That said, other than my worries about Asahi’s maturity level and some low-key irritation about the looming love triangle, there’s really nothing here that I need to warn AniFem viewers about. Heck, if you haven’t seen this type of story before or didn’t predict the plot twists, you’ll likely have a fine time with it. If MMO stories are your thing, feel free to give this one a try. I just wouldn’t expect it to break any molds along the way.