7Seeds – Anime Review
Synopsis: Shy Natsu awakens as part of a group chosen to ensure the survival of humanity. Together, they have to survive on a changed Earth. (Official Netflix Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
7Seeds (or 7 Seeds, take your pick) puts emotional impact and personal revelation before anything else. Despite the synopsis above, this isn’t really Natsu’s series. 7 Seeds sets itself more to be an ensemble, flitting between numerous groups of characters, all struggling to survive after awakening from cryo-sleep on an Earth now devoid of mankind’s influence. Each cast of characters is suffering their own emotional journey, often influenced by the lives they led prior to going into cryo-sleep, and the very fact that they were forced into cryo-sleep against their will. Every episode is predicated on tying the character’s emotional struggle to whatever latest task is required to survive. We constantly flit about between these groups, sometimes even flashing back to events prior to the start of the series, all detailing the tragic lives these people now lead in this new and deadly world, filled with monstrous bugs and lethal fungi.
The trouble is that 7 Seeds doesn’t get a whole lot else right besides its efforts to get you balling tears. Every episode is rife with problems, from visual failings thanks to mediocre animation and art design, to cutting tons of the manga’s original content in order to cram in as much of the story as possible (12 episodes of 7 Seeds ‘Part 1’ equates to over 80 chapters of the original manga!), to simply botched concepts that fail to lend believability to the whole scenario. This means there’s a lot, and I do mean a lot, you have to overcome in order for any of the harrowing events these characters suffer to actually pull at your heart strings and leave you a blubbering mess as the author intended.
7 Seeds starts decent enough. Natsu, a shy teen girl, wakes from her cryo-sleep aboard a sinking ship, with a few other people rushing to abandon it before its too late. While the series maintains an air of mystery it actually work pretty well. That first episode is all about discovering what’s actually happened to them, and even when the series unnecessarily cuts between two other groups (one of which doesn’t appear again until over six episodes in) and the animation flags, it’s still engaging, if troubled.
Fairly Big Spoilers To Follow (Skip ahead to avoid):
It’s in Episode 2 that 7 Seeds pulls back the curtain, detailing that the ‘7 Seeds Project” is meant to repopulate the Earth after the discovery of an impending disaster. The project, as we come to learn, involved forcing unwitting civilians into cryo-sleep, either by paying their families off, or simple kidnapping. That part of the idea already doesn’t make a lot of sense, though it pales in comparison to the concept of a handful of 7-man teams working to repopulate the planet (You need several thousands people to stave off genetic disorders from a limited gene pool.) The series eventually retcons this, later adding this was an ‘experimental’ effort. Also, individuals are chosen for their ‘special skills’ and while some characters are architects or botanists, there’s an awful lot of Japanese Traditional Dancers or Baseball players, who you wouldn’t think would have any practical value in restarting humanity, especially high school baseball players. The very concepts of the series’ conceit don’t make a lot of sense, and that can really hinder more discerning viewer’s ability to get invested.
Another inherent problem is the tropey writing. One of the biggest annoyances to the story is how often assholes are ‘redeemed.’ The trope of redeeming an asshole isn’t terrible in and of itself, but it is when several characters are shown to harbor rapey elements, such as one young man who sexual assaults both girls in his group, and jumps on another woman multiple times, only for his unwanted advances to be brushed aside, and his character to be expanded upon to give him ‘excuses’ as to his poor behavior. There’s even a full on attempted rape later on, though these 12 episodes don’t redeem that particular rapist just yet. (I’m pretty sure he gets redeemed based on dialogue queues.)
Another issues is how much logic the series throws out in order to achieve its emotional highs. In one such instance a group of humans living in an underground shelter suffer from a horrible plague, that if unleashed above ground could threaten any attempts by humanity to reclaim the Earth. One character decides that to lure out everyone who is infected she’ll sing her beautiful song, pied-pippering them into a cold storage room, where they will be locked away and frozen to death. The ludicrous nature prevents this from feeling like the emotional gut-punch the series wants it to be, turning the episode into something that’s all too difficult to take seriously.
End of Spoilers
Assuming though the emotional gut-punch at the cost of logic is still your thing, and you’re not bothered with the examples above, know that 7 Seeds has cut so much, and rearranged so much, that you might be better waiting for the official manga release, if it ever gets one. 7 Seeds not only trims a ton of content, and condenses other sequences, but reorders loads of events. Sometimes it’s to the benefit of the story, introducing characters that are, at least, a bit more interesting than our initial four man cast. At other times we snap cut to stuff that feels disconnected from anything we were witnessing before hand. Episodes often end with a thud, lacking an impactful moment to send audiences out on a high, dying to know what happens next. You’re often left with one last scene that falls flat on its face, and then the credits roll, and you wonder what was the point of any of that additional content.
Ultimately 7 Seeds may be the worst title Netflix has launched yet. It’s ugly, it’s tropey, it’s poorly adapted, and abandons logic far too often to try and pull at your heart strings. If the concept still seems like your thing, cross your fingers someone decides to officially translate it, though that seems like a long shot seeing as the series has been concluded for two years now. I’m not much of a fan for the core story, but I feel for anyone intensely interested, as this version of 7 Seeds is an absolute awful way to experience it.
7Seeds is available for streaming via Netflix.