Seven Senses of the Re’Union – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Asahi’s life in reality ended simultaneously, when she died playing “Union”, a world-renowned online RPG. The members of “Subaru” went separate ways when “Union” shut down due to Asahi’s death. Six years later, Haruto logs onto a renewed version of “Re’Union” and reunites with Asahi who had died. Is she an electronic ghost? The “promise” the childhood friends made will unfold within the game. (Official Amazon Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Spoilers, Not Entirely Minor, to Follow):
Linny: Seven Senses of the Re’Union starts off almost like a fantasy slice of life based in a game setting. We follow along as no name characters sing the praises of our main cast, listing off their various achievements and skills and then cut to said main cast in-game on one of their many gaming session together. But then it all turns into a steaming pile of contrived and bizarre BS and melodrama. HUGE SPOILER (although it’s mentioned directly in Amazon’s synopsis above): someone dies from a random heart attack right as their in game avatar is killed mid quest, which then causes the remaining group of friends to turn on each other and fall apart. This is a bit bizarre but not completely out of the left field. However, it is then revealed that the gaming company has been shut down as a result of this incident EVEN THOUGH it has been clearly ruled and decided that the game was in no way responsible for the death. What makes this all the more laughably strange is the fact that people have ACTUALLY passed away in real life from playing video games nonstop and I am almost certain none of those games have been shut down as a result. Thus begins the avalanche of contrived set up and plot points for Seven Senses.
Tom: That almost slice of life in a video game start is very near outright boring. It moves slow, is filled with bland characterization, and lacks any kind of real draw. Things do pick up at least when Asahi bites the dust, and the melodramatic tone kicks in, starting about as high as it can go. The tone shifts massively from dull and laid back to morbid and wallowing, yet Seven Senses doesn’t have the writing chops to make this more melodramatic, depressing air actually work. I’ve seen people compare it to Anohana, or label it as “Sad Sword Art Online” and I think both comparisons are fair. That said, while Anohana can be genuinely heartfelt even if melodramatic, Seven Senses is a lot like Sword Art Online, with iffy enough writing that Seven Senses is more laughable than truly heartbreaking.
Linny: Continuing the avalanche of contrived BS is the reveal that it’s SIX YEARS later and the game has a sequel which is free to play BUT can only be played by people who have the “SENSE” which is never properly explained even once but is SO important that people trying to play the new game, Re’Union, will be tested to ensure they possess it before being allowed access. This ‘SENSE’ is mentioned once in the opening minutes but given ZERO description. And it isn’t explained later on either, only mentioned once again as a pre-requisite for playing this new game. Now the next ‘eye roll’ worthy reveal is the fact that our hero’s 6 year old VR console/headset is apparently modern enough to be able to download and play the new game without any issues. It’s a minor quibble one could argue but we’d be hard pressed to find real world new games that can be played seamlessly on a 6 year old outdated gaming system and thus this development becomes something that might produce a chuckle of disbelief. Of course, some of you may argue that this is fiction and it’s all fair game when its make believe but there’s no denying that Seven Senses has one of the most contrived set ups despite basically telling a story that’s a mash up of other narratives told before it that required a lot less suspension of disbelief.
Tom: Seven Senses doesn’t just buckle beneath a series of contrived developments however, already suffering from ho-hum CGI for the major monster fights. Each massive MMO boss is depicted with CGI, while the rest of the production uses 2D animation. It doesn’t blend well, but worse so the CGI feels stiff, or lacks movement entirely, making the monster’s visuals duds compared to the rest of the action, which actually isn’t too bad. Seven Senses unfortunately suffers from bland, cliched characters on top of all that, so much so that when Asahi bites the dust you don’t really feel anything, and when the team grows apart you’re so unfamiliar with them all that none of it really matters to you. It’s understandable, at least to a point, as Seven Senses chooses to focus on set up rather than character, but in that choice fails to craft compelling leads that make me want to see them all grow back together when Asahi turns up alive and well inside this sequel MMO. There’s a bit of a “who cares?” vibe, one the show doesn’t successfully overcome.
Linny: Seven Senses’ title, introductory minutes and credit images all scream ‘power of friendship,’ as in it’s going to be one of those stories about rebuilding your deep bonds of friendship and finding the strength and courage to be honest and forgive each other/yourself. It’s a plot that can be very moving and even heartbreaking. Those of you familiar with these kinds of stories/shows will also notice a lot of tropes in this first episode. From our hero clearly having a special bond with the doomed girl, to him being part of a love triangle without his knowledge, to him also becoming ostracized due to her passing. And it’s not just him but the other main cast members who will remind you of (and for now come off as) stereotype characters from similar plot lines. All this leads me to believe that while Seven Senses is contrived and trope ridden, there’s going to be a melodrama addicted lot that will gravitate to it like moths to a flame.
Tom: Overall Seven Senses of the Re’Union has an interesting, if done, idea, but fails on the execution. I think it would’ve been far more prudent to really focus on the group dynamic for the first episode and end with Asahi’s death, rather than cramming the time jump and twist all into one episode. In doing it this way Seven Senses is hedging all its bets on its narrative being capable of enthralling the audience, when truly for a story like this it’s the characters we need to fall in love with. If you’re dying for another Isekai however, Seven Senses might be, in my opinion, the ‘best’ summer offering yet amongst the other near equally bland entries in the Isekai sub-genre.
Linny: I wouldn’t call Seven Senses of the Re’Union a ‘true’ Isekai as while it does take place in a game world, so far there’s no indication that our heroes have suddenly found themselves in a completely new world with no means to return to their everyday ‘real’ lives… at least for now and with the exception of deceased girl who is literally no longer alive in the real world. If you’re someone who can look past all the contrived set up and melodrama and only care about the known to be beloved ‘friends coming together after tragedy rips them apart thanks to dead friend suddenly reappearing’ plot line, then by all means, dive right in. Seven Senses of the Re’Union seems dead set on delivering on that plot line no matter how many logic hoops it has to jump through. How well it will actually execute that plot line is yet to be determined as based off how rough it sets things up in episode one, I wouldn’t be extremely hopeful. But if you’re in it for the feels and feels alone, you may be the intended audience for Seven Senses of the Re’Union.
Seven Senses of the Re’Union is available for streaming via Amazon Prime Video.