Special 7: Special Crime Investigation Unit – Anime Preview
Synopsis: In the year 2×19, the last of the “dragons” have banded together and taken the form of humans. A group known as Nine is after the dragons’ power. To combat Nine and protect the dragons, the police create the Special Crime Investigation Unit – Special 7. Seiji, a bright and knowledgeable rookie, joins Special 7 and is tasked with solving cases about Nine, alongside his unique new teammates. (Official Funimation Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: For a series billing itself as a police/crime action/thriller with a sprinkling of supernatural elements, Special 7 actually starts rather bland and devoid of those very elements. We open with a police officer talking to some teen in the midst of what looks like a flaming battle ravaged area. This someone turns out to be our protagonist, but some six years in the past. We then fast forward to our inspired lead joining the police in the steps of the very hero who saved him. Not only is that opening vague and bland, our protagonist himself suffers a painfully drab visual design with his most eye catching design being…his eyes. They look like they were ripped out from some perky shonen protagonist in a 90’s manga/anime..more exaggerated than one would expect in what seems to want to play out as a gritty, bad ass, cop, action show. And personality wise, our protagonist is just as perky as your standard shonen protagonist, giving you the vibe that joining the special forces will help him hone his goody two shoes innocent sense of justice, clinging to it in the face of atrocious crime and possibly influencing his very jaded co-workers. Or maybe he’ll turn into a bitter and jaded officer too..but my money’s on the former.
Tom: Special 7 is not a looker. Across the board the series looks outright dull. Uninspired character designs, middling animation (for a premiere episode no less) and generally flat art makes for a series that’s tough to sit through unless the writing is there. The unfortunate truth is that it isn’t, in fact the writing is somehow every bit as drab as the art direction, dumping us into this modern fantasy world where elves and more live together with humans like that kind of setting has been totally played out. In fact outside of a couple characters with elf ears you’d be hard pressed to find anything else fantasy-esque about this series, save for one of the Special 7 who’s so masterful with a sword that not even guns can put her down, but that’s hardly reserved for fantasy anime settings.
Linny: What is especially frustrating about Special 7 is that it gives you all this exposition, only for most of it to be useless or redundant. While chasing the villains who have an armored truck full of hostages, one of our leading officers brings up using tracking paint to mark the vehicle and letting the JSDF take over. This is shot down by his partner with the reasoning that ‘It would upset the citizens’ but doesn’t elaborate beyond that. There’s so much talking that either adds nothing to the story or only leaves you with more questions, and not the important ‘this’ll definitely be answered later’ kind. On a smaller note, the deductions made by the experienced, jaded senior officer, Ichinose Shiori, often seem a little vague or disconnected from what justification he offers, but to be fair, this doesn’t really affect the show negatively and at most might mildly annoy a picky viewer. Ultimately, the problem with Special 7 is its inability to deliver well constructed and natural exposition. From unnecessary lines to a villain bursting out in a sudden cliche villain laugh/monologue that stands out like a sore thumb, Special 7 needs to really tighten its storytelling and also actually offer up more of the supernatural elements and action it only brings up in passing, despite allegedly being a huge part of its universe. If you’re starved for a supernatural cop show, you could give Special 7 a try but know there’s a high chance of ending up disappointed or underwhelmed.
Tom: I didn’t think much of last season’s Cop Craft, but somehow Special 7 almost makes that look like high art by comparison. What’s surprisingly frustrating about Special 7 is for all its fun little ideas, this first episode is still somehow as formulaic as you can get. Our amateur, rookie cop, Seiji gets caught up in Special 7’s business, impresses them as a off-beat hero and joins up all by episode’s end. Maybe that’s the point, start normal, get crazy, but these developments are so pedestrian you can see them coming a mile away. It really needs to embrace its uniqueness sooner rather than later, otherwise most audiences aren’t going to wait around for mere teases of something more unique.
Special 7 is available for streaming via Funimation.