Special 7 Is A Rough Draft For A Much More Interesting Story
When Special 7 first aired I definitely had some reservations about the series. My initial thoughts captured in my first episode review can be summed up as:
“…episode 1 certainly set a tone that indicated I would enjoy this series but probably not recommend it…”Karandi – Special 7 Episode 1 Review
By and large, 12 episodes and a recap episode later and that was more or less my feeling about the series. It has fairly low production values, a reasonable concept for a story but pretty low ability to execute said story in a way that is actually interesting viewing. For a story set in a future where there are elves and vampires and you have a terrorist organisation worshipping a dragon and on a mission to bring dragons back to the world you have to wonder how they managed to make viewing each week so bland.
Given the studio, Anima&Co, at time of drafting this post had no other anime listed in MAL possibly some of the problem comes from inexperience or lack of resources but either way it makes this anime one that at its core is exactly the kind of story I like and yet is executed in such a way that I didn’t even bother writing my thoughts individually for the final three episodes because, despite actually being a climax and finishing the story, I just had that little to say about those episodes.
Special 7 kicks of with Nanatsuki, a newly minted police officer, getting involved in a bank robbery. There he meets the suspicious Ichinose, though it turns out Ichinose is actually a detective. After the incident is resolved Nanatsuki is recruited into the unit, Special 7, that is responsible for investigating the crimes of a terrorist organisation known as Nine.
In case you haven’t noticed this anime has a real thing about numbers. Each of the members of special 7 have a number in their name and each episode title has the number of the episode as part of the title. Special 7 has 7 members which means it makes perfect sense. The terrorist group being called Nine makes no sense until a reveal right at the end and even then it is a blink and you’ll miss it moment, not to mention if they’d never given us that information nothing would have changed in the story regardless. It all felt a bit tacked on.
The real problem with Special 7, outside of the poor visuals (seriously, who makes a dragon look that lame other than Arifureta and then Didn’t I Say To Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life – okay, 2019 was not a good year for dragon animations, moving on now) is that everything is there but it is all really bland. The characterisation of the seven members of the team is barely there and with the exception of Bellemer, the self-proclaimed Ninja-Homunculus who more or less is there to act cute and do the fast typing hacker thing, most of the members of the team are largely interchangeable outside of their special skill. And as we barely meet anyone outside of the team it means there’s not one character in this anime you walk away from the show feeling you know anything about other than something about justice being a good thing.
The flat characters could be overcome by a compelling and tightly woven narrative but here we have so much bloat and incredibly slow pacing. If we cut out the key parts of the central narrative, stream lined it a bit and actually hit them with some drama or tension this could possibly be a pretty incredible story, unfortunately here you will be picking out the bits that matter and trying to find anything of interest the rest of the time.
Then we finally get the conclusion of the story. I won’t spoil it but I will give the anime points for giving us an actual conclusion. I’ll even give it points for the conclusion even kind of making sense with the information given leading up to it. Where I’ll question it is in the sudden ‘believe in yourself’ or ‘believe in you teammates’ power-up that more or less decides the outcome. I’d expect something like this from a shounen or a magical girl anime but prior to this point Special 7 had mostly been a police anime and had held off on random character power-ups despite the fantasy trappings.
I still did enjoy this well enough. I finished it and in a season where I ended up not finishing a lot of anime I started largely because of work getting much busier than anticipated, I clearly liked this enough to want to know how it ended. However, I also feel this is one anime that is going to quickly be forgotten and I kind of feel that’s appropriate.
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Special 7 is not so special, but here’s the episode coverage.
Images from: Special Crime Investigation Unit – Special 7. Dir. H Kosaka. Anima&Co. 2019.