Weekly SEVENS Review – Ep 15 *SPOILERS*

Ok then. That happened earlier than I expected.
Starting off with a shameless plug to the tag for previous reviews.

Full list of SEVENS Reviews

Alright then. Before we begin, a short note. I’ll be referring to Rook/Luke as Luke from here on out. There’s apparently official material that refers to him as Luke and the name apparently comes from the fact that his name “Tatsuhisa” can TECHNICALLY be read as “Ryuku”. So…Yeeeah. Feel free to make the Skywalker puns.

With that out of the way, the episode starts off with the gang on a boat. Time to rewind to how we got here.

The gang starts off talking about Luke’s prospects of becoming the King of Duels now that Yuga’s also aiming for the throne. Naturally, Luke’s odds are looking slim with Otis and his declaration of Yuga as his intended successor. Of course, Luke being Luke, it takes him a while to realize that there can’t be two kings sitting on the same throne, and Luke being Luke, the kid has absolutely no idea what he’ll actually do if he becomes king in the first place. Hmm. I wonder if this’ll become the start of a character arc.

Around then is where Kaizo pops in with a lead on Otis and his bizarre not-so-ancient ruins, on an island far off the coast of Goha City’s shore. How will they get there you ask? By ship of course!

At the same time. Yuga’s Duel Bicycle suddenly starts talking in Kaizo’s voice, moves by itself and transforms before jumping into the ocean in robot mode. Well that’s certainly not creepy. Nope. Let’s be real though. We all know where this is going.

“Kaizo Dies!” Maybe.

Now’s probably a good time to mention that the sponsor segment has a wee little reference to “Jonouchi Dies!”, aka the episode where Joey got burned alive by the flames of Ra. Welp.

Turns out the ship that Kaizo found is actually Goha Fishing Elementary, a state of the art institution that travels the seven seas by autopilot. As it is, the school has no plans to return to Goha City for a full month, and the kids are stuck there with no way to course correct the ship’s navigation systems. To make matters worse, Kaizo’s robot bike gets caught in the ship’s nets, and under accusations of garbage dumping he ends up in a duel with the ship’s captain. Saitama from One Pun-I mean Maguro Nanami. That was a VA joke in case it wasn’t obvious.

True to his name(and his eyebrows), he has a habit of ending his sentences with a catchphrase that sounds like “Tuna”. His claim to the ship’s helm comes from his grades, aka his skill as a fisherman. Not that it matters when your ship may as well be a floating prison controlled by an evil corporate AI, but who’s counting, right? By the way, Maguro’s deck even recycles its cards! It’s 100% Eco-Friendly.

Which is kind of ironic considering this is from a kid who’s basically a tuna fisherman. As far as I remember Tuna isn’t exactly sustainable. Not sure if this is a pro-enviroment message gone wrong or a jab at some of Japan’s less than sustainable fishing practices.

Not much else to say. The duel ends, the misunderstanding gets cleared up, and Yuga looks into why Kaizo’s body randomly swam across the ocean to follow them.

And of course, it turns out that Kaizo’s been hacked. What’s left of the real Kaizo stored himself in the bike and went after Yuga to warn him as soon as his batteries were charged. And sure, I know I mentioned the possibility of Kaizo being compromised, but I didn’t expect them to follow up on that plot thread like this so soon, but then again I suppose I should have.

I should’ve been suspicious of Kaizo suddenly going “Romin-tan” at the end of last ep instead of referring to Romin as “Romin-Chan” like he usually does. It’s another one of those foreshadowing moments designed for you to subconsciously shrug off. Kaizo is absolutely the kind of annoying fan that would use “-tan” as a suffix, but that’s the thing. HE NEVER DID. And I really shouldn’t have missed it seeing how often SEVENS does it.

By the way, did I mention that according to one of the staff, the previous week’s episode(episode 14) had already been in production before episode 3 even aired? Yeah. It looks like all of this foreshadowing was planned instead of repurposing things after the fact. But most of that is episode 14’s setup. Episode 15 itself is…well I’ll get to that in a bit.

Long story short, the body snatcher led Yuga on a wild goose chase to keep him stranded at sea for a month. Romin declares her innocence when Luke mentions it’s a trap, while Yuga just casually mentions he had a GPS tracker installed in Kaizo for no real reason. It’s…honestly kind of creepy when you think about how many steps ahead this kid is. Yuma felt less and less like a kid as ZEXAL went on, but Yuga just takes it to an entirely different level. At this point he could casually prepare Batarangs for every situation and I wouldn’t bat an eye.

Well ok, I guess they still don’t have a way off the ship, so he isn’t prepared for EVERY situation. It’s a good thing Nanami has a plan! Goha Fishing Elementary might be on autopilot, but there’s nothing stop them from getting back via manually piloted motorboat, and our protagonists chase after Kaizo’s head to arrive at the AI restaurant from earlier on in the series.

There…isn’t much else to say about this episode’s plot structure. In a very stark contrast to the previous episode, episode 15 is a duel heavy episode that’s played extremely straight. And as such it’s arguably the weakest episode of SEVENS by far. There’s very little in the way of subversive humor or meta-commentary that comes off as compelling, and that takes a lot away from the calm surrealism that the show’s built up so far. Heck, even the Kaizo setup is sort of straight up spoiled at the start of the episode with the robo bike.

But for what it’s worth, the episode does have it’s moments. As weak as the episode is, SEVENS still retains its penchant for keeping to its own continuity in almost every last detail. For instance, Romin’s massive guitar case has now been completely replaced with a much smaller case holding the collapsible Duel Guitar that Yuga gave her, and that’s the sort of small detail that some shows wouldn’t bother to change.

But we also see the return of Yuga’s nervous laugh, which I honestly forgot was a thing that he does. While the gang cheers him on and takes a comeback for granted, his voice even CRACKS while drawing his cards. It’s a stark contrast to his usual, almost superhuman level of calm.

And in retrospect, it’s an interesting character trait that we don’t really see that often in a shonen protagonist. There’s usually this strong belief that your protagonist is always going to come through in a fight, but sometimes it feels like Yuga’s the one person in the cast who doesn’t believe in that. He still comes through nonetheless, sure, but for all of Yuga’s enthusiasm for dueling, he’s arguably stronger as a person outside of the card game than he is inside it.

Even so, the episode’s sort of weak. Something about the overall pacing and dialogue feels off, and the animation has a few places where you’ll notice cut corners. But who knows? Maybe in a few months time I’ll be looking back at this episode and realizing that half the dialogue with Nanami was actually set up for another multi-episode punchline. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Although. There is just one place where the episode really shines in spite of my lukewarm reaction. The 3D animation. It’s hard to find good CG animation that feels right, but this episode of SEVENS absolutely nails it.

Just for a small taste of what it’s like, here’s a few screenshots of Nanami’s boss monster:

And here are a few screenshots of Yuga’s new boss monster:

And say what you will about the rendering and shading techniques used and how they’re out of place with 2D animation, but the model rigs and animation cycles themselves are some of the best I’ve seen in this series as far as 3D animation goes. And I feel the CG alone makes this episode worth it. Though admittedly, I’m kind of a giant robot nerd, so your own mileage may vary.

That’s all for this week. Next week we begin our journey into Goha’s AI restaurant, starting off with another duel for Romin.