Review

by Ko Ransom, Jan 30th 2012

Sacred Seven: Shirogane no Tsubasa

Synopsis:
Sacred Seven: Shirogane no Tsubasa
Night, a young man with the ability to summon powerful armor, is on the run from the evil scientist Kenmi, who seems interested in gathering all the data he can about the magical stones that grant their users this power. Alongside Night is Fei, his companion who administers to him a special serum so that he doesn't go out of control after overusing his powers. The two have a long history with each other and with Doctor Kenmi, and are determined to stop his evil plot. Before they can do that, though, a number of obstacles stand in their way, including a mysterious armored beast from their past, as well as their own emotional struggles. Will they be able to overcome these, or will Doctor Kenmi's sinister plan be carried out as they watch helplessly?
Review:

To follow up the television broadcast of their twelve-episode action series Sacred Seven, Sunrise has created Sacred Seven: Shirogane no Tsubasa, which acts as both a compilation movie for the television series as well as a retelling of the story's events through the eyes of Night, the dark and mysterious rival to Sacred Seven's original protagonist Alma. By adding the twist of this new point of view to a compilation movie, the movie aims to give fans of the series a fuller understanding of the motivations and machinations of its cast. Additionally, this approach also provides plenty of opportunities to add newly animated footage. Unfortunately, though, due to the film's short length among other factors, the resulting product turns out to be very inaccessible to non-fans of the series.

Sacred Seven: Shirogane no Tsubasa announces this approach from its opening scene, thrusting the viewer into an action scene originally from the midway point of the television series, where Night is forced to do battle with Kenmi's minions in order to escape to safety with his companion Fei. The scene quickly establishes the basic roles of the major players in the film, but very little, if any, time is spent explaining what is going on. Of course, viewers familiar with shonen conventions—the protagonist reluctant to use his powers, injections of medicine in order to keep this protagonist from being consumed by a malignant force, a clearly deranged middle-aged scientist with a penchant for snapping—may be able to piece together what is going to some degree through clues here and there if they are not familiar with Sacred Seven, but they are given little to no breathing room as the movie rushes on. This opening battle sequence is soon followed by more fighting, and in many cases, very little information is given in terms of why or how the characters have come to be in a given location. Eventually, some information is given regarding the backgrounds of Night, Fei, and the tragic fate of Fei's older brother through an extended flashback scene, but from there, we are swept into another full-on action sequence, this time covering the final episodes of the television series.

Though it is a compilation movie, or perhaps because it is, Sacred Seven: Shirogane no Tsubasa feels very unevenly paced as a film, as it rushes to cram what feels like an overabundance of plot points and action sequences into a compact sixty minute run time. In order to save time, the film sometimes simply fades out of one action sequence in order to fade into yet another one, with little to link the two logically. This pacing also means there's very little time for the characters to struggle and work through an issue when faced with a problem, instead feeling like a nonstop chain of plot twists. Of course, given the film's mission and length, it may be impossible to avoid this issue, but it nevertheless results in a product that seems to assume that its viewers are already familiar, if not impatient, with the basic story it tries to tell. For example, in one scene midway into the movie, we are dropped into the middle of a confrontation Alma and Kagami, a previously unintroduced fighting butler, are having with a group of security forces. Suddenly, a troupe of heavily armed maids appears on the scene, tractor-trailer in tow, in order to triumphantly save the day. While fans who are already familiar with all of these characters as well as the scene as a whole may enjoy seeing this take place, as it marks the beginning of the film's final showdown, it surely proves baffling to anyone even somewhat unfamiliar with the plot of the TV series.

Though these many action scenes do create problems with regards to the film's pacing, they are fortunately animated quite proficiently. While there are few moments of animation that will truly blow the viewer away, Sacred Seven: Shirogane no Tsubasa maintains a high standard of quality throughout for the most part. In part thanks to the television series' already high level of quality, the film also avoids the distracting problem that appears in some compilation movies featuring added footage of new scenes being clearly distinguishable from original television footage due to differences in quality. Among the action scenes, the ones featuring Kenmi's mysterious female bodyguard's hand-to-hand fighting are particularly fun to watch, with strong action choreography backing up fluid and kinetic animation.

Because Sacred Seven: Shirogane no Tsubasa is so unbalanced as a movie, it is difficult to give a balanced assessment of it as a whole. Though it is a compilation movie, it may prove to be fairly impenetrable to those new to the world of Sacred Seven due to the very small amount of even basic information given to the viewer regarding plot and characterization. At the same time, fans of the series will probably be delighted to see many of their favorite moments replayed in fluid motion from a brand new point of view. However, due to its problems with pacing and structure, Sacred Seven: Shirogane no Tsubasa is ultimately a movie that is hard to recommend to those who are unfamiliar with Sacred Seven or who are looking for an entry point into the series, as it may do more to dissuade them from becoming fans than anything else.

Grade:
Production Info:
Overall : C+
Story : C-
Animation : B+
Art : B
Music : B

+ Solid action animation, provides a new POV to Sacred Seven's story.
Can border on incomprehensible as a film for those unfamiliar with the series.

Storyboard:Yasuo Muroi
Unit Director:Yasuo Muroi
Original creator:Hajime Yatate
Original Character Design:Mutsumi Inomata
Character Design:
Yuriko Chiba
Eiji Nakada
Animation Director:
Yuriko Chiba
Eiji Nakada

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