Special 7 is the last of the big anime series I’d watched in the Fall 2019 season that finished that season – Azur Lane was delayed, Blade of the Immortal, Fate/Grand Order, and My Hero Academia were two-cour series, and I dropped Babylon. It’s an interesting anime series that takes the concept of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, and applies it in an urban fantasy context, but doesn’t quite have as much to say.
Mage in the Shell: Special 7
Special 7 is set in an urban fantasy setting was at an unspecified period in the past fantasy races like Elves, Dwarves, and Homunculi basically came out into the open. There may have been some degree of social difficulty with that issue – but this show isn’t interested in that and spends no time on that point.
Instead, the show follows a special investigative branch of the Japanese police department tasked with investigating terrorist attacks by a group of Dragon cultists called Nine, who want to get magic powers, with part of the plot being that the new member of the team (code-named “Rookie” like in Double Decker) has ties to a terrorist incident that killed the partner of his new partner (who was also the brother of one of the other members of his squad).
However, there is also the complication that the brother isn’t actually dead, and has somehow been roped into working with the big bad of the series – as we go through a variety of semi-episodic plots which tie into the villain’s ultimate plan.
Kinda Chickens Out
So, consequently, the narrative basically evokes a lot from GitS:SAC, with one key difference. Stand Alone Complex would have done something with this. Special 7 really does nothing. It’s just a series of short cases with a slight mystery related to the villain’s actual plan, but which just chickens out of doing any sort of social commentary. It’s actually kind of depressing.
Otherwise, everything is just kind of okay. The animation is fine, the plots for the individual mysteries are interesting in a “Starsky and Hutch but fighting terrorists” kind of way, and the characters are engaging but also very archetypal. It’s just a generally “okay” show – nothing hit any particular bad points that made me want to drop the show, but it also never quite did anything engaging enough with the premise to it stand out – not doing commentary like Stand Alone Complex, not subverting or parodying the premise like Double Decker.
In short – this show never really hit a point where I felt like dropping it. Nor did it hit any sort of height that made me want to buy it should it get a physical release. It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just nice.
In the event that you do want to watch this, it is available for streaming on Funimation.