The latest in a line of largely forgettable mobile game adaptations, SEVEN KNIGHTS REVOLUTION: Hero Successor joins Hortensia Saga and King’s Raid as a somewhat sad statement on where sword and sorcery fantasy fans can apparently continue to get their anime. Based on the 2014 game Seven Knights, Seven Knights Revolution isn’t a terrible show, and it certainly doesn’t feel too much like a by-the-numbers adaptation – which is to say that you can’t guess where you would be making a dialogue choice or something similar were you playing the story – but it also isn’t as good as it could have been, leaving it to languish in the land of the mediocre, which is always a shame.
The story takes place in a vaguely modern fantasy land where humans and demi-humans are still largely dealing with the fallout of a war from several generations ago. At that time, a cult known as Physis, worshippers of the goddess Nestra, rose up and did their level best to take over and/or destroy the world. They were barely stopped by a group of seven knights, and with Physis still popping back up every now and then, a system known as “Succession” has been devised to allow modern people to synchronize with the spirits of the dead knights, drawing on their powers in order to put Physis down once again. Unfortunately Physis is well aware of this fact, and their countermeasures mean that many potential Successors are snuffed out before they ever reach the training ground that is Granseed Academy.
That means that Faria, the president of the student council and Successor of the hero Eunomia, sometimes goes out to try and bring potential or recently enrolled students to the school before Physis can get to them. It’s on one of these missions that she and Ellen, another member of the council and a Successor as well, find Nemo. Nemo is the sole survivor of a Physis-ravaged village, and although he is a Successor already in possession of the fancy silver-embossed card needed for the process (one of the clearer signs this is game-based), there’s something odd about his Succession: he can’t speak to his hero, and doesn’t even know his name. Faria and Ellen are confused by this, but since Nemo and his mystery hero are capable fighters, they don’t think too much about it, attempting to convince the audience to put the question on the back burner as well.
While I wouldn’t say that this works perfectly – after all, “Nemo” means “no one” in Latin, which should ring a few alarm bells for viewers – it does manage to make other mysteries and plot points feel more important than who Nemo’s working with. In part this is done by giving other members of the student council their own storylines, with the two most successful being Gareth’s and Shirley’s. That they’re notable for completely different reasons is perhaps more impressive; Gareth’s plot revolves around him being a proud elf and becoming overwhelmed with guilt when a girl who has a crush on him gets herself into a terrible situation, while Shirley’s is more about her relationship with herself and how she needs to process that before she can be happy. Of the two, Shirley’s is probably the strongest in the entire series, mostly because it covers a lot of ground while also coming to a satisfying conclusion at the series’ end. It also involves Ellen and does a fair amount to develop her as a character as well, not necessarily in terms of the LGBTQIA+ content their plotline involves (although I do like how it’s handled), but in terms of who the girls are and how that makes them work together. With Ellen feeling almost like a throwaway character for most of the series, her increasing role as things move towards the finale is also satisfying, and she and Shirley really do stand out as examples of the show doing something right.
Other elements are almost depressingly predictable. The reveal of who the Big Bad is hardly feels revelatory, even if the show didn’t subscribe to the “breast size = level of villainy” theory that sometimes plagues fantasy anime, and the way she’s able to warp and use some of the council members is pretty bog-standard – as is her motivation for why she became evil in the first place. Most of the boys end up feeling like they didn’t really need to be present in the story, and one character with potential, Reda, comes in too late to actually receive much development. There’s also a real tendency towards cartoonish levels of evil with the villains, which doesn’t entirely work with the more serious elements of the story.
Visually this is also mixed. For the most part things are serviceable enough, with more frequent awkwardness in terms of art and animation than is strictly good. The best visuals are really during the boss fight in the final episodes, and that’s not so much in terms of stellar art and animation as it is particularly good at being disturbing and unsettling: the transformed villain looks grotesquely pregnant, and even if she births abominations out of her skin rather than the traditional way, it’s still not lovely to look at.
SEVEN KNIGHTS REVOLUTION: Hero Successor isn’t a terrible show. It has some elements that work well and a genuinely nice ending. But it also feels like the kind of series that you forget soon after finishing, the sort of disposable entertainment that works well during a time like a pandemic, but otherwise is barely a blip on the anime radar.