Anime and Manga — Reviews and Previews
Teito Klein is a former slave entered into an elite military academy by his nobleman master. He’s ruthlessly taunted for his ignoble past, but his undeniable and deadly skill with the magical art of Zaiphon keeps everyone at arm’s length. Everyone, that is, except for Mikage, Teito’s unrelentingly cheerful classmate and only friend. Teito’s life is shattered, however, with the arrival of army Chief of Staff Ayanami, a brutal and calculating individual whom Teito realizes is responsible for the death of his father. After a failed assassination attempt on Ayanami’s life, Teito is forced to flee and seek sanctuary in a nearby church, leaving Mikage in the clutches of the enemy. But the church may not be as safe as Teito assumes. What of the story of the Seven Ghosts, demi-gods responsible for protecting the world from the ultimate evil? And is there more to the Bishops of this unremarkable church than meets the eye?
07-Ghost is a well-animated, well-directed, and well-orchestrated 25-episode advertisement for the manga series. Let’s get that out of the way right from the get-go. There is no conclusive ending to this series, and the show actually concludes at the beginning of a brand-new adventure for Teito and company. The show’s final battle ends without much having been decided, with both the good guys and the bad guys retreating to their respective corners to lick their wounds and recalculate their plans of attack. So if you’re going into 07-Ghost, you can’t be doing it because you want a self-contained story. You have to be doing it because of the characters or because of the tension that the show can wring out of its premise.
Luckily, this show delivers on both those fronts. First and foremost, the show features a surprisingly large cast of characters whose personalities are surprisingly diverse. From soft-spoken Labrador to leader-of-the-pack Castor to perverted but good-natured Frau, the Bishops are probably the most memorable. Teito does well as the lead of the series, appropriately grappling with the consequences of his actions as well as beginning to unweave the mysteries that start cropping up around him. The supporting cast never feels like they’re unnecessary additions just thrown in to take up space, and you begin to feel for each and every one of them.
Furthermore, the characters are all spectacularly designed. (Those military uniforms!) There is no point where you can confuse one character for another, and the designs are striking enough to stick in your mind even after the show has ended. It’s hardly worth calling this a SPOILER, but the designs of both the Bishops and their Seven Ghosts alter-egos create the perfect dichotomy between light and dark, protective and menacing.
With allies who look like they’ve crawled out of an episode of Tales from the Crypt, the antagonists are going to have to up the ante. Enter Ayanami and his band of (lethal) misfits, a collection of soldiers who are as deadly as their appearances are unassuming. Considering they spend most of the series just sitting around talking about doing evil things, the entire crew manages to come across as fantastically menacing, and it was a delight to see some of them let loose in the final battle.
Despite it’s less than satisfying ending, the show does a very good job of keeping you on the edge of your seat. There is no episode I can think of where the story is not being progressed at a rapid pace, and no matter how safe things seem, viewers never feel like Teito is completely in the clear. There’s always a quivering thread of mistrust that keeps Teito – and through him, us – from letting his guard down completely. It’s not the sort of show that you can’t walk away from, but it never lets you get bored when you do give it a shot, either.
07-Ghost does feature a gimmick that actually got on my nerves a bit: at the beginning of each episode, instead of recapping old events, it would show a preview of sorts of the climax of the episode, even if that climax were only a few minutes away. It was downright confusing in the beginning and ultimately just a delay towards the end. “Just get to the show! I’ll see the climax when I get there!” I wanted to scream.
In the end, I enjoyed 07-Ghost because of the characters and because of the high-quality art and animation. I’ll almost certainly check out the first volume of the manga when it gets re-released in November. Give 07-Ghost a shot if you’re interested in a show that makes its protagonists as menacing as its villains, or one that has fantastic character designs.