Sagrada Reset Complete Collection (Cert 15)
3 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 611 minutes approx.
You’d think a town where most people have special abilities would be a superhero haven, and using these gifts for the greater good should be a boon, right? In this story, Sakarada is such a town where most of the denizens possess a unique ability, though it has been said that anyone who leaves the town loses their memory of both their abilities and Sakarada, explaining the anomaly of its existence not being national news.
One person unlikely to forget is Kei Asai, whose gift is a photographic memory that allows him to recall anything right down to the slightest detail after just one instance. Kei has never needed to put his memory to the test until school friend Sumire Soma introduces him to Misora Haruki, a taciturn girl who can reset time as far back as three days, as long as she chooses a save point first.
When Misora uses her reset all memories are gone, allowing the past to be corrected for a different future, and after a test it is confirmed that Kei is the exception. Thus, Sumire encourages Kei and Misora to work together as part of the Service Club to help others. The next day, Sumire commits suicide and no-one knows why, leading Kei and Misora to use their abilities to prevent this from happening, but the Administration Bureau, which oversees people’s abilities, sets out to stop them.
Sagrada Reset, based on a light novel series by Yutaka Kōno, boasts a rather delicious main plot bursting with intrigue, mystery and psychological drama whilst putting a unique spin on the superpower/time travel tropes. With 26 episodes, there is a lot of ground to cover, with an expansive cast list to meet, powers to behold and twists to the story as Kei and his every growing group of friends try to find a way to save Sumire.
Except the story runs much deeper than this with the involvement of the Bureau and a literal McGuffin that serve to distract our protagonists from their main objective. And if that wasn’t enough, the secrets behind the history of Sakarada and its gifted population throws up more mystery to be investigated, which some people would prefer stayed classified and are willing to use their powers to prevent Kei unlocking the truth.
Anime has taught us many things, one of the most common being anything of this nature is bound to be a convoluted and deeply philosophical excursion, likely to veer off into some leftfield directions with such a pronounced surreal bent the story stops making sense. Sagrada Reset is guilty of this, as you may have already divined, surprisingly not through the reset gimmick, which proves more of a dramatic tool than a convenience for the writers to avoid having to think up a decent ending to a situation.
Kei and Misora team up with a disparate group of people with a variety of gifts, such as the ability to create a living dream world, to transfer powers from one person to another, telekinetic communication, make holes in solid matter, and even transporting people into a photograph. Employing these powers in tandem with others or individually gives our protagonists a slight advantage over the Bureau but this doesn’t mean everything is smooth sailing.
Though Sumire’s suicide is part of an overarching storyline, the format relies heavily on mini arcs, usually three or four episodes, by way of introducing new characters as well as adding subtle new elements to be applied to the central plot. This makes them more congruent than standalone, more often than not containing something or someone who returns or is referred to again later on.
Despite tackling themes such as identity, loss, adult oppression, and social acceptance, in the midst of this is a good old fashioned teen romance to remind us these people are still human and being gifted doesn’t mean they are indurate to emotion and empathy. This is quite relevant as the cast all speak in monotonous tones with robotic delivery, Misora being the obligatory whispering one of the group.
So far, I have probably painted a fairly enticing picture of what to expect from this show, a sort of Death Note/When They Cry hybrid with less violence and killer notebooks, which is a fair description – however, this has more in common with Monogatari and Little Busters than anything else. The plot and premise is fantastic, but the execution is sadly very dull, being 90% tell and 10% show.
For some reason, everything has to be explained rather than actually performed or acted on, pushing the action quota almost into minus figures. Like Monogatari, most of the discussions are irrelevant to the case in hand, preferring to wander off into verbose, non-tangential territory about anything but the central topic. Situations are therefore resolved in haste rather than with an explosive climax, and any tension built is not just temporary but also feels accidental.
And this goes on for TWENTY-SIX episodes! I must confess to dozing off numerous times whilst watching this series hence my inability to discuss the plots in greater detail, but in true anime fashion, they get so involved it is easy for one to lose their way on a regular basis. The challenge is staying with it after the first two episodes which are so slow, you might dread the prospect of 24 more to come, though it does admittedly improve.
Which means Sagrada Reset is truly frustrating series. It has the potential to be a taut and gripping mystery drama built around subverting the superpowers concept but fails to inject anything resembling excitement into it – plodding along, cruelly teasing us with glimpses of something outstanding then snatching them away at the last moment.
I wanted to like this show more, and probably would have had it been a single cour and more focused on the story; ironically others may love it for the very reasons I didn’t. For patient anime fans only.
Japanese Language 2.0 DTS HD-MA
Disc 3 only:
Clean Opening Animation
Clean Closing Animations
Rating – ***
Man In Black