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Trinity Seven (2014)

Arata Kasuga wakes up one day to find that the sun has apparently turned black. In an instant, his normal existence is turned upside down and he discovers his town has been destroyed and his cousin Hijiri (who he lives with) has disappeared, in an event called a "Breakdown Phenomenon". In order to investigate the Phenomenon and rescue Hijiri, Arata decides to enrol in the Royal Biblia Academy to learn how to become a Mage. There he encounters the Trinity Seven, the seven most powerful female mages in the school.

Trinity Seven is a 12 episode adaptation of the ongoing manga written by Kenji Saitō and drawn by Akinari Nao.  The animation was produced by Seven Arcs Pictures. It was followed by an OAV (original animation video) in 2015, but that is not included in this release.

The majority of the series takes place in the Academy itself. To address the elephant in the room,  it is true that any twenty-first century series about a magical school is going to invite comparisons with a certain boy wizard. But Trinity Seven's lead Arata couldn't be much less like Harry Potter, and the Biblia Academy is a long way from Hogwarts- and not just because it's in Japan.

The series is billed as a "fantasy romantic comedy", but it is far more effective at one end of the bargain than the other. As a fantasy series, it is actually pretty well done. The mystery of the black sun in the first episode does a good job at drawing you in from the off, even if turns out to have not much impact on the overall plot. There are some interesting concepts regarding alternative realities and planes of existence that bring some interesting twists to the story too.

Best of all though are the flashy and kinetic fantasy action set-pieces that pepper the show throughout. They're always well animated and exciting, and a definite series highlight.

It's a good looking show too- the character designs are appealing and varied, and the animation quality remains consistent throughout. CGI is used sparingly and is well integrated. Trinity Seven is certainly no slouch in the visual department.
Outside the fantasy arena though, Trinity Seven is not nearly as accomplished. The male wish-fulfillment concept of a lone male surrounded by a gaggle of gorgeous girls has been done to death in anime. Arata is a singularly unsympathetic lead even by the standards of the harem sub-genre, as he is motivated more by his raging libido than anything else. Although there is no actual nudity here, the fan-service levels are extremely high, with boobs, bums and panty-shots flung at the viewer at regular intervals. Arata's perverted nature even gifts him with the magical ability to remove clothing. Put this together with his repeated habit of "accidental" groping it's hard to see why we would root for him, or why any of the seven would be remotely interested in him. The biggest problem here is that the "romantic comedy" elements are neither romantic or funny. It's gratuitous and it threatens to derail the whole show on occasions- although of course, your tolerance for fan service may vary.

It's a shame because as is often the case with these shows the female leads are considerably more sympathetic and impressive than the male protagonist. They're powerful mages in their own right and more than capable of kicking ass. So it's always disappointing to see them fawning over a mediocre male who doesn't really deserve the attention. Essentially, we're expected to accept that Arata is somehow special because the plot says so, and not based on any actual evidence onscreen. In his defence though, a lot of anime feature male leads who are bland and personality-free, so "actively obnoxious" is at least a little different.

Trinity Seven is not terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but rather a frustrating case of wasted potential. If it had gone full force on the fantasy elements, rather than appealing to the tastes of randy teenage boys, it might have been a different story. When on occasion, the show is able to restrain itself and keep its mind out of the gutter, it offers us a glimpse of what could have been. In this reality though, this is a show that just falls short of the mark. Disappointing.

TRINITY SEVEN is available on BLU-RAY and DVD from MANGA ENTERTAINMENT in the UK and SENTAI FILMWORKS in the US. Also available streaming on CRUNCHYROLL.