Society is currently obsessed with super powers. Every studio that can is pumping millions into connected worlds of super-heroics, and even the most popular anime right now is a tribute to the comics that inspired them. I’m absolutely loving it, but what if instead of caped crusaders fighting to save the world, the biggest threat was just the daily life of a modest Japanese town? Well, then you’d have Sagrada Reset. That pitch may not have exactly have sold you, but hear me out, okay?
The coastal town of Sagrada is an anomaly. Roughly 80% of its population have an unusual ability but anyone who leaves has their memories of these powers erased. Rather than the usual fare of flight or super speed, most of these abilities are also pretty mundane and ill-fitting for Avengers-style action. The series’ protagonist Kei Asai (Kaito Ishikawa) for example, essentially has a photographic memory. One fateful meeting, however, makes Asai’s ability the most feared in Sagrada.
Through their mutual friend Sumire Soma (Aoi Yuki), Asai becomes acquainted with Misora Haruki (Kana Hanazawa), a quiet girl who can reset the world. There are limitations though, such as a three day maximum, and having no memory of the time that was reset. With Asai’s ability allowing him to remember that lost time, the pair join their school’s Service Club with the hopes of using their perfect combination to help others. When a frivolous use of Haruki’s power makes a personal tragedy irreversible however, the two become involved with The Bureau – a shadowy organisation that monitors abilities throughout Sagrada.
While the Service Club is regularly tasked with solving the many mysteries around them, the series’ greatest is undoubtedly Sumire Soma. Aoi Yuki absolutely shines with a coy, teasing inflection that always left me second-guessing the character’s motives and very thoughts, easily making her the single most intriguing part of the whole series. Soma is also a really charismatic character, and I found myself hanging on her every word whenever she appeared.
On the other hand, I was disappointed by how little agency Sagrada Reset gives its female lead, Misora Haruki. From early on, she trusts Asai to make every decision for her, from when to use her ability, to even who she should become friends with. Asai is a likeable and decent guy, but a moment where he instructs Haruki to reset after she has revealed herself to be hiding something from him left a bad taste in my mouth. Whether deliberate or a sacrifice for the greater good, it was a poor writing choice that robbed Haruki of much-needed character development. While watching the series, I kept hoping for a moment where she’d reach for her own independence, but it never came. Haruki’s a sweet character, but she deserves more from the series’ writing.
Describing Sagrada Reset as a “slow burn” would be an understatement. Despite being broken into several story arcs, the series’ biggest weakness is a tendency to fall into dull stretches that just feel like chores to get through. The series doesn’t necessarily drag anything out, but what felt like random throwaways at the end, tended to be seeds sewn far in advance of them sprouting and gaining their true meaning. This slow burn is definitely worth it, though, with everything coming together and unfurling in the final arc, being a breathtakingly spectacular conclusion. It just takes a while to get there.
The series can also feel dull at times because the characters are just too darn polite. Sagrada Reset isn’t the type of series to have a lot of action and that’s fine, but with few exceptions, even ideological opposites tend to just calmly talk things through without so much as a raised voice. It’s certainly a more mature way of resolving things, and I’d like to see it happen more in the real world, but it doesn’t exactly make for exciting fiction. Sagrada Reset can also sometimes have an annoying habit of hiding important details about a mystery from the viewer, perhaps to make Kei look smarter when he reveals them in a pinch, but fortunately these moments are fairly infrequent.
Where the series kept me engaged though, were the emotional journeys at the core of every mystery, whether they were an episodic peculiarity like a girl trapped in a marble’s surface or a long-term character arc. With light piano notes fading into resigned silence, the subtle yet heartbreaking animation of a quivering lip and the pained whimper of a girl trying to hold back tears, what I’ll only describe as Episode 19’s “shower scene” is a standout on all counts. Episode Director Takahiro Kamei really deserves applause for the delicate balance that leads to Sagrada Reset’s most emotionally stunning moment, and a highlight of the series overall.
When I heard Sagrada Reset was animated by David Production, I hoped to see even a fraction of the visual vibrancy perhaps not in the utterly bonkers JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, but at least the colourful Inu x Boku SS. In general though, their work here is comfortably safe with little standing out as exceptionally good or bad. It just does the job, and as a not particularly visually kinetic series, that’s all it needs to do.
It’s a shame this series is the only listed credit I can find for composer Rayons though, because Sagrada Reset’s classical score is a beautiful accompaniment. Each bow-stroke of a violin or piano key press wraps itself around the characters, amplifying their emotions and helping connect them to the audience, without taking attention away from them. The series also recognises when some scenes are more effective without sound too!
The only special features on this release are clean versions of the series’ two opening and ending themes, which are each oddly paired together rather than listed separately, and a selection of trailers of other titles from US distributor Sentai Filmworks, whose masters this release uses.
Sagrada Reset can sound like a hard show to pitch – it’s a long, slow burn that lacks a lot of the immediate excitement you may want from any anime, but the pay-off is cleverly written and spectacular. The question is, though, with 24 episodes overall, whether you think these moments may be worth at least a whole anime season’s worth of build-up or not. If you’re in for the long haul however, Sagrada Reset is a thought-provoking and enjoyable series that’s not without its flaws.