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Starlight Promises

Otherwise known as Yakusoku no Nanaya Matsuri, the premise of the story revolves around the use of a phone application, Starlight Pilgrimage, that collects data of the user upon installation. When someone dear to the user passes away, the data is then used to construct a virtual representation of the dead person, which is then presented to the user when they are invited to and participate in the "Tanabata Seven Night" festival. This usually only applies when the death is within two years of the festival.

Characters 5/10

The main character is Mihara Shouma, a first year male student. He had a close friend, Atsushi, who he hadn't met for three and a half years. He also plays the role of Hikoboshi during the Tanabata festival.

The other main lead is Senozawa Shiori, who regrets losing her elder sister in a traffic accident, especially since her sister had given her life to protect her. She participated in the festival as Orihime.

The other important character to the plot is Kanna. She is the organizer of the festival and is also an AI. However, due to her being an AI and not having a detailed 'past' as data, it interferes with the app and thus results in undesirable interference.

As with most ONAs of this length, there isn't much character development. However, as we delve into the past of the main characters and see how they interact with their dead friends and family, we get to see more aspects of their personalities.

Plot and Pacing 7/10
The plot itself is rather predictable but it's nice that the ONA actually took the time to slowly weave in flashbacks to slowly reveal the plot and allow different aspects of the app and the constructed village to become a clearer and more concrete picture.

As expected, the reason Shouma was invited to this village was because his dear friend, Atsushi, passed away. In fact, Atsushi was also the one who asked Shouma to download this app! However, as Atsushi was adamant with hiding his incurable illness, his parting with Shouma was terrible. Thus, when news of Atsushi's death reached Shouma, he was so shocked that he locked all memories pertaining to Atsushi's death away and 'forgot' that his friend was already dead.

When he arrived at the village, he promptly meets the other two characters, Shiori and Kanna, and is invited by Kanna to help out with the festival preparations. After being promised that he'll meet Atsushi if he remains in the village, Shouma finds himself getting roped into this festival that he knows nothing much about.

Apart from being deep in the mountains, there are also castle ruins nearby the village. There is also quite a few "virtual" aspects to their clothing such as see-through garments and raiment (or Spirit Garments). While there are a lot of traditional dimensions to the festival preparations and fashion in the village, it is also clad with a lot of future technology, for instance, holograms and AI. But slowly, Shouma realizes that he doesn't have the time to be awed as he found out the true purpose of the festival.

The festival is a procedure to help those 'left behind' move on. By constructing a virtual representation of their dead loved ones, those who are 'left behind' are then able to convey their last words. While staying in the village and helping to prepare for the festival, Shouma gradually recalls that Atsushi was already dead.

However, he doesn't have much time to ponder over this as there are bugs in the system that the festival is based on. The system that designed the festival, Musuhi, functions by using data from the app to recreate personalities as virtual representations in a virtual space. By finding and correcting inconsistencies between the real person and the representation, Musuhi was able to become much more accurate. However, this ability that Musuhi honed also helped it to use information of historical figures to create a forgery of the samurai inhabiting the castle ruins near the village.

These forgeries slipped through a hole between the virtual and real world to intrude in the festival. The reason for the hole is Kanna, as she is an AI, a virtual representation without a "life log". In fact, she is a trial product that Musuhi created based on historical records.

As these forgeries come with a deep-seated hatred, they are blindly attacking the villagers as they see them as evil. Their preconception comes from historical records as their Lord was betrayed and killed, resulting in their castle being stormed and them being eventually killed. These forgeries see the villagers as the attackers.

Kanna constructs a bow and arrow for Shiori, and a sword for Shouma. These weapons are programs to destroy the original source data the forgeries are based off on. Together, they take down the Princess of the castle (the last boss) and thus are able to continue the festival.

Although Kanna fades away, due to the continuation of the festival, Shouma and Shiori are able to meet their loved ones again.

Possible improvements
As mentioned previously, the virtual representation usually only works if the death is within two years of the festival. Atsushi passed away three years ago, but is clearly still able to be constructed by the app. This is conveniently explained by "Kanna did something about it", which I felt was not a sufficient explanation. As Shouma's case was an outlier, I wished they took the opportunity to expand on it further and gave a more concrete explanation on why Atsushi can still be constructed by the system.

The romance between Shouma and Shiori, if intended, was rather lacklustre and lacked romanticism. More could have been done to consolidate and further their relationship. The plot also liked to play Shiori as the damsel in distress in order to put Shouma in the limelight. Not a very good idea in my opinion.

Overall rating 7/10
I loved how this show is able to combine both futuristic and traditional aspects and bring them both to a new level of dynamism. The predictability of the events and backstory deals a small blow to the show although it doesn't take a lot away.

The main point of this ONA was to have a scenario of "what if you are able to meet someone that died one last time" and I think that they actually pulled that off rather well with their last scene. It's definitely a concept that you would think about at one point in your life.

That being said, this show is not a tearjerker by any means and would simply be borderline warm and fuzzy. It would be nice if we were all able to meet our dead loved ones once more, wouldn't it?

~ Reina-rin

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