The protagonist, Riku Suigin is a pro-level gamer. The heroine, Riku Rei, knows of this and is the most beautiful girl in school and also loves video games. Suigin receives a device to play a net game called “Grave Buster” from Rei, but Rei is suddenly kidnapped. When Rei puts his hand on the device, he’s sucked into the world of the game. And in that world, a battle between the tomb raiders and tomb protectors for the tomb of the mother goddess Bango’s tomb has been going on for 1000 years.
Suigin is poor and has no family, and he is constantly on the lookout for places that he can connect his computer to the internet in order to do his favourite thing: play online games. Riku Rei is a beautiful and popular girl at the esteemed Shinryou Private Academy, but she isn’t as happy as she makes herself out to be, and she also spends her time playing the online game Dungeon Century. Suigin and Riku Rei find themselves communicating more and more as their online characters and see more of one another and their bond begins to deepen.
But the Dungeon Century announces that it plans to end its services and the couple are dismayed. Before the big shutdown, Suigin promises to help Riku Rei find a quest item she’s been searching for. Whilst they hunt, the company behind Dungeon Century announce that a new game called Grave Buster, led by Riku Rei’s father, is starting soon. But when things so awry and bring forth startling revelations, Suigin finds himself protecting Riku Rei in real life the same way he used to in Dungeon Century. He is then called into Grave Buster to track down a mysterious assailant who kidnapped Riku Rei.
The Silver Guardian‘s episodes run only half as long as usual anime episodes, usually around thirteen minutes apiece. Even so, it still manages to tell a decent story despite using half the usual run tie. It does this by focusing only on Suigin and Riku Rei, particularly on the two of them interacting with one another. It also helps that neither of them are particularly irritating or have any immediate character flaws, which makes for easily-likeable personalities and a streamlined storyline, but it also meant that neither of the particularly stand out in the mass of strong characters appearing in anime this season. Suigin is an earnest, humble young man in love with Riku Rei from the get-go and determined to do everything in his power to keep her safe. Riku Rei is kind, pretty and intelligent, but very much a standard damsel in distress to compliment Suigin’s role as a traditional gallant knight coming to her rescue. It’s not something that we haven’t seen before time and time again.
What is different though is the online game element and people coming together in real life thanks to MMORPGs. It has a bit of a Sword Art Online and a .hack or a ring to it, which I was drawn to because the .hack series was one of my favourite game/manga franchises growing up. If it wasn’t for that familiarity, I don’t think I would have continued to watch The Silver Guardian despite its shortened, and therefore more easily watchable, run-time.
I feel like I have to give a special mention to the ending credit music, which is The Game by RiYo which is a melodic, slightly electronic song that I really enjoy. It’s rather emotive and sung in English (albeit a little brokenly). When you listen to the lyrics it sings about Pay 2 Win (“How much did you pay for your dream?”), which alludes to when MMORPG players pay for special items that give them advantages over players that play for free, which is at the very least referring to Suigin going from a free online player of Dungeon Century to starting Grave Buster with ten billion ten in in-game cash, which I found rather amusing. In fact, it’s revealed that Grave Buster is all about gaining money, and if you run out of it your character effectively dies and your account is deleted.
The Silver Guardian is rather a slow burner and things don’t really take off until almost halfway through its full runtime, around episode six, which will mean a lot of people may not think the anime worth watching when there are more interesting titles around. There’s no real threat to any of the characters so far – even Riku Rei, as a prisoner, is being treated well. If you like games anime and want something that won’t tax your brain – I’d say that this was inoffensive enough to everyone. However, in some of the episodes the best part is actually the song in the closing credits.