Niea_7 Vol. #3 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, December 15, 2001
Release Date: Tuesday, December 11, 2001
What They Say
Mayuko vents her frustrations by lashing out at Niea, and begins a cycle of guilt about the abuse followed by anger because Niea remains cheerful and oblivious. Niea and Mayuko's attempts to reconcile keep meeting with disaster, until quiet Genzo delivers some unusual insight and a glimpse of the past. Meanwhile, a glimmer of prosperity and hope begins to seep through Enohara, but between an uncertain future for the batthouse and the ominous voices from the mothership lies the intimidating pat of the future. Episodes 8-10: "Melancholy And A Cast Off Summer Bath", "Close Encounter And After The Rain Bath" and "Glow Of The Firefly And Nocturne Bath".
The third volume brings the storyline about the mother ship a bit closer to the forefront and starts talking about the world around and outside the characters. Things pick up a bit here, but I still feel like I'm missing the point.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Throughout the three episodes, dialogue is mostly center channel based but the music and effects make good use of the full forward soundstage. Dialogue does have a fair bit of directionality at times and makes good use of the stage as well. There weren't any noticeable dropouts or distortions.
Things have taken a noticeable turn for the better here. Our main problem with the show so far has been in the cross coloration department, especially that umbrella in the opening. With this encoding here, while there is still cross coloration in that umbrella, it's dramatically minimized. The show itself has capitalized on the progress made in the last volume providing some really lush looking colors here as well as some great powder blues at times. Things are only getting better.
The style remains the same with yet another white keepcase and mostly white cover. The eye-catching color this time is a strikingly nice blue with a couple of the secondary characters getting their moment of glory. The back cover provides a nice simple piece of artwork with the disc summary and a listing of the episode titles and their numbers. Production information is clearly listed and the features of the disc are easy to check out. I've really liked the direction Pioneer's packaging has taken lately. The insert provides a piece of simple but different artwork of Niea and Mayuko while below it there's the chapter listings. The first pressing run of this release also contains some cardboard standee cutous
The layout is just like the first two volume's with the cover art used here with music and some subtle yet quirky animation playing into the selections. As usual, I'm pleased to see another Nightjar menu as their unique style continues to stand out. In addition to being smartly animated, the access times between the menus are solid and everything is laid out in an easy to use straightforward way, where your selections make sense and are obvious.
There's a few neat extras included this time around. In addition to the 17 page production sketch gallery, we get a couple pages of footnotes explaining some of the more Japanese aspects of the show with some amusing tidbits. To see something truly bizarre though, you need to check out the Japanese TV commercials advertising the first DVD and CD release. Marketing is the same around the world.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Things continue on in a fairly usual fashion for this series. The changes though center around NieA whose starting to hear voices. I'm guessing it's not a good thing when an alien starts to hear voices.
In her defense though, she keeps believing she's hearing the mother ship calling to her and trying to communicate. Mostly it seems to be saying "Sayanora". When she actually tells her fellow under 7's about it, they're surprised about the voices she's hearing and where she thinks it's from. Things don't go well in her favor though when Karna goes off on her about how the ship is broken and how could an antenna-less alien know anything anyway.
The alien meeting in general this time was fairly humorous. With the convenience store owner using the meetings as a way of getting people to sample his new dishes and Karna's insistence on actually making them useful, they get pretty hectic when NieA arrives to stoke the fires and be even weirder. Besides, having the meeting degenerate into a fight and hearing the owner running around yelling "My curry! My curry" is surprisingly funny.
With Mayuko, we get a variety of things going on with her. A good part of the time is spent with her just feeling guilty about how she had treated NieA at one point (a point of which NieA hardly even remembers or recalls anymore). But Mayuko is good for feeling guilty and it probably makes her feel better about herself by feeling that way. We do get to spend more time with her at cram school and learn just how well she places. I may have missed it before, but I was surprised that she had been ranked 7th in this large session of cramming students. It appears all her studying pays off, something you don't see all too often in anime dealing with students.
As expected, Genzo also makes another appearance here and spends the day talking with Mayuko. Their relationship continues to have an odd feel to it, pretty much to a point where you wonder if you can call it a relationship. But things do take a turn here as we start to explore the pasts of both characters and their childhood relationship. Genzo's not exactly the most outward guy you'll meet, but odds are you know people like him. It just doesn't seem to translate too well to this kind of story, but with part of their past explained, I started warming up to the character.
Probably the most amusing section of these episodes is when Chie and Mayuko go to the supermarket for the restaurant. It appears that Mayuko has never been in a real supermarket before and her going in there is similar to a meeting with god. Her expressions and the way she deals with everything in there was just hilarious and made for a good segment.
With all of this and NieA's exploration into the reclaimed land that's off-limits, there's some hints of things to come but it feels a bit too late into the series to really become involved in it. So much of this feels like I'm just missing something that makes it enticing to watch and ends up just falling flat to me instead.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Footnotes,Line Art,Japanese Commercials
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2