Mania Grade: B
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- Audio Rating: A
- 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.
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 75
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: NieA_7
NieA_7 Vol. #2
By Bryan McAvoy
May 11, 2002
Release Date: October 09, 2001
I love NieA_7. It is a terrific series. However, if I had to choose the two things which I liked least about this show, I'd have to say those two things would be episodes 5 and 6 :)
So, while this series gets a big, red "A" in my book, the content level of this particular volume is such that it gets a "B". In fact, I write this almost more as a warning to people who might have similar tastes as myself. If you like shows that feature character development, particularly a meticulous attention to how people really interact with one another, do not judge NieA based upon the first two episodes on the disk. The series takes on greater depth as it goes along. Of course, I still had fun with this one.
Another good sounding disk. My system is nothing to write home about - 2 channels and an old receiver, but it does a pretty good job. There is some directionality in this volume, and sound effects are used wonderfully. This part of the series takes place in the middle of summer, and there were but a few minutes when the hum of cicadas was NOT backing up the story.
The English dub is one of the best I've heard. New Generation Pictures should be congratulated. Tricia Dickson continues her fabulous job of veering from manic to subdued, sometimes in the same sentence. She conveys a great deal of emotion while always sounding very natural in her delivery. Really, this is what one should expect from a voice actress. Casey Strand does things with Karna's character that are terrific as well. I think I may like her performance more than anyone else's. Just some of little things she does, like a frustrated whimper when Genzo is around for example, are hysterical. As for NieA herself, "J-Ray" does a very good job. Her delivery also sounds natural and unforced for the most part. However, something is lost in this part of the English dub. It seems that she only has two gears - straight delivery and petulant whine. The Japanese VA, Yuko Miyamura, gives a portrayal of NieA with more emotional range. Just because NieA is young doesn't mean she doesn'!
have a lot of complicated emotions. She seems a little too "kiddiefied".
There are a few rainbows here and there, but at least on my system, this is one of the best looking titles I've seen. Other reviews certainly will have touched on the Earth-tone color palate, which is different, but a nice change of pace. The backgrounds have a life all their own. Enohana is a much a character in this anime as any of the people in it.
The menu is made up of the same picture that's on the DVD cover. It has been animated a little, with blinking eyes and a waving banner held by the "Indo-convini-alien", Chada. It loads quickly, which is all I want in a menu, so no complaints there.
This volume is packaged in a white Amaray case. Perfect. There are also more cardboard finger puppets and a cardboard "PM 11/AM 7". My life is complete.
There are three extras. Liner notes! Not many liner notes mind you, but at least they are there. You should really read up on what a "go-con" is before watching the show. They also explain that the phrase "hetare" is used a lot in NieA. This means "lame" in Japanese. Apparently this type of humor is signified by "bad jokes, bad puns and obscure references". Ah, now that makes sense. There are also 20 pages of line art and a creditless ending.
Content: (spoilers of various intensity)
Most of the characters and conflict were introduced in the first volume. The first two episodes of this volume don't really add to the back story, and there is very little dramatic conflict until the last episode. Mostly, the first two episodes are just "for gags" as one of my old college professors used to say. Of course, I'm sure there is tons of "hetare" humor that I'm not getting.
In episode 5, the owner of the Enohana Bath-house (EBH), Kitomi Hiyama, once again tries to find a ploy which will lead the EBH to profitability. "Inspired" by NieA, she decides to hold a video game tournament as means of luring in customers. However, the only people who show up are kids!
Basically, most of the episode consists of the EBH friends and family competing against the kids. This way we get to watch the cast of NieA playing video games which feature SD versions of themselves. Get it? Somebody must be a real major programmer in the EBH to pull off a trick like that! Anyway, this was just a little too "hetare" for my tastes, and is about the low point of the series for me.
Episode 6 is titled "Alien and Rival Bath-house Bath". In this one, somebody opens up a rival bath-house right in the Enohana crater (where part of the alien cadre originally landed). This is terrible as the EBH can barely make ends meet with NO competition. This is another episode that didn't really feature any character development. I have to admit, watching the cast try to "infiltrate" the rival bath-house was kind of fun. I won't throw any more spoilers into the mix, though there isn't much to spoil.
At about this point of the 2nd volume, while mildly entertained, very happy with the production value, and madly scribbling pictures of yoshitoshi ABe's wonderful character designs, I was really rather disappointed. Fortunately, for me at least, episode 7 - "Mothership, Go-con and Cloudy Skies Bath" really ramped things up. In particular, the relationship between Mayu and NieA finally becomes a larger part of the focus.
Mayu's friend from cram school, Chiaki, invites Mayo to go to a "Go-con". Basically this is a big blind date where and equal number of guys and girls get together in hopes that a few of them might hit it off. Eek! Talk about hell for an introvert, and Mayu thinks it over for quite a while before deciding whether or not to go. No spoilers, but suffice it to say, being a dirt poor cram student, who can't even afford a hair-cut, makes this very difficult for her.
Toward the end of the episode, Mayu takes her pent-up self-loathing, and anger at her situation, out on NieA. Wow, does the English dub actress deliver in this part! Ms. Dickson, you have a fan. Here also is where the show begins to deliver with it's subtle human interactions. NieA is taken aback by her words, in particular the way Mayo really seems to mean what she says (and it only gets worse in Ep 7, but I digress). During this scene, I could really feel for NieA, and how she must be a person who has been mistreated and kicked-around by a lot of people in her life.
NieA is having her own problems at this point, as she is hearing voices from the mother ship. The way these two social outcasts live in completely different worlds, yet are also so dependant on one another, is highlighted very well staring at this point.
Sony DVP-S530D connected via SVHS cables to a Sony Trinitron 27" TV