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NieA_7

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    I love this show.  There's just something about it, something unique and completely different.  The team responsible for Serial Experiments Lain is behind this production, but you wouldn't know it off hand.  Besides Yoshitoshi Abe's distinct drawing style, the two shows have nothing in common with each other.  You'll get the most satisfaction out of NieA if you go into it without any preconceived ideas or expectations.  It's a great anime that truly stands on its own.  
    
     The plot of NieA_7 is simple.  Mayu has recently graduated high school, and has moved away from home to enroll in a cram school in order to pass her college entrance exams.  She lives at the Enohana Bathhouse, paying her rent by working after hours and cleaning the baths.  She affords her education by working a paper route in the morning, and going to work as a delivery person at a small restaurant in the evenings.  She also shares her room with an alien named NieA.  In this world, aliens arrived years ago, and have generally been accepted as a part of society.  They didn't invade or attack, they just came over like any other type of immigrant.  Yet they haven't achieved total acceptance, and still strive to fit in.  NieA is an "under seven," the lowest possible class.  She also happens to be missing an antenna, one of the few features that separates an alien from a human.
  
 
    One of the most appealing things about this show is it's incredible simplicity.  The life that each individual leads is wonderfully plain.  Mayu spends her days going to school and working at three separate jobs, just to afford somewhere to live and pay for her education.  At the end of the day, she barely can afford a bowl of rice, and goes to sleep on the floor of her rented room, after moving aside a small circular table, one of the few pieces of furniture in the barren room.  NieA focuses on collecting junk and building her ufo's as if nothing else mattered.  (Except for eating, of course, and boy, does she eat.)  There are no intricate diabolical schemes, or secret super powered origins or psychic attacks or hidden meanings behind these folks.  They are such real and true individuals that it's almost impossible to not identify with at least one of them.  Despite the fantasy and fiction elements of the story, the problems they face are often quite real.  The emotions and struggles they experience are things that nearly all of us have encountered at on time or another. This is what gives this show it's appeal, it's down to earth, familiar "everyman" feel. 

     The second thing that makes this show so enjoyable is its sense of humor.  It's a style called "hetare" or, literally, "lame."  (This is explained further in the excellent liner notes on the discs.)  The jokes are often quite dry, and more often than not, obscure and just plain goofy.  But in a good way, the kind of humor that makes you grin and every once in a while laugh out loud without realizing it.  Nicely timed slapstick can be found in this show, as well as a plethora of odd situations and bizarre predicaments.   But the greatest moments come from character interactions.  It may be NieA and Mayu frantically arguing about food or why a UFO just crashed through the roof, or Chiaki becoming spastically excited at the mention of any alien activity.  Meanwhile poor Genzo shyly takes any opportunity to see Mayu, even though he can barely manage to speak around her.  Throw in an innocently perverted Indian alien that owns a convenience store, an obsessive female alien that thinks she's Chinese and receives radio broadcasts on her antennae, a few man eating plants, a mysterious buzzing mothership, and the fun really begins.
    The music is amazing.  It consists of both Blues and Ukulele tunes, which perfectly fit the mood and atmosphere.  Often it's heard through NieA's old record player or shoddy radio set, giving the music that bit of noise and static that just feels right on an old bluesy instrumental.   

     The DVD's themselves are excellent.  The covers are almost identical to their region 2 counter parts.  (the orientation has been changed, and one cover had to be left out due to a four disc release.)  Each disc comes with a little paper stand up of some of the characters and locations, something Pioneer likes to do.  Most people aren't going to cut these out and arrange them, but they do make neat collectibles.  Each disc has clean, simple menus that perfectly fit the show.  The extras are sparse, but very interesting, such as the liner notes that help explain life in rural Japan.  You can learn a whole lot about bathhouses, food, and general Japanese culture just from reading these notes.  The quality of the video and sound is excellent.

     All I can say is give NieA a chance.  It's not a show that everyone will like, but I think a lot of people will be pleasantly surprised. The simple, somber, emotional moments in the show wonderfully contrast the crazy, off the wall comedic elements.  It creates a unique feel, and gives the show its identity.  If you're looking for something different, this might be the off beat, character driven, moody, introspective, comedic anime for you.
Reviewed by Vintango   Return to site

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