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NieA under 7 Vol. 1: Poor Girl Blues (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

August 4, 2008 by  



“An odd anime series that somehow, because of it’s weirdness, managed to keep me watching. Over-the-top and yet, not sure what to think about it but it’s sure is hilarious!”

DVD INFORMATION:

DVD TITLE: NieA under 7 Vol. 1: Poor Girl Blues aka NieA_7 or NieA under Seven

DURATION: 100 minutes

DVD INFORMATION: COLOR/ HI-FI STEREO / RATED 13 UP

CATALOG #: 11560

COMPANY: Pioneer

RATING: 13 and up

STAFF INFORMATION:

IDEA BASED ON gk Characters Designed by Abe Yoshitoshi

DIRECTED AND WRITTEN BY: Sato Takuya

CHIEF DIRECTOR: Tokoro Tomokazu

ANIMATION CHARACTER DESIGNER: Yanagida Yoshiaki

ENOHANA ART DESIGN: Yamashita Akihiko

DESIGN WORKS: Aoki Tomoyuki

ART DIRECTOR: Hirose Ajiichiro

ART SUPERVISOR: Iriomote Michiyo

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Kuwa Yoshito

AUDIO DIRECTOR: Tsuruoka Yota

SOUND DIRECTOR: Owa Yoshio

ANIMATION PRODUCED BY: TRIANGLE STAFF

PRODUCERS: Ueda Yasayuki (Pioneer LDC), Abe Shojiro (Triangle Staff)

How do you solve a problem like NieA?

As a starving student, Mayuko’s life consists of many part-time jobs, a small apartment over a bathhouse, and sleeples study nights. Unfortunately for her sanity, this hard life is complicated by Niea. Niea is a young 7th class under-alien who is living in Mayako’s closet building flying saucers out of trash, eating Mayuko’s food and being a bum. Compared to this stress, the man eating plants and the curry wars are nothing.

Back in 2001, I used to see “NieA under 7” at a local Gamestop and Suncoast Video and I admit that the quirky cover with some girl with elf-like ears with toe puppets on her toes made me take a second look and consider it for purchase.

But I decided to pass it up and figured that I’d wait until a collection of the series came out and I could buy it for a much cheaper price.

Well, it’s 2008 and now these volumes can be found for under $3-5 online and I figured, what a steal!

So, with quite a number of anime I’m watching more towards the sci-fi or serious side, I figured that I wanted to watch something with a lot of humor and something lighthearted.

Also, another reason that caught my eye were several things.

For one, there is a good staff behind this TV anime series. You have Tokoro Tomokazu (key animation for “Serial Experiments Lain” and director of “Hellsing” and “Haibane Renmei”), Sato Takuya who directed, but also involved with the script and storyboards who was involved with “Serial Experiments Lain” but also the “Phantom Quest Corp.” OAV series, “Armitage III” OAV and Abe Yoshitoshi who provided created the story and art for the original manga and for the anime, provided the character designs and key animation (creator of “Serial Experiments Lain” and “Haibane Renmei”).

With these people involved with two favorites “Serial Experiments Lain” and “Haibane Renmei”, I definitely wanted to check this series out

The other reason is the voice talent behind this series. Kawasumi Ayako who plays the main character Chigasaki Mayuko (who also played Lafiel of “Crest of the Stars”, “Banner of the Stars”, Mogi Natsuki of the “Initial D” Series” and Nomura Miu of “Piano” plus probably close to, if not over, a hundred other anime and non-anime roles) and Miyamura Yuko who plays NieA (known for her roles as Asuka of “Neon Genesis Evangelion” and also dozens of anime and non-anime related roles).

The talent behind this series was a driving factor. So, once I watched the first volume of “NieA under 7”, I was pretty surprised because it was very different from “Haibane Renmei” and “Serial Experiments Lain”, that where those had some serious moments, “NieA under 7” is a wacky, over-the-top anime series.

In the first episode titled “Alien and Launching UFO Bath”, the series introduces Chigasaki Mayuko. A student who lives at a bath house that her parents once owned. She is living on her own but working multiple jobs to help pay rent and her food. Unfortunately, what she makes barely gives her enough money to purchase any groceries.

Living with her is an alien named NieA. Unemployed, lazy and just mooches off Mayuko. Always hungry and bothering Mayuko for food which Mayuko sharply tells her that she gets no food because she is a freeloader.

Mayuko makes a friend who wants to visit her home and when her friend finds out she’s an alien, she’s willing to pay for their food and NieA goes to great lengths to be on Mayuko’s friend’s good side. That is until NieA does something very stupid and causes problems for Mayuko by putting a large gaping hole in Mayuko’s roof.

In episode 2 titled “Alien and Violence Cosmic Bath”, it is revealed by the bath house owner Kotomi that they are not making much money. With the events that transpired from episode 1 and the destruction caused by NieA, both are required to help around the bathhouse and do manual labor.

But NieA hears a rumor that oil has been found in a crater where the aliens landed and maintenance worker and resident of the Bath House, Someya Genzo comes up with an idea to use this oil as a replacement for the normal oil that is used at the Bath House to save money. So, Genzo, Mayuko and NieA go off to get some oil near the crater area.

In episode 3 titled “Alien and Radio Noise Bath”, we are introduced to more aliens that reside in the Enohana area. Aliens that include a dark skinned alien (with an enormous head) that wears a turban (and for stereotypical purposes, owns a convenience store) and pretends he’s an Indian and other offbeat characters including one who feels that aliens should not be unemployed and should have dignity and is always at odds with NieA.

In episode 4 titled “Alien and a Beginner Waitress Bath”, we learn about Mayuko’s other job outside of paper, she works at a restaurant (that is not doing that well) and delivers the food to customers. Coming to visit is Hongo Geronimo, a childhood friend who is searching for Mayuko to deliver rice from their hometown. But NieA causes some trouble to a rival alien when she charges her restaurant bill on the alien.

The series is just one episode full of humor and laughs and not mean to be taken seriously. From various audio sounds to the mannerisms of the aliens, definitely a series that is just very over-the-top.

Also, interesting is the opening theme by Sion titled “Koko Made Oide” which is probably the first anime theme song that doesn’t sound like an anime theme song. For those not familar with Sion’s vocals, he has a very raspy voice and definitely nowhere near “cuteness” of an anime theme song that some may be used too.

AUDIO:

I listened to both the English and Japanese audio. I prefer the Japanese audio much more but both are clear, since the series focuses more on dialogue for audio.

VIDEO:

Video looked very colorful and vibrant. It’s a later TV anime series and I love the backdrop of the Enohana area, the homes and overall backgrounds. I realized on the credits that they give credit to an art designer for Enohara which was interesting to see.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

The DVD features line art gallery and non-credit opening theme. Inside is like a post card and literally cut out characters.

For me, a series like this, at this particular moment is definitely nice. I’m watching a sci-fi anime series, a depress war-based anime series and a series that deals with love triangles. So, “NieA under 7” surprisingly made things bright and humurous.

Anime like “NieA under 7” (and other anime like “Azumanga Daioh” and even “Ping Pong Club”) can be seen and viewed by anime fans in a variety of ways. I can see some looking at this series as very funny and humorous and those who are wanting a deep plot, just not really getting into it.

So, this is no “Haibane Renmei” or “Serial Experiments Lain” but that is fine with me. I think that the fact that Abe Yoshitoshi can do something lighthearted and over-the-top without having to go the serious route all the time, makes me respect his work even more.

“NieA under Seven” is definitely for those who are willing to take a step back and enjoy a series episode-to-episode and just enjoy and wonder what the staff will throw at you because it’s that over-the-top and just fun and wacky. I dig that!

So, within my viewing of serious and depressing anime series at this current time, it’s great to finally have the opportunity to check out this anime series and just laugh and enjoy it for what it is.

Again, this is an older anime series that came out back in 2001, so you can literally find it online for $3-5 (new not used), or possibly even cheaper.

All in all, a series recommended for those who enjoy wacky anime series.

+ A series by “Haibane Renmei” and “Serial Experiments Lain” creator Abe Yoshitoshi.

+ Over-the-top, wacky and hilarious!

+ Well done voice acting and a really talented staff behind the series!

– For those expecting another serious anime series from Yoshitoshi Abe, this one is not for you.

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