“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 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
RATING: 13 and up
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.
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 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.
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.
“A series that one can mistake as only lighthearted and innocent humor, by episode 6, the viewer is taken into one heck of an emotional rollercoaster ride and the results are possibly one of the most unique, impressive anime series to come out in a long time!”
DVD TITLE: Haibane Renmei Box Set
DURATION: 325 minutes (13 episodes)
DVD INFORMATION: Animated, Box set, Color, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC
CATALOG #: 013023262393
COMPANY: Geneon Entertainment (USA)
RATING: 13 and up
DIRECTOR: Tokoro Tomokazu and Negishi Hiroshi
SERIES COMPOSITION AND SCRIPT: ABe Yoshitoshi
ORIGINAL CREATOR: ABe Yoshitoshi
CHARACTER DESIGN: Takata Akira
ART DIRECTOR: Katahira Shinji
PRODUCER: Haruna Go, Goto Hideki and Ueda Yasuyuki
In a long-forgotten walled town, humans coexist with the Haibane, angelic-like beings of unknown origin. Rakka becomes the newest Haibane, after she awakens from a strange dream and finds herself hatching from a massive cocoon. With no memories of her previous life, Rakka struggles to adjust to her new surroundings, however burning questions remain in the back of her mind. What is Haibane and what is their purpose? What lies beyond the huge, forbidden town walls? Thus Rakka begins her wistful journey of self-discovery and wonderment.
I have heard from many anime fans that “Haibane Renmei” is one of their favorite series of all time. Also, with the series created by ABe Yoshitoshi known for his last work “Serial Experiments Lain” (which I loved), I decided that I had to check this anime out.
The series focuses on a girl named Rakka who was born from a large cocoon located in an old building titled “Old Home”. In the beginning, you see Rakka dreaming that she is falling through the sky.
Upon birth, she is greeted by a group five women/girls.
Reki: The caretaker of “Old Home”. Very caring towards everyone at the home especially towards Rakka. Smokes a cigarette.
Nemu: The eldest of “Old Home”. Very close to Reki and loves to sleep. She also is fond of books and works at the library.
Kana: The tomboy of the group. Loves to fix things.
Hikari: The cook of the home. Works at a bakery.
Kuu: The youngest of the home. Very playful and has a close friendship with Rakka.
The term “Haibane Renmei” is the title they are given which mean “grey wings” and each have halos and in the first episode, Rakka grows her wings and also gets used to sporting a halo.
In the town they live in, Haibane exists with humans and Toga (the Federation who watches over the “Haibane” and has special rules for them. They do not talk but only one person named Washi) and enclosed around a city is a huge wall which everyone is not allowed to touch or leave.
From episode 1-5, these episodes are very much all character development storylines and Rakka gets to know each person by observing their work or hanging around them.
I have to admit that I had questions in my mind of where the storyline was going. Everything was so lighthearted and fun and I started to wonder if this series was geared more towards children.
That was until I got to episode 6. By this time, Rakka starts to question a lot of things at the village. What lies over that wall? Why are Haibane trapped in the village? What is her role in society because she feels she has no special skills and more. Does she have a family? Why is she a Haibane?
So, by this episode I was starting to wonder if the “wings” and “halos” and something related to religion would come into play but the anime series really doesn’t go to that direction. If anything, it becomes about self-discovery and self-doubt.
As Rakka’s dreams start to become clearer as she starts to remember being close to a crow and then seeing the crows start to talk to her and everything in her life crashes into the darkness when something happens to one of the Haibane and to make matters worse, her gray wings start to develop dark black spots. What is happening to Rakka?
And from that moment on, the viewer is taken to one emotional rollercoaster and the series begins to focus on Reki and a setup for the final explosive episode.
The series came out back in 2002 in Japan but for this 2005 DVD, the series is presented with an original aspect ratio of 1:78:1. If anything, I really enjoyed the setting of the series. Somewhat of an old city within Europe. Lush with color and the character designs by Takata Akira (key animation for “Cardcaptor Sakura movie 2″, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex” and worked in series such as “Blood+” and “Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu”) were pretty cool.
I watched this series primarily in Japanese and there is not much action, mostly dialogue between the characters which was very clear. If anything, the strength is the music that plays within the background and actually caught my attention. Hearing the violins really help the setting of the village they live in. Pretty cool!
This box set contains: Next episode trailers, art gallery, textless opening, textless ending, Japanese commercials, production art gallery, promotional videos, cover art gallery, a humorous “Got Wings” short, interview with producer Ueda Yasuyuki and series creator ABe Yoshitoshi and also original ending which is nothing different from the original story but features new music.
I have to say that by episode 5, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to watch anymore because it was lighthearted and just finished watching another lighthearted series “piano” from almost a marathon setting, I was craving for something a bit different.
But I realize that the first five episodes were primarily character development episodes and after all, so many people say this anime was one of the best anime series out there, I’m already halfway into it…just keep watching.
And what can I say, by episode 6, the storyline kicks into high gear and from then on, it doesn’t stop. The way how things start to prepare the viewer for the final episode, I was definitely impressed. This is a unique series and I can very much see why so many people have clamored and voiced their love for the series.
I have to admit that I thought this was going to be a series that dwelved into religion because of the angel wings and halos but the series doesn’t really directly touch upon that subject but without being direct, it gives a new perspective of things and definitely an interesting take (which I can’t go into without spoiling it).
All in all, it was another series that I couldn’t stop watching after I started. Watched every episode within one setting and it goes to show how strong the storyline was to attract my attention because it’s that good!
The DVD’s came out back in 2005 but of course, three years later, you can find it much cheaper now for each volume or for the box set.
So, I join the others and say this series is definitely awesome and a series that is highly recommended!
+ A unique anime series
+ Another impressive work by ABe Yoshitoshi
+ Really good voice acting, the setting was lush and beautiful and music to match.
+ Really cool bonus features and a box set that you can find at a low price these days.
- I can see very few viewers, where religion comes to play, maybe questioning an anime series that involves people with halos and wings (and immediately think that it’s an anime about religion) that have faults and even have sinned and possibly seeing it as blasphemous.