NieA under 7 – episodes 1 to 5

October 14, 2004 on 10:14 pm | In NieA_7 | Comments Off on NieA under 7 – episodes 1 to 5

NieA under 7: domestic poor @nimation is a wonderful slice of Japanese life anime. With aliens. But mainly it’s about life in Japan. With man eating plants and pyromania. It’s definitely the most accurate anime made in the last four years, at any rate.

Some time in the 21st century, cram student Mayuko lives in a bath house with a free loading alien, NieA. They work at making friends, making ends meet and making new business for the ailing public fixture. Each episode is a separate adventure, each with at least a bit of time spent at the bath house. It’s a nice statement on domestic life, with bits of random comedy inserted. Seeing as the unexpected variety of comedy is frequently the best, this anime is capable of promoting some very loud laughs.

Mayuko initially seems mild mannered, but as it turns out she’s quite capable of snapping. She’s no pushover, and the fire that burns within her can be scary. Speaking of fire, the great standby of the bathhouse – the boiler man Yoshioka – is awed and enamored by the power of fire. The way that normally reserved characters can flip out is part of this show’s charm. The one main character who never flips out, however, is NieA. This is because she is by default out there: eating other’s food, building UFOs, and running through the countryside in a hilarious get up.
The characters are full of surprises, and are a large part of what makes this anime work so well.

Although the subtitle of the program is “domestic poor @nimation”, this seems to pertain more to the theme rather than production values. Generally, everything is handsome – particularly the poor domesticity of urban Japan. The scenery is beautiful, and solemn. NieA_7 is not culturally obscure, but it is definitely Japanese. There is very little music, the background soundscape instead provided by cicadas, or an array of insects at night.
yoshitoshi ABe is the man behind the character designs, which translate very well to anime. For this project he was allowed to SD the characters and to generally do weird things such as make fake Indian and Chinese aliens. It’s great to see these aliens try to fit in as parts of the culture: Karna’s “I’m so Chinese and a valued member contributing to Earth society” is priceless. Performances are marvellous, with Miyamura Yuko’s NieA delightfully crazed and Kawasumi Ayako her alternately humble and furious offsider, Mayuko. The Indian alien, Chada, is played by an authentic Indian actor, and so gives a genuinely accented Japanese performance. Ryo-ohki’s seiyuu shows up as a cat, and the whole thing is generally nice to listen to.
SION’s OP is not an instant pleaser, but it is one that grows quickly: unfortunately, people have been put off by its use as a trailer, but there’s so much to like about this humble and mad anime.

This is a quiet favourite, and for once I don’t care if there is an overarcing story; it’s great as it is. The subtle overtures of Japanese society, the sometimes introspective look at life and business, and the frequently uproarious action are intriguing, but not for everyone. This, it must be taken into account, is infinitely preferable to anime that’s not for anyone. Consider that.

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