NieA under Seven

TV - 13 episodes

This show comes from some of the same people that did Serial Experiments Lain, but donít expect the same kind of thing here.

Mayuko is a shy, studious and perpetually poor cram school student studying for her college entrance exams. She lives in the Enohana bath house that once upon a time her family owned, but unfortunately it isnít doing too well these days. She works there for her room as one of several part time jobs she balances with school. There is also a lazy, unemployed bum of an Under Seven alien called NieA living in her closet. Throw in the bath house employees, a UFO obsessed best friend, the long since crashed mother ship and an entire community of human-looking aliens and life can get pretty weird for poor Mayuko.

There is very little plot to this show. Actually thereís virtually none outside the instances that the episodes themselves revolve around, such as trying to help the bath house get back on its feet or NieA's newest junk UFO. Instead this is a slice of everyoneís lives, and as expected from that the tone varies depending on whatís going on. It is often comedy, and quite bizarre comedy at that. Man-eating plants in the crater, curry obsessed cultural meetings and Mayukoís attempts to lay some order down on the wilful and childish NieA are often accompanied by deforming characters and sudden switches of a characterís character as they let appearances drop for just a second. A lot of it is exaggerated action you could well see in real life, and a lot of it isnít simply through the nature of the situation.

On the other hand though the show can get very thoughtful and introspective at times, dropping the comedy angle altogether and wondering about where life is going. This ruminative seriousness occurs a lot more towards the end of the series as life gets on top of Mayuko and it adds another level of realism to this strange situation. Personally I found the serious parts of the series to be more of a drive to watch than the comedy, but I doubt the show could function without them both, even if you might think that one side needs toning down a little.

There is very little to object about with this show, but half of it would go straight over childrenís heads. There is some mild nudity and mild, comical violence but nothing that should stop anyone watching. The boiler worker at the bath house has a thing for fire, a large headed Indian obsessed alien is often quite perverted (though it seems he doesnít always understand what heís saying) and one of the episodes features the unwitting use of a certain illegal plant. The Chinese obsessed alien is also known to go tripping, but since itís because her antenna (which most aliens besides NieA have) picks up Beijing radio that likely doesnít count!

The tag line for this show is ĎDomestic Poor Animationí, but actually the show looks very good a lot of the time. I like the art style and design of the main characters and the animation is reasonably fluid when required. The comic deforming resembles Excel Sagaís deforming style, and generally doesnít look too bad outside the fact it's quite extreme for a series like this. There often isnít much actual visual action happening though, so it isnít a visual bonanza, and the CG does look a little out of place when it is use outside the opening title animation. Still, while this isnít a show about lots of flashy things happening on screen it still looks good.

The dub for this is actually very watchable. Most of the characters that appear become at least major supporting characters and all the major characters are well voiced for much of the time. The few minor characters there are donít work as well, and it took a second to get used to some of the voices replacing the Japanese thatís very easy to like in this show, but overall thereís not much wrong here. A nice surprise for dub fans.

This is a show that you will either love or hate, and may also leave you thinking Ďwhat was the point of thatí at the end. There is no grand point to it. Itís a slice of life and life has no grand adventure, the finish of which marks the end of it. It has hints of Lainís slow and personal storytelling style, but otherwise they are two completely different animals. The beginning episodes are deceptively comical compared to the more thoughtful ending ones, but I think this is a case of try and see if youíre in doubt because thereís very little I can accurately compare it to. Personally I like it.

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