NieA under 7 – episodes 6 to 13

October 19, 2004 on 6:41 pm | In NieA_7 | Comments Off on NieA under 7 – episodes 6 to 13

Was NieA under 7 irrelevant? Does it matter? Overall, this turned out to be a summer in a rural Japanese town. That’s all NieA under 7 was in the end but, despite turning decidedly sombre, it was worth it.

NieA gets less and less screen time as the theme becomes about Mayuko’s social isolation and general awkwardness. Mayuko is handicapped both by her rural lifestyle (the sort that impresses UFOlogists) and her general poverty and humble nature. There’s a segment which shows that it is very hard to tell the difference between sympathy and bitchiness amongst girls.

The relationship between NieA and Mayuko is important, but seemingly only when the two are apart or only one of them is conscious. It’s the acts that they do for each other without letting on that show that they care, because when they’re together they’re at each other’s throats. Any time that NieA levels the “discrimination king!” accusation at Mayuko, it causes laughter and defuses potentially serious scenes: the see-saw of tone gets a lot of working out this way. The comedy is extremely funny but peters out to melancholy and introspection very quickly, which is a very odd feeling to get when watching anime.
Mayuko’s relationship with Genzo, the boy from her childhood, is limited as Genzo doesn’t show up in Enohana very often. The time that he actually gets to talk to Mayuko for minutes at a time about something more than rice shows that they’re both nice people; Mayuko also gets the classic feeling that she doesn’t know what her ambitions are, but she did when she was seven. It’s not the idea of a lost childhood innocence, but of a lost identity: as a seven year old, she was sure of herself, but as a cram student she is a transient being, stuck between drifting and doing something that might be the right thing to do economically speaking, but uncertain on a personal level.

The idea of alien rights and class are touched very lightly: Chada is not arrested on the grounds of his being an alien, but aliens below the class of “under five” officially do not exist. NieA’s one comment on class in society was highly insightful and very welcome. NieA, having no antenna, is discriminated against by humans and aliens alike, so she knows exactly what it’s like and is aware of the ignorance of others. The reason Mayuko is called “discrimination king” is actually because she frequently degrades NieA on her status as an “under seven”. The most memorable is when NieA encourages Mayuko to throw off the shackles of society and become an under seven. Mayuko recoils in disgust and says she could never be like her room mate, that it would be worse than nothing.
Until people vocalise their prejudices, sometimes they simply don’t realise that they have them.

There are some confusing scenes: it’s hard to believe that none of the characters recognise a marijuana leaf, and there are some completely tasteless and shocking “American jokes”. NieA’s activities in the last four episodes will apparently forever remain a mystery, as is the fate of the mothership. Apparently this is not important, and you can take it as “simple beauty” if you so desire. That’s probably the best course of action, so take it.

The atmospheric effects were strong as always, with the “hot music” notable and the transition to Spring bringing an end to the cicada calls. The foley on this show was amazing: the sounds of air actually came through at one point, making it seem all the more real. On the flip side, it was too over the top on the few occasions that American sound effects were used.

NieA under 7 was nice to watch, from its uproarious comedy to its quiet rural life. There’s no real reason for the inclusion of the aliens or some of the events surrounding them, but that’s okay. Taken as a summer in a quiet Japanese town, emphasising the importance of cherishing our time, it is a simple yet effective delight.

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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