Reviewer: Rich (Webmaster)
on: Anime DVD Vols 1-4 (Whole Series)
UK Distributor: N/A
Ages ago I saw an advert for this on the back of an issue
of Super Manga Blast! and really liked the drawing style, however I didn’t
really think about it again till our local Forbidden Planet got the art book in. I was leafing through it and was struck by the clarity and style of the sketches
and paintings and vowed to buy the first DVD.
On getting the DVD I was more than impressed by the animation and drawing in the
series. The artwork on NieA_7 is fantastic, with as much care and
attention being given to it as a full anime film which is extremely unusual in a
series. Stylistically it is vaguely reminiscent of the Studio Ghibli film
Whisper of the Heart except that it is not above using traditional anime series
devices such as speed lines, random cut scenes and heavily stylised expressions.
The story is unusual – aliens are here, but they didn’t invade, they emigrated
to Earth and now co-exist with us causing, well, basically no changes at all. Mayako struggles with her numerous jobs and cram school study whilst attempting
to keep her meagre food supplies away from an alien scrounger – NieA – who lives
in her cupboard.
Mayako is a good character, nice, quiet, conscientious and generally pretty
normal. She copes with her struggle realistically and only seems to lose it when
dealing with NieA. NieA, however, is a deliberately annoying bum who doesn’t do
anything useful except provide an excuse for some odd situations and comedy. This may sound like it doesn’t work – but it does.
The comedy is usually extremely funny (the source of power for NieA’s UFO in the
first episode being a good example) and the story is good but it has a strange
underlying feeling of melancholy which is unusual for a comedy. NieA_7 is more thoughtful than most series and you do
get the impression that a couple of meaningful subplots are on the horizon –
mainly involving Mayako’s father and NieA’s lack of antenna/social status. However, these potential subplots are never elaborated on and this
is where it falls down a little, only hinting at these things early on may cause
some people to lose interest. The annoyance factor of NieA herself is a turn off too.
However, even though these plotlines don't go anywhere a
plot does develop near the end of the series involving NieA and the mother ship.
When this plotline kicks in the comedy subsides and, with the absence of NieA
for several episodes, the melancholy takes over. This isn't a bad thing
though; with the introduction of this plot the story is saved from getting
bogged down in repetitiveness and as the plot develops it plays even more on the
whole feeling of nothing really changing.
At the end of the day the great animation, great artwork, brilliant comedy, and
a superbly original soundtrack – comprising mainly of some great blues music –
overcome the minuses and make NieA_7 an interesting and original work
that is well worth a look.
NieA's UFO in
the first episode.
Worst Bit: The live action
Indian Cultural lessons at the end of each episode.