a.k.a. NieA Under 7
a.k.a. NieA Under 7: Domestic Poor @nimation
It has been a long time since a large ship descended upon the small town of Enohana. So long, in fact, that very few people seem to care about aliens living in their once peaceful town and the crashed mother ship is just part of the scenery. One person does care, though. Her name is Mayuko; she is a poverty-stricken student and has one of these aliens, NieA, living in her closet. NieA is constantly leeching the little food she works hard to buy and makes spacecraft out of garbage. Being in the “under seven” class of aliens, NieA has no antenna and is an outcast in a race of outcasts. Even if they do not get along, they can at least empathize with one another.
summary by Kjeldoran
Highs: Both story-related and filler episodes are highly entertaining; original storyline and characters; metaphor galore
Lows: NieA’s character is hard to swallow; the alien race could use a background
The illustration on the Otakon 2002 press passes, featuring NieA_7‘s obsessive journalist Komatsu Chiaki, aroused my curiosity towards this anime made by the creators of Serial Experiments: Lain. The box art offers nothing to catch the eye, and makes one wonder if this is really an anime. But it is the inner beauty that counts, as this is quite an enjoyable series.
What an abrupt beginning. I literally took out the first disc thinking I had inserted the wrong one. This is mainly because all the bizarre elements in this anime seem perfectly normal to the inhabitants of Enohana as they go about their daily routine. “Routine” is often synonymous with filler episodes, but for once I had a blast watching them. Characters should get most of the credit; eccentric and distinctive (many of them are aliens, after all), they still share some of today’s most common hardships as they try to make ends meet. The black sheep in this family is the co-main character, NieA. Even if this anime could not work without her, I feel it would have been better off if she was less irritating and transparent. On a smaller scale, this also goes for most aliens; their origin and purpose are barely brushed and some get no development at all.
Reluctantly accommodating a reckless and greedy alien resembling Ed from Cowboy Bebop in your closet is as unusual as the characters and the art; its vast contrast of colors and styles produces the same effect. As crazy as this all seems, NieA_7 still incorporates stirring metaphors and serious themes without making them essential to the understanding of the storyline, much like a watered-down FLCL.
The ending was disappointing since I was expecting a tour de force weaving every loose thread to perfection. After much reflection, however, I realized this anime ended quite soothingly for its modest style. This series is deeper than it looks but remains undemanding enough for those who only want a good laugh.
Highs: Wonderfully down-to-earth; characters that you can relate to; variety of working metaphors
Lows: Brand of humor does not always work
Despite being from the creators of Serial Experiments: Lain and Haibane Renmei, NieA_7 is entirely different (with exception to similar artwork) and stands out on its own because of its uniqueness. With such a serene and sober atmosphere mixing in spells of quasi-insanity, this is the kind of series that can be as straight forward or as unpredictable as it wants to be.
Hold your horses! A series that has no complex conspiracy or bad guys? That is correct. NieA_7, while containing its fair share of odd characters and situations, is refreshingly realistic and plain. From Mayuko’s struggle to get through cram school to the bathhouse workers’ desperate attempts to keep their business alive, it seems nearly impossible to not be able to identify with at least one character in this series. The emotions and plights that they face are quite real and are something that everyone has had to deal with at one time or another. Behind all of that lies a plethora of metaphors relating to life; classism and racism being the more obvious topics hinted at. Other metaphors include free will, growing up, mortality and quite a few more; like FLCL, other people will undoubtedly find this series to have quite a few other meanings to it.
If an anime ever surprised me, it was this series; while I was expecting an anime that would have me laughing all night long like Azumanga Daioh, this was not the case. While the humor is intended to be hetare (which literally means “lame”), it does not induce laughter at every chance it gets. In fact, I found myself laughing very few times throughout the series, but when I did laugh, it was far more than a mere chuckle or giggle. Some jokes clicked just right, but most just could not seem to get on target.
NieA_7 is a unique series that will sometimes have you busting a gut laughing and most of the time making you smile. Also, if you are a fan of subbing, give the English dub a shot; aside from Cowboy Bebop, I think anyone will be hard pressed to find voice actors that sound so natural and at home with their characters. Either way, I highly recommend this series.
NieA_7 can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.