Saturday, May 14, 2011


There are stories that live off from the drama they bring, while others hit the climax because of the conflict among the characters. A narrative is supposed to take us on a journey. But what if a story possess no beginning and soars to a no end? What if the plot only centers around the main characters and puckers snippets of everyday life?

Will an open-ended tale stand on its own?

A slice of  life as the literati calls it is what urged me to watch NieA_7 when it was aired on AXN in the past. The anime paints a scene where aliens with TV antennas on top of their heads become refugees after their mothership crashed in a small town in Japan. Unlike with other alien themed stories, the people have grown used to these off-world survivors.

In the words of the protagonist in the first episode, "alien or not, what's the difference?"

The 13-episode series presents the life of Mayuko and her free-loading alien roommate Niea. Mayuko goes to a cramming school in Tokyo, but her penniless existence forces her to live above a bathhouse in a distant suburb of Enohana. She is seen as an introverted, anti-social teen who juggles different jobs (including newspaper delivery girl)  to support herself.

Meanwhile, Niea is a mischievous "under-seven" alien  who lives in Mayuko's empty closet. As to how she got there, nobody knows. She whines of not getting enough food, but is too lazy to find work  She builds spaceships out of junk, but her flying machines end up exploding the moment they are airborne. It is not revealed how Niea found her way to Enohana, but later in the series, her ties with the mothership gives hint of her enigmatic past.

Surrounded by a colorful mix of eclectic characters, NieA_7 explores how these extras affect the lives of Mayuko and Niea. There is Chada, an Indian masquerading alien who is seen organizing the off-worlders of Enohana. Those who show up in his meetings (watch out for the loud-mouthed Karna) end up sampling his latest curry dish instead of pursuing their planned agenda. Chiaki, a cram school student from Tokyo seems very fascinated with Mayuko's unconventional life. And the bath house staff, despite having their own misgivings and complains of not making enough profit continue to show dedication in their job.    

While the series briefly touches issues of discrimination, ghetto life and poverty, NieA_7 makes these concerns light and trivial. Instead of the characters dwelling on these issues, they make fun of their predicament and make the most out of it. In the end, lessons are learned, failures demand a return to the drawing board and life goes on no matter how difficult it has become.

What makes NieA_7 so endearing is its still-life interludes that invites everyone to pause and enjoy the rural setting as the koto strums lazily at the background. The most powerful imagery need no words, and seeing Niea wile away on the rooftop of the bathhouse as her transistor radio goes static between songs sum our deepest longings of a life free from worries.

The best elements of Japanese storytelling can be found in its subtleties, for its authors believe that beauty surfaces beneath the subjects' imperfections. NieA_7 carefully crafts these elements to make the characters breathe, and the episodes struck a chord with ordinary people despite being a cut-out sequence of a narrative.

NieA_7 certainly belongs to the rare and seldom explored genre where conflicts happen in everyday life.  While violence and sexual tension have no place in this series, its breathtaking simplicity and subtle commentary on human values make this anime a recommended treat for everyone.         



daniel said...

I'll try to get a copy of this sis' Be at the office tomorrow morning to get my pay : )
See yah : )

Mr. Brightside said...

I have been a fan of Japanese animation since the first time I watched Ghost fighter. I like the fact that its contents can appeal to both young and young at heart.

I am 24 now and I still watch several anime series. I will check this one out.

Nicely written review :)

the green breaker said...

eto pala ang Slice of Life. at akala ko dati nagbibiro lang yung friend ko na UP-AME na may ganito. i'll try this one as it sounds interesting.

Anonymous said...

pinakagusto ko yung opening credits, yung raspy voice nung kumakanta ng opning song followed by a sunrise yata, hehe. saw this one on AXN a couple of years back, early 2000's ata, it replaced RAVE i think. when i saw the first episode, the simple and minimalist approach and the animation style got me hooked instantly. too bad 13 episodes lang sya. :)

Spiral Prince said...

AXN-fan-anime-geek represent!

red the mod said...

Last weekend, we had a manga marathon. I missed high school all of a sudden. They don't make them like they used to. I miss the depth and psychological requisites of watching a Ghibli production.

Makii said...

I have been a fan of japanese animes and manga from evangelion to akazakukin chacha, cardcaptor sakura, magic knight rayearth, claymore and others. This Niea seem interesting. Will check if there is torrent or go to Quiapo to find the dvd. lol.

Solid review btw.

Spiral Prince said...

Anime-lover represent!

Mugen said...

Bakulaw Man:

I think all the comments got erased. Let's see.

Mr. Brightside said...

I think the comments got erased.

I have been a fan of Japanese animation ("anime") since the first time I saw Ghost Fighter. I like the fact that its contents can appeal to both young and young at heart.

I will check this anime out.

Nicely written review :)

On my recent post... he is my boyfriend, we've been together for almost six (6) months now( He left for Saudi last Saturday, May 07, 2010, he did it for his family and for our future too (

Regards Mugen.

Mugen said...

Mr. Brightside.

I think it was Daimos which introduced me to the world of anime. That was a long time ago, and my loyalties still go to that period. Hehehe.


Nakakalungkot naman ang love story niyo. Will he ever come back?

Mr. Brightside said...

Sabi nga namin na ang love story ay hindi isang love story kung walang conflict. This is the conflict we have to face. But I know we can make it work and we will prove that long distance relationships do work.

He gets a 15-day vacation every six months. He will be back by November, just in time for the anniversary. :D

Makii said...

Makikisali lang ... for Mr. Brightside: I'm with you on LDR. Kaya yan :)

Mugen: Comments got erased but I must say again you did such a neat review for this anime. I myself got introduced to anime by means of Voltes V and Flame of Recca. Even watched Akazukin Cha Cha, Evangelion, Cardcaptor Sakura, Claymore , etc, and I'm still loving them animes.

Ill look for torrent for this anime but if there's none, there is always Quiapo or MCS. :)

soulsifter said...

Just a follower of your blog for quite some time now.

There was a time I can say that I was an otaku, but during the times that my interest in animation is fading, this anime is one of the series that I liked.

Everything was casual but realistic in a sense. :)