Type: TV Series
Episode Count: 13
Genre: Sci-Fi / Slice Of Life / Comedy
Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 21 Sep 2006
Grade revised 14 Jan 2013 (was B)
The full title of this series is NieA_7 domestic poor @nimation. “NieA_7” is read “NieA Under Seven”.
The second series with Yoshitoshi ABe’s involvement marks a drastic change in direction from Lain. This time, things are much more lighthearted.
Sometime in the 21st century, aliens have settled on Earth and now walk and live among humans. Mayuko Chigasaki lives at the small bathhouse where she works (while keeping up with her two other jobs), since she can’t afford an apartment (or much of anything else) as she attends cram school to prepare for university entrance exams. Her unlikely roommate is the freeloading alien NieA, who sleeps in the closet and whose most important concern is what the next meal is.
Look at the back cover of the DVDs for this series and you’ll find the following amusing disclaimer: Warning: From the creators of Serial Experiments Lain. But fear not, this series will not put your mind in a blender like Lain does. This time, we’ve got a sci-fi slice-of-life show that is a quirky mix of comedy and drama that makes you think, but not in an abstract way. This time, a more traditional allegorical approach is taken.
NieA_7 is a story about identity, social status, and bento. Mayuko is about as down on your luck as a girl about to enter college can be, yet she still manages to be successful academically. NieA is low in the alien hierarchy, and she doesn’t even have an antenna, as most of the others in the nearby Enohana crater village do. The nature of the series is slice-of-life, so rather than an overall story arc, much of the series concentrates on how they get by, all while the struggling bathhouse where they live (and where Mayuko also works) tries to stay in business. NieA_7 is a story about the plight of the poor and the bureaucracy of alien affairs told through a cracked prism of humor. The story takes a dramatic turn towards the end, but this only helps to round out the series, and it remains distinctive in its style the whole way through.
This is a unique series that successfully pulls you into the characters’ lives, and in my case, I felt so bad for Mayuko that if these characters were real, I’d want to help her in any way that I could. Though the series carries NieA’s name in the title, it is as much about Mayuko as it is about NieA. Recommended for fans of quirky comedy/dramas… not that that’s a common genre, but this one really does stand out because of its originality.