The Spring 2014 Anime Preview Guide Nanana's Buried Treasure
Review: One of the things that fascinates me most about film and television is examining the balance of writing and direction onscreen and how they support one another or fail to do so. Greatness in one area can elevate weakness in another, but sometimes even excellence in both areas can fail due to poor chemistry. At what level does the seesaw snap? How far can you strain a bothersome plot or lifeless direction before a work begins to collapse? Well, we get a taste of an answer to that question in Nanana's Buried Treasure, a very entertaining and well-produced show with a pretty lame and slippery story (so far.) Just one episode in, it's a tightly drawn rubber band that could either soar into the skies at high speed or rip itself apart and have us all moping and sucking our thumbs.
Nanana herself is a ghost who haunts the newly rented room of our hero, Juugo. Juugo is excited to be living on his own for the first time in his life, but he hadn't taken into account living with a noisy ghost who spends all day eating pudding and playing video games...wait, what? Yes, that's a peculiarity of Nanana's ghostliness: she can eat, be seen by all, and interact with things as normally as any human, she just can't leave the room she died in; luckily, she has no interest in doing so! It's easy to be reminded of AnoHana (the tone is similar too,) but Anohana had a deftness of tone and focus from the get-go that Nanana's Buried Treasure hasn't decided on yet. Even when Juugo finds out young Nanana was one of the Great 7 Adventurers who made his new island home the bustling metropolis it is today by discovering riches across the--wait, hang on, what? Anyway, there's a ton of explaining to do before getting to the punchline, but basically it takes the full episode's runtime for Juugo to figure out that Nanana has left behind a hidden treasure worth untold billions of yen, and now that she's haunting him, those riches could be his instead!
The entire journey there is fun to watch, but the writing, even with a giant treasure on the line, feels stakes-less and stupid. Nanana doesn't care about moving on or being avenged, Juugo doesn't have much pressing attention to risk his life for riches, and the heaped-on explanations for Nanana having a treasure and her ghost-rules working the way they do seem at best unnecessary and at worst, like undercooked attempts to seem unique for no purpose. Entertainment conquers all in some cases however, and this show has proven itself to at least be genuinely entertaining. This is all potential at this point, and may well worth be watching in the early going, but keep an eye on that tight rubber band if the writing gets any sloppier.
Nanana's Buried Treasure is available streaming at Crunchyroll.com.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)
Review: Nanae Island is a special place with cutting-edge technology and lavish architecture specifically created to allow young people to realize their full potential and dreams. (Think Academy City from the A Certain Magical Index franchise.) 16-year-old Juuga Yama has come there partly to escape a problematic home life and partly to have an adventure out on his own. He is apparently going to get more than he bargained for. Upon moving into his new apartment, he discovers that it is already inhabited by a busty girl, Nanana, who turns out to be a full-fledged ghost. She is bound to what is now Juugo's room and has been since she was murdered ten years ago, a murder that has never been solved. Since she can't leave, she spends all day and night eating pudding, watching TV, and playing Internet games. After losing a contest to her to see who will be the dominant roommate, Juugo learns some important things about her: that she was one of the “Great 7” students who made the island what it is today, that his landlady (one of Nanana's fellow “Great 7”) specifically rented her room out so she wouldn't be lonely, and that somewhere on the island is still hidden some of the immense fortune Nanana once discovered and used to finance the island project. Other unusual characters are about who may have some connection to that, too.
As basic premises go for anime series this season, this is actually one of the freshest and most intriguing ones. It has potential for mystery, adventure, and romance all with a mild supernatural flavor, but it also conveys a greater sense of potential depth than most light novel-based fare does these days. For all of Nanana's chipper attitude and the landlady Shiki's conniving, beer-guzzling nature, there is just a hint of underlying sadness about the situation; Shiki is fully aware of Nanana's presence and has failed on past attempts to help her, and that distinctly bothers her. Juuga is not a fool, either; he does not take long to pick up on this and quickly shows that he is plenty ambitious enough to take up the challenge present here. A few other characters are briefly tossed out who are indicated by the opener to be important, but we don't find out anything much about any of them yet.
The other appeal is, of course, sexy girls. Both Nanana and Shiki have some generous curves and certainly flaunt them, though the approach taken in the first episode suggests a much more restrained fan service approach than we might normally expect for fare like this. The architectural design of the island is also quite sharp; this is a place students would kill to live and go to school in. A heavily CG opening sequence is a take on Indiana Jones movies, but whether that kind of thing will be a regular element remains to be seen. In fact, the first episode spends all of its time establishing its premise, so the direction the series will actually go is unclear. Still, there have been many series concepts this season far worse than this one.
Nanana's Buried Treasure is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Review: Sometimes there's nothing you can do but consult your gut. You: “Hey gut, what're the chances that this is going to ripen into something fun?” Gut: “4.” Joking aside, this is a bit of a slippery show to get a grasp on. This is what we can say: It's set on an artificial island dedicated to education. Think Academy City from Index, only with more nature, and created by seven oddball prodigies who built god-knows-what in its depths. Its hero is Jugo, a disowned teen who's out to savor his newfound freedom. He's a tad crazed in his will to enjoy his youth, but is not a pathetic pervo. Its heroine is a ghost girl, the titular Nanana. She haunts Jugo's apartment. There's a treasure. Nanana hid it all over the island when she was alive. There's a mystery. No one knows who killed Nanana or why.
The show doesn't fit into any easy category, which is why it's kinda hard to get a bead on. And also why our guts tell us this could get really interesting. The treasure-hunting component has a whiff of Indiana Jones about it, colored by the supernatural tragedy of Nanana's fate. The mystery component injects black danger into the proceedings, while Jugo's doomed ghost-wrestling and Nanana's un-ghost-like habits keep humor in the mix. (Also, there's the “Nanana User Manual” that was hidden in the wall of Jugo's toilet). There's a definite scent of romance, Nanana and Jugo work up some nice bright chemistry, the opportunity for adventure looms… The show's direction seems to be taking shape… And then zip! It takes a wild left turn, introducing a masked Phantom Thief and a self-proclaimed Great Detective. Are we about to go Detective Conan? Or maybe Lupin III? God knows. It's all a bit nuts, but a good kind of nuts.
Nanana's Buried Treasure is available streaming at Crunchyroll.
Rating: 3 (out of 5)
Ten years ago, Nanana was murdered at home by an unknown assailant. Before that she had helped to found Nanae Island, a special man-made isle that is home to many schools and populated mostly by students, in the goal of creating a place where the young could live out there dreams. To that end she had accumulated a large fortune, mostly of gold and silver, but also containing some special items known as her “collection.” But ever since the day of her death, Nanana has been living in room 202 of a boarding house, unable to leave. That's when high school second year Juugo finds her. Booted out his home for reasons we are not yet privy to, Juugo has rented room 202 and suddenly finds himself in a battle with Nanana for who gets to be the “primary” occupant. Since he spends most of the episode with his arm in a sling, I guess we know who won. Despite being stuck with a ghostly roommate, Juugo finds himself fascinated by Nanana, and begins researching her case, presumably with the goal of freeing her from her entrapment.
This all sounds like a very serious story, or at least a rehash of Dusk Maiden of Amnesia. But Nanana's Buried Treasure opens with an Indiana Jones-esque adventure sequence and Nanana as a ghost is basically a pudding-eating gaming fiend who just wants Juugo to keep her in sweets. Juugo himself is also pretty preoccupied with the female form and isn't really interested in Nanana until someone basically forces him to be. All of these things keep Nanana's Buried Treasure from feeling like something we've seen before, although all of its elements are familiar.
Basically it is difficult not to feel badly for Nanana and not to wonder about what her life was before. Is there a way for Juugo to make the situation better? Would she want to move on even if she could? The ghost story aspect is definitely intriguing. There are some other elements that are less so, like the self-proclaimed “master detective” who shows up at the end, or the tendency to focus on breasts rather than faces. But the art is quite pretty and the animation flows well. Given a couple of episodes to sort itself out and to place all of the seemingly random characters we meet in this one, Nanana's Buried Treasure could be a fun fusion of action show and ghost story, and that sounds pretty neat.
Nanana's Buried Treasure is available streaming on Crunchyroll.
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