Reviewby Allen Divers,
DVD 4: Under Seven Blues
Life is rough for Mayuko. She's an average cram-school student working part-time to make ends meet living in an old bathhouse that used to belong to her family. Just to make things more interesting, enter Niea, a full-time free loader 7th class under-alien that lives in Mayuko's closet. When she's not eating Mayuko's hard earned food, or destroying Mayuko's room, Niea is building UFO's that blow up more often than fly.
Niea has disappeared. Mayuko, while looking for Niea, soon discovers that Under Seven aliens don't exist and the government has no way to find Niea. To top everything off, Kotomi announces plans to sell the bathhouse, which puts everyone into a dour mood.
NieA_7: Under Seven Blues is the fourth and final volume in this quiet anime release from Pioneer. Stepping away from the standard tales of Aliens, galactic battles and all out action, Neia_7 presents a tale of Aliens that are pretty much like everyone else. The series presents a lot of mystery and an ample supply of background elements to create a strong dramatic tale, but chooses instead to glide smoothly through the lives of the main protagonists. The overall message of the final 3 episodes in this 13 episode series seems to be: Enjoy what you have.
Extras for this final DVD feature the standard fare of an art gallery and textless music clips. 2 of the music clips are tributes to Carna and Chada the more eccentric of the supporting cast. Another nice feature is a set of translator notes. Pioneer and the New Generation Pictures, the group that handled translation and dubbing, do a nice job of staying true to the original Japanese script. Instead of removing the majority of Japanese references and in-jokes, the translation team provides notes on terms that don't really have English equivalents. This is a nice touch, giving the dub a lot of credibility.
Character wise, NieA_7 contains the standard elements that make up a typical anime. All the characters are standard character types with a leaning more towards typical Japanese characterizations. The animation is smooth and simple, with a strong consistency. Comic takes are a common feature with exaggerated expressions used for comic effect. The transfer to DVD helps retain a lot of the strong colors and smoothness of the original animation, showing off a lot of the strong artwork involved.
The soundtracks of NieA_7 stay consistent with each other sharing background music and sound effects. The English dub takes many cues from the Japanese track in terms of acting performance and character portrayals. The music of the series serves mostly to help transition from scene to scene. It's very bluesy in nature, adding a sense of contemplation to the action on the screen. Most often, incidental music is not used during moments of character interaction and dialogue. This is a nice touch as it helps emphasize the characters and allows the viewer to draw emotions from what is being said. Both the music and animation go a long way in helping to keep NieA_7 grounded.
Under Seven Blues contains the final 3 episodes of NieA_7 bringing a sense of closure to the entire series. Despite a lot of potential for fanciful dramatic storylines, NieA_7 remains grounded in the life of a cram school student, working multiple jobs just to get by. Episodes 11 and 12 represent a high point in the drama as Neia has gone missing, and MAYUKO actually misses her strange roommate. The tension of the plot is not resolved with a shoot out battle, or strange mysterious revelations about the main characters, but ends with something more grounded in real life.
The entire series of NieA_7 has been a strange journey, more of exploration of real life relationships than of solving the mystery of the mother ship or exploring the origins of the aliens that populate its world. In the end, the series is more about acceptance of ones place in the world. There are no great revelations revealed, other than the main characters accepting their lot in life and moving on.
NieA_7 is not a series for those looking for great heroic action, romantic intrigue or mysterious revelations. This series is a nice comfortable ride with quite a few comic antics to keep things interesting. Under Seven Blues doesn't solve any lingering mysteries, but in the end the viewer realizes any potential mysteries were simply window dressing for the real story. The final 3 episodes help bring out the real story, allowing MAYUKO to finally be at peace with her world.
+ Introspective story shows Anime isn't always about action
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