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Niea Under 7
Reviewer: Rowena Lim Lei 06/02/2002

Mayuko is an extremely poor cram school student who has to work hard for everything (schooling, living expenses, transportation, etc.). Now an alien girl named Niea is living with Mayuko. Carefree Niea spends her days making UFOs out of junk and eating like there's no tomorrow, leaving Mayuko with the role of lone provider. But Niea isn't an ordinary alien, because she's missing one important characteristic -- an antenna! It would seem as if all the aliens residing on Earth have an antenna... all except Niea. Just who or what is Niea anyway?
NieA_7 is one very unique anime series. It's so far from the usual fare that I find myself quite stumped in trying to describe it.
NieA_7 focuses more on character interaction rather than an actual plot. A specific setting is established. It's sometime in the future and aliens have landed. But instead of invading Earth, these aliens simply co-existed with humans... eventually becoming part of society. It is under these circumstances that our main characters relate to each other. Heading the cast is Mayuko, the starving student. Mayuko's a nice girl. She's diligent, responsible... she's everything a nice girl could possibly be. In fact, just about everyone in town says "Mayuko is such a nice girl.". Then there's Mayuko's room-mate Niea. Niea's a free spirit. She can live without so much as a thought about where her next meal might be coming from, and she has no qualms about relying on Mayuko for everything. In short, Niea's everything Mayuko is not. How Mayuko and Niea connect and get around their differences is more or less what makes up the episodes. Supporting characters include Chiaki, Mayuko's UFO-obsessed classmate; Genzo, Mayuko's childhood friend; Karna, an alien who wants to raise the status of aliens everywhere; Namaste, a dark-skinned alien who goes around pretending to be an Indian. The list goes on.
NieA_7 is surprisingly thought-provoking, despite its light-hearted and somewhat comical presentation. Characterization is quite deep, and the series is loaded with symbolisms. Half the fun of watching Niea_7 is trying to discover what it's really about. It can be as simple as a peek at how life is in another time and place, or something as profound as a commentary on human nature and freedom. It's what you make it to be. Personally, I felt as if I travelled in a full circle -- I had the exact same feeling when I watched the first and the last episode. I saw everything but then I also felt that nothing had really changed. It's weird.
Visually speaking, NieA_7 is fantastic. Digital animation and hand-drawn backgrounds merge seamlessly to create scenes that are exceptionally crisp, colorful, and vibrant. The music is a mixed bag though. The opening theme song is too bizarre for my taste. The singer's voice is unbelievably hoarse and scratchy, and the beat is hard to get into. The ending theme is just lovely however -- very cute and catchy, I loved it as soon as I heard it. It's also interesting to note that seiyuu Yuko Miyamura (also Asuka Langely in "Neon Genesis Evangelion") plays the role of Niea.
All in all, NieA_7 is a fine piece of work. It's not for everyone though. Those looking for a definite plot and resolution would most probably be frustrated or disappointed. A lot of things are left unexplained. It's one of those alternative titles along the lines of "Serial Experiments Lain" (but not as dark) -- either you like this type of anime or you don't.
After the end of each episode, there's a short sequence about Indians (parodying the character Namaste) and related in-jokes. I didn't get most of the jokes, and I'm also not sure if Indians won't be offended by these segments.

Niea Under 7
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Review Title:
Niea Under 7
Alternative Titles:
325 Minutes
General Rating:
4 out of 5 stars
Suitable For:
Comedy, Sci-Fi, Slice of Life
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