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AKA: Shinchin no Nana / 七人のナ (Japanese)
Genre: Adolescent comedy / fantasy / drama (except episode 26!)
Length: Television series, 26 episodes, 22 minutes each
Distributor: R1 DVD from Media Blasters
Content Rating: 7+ (except for the OAV/episode 26, which is 16+)
Related Series: None
Also Recommended: If one really LIKES Power Ranger type stuff (it seems to occupy about half the time in this series), there are, of course, many choices.
Notes: Created by Yaushiro Imagawa (Giant Robo), with conceptual character design by Mine Yoshizaki (Sgt. Frog).
Rating: Two StarsTwo Stars
 

Seven of Seven

Synopsis

Nana Suzuki is an average junior-high student struggling in an accelerated class so she can qualify for the same exclusive high school that Yuichi, a boy she secretly has a crush on, plans to go to. Nana's troubles quite literally multiply when one of her grandfather’s experiments goes awry and transforms her into 7 Nanas- 6 each exhibiting some individual trait of hers, plus the “original” Nana.


Review

This is a series that maybe fails not because it does exactly what you’d expect such a series to do, but fails because it DOESN’T do what you’d expect.

What I expected was that the individual Nanas would show up at school, or with her friends, and create chaos by doing things the original Nana was unaware of, and there IS a little of that in the beginning- and more seriously again toward the end, when a rogue eighth Nana appears. But early in the show the original understandably puts her foot down- she’s struggling with the advanced classes, so SHE needs to be physically present at school at all times- and by and large the others are perfectly happy to let HER do all the work anyway. Often the other six remind me of an old Calvin and Hobbes storyline where Calvin, using his versatile large cardboard box, creates duplicates that he intends to have do his work, but the duplicates have other ideas.

What does the series do instead? For starters, it has all 7 Nanas (including the original) gain superpowers from the accident that created the duplicates, and they become a Power Rangers ripoff group called the Nana Rangers. What is really oddly convenient about this is that, within the show itself, the Nana Rangers seems to have existed as some kind of group or show before the Nana duplicates did (they just inherited the costumes.) The quality of the show seems to decline in proportion to the amount of time the Nana Rangers are on screen- this is REALLY a dumb concept- though they do have one good line, where they apologize for their lack of a giant robot.

Since she’s in her last year of junior high, Nana must be about 14, and while most shows with 14 year old characters seem aimed at an older audience than 14, this one (except for Episode 26, which I’ll get to in a bit) seems aimed at a younger crowd, which is consistent with the whole Nana Rangers thing. I think the idea is that kids might be less discriminating, but I agree with J. R. R. Tolkien’s position, in one of his essays, that if something is good for children it should be something adults should be able to take something away from too.

On that score, the show is rather thin fare, but not completely without merit. While Nana is struggling to get into the exclusive school for what we will call a very idiosyncratic reason (and is criticized for her rationale), she does put her all into her studies, regardless, and it’s kind of pleasant to see an anime teenager actually spending most of her time studying. There is also a recurring theme that nobody in the show- not the classmate Nana thinks is cheating, not the three girls who bully Nana, not even Nana Eight- is all bad, and just about everybody comes around to the right side in the end. (Nana Eight is either Nana’s Id or her Survival Instinct- a case could be made for either.) And things don’t always work out perfectly for Nana – sometimes she suffers for her mistakes. And I actually liked the perky opening number “Success, Success”.

Some of the characters are also pretty good. Nana’s pal Hitomi is one of the most pleasant anime sidekicks I’ve ever seen. As for the Nana “duplicates” (who Hitomi gives individual names), most of them are not really that interesting (or even distinguishable) as characters, though “Nanappe”, the “hot-tempered” one, is kind of fun sometimes. (I love the way they draw her eyes, though most of the artwork in this show is pretty crude.)

Now we must come to the possibly offensive. Around Episode 13 there’s a scene that some Christians might take as mocking the Crucifixion, but that pales compared to Episode 26.

Nana’s storyline actually ends at Episode 25. The only explanation I can conceive for Episode 26 is that the show’s creators were tired of doing such an innocuous, fanservice-free show, and went berserk. So in this one her sweet grandfather becomes a pervert dedicated to undressing the Nanas, while we get to see all 14 of the Nana breasts in various states of undress (16 breasts, if you include in Hitomi’s.) The episode either starts with, or segues into, a medieval Japanese setting (I’m not sure which), and kind of feels like the “dream” episode in To-Love Ru, but with even less wit. Beware!!

Two Stars. The things I DID like saved it from one-star oblivion.Allen Moody

Recommended Audience: The box says 7 and older, but apparently whoever gave it this rating didn’t see Episode 26. Please bear that in mind if you let kids see this.



Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (26/26)
Seven of Seven © 2002 Yasuhiro Imagawa•Mine Yoshizaki•Genco / Project 7 / TV Tokyo
 
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