September 30, 2007
This has been fun, but it hasn't really gripped me. It wasn't the kind of "I've got to keep watching" experience I had with Shingu or with Misaki Chronicles. I watch a couple of episodes of Seven of Seven, and I enjoy them, but then I stop and go do something else for a while.
It's light. It almost approaches frothy. And, at least as of this evening, I'm beginning to lose interest in it a bit. The problem is that I don't think this series concept really had 26 episodes of story potential. Instead, what I'm getting is a "year in the life" story. The series arc is one calendar year, between Valentine's Day of Nana's 8th grade year, when the accident happened and she split into7 copies, and presumably Valentine's Day of her 9th grade year, when she either successfully reunites or else vanishes forever, at least according to her grandfather.
So they spent 4 episodes setting up the basic series scenario. In Ep 1 Nana split into seven parts. In ep 2 the seven of them settle who is going to attend school, since taking turns doesn't work. The different personalities begin to come out in that episode. In ep 3 the Nana Ranger costumes are introduced. Ep 4 is the first time the Nana Rangers as a group go into action to right wrongs and defeat evil doers and so on and so forth.
Then we get 6 concentration episodes, one per copy, to let us get a feel for what they're really like. That takes us up to ep 10, which was about Nanakko.
Now they're doing standard scenarios, things which always appear in middle-school romantic comedy series. Ep 11 is a festival episode. Ep 12 is a study retreat at the beach, which includes a summer ghost walk. I've only watched a couple of minutes of Ep 13, and I do have to give them points for this screen shot:
Of course, conditions are somewhat different in this series than in most such, and part of what they're trying to do is to subvert the cliches in various ways, or at least alter them.
But there are some standard stories, things they've done a couple of times so far, which are rapidly approaching "rut" status. One is the deal with the three girl rivals. They're comic relief, mostly, but they're also plot hooks. The Nanacchi concentration ep was a contest between those three girls and Nanacchi (who was attending school because Nana had mumps). The Ghost Walk episode was also about them. The basic 3-evil-girl story is that they come up with some sort of plan to try to do bad things to Nana, and the Nanas win because there are seven of them and they have super powers. It's fun to see the three bad girls get their comeuppance, but it's also starting to get a bit tiresome.
I think the real reason it's starting to fade on me is that in nearly every episode, Nana studies hard because of imminent make-or-break exams, and in nearly every episode Nana is tied in knots about Yuichi. That's starting to get a bit tiresome. I guess that constant studying for exams is a fact of life for 9th graders in Japan, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's interesting to watch. And Nana's romantic life (or lack thereof) is becoming a bit more angsty than I really like.
The series is also badly failing the refrigerator test. Of course, in a frothy romantic comedy I'm not expecting a super-tight plot. And it's fantasy anyway. But with the Nana Rangers in the town, having been observed flying and doing other extraordinary things by literally thousands of eye witnesses, and with Nanarin having saved a lot of lives using her superpower -- and having been photographed doing it, and the photo ending up in the newspaper...
...Well, you'd think a lot more people would be curious about the Nana Rangers, wouldn't you? Kids gossiping about them at school? The town crawling with reporters and government agents trying to find out what's going on? Someone up on that hill trying to figure out why the cherry tree has been blooming continuously for five months and shows no sign of stopping?
If there's anything like that going on, I haven't seen it. And a good thing, too, because eventually someone is going to notice that the Nana Rangers have been coming and going from Nana's house. They haven't been very careful about their exits and entrances, really.
Never mind that. What I actually thought I'd start seeing was supervillains. But there haven't been any, and I'm glad. That would have been too strange -- though, of course, maybe something like that could happen later, especially in the final plot arc. (I think I read something about a "Dark Nana". Whether that's Nanapon gone around the bend, or an 8th Nana, I have no idea. It could even be Nanappe. Or maybe it was a bogus report.)
This series is entertaining me. What it isn't doing is to enchant me. It isn't seizing my imagination. It isn't tantalizing me. Something decidedly weird happened to Nana, yet the result is rather prosaic. Having been split into 7 and given super powers, which will kill her in a year if she doesn't do something about it, Nana's main concern is passing her exams so she can go to the same high school as the boy she's got a crush on.
Seven super-powered girls, and all they seem to use their powers for is to pass exams and to flirt with a cute boy. Imminent death on the next Valentine's Day is a long way off; we'll worry about that when it gets nearer.
Maybe I had my expectations up too high. I've been hoping I could discover another Shingu, another neglected gem. Seven of Seven wasn't it -- but it may not be fair to judge it by the standards of Shingu. On its own merits it isn't bad, but it does seem as if it could have been somewhat better.
Or at least that's my impression after 12 episodes out of 26.
I can understand dropping the series, but if you ever consider going on, I do recommend it. Many of the negative points will still be there, but episodes 13 and 14 give a bit of time to Nana and Yuichi. From there it's individual episodes for the trio, but 16 also brings the end of the first arc of the series (Nana trying to keep up with Yuichi) and takes the characters into the second arc (which I won't say in case you decide to pick it up again, but the 8th Nana does appear to cause trouble after episode 16's events).
If nothing else, episode 13 is worth it alone for the English the characters speak. It's a bit sad to see you never reached episode 16 and the big emotional hit, but if the characters haven't not only captured your interest but held onto it, then it might not be worth your time.
The Nana Rangers do get their big battle, but there's little emphasis on the fighting part. It's more about the emotion of the characters.
The post preview doesn't show linebreaks, so here's hoping adding in paragraph tags is the right way to go!
Posted by: Christopher Fritz at January 20, 2008 01:04 AM (LtgzT)
Enclose all spoilers in spoiler tags:
[spoiler]your spoiler here[/spoiler]
Spoilers which are not properly tagged will be ruthlessly deleted on sight.
Also, I hate unsolicited suggestions and advice. (Even when you think you're being funny.)
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