If Judge Joel Pearce bumped his head and turned into a six-year-old, the first thing he'd do is blow his 401(k) on ice cream and candy bars.
"Ha-ya-ya"—Signature annoying heroine noise
In some ways, I'm grateful for the opportunity to review this first volume of Nanaka 6/17. I'm not glad because it's any good (it's not), nor because I like it (I don't). Rather, I think it has opened my eyes to a truth about anime fandom.
You see, I run the anime club at the high school where I teach. The club had been without a willing sponsor for the past couple years, and I seemed a good fit with my background in watching and reviewing anime. As the term has progressed, I have come to realize that I'm really not a fan of anime. There are some great series that I have enjoyed immensely, but I simply don't understand the appeal of most anime. The anime club laughs at the most inane, bizarre nonsense, series that I find grating and painful.
Nanaka 6/17 certainly fits into this category. It follows the story of Nanaka, a seventeen year old girl who has grown up far too fast. She is in her last year of high school, and has few friends because she's so focused on her future education and career. Her only real friend is Nenji, a childhood friend who walks her to school each day. They have grown apart over the past few years, since he is childish and gets in fights quite often. When she takes a tumble down the stairs, a head injury causes her to revert to the age of six. Suddenly, Nenji needs to be the mature one, as he tries to help her keep up with her studies.
As I watched these first few episodes of Nanaka 6/17, I started to understand the appeal of these shows for the first time. The anime club doesn't laugh at them because they are well made or genuinely funny. The members of the club laugh because the shows are bad. Somehow, the humor comes from the awkward pacing, the cheesy situations, and the stupidity of the characters. I have, it seems, been approaching these shows all wrong. To truly enjoy them, it's necessary to revel in the weaknesses of the genre.
To be completely fair, Nanaka 6/17 does have a certain innocent charm. It's a hard series to truly hate, which is one of the reasons I was able to see the show's appeal. Nanaka, while annoying and stupid, is a nice enough kid. Nenji is equally likable, and his character has already started to grow and develop. These characters are the strongest aspect of the show by far, and they nearly elevate Nanaka 6/17 into the kind of series it was never designed to be.
For the most part, though, this is the same old stupid anime drivel. Nanaka's reversion to childhood is a better premise than the typical "magical transformation," but not enough is done with the idea once the series gets rolling. Most of the comedy doesn't comes from Nanaka's childishness, but from ridiculous physical gags and Nanaka's inherent cuteness. This volume has the unpleasant job of introducing a broad cast of characters, including a pair of bumbling siblings from a nearby martial arts dojo. These introductions waste quite a bit of these episodes, though it's a job that needs to be done.
As always, ADV has done a fine job with the disc. The English dub is expertly recorded. Many of the voices are a bit obnoxious, but that all comes with the genre. The original Japanese language track is included as well, along with a good set of subtitles. The image is presented in the original full frame aspect ratio. While the animation takes a lot of shortcuts, the video transfer is never to blame. Since I received a sample product, it contained none of the special features that will appear on the final disc, or the fourth episode.
If you go in for this sort of thing, you will probably enjoy Nanaka 6/17. I normally find myself completely alienated by these shows, but I have to admit that this one had me laughing. Whether that enjoyment came from the brilliance of the show or its complete ineptness, the end result is the same. Anime fans who normally enjoy these series will probably be quite tickled. For everyone else, I doubt this will change your overall impression of the genre.
Based on the initial volume, Nanaka 6/17 appears guilty, but I will suspend judgment for the time being.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
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