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Seven of Seven
By Ridwan Khan
From the creator of Giant Robo and G Gundam, Yasuhuro Imagawa, comes the story of a girl. And another girl. Or a lot of girls. Seven, to be precise. The 25 episode (26 including a bonus episode) series Shichinin no Nana or Seven of Seven flopped in Japan, but is going to see a DVD release in the United States.
The series stars Nana, (the Japanese title is a pun, since Nana can mean seven or the protagonist's name), whom the audience meets on Valentine's Day. She has a crush on Yuichi Kamichika (her smart, photographer classmate), and decides to give him a chocolate cake on her last Valentine's Day before she has to begin studying for high school entrance in earnest. However, thanks to some nosey classmates, Nana's cake gets ruined before she can give it to Yuichi. So she and her friend, Hitome Onodera, head out to bake a new cake for Yuichi.
Nana lives with her grandfather; her parents live in the U.S. When Hitome and Nana reach home, to bake a new cake, they find that Nana's grandfather has swiped the microwave oven, no doubt for one of his weird science experiments. The duo goes in search of the oven in grandfather's lab. Nana's suspicions are confirmed when she sees the microwave, sitting at the end of her grandfather's lab. Though grandfather and Hitome bust in, they are too late - Nana opens the microwave and something extraordinary happens; in a burst of light, Nana ends up on a nearby mountaintop. As does Nana, Nana, and Nana...
In fact, grandfather and Hitome have to carry down seven unconscious Nanas. Each one is in for a surprise when she wakes up to see six mirror images. But even more important to the seven Nanas is Yuichi's cake; this is their last Valentine's Day! So the six new Nanas begin to work hurriedly on a brand new chocolate cake, leaving the original Nana with the card. As they work on the cake, the personality of the new six Nanas bubbles to the surface. In shades of the Seven Dwarves, there is a grumpy Nana, a sleepy Nana, a bookworm Nana, a happy Nana....each one corresponds to a part of the original Nana's personality.
The six new Nanas finish the cake in record time and rush to give it to Yuichi - by flying. However, the original Nana is left behind. And as the original Nana, she should give the cake, right? She rushes after them, desperately trying to repair the damage they cause to the beautiful Kyoto that Yuichi likes to photograph. Eventually the seven of them (they all seem to share the original Nana's shyness around Yuichi) give Yuichi the cake. Unfortunately, they don't mention their name...and it's not written on the card.
As Nana's last Valentine's passes, her chance to confess her love for Yuichi is gone...or is it? The Nanas come up with a brilliant idea - if Nana studies she might be able to enter the same high school as Yuichi. But Nana is going to have to put her nose to the grindstone, as Yuichi is brilliant, while Nana is only "average."
Thus begins Nana's quest to do well on her high school exams so she can enter the same school as Yuichi. However, he studies are fraught with troubles - unfortunately, the six new Nanas are more of a distraction than a help.
As the latest anime from noted director Yasuhiro Imagawa, Seven of Seven, does have big shoes to fill. Mr. Imagawa has mentioned that this series is a reaction against the copycatting of girls in anime - each girl seems to look the same in different series, perhaps with just a hair color change - so if the public wants the same girl over and over, why not give them seven of the same ones? He has also said that Seven of Seven is a reaction against the fear that Japanese kids have of showing their own personality and being different from their clique. In Seven of Seven Nana's personality takes center stage, as each new Nana is a mirror of one aspect of Nana's distinct personality - Nana is the proverbial nail sticking up.
As for the show itself, Seven of Seven features bright colors and fluid animation. Make no mistake; there are some stunning shots of Nana's hometown, Kyoto. The 26 episode series (though only 25 were broadcast) boasts high production values. The character design is dead on, a little simplistic but cute, and easily identifiable. The music takes cues from one of Imagawa-san major influences, Charlie Chaplin, and is, overall, as fluid as the animation. Of note are a couple of seiyuu, Yuichi is voiced by Akira Ishida (also known as Evangelion's Kaoru) and Nanapon is voiced by Kaori Nazuka who lent her talents to Da! Da! Da!
Will Nana and Co. find success in the U.S.? With its bright colors and cute character designs, it's hard to see how this series flopped in Japan. However, Nana seems just right to strike a chord with American viewers. For fans of sweet romantic comedies, Seven of Seven should be on your "must-see" list.