Monday, July 14, 2014

Anime Review: Nanana's Buried Treasure

This was a disappointing noitaminA season for me, I ended up not finishing Ping Pong since nothing about it grabbed me enough and then this other show has nothing in common with other noitaminA shows. Sure plenty of shows have deviated from it's themes before (which I recognize as either "artsy-ier than normal" or "specifically aimed at the josei demographic with some crossover appeal") but this one defied than grouping even more than other shows as of late.

Nanana's Buried Treasure

Yama Juugo is stuck, he's already paid a full year's worth of nonrefundable rent on a room with a ghost in it and the ghost is queen of the room. She's Nanana, founder of the island where he now lives and murdered years ago by an unknown assailant. She wants Juugo to help find her killer but has no leads, no ideas, and no advice other than to search for her intentionally hidden treasures as some of them might prove handy and others might be clues of their own sort. 

As I already said, the tone is completely wrong for a show airing in the noitaminA timeslot and that really is the only reason I gave it a chance, otherwise it just sounds, odd. Part of it is because I'm trying my best to avoid a lot of stories based on light novels these days (there are good ones but man are there terrible ones) but the premise, of a realistic world where a boy lives with a ghost and is trying to figure out her murder by finding her old treasures just doesn't sound just doesn't sound like all the pieces are going to work. Granted, the setting is actually semi-realistic, some of these treasures have straight up magical powers that the show doesn't even try to explain away and the tone of the series is also completely unlike the impression I got from the summaries but it works better than I expected.

And despite that premise, very little time is spent on finding Nanana's murder (light novel readers tell me that the story has arcs related to the latest treasure/problem and that they have "clues" about her killer but I don't recall seeing a single clue in the anime) and only half the show is spent on treasure hunting. Since the other half of the time is spent fleshing out the characters and their relationships this isn't actually a bad thing but yes the series does come off as disjointed as this review is making it sound at times, my initial impression that not every idea was sufficiently hammered out before the series was published still stands.  Of those characters, Juugo isn't precisely the most morally gray character I've seen in a while but he's an interesting mixture of ideas, running away from his family because he didn't want to be part of a phantom thief organization that does good and he's much more willing to cause harm, lie, and sneak around than your usual protagonist. It makes him a lot rounder than I expected once the show gets rolling. Almost all the reoccurring cast became more interesting or at least more likable by the end of the show (thank goodness since I was pretty close to hating all of them at the start), my favorite of the show ended up being the detective Tensai, the humor she brought created the best moments in the show, and I was amused to see novel readers commenting that yes there is even more ship tease with her and Yama in the novels, I had been wondering if I was just imagining that or not.  I still have mixed feelings on the adventure club president however, on the one hand he seems to have some real trust issues and seeing him betray the other members repeatedly is no fun but the show does work to try and show why he's doing it which is more than I expected. Nanana sadly doesn't get that amount of fleshing out but she's still more than the maniac pixie dream girl I expected (it's clear that she does want to move on in some fashion and not in others and sometimes thinks that the rules she's set for herself and her collection are too restricting but it's the only thing keeping her "her" for the moment).

I remember in my round-UP I mentioned that the show would work better as a video game than a prose novel/anime and now I have mixed feelings on it. Since the show didn't focus on the puzzle-solving as much as I expected it wouldn't make for a good JRPG but I suppose if you mixed those scenes in as minigames in a visual novel it would probably work really well. Regardless, as evidenced by the fact that I actually finished it, this show turned out to be better than I expected and yet I doubt I'll remember that much about it in a few months time. If a second season comes out I'll watch that (I hadn't realized going in that it's based on a current light novel series, I thought it was based on a single book, and it's lack of conclusion is certainly frustrating) and I might look up a summary or two of what happens in later novels. But it's not a show I'll go out of my way to recommend or keep up with, in the end it's still a strange little thing which didn't seem like it was polished as much as it needed to be. 

Nanana is licensed by Aniplex USA and can be found streaming on crunchryoll and hulu.

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