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Odex Private Limited presents
"I am not edible!"
DVD Review"I'm generally more healthy than normal people." - Nanako
Nanako Kaitai Shinsho, a six-part OVA, was released in Japan in 1999 and was soon released in region 1 by Pioneer as Amazing Nurse Nanako across three discs. Odex's region-free release contains the full six installments of Nanako: The Amazing Nurse in a Japanese only, two-disc set. For anime newbies first discovering the term "fanservice," Nanako is consistently recommended as a prime example. Seeing that the cover art featured a cute girl with an ample pair of gravity defying breasts in a skimpy nurse's uniform, it didn't take much stretch of the imagination to get the idea—but looks can be deceiving.
The story begins with a dramatic, serious opening theme, not the kind of thing one would expect for a sexy, comedic series. In the halls of the Pentagon, a conspiracy is brewing between two groups known only as the Rice Merchants and Religion. The military Rice Merchants have returned from space with a secret discovery. Their agent and a member of Religion discuss plans on what to do with this find, and there is only one choice.
Enter the fanservice, as we meet Nanako Shichigusa, a ditzy young woman serving as maid for the household of Dr. Kyoji Ogami, the world's leading scientist and bio-engineer. Her behavior is what we'd expect from the average airhead—she screws up the cooking, drops the plates, and generally can't do anything right. When the Rice Merchants deliver their find to Ogami's laboratory, it turns out they have an alien lifeform known only as Green. Ogami sets up his experiments, but as soon as Nanako gets involved, everything goes awry.
Nanako's relationship with her employer is hard to understand. She is constantly being reprimanded for her stupidity, and there are also hints that she is about to undergo some form of undesirable operation, and is being prepared for the procedure with a rigorous training regimen. Nanako may be dense, but she is bright enough to know that what lies ahead is not a good thing, so she slips away from a camping trip and makes off on her own. Of course, she runs into problems, and has to be rescued, which entails another verbal assault by the doctor. As more details about the girl and her past emerge, it is obvious that this is no ordinary young woman, and she has caught the attentions of a few other interested parties. She has good reason to fear her future.
It is hard to sum up exactly what Nanako is trying to be. While I have no real issue with fanservice on the whole, like everything else there is a time and place for it—here, it seemed to get in the way a lot of the time. The tone of the show is fairly dark, with Nanako's clutzy behavior and bouncing bosom providing the only real levity. In the first couple of episodes, then later on as well, Dr. Kyoji Ogami's character is downright mean, which I didn't find appealing at all. There was no real cohesiveness to the story, it just plugged along with Nanako finding herself in precarious situations time and again. By the third episode things lightened up a bit, especially the latter half where the gang is trying to outwit a renegade robot. The final two episodes finally introduced a plot—and an interesting one at that—but they caught me off guard after what had come previously, and seemed to rush to pull a story together by the close of the last installment.
Nanako will probably work better on second viewing, and while I wouldn't say I completely disliked it, I did have a difficult time getting through the first half. If you must add Nanako to your collection, this two-disc set would be my recommendation over its R1 counterpart, unless you need a dub.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+
Image Transfer Review: Image quality is pretty reasonable, with most of the issues related to the source. Colors are bright and vivid, and black levels are solid. There is some minor rainbowing, and mild shimmer in thin horizontal lines. Otherwise, this looks very respectable.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: Stereo audio is impressive, with an active, full-bodied soundstage. Dialogue is clear and clean, with Takuhiro Negishi's score and ambient sounds well defined. No technical deficiencies were noted. This sounds great.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 6 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Chinese, Malay with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Sol Bianca, Tenchi Muyo in Love 2Sol Bianca, Tenchi Muyo in Love
3 TV Spots/Teasers
Packaging: Amaray Double
Extras consist of a 42-image art gallery (lots of rainbows here) and a collection of 15-second teasers and previews including three for Nanako (the LD ads), a pair for Sol Bianca and one for Tenchi Muyo in Love 2.
Chapter stops are only available at the start of each episode, and there is no "play all" feature. Subtitles have the usual Odex problem with awkward English phrasing, and some timing issues, but nothing that can't be understood.
The set was originally released in two single cases, but now comes in a clear double Amaray and both original covers are included, should you wish to split the discs up.
Extras Grade: C-
Final CommentsDon't be fooled by the cover or title, this isn't a lighthearted, ecchi fantasy show about nurses. While it does contain ample fanservice, the tone is primarily dark and serious, with a bouncing—complete with sound effects—buxom ditz as comic relief. If you know the outcome, the introductory episodes will make a lot more sense, but the direction is muddled otherwise. There is a saving grace however, and that is Maria Yamamoto's bubbly characterization of Nanako, which is very funny most of the time. I wouldn't rate this as a "must own" series, but for about the price of a single region 1 disc, you can own the entire series with this version.
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