The Anime Primer

Capsule Descriptions of Anime: N

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Nadia   Nanaka 6/17   Naruto   Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind   Neon Genesis Evangelion   New Cutey Honey   NieA_7   Ninja Scroll   Noein   Noir   Now and Then, Here and There


see Martian Successor Nadesico

Nadia (a.k.a. Secret of Blue Water)
Nadia: Nadia and Jean

Set in 1889 and extremely loosely based on Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Nadia tells the story of Nadia, a girl who's trying to find out about her past, Jean, a boy who wants to build a flying machine, and the Blue Water, a mysterious gem of Nadia's with strange powers. Their world is home to two shadowy groups in conflict: Neo-Atlantis, who want to rule the world, and the crew of the submarine Nautilus, who have sworn to oppose Neo-Atlantis. These two plots are not unconnected ...

ADV has translated this 39-episode TV series and the sequel movie (which is not as well received as the original).

[Entry by Rob Kelk]

DMOZ Open Directory Project

Nanaka 6/17

17 year old Kirisato Nanaka is a somber, serious student who is so obsessed with becoming an adult that she's alienated all of her classmates, including her childhood friend (and would-be romantic interest) Nagihara Nenji. When Nenji gets angry enough to tell her he never wants to see her again, she faints and falls down a flight of stairs. When she wakes up, she has no memories after age 6, and she believes that she, Nenji and her father have been affected by magic from her favorite "magical girl" anime, "Magical Domikal". Nenji and Nanaka's father agree to keep her amnesia a secret, but her romantic rival finds out, and (even though she tries not to be) is touched by the sweet-natured, friendly, and innocent "6 year old" Nanaka. Nanaka's new attitude and behaviour puzzles her classmates, but she wins them over while she tries to fit in as an "adult". But what happens when her 17 year old memories start to come back? Can she win over her new romantic rival, her 17 year old self?

[Entry by Captain Nerd]


Naruto is an orphan growing up in a ninja village. When he was a baby, the spirit of a demonic nine-tailed fox that had been destroying his village was sealed up inside him to defeat it. Twelve years later, our story starts with Naruto struggling not to fail in his ninja academy class. The head of the village has issued an edict to the villagers not to discuss the nine-tailed fox incident, not even to their children. In spite of that, both those who know the story and those who don't shun Naruto as an outcast. His clownish antics and miserable academic performance don't make it any easier on him. In spite of all the strikes against him, Naruto perseveres, and the outcast becomes the center of attention.

Alternating between comedy and drama, Naruto is a coming of age story. We follow him and his friends through school and on their subsequent adventures and travels. Strong on character development, it shows memorable people overcoming adversity. Even if you are not predisposed to like ninja stories, Naruto is likely to win you over. If you do like ninja stories, this has everything going for it from fights to laughs. Of course, every good ninja story must have top-notch villains and Naruto delivers in spades. Some of the villains are defeated, some of the villains are reformed, and some of the villains are not really villains but souls gone astray.

[Entry by Phil Yff]

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind: Nausicaä

A thousand years after the fall of technological civilization, the people of the Valley of the Wind make their homes in their sheltered valley, near an area where no human can live unprotected. When the Valley of the Wind is caught between two warring powers, Princess Nausicaä is forced to set aside her pacifism and act to save her people from both sides while discovering one of the greatest secrets of her world.

Nausicaä was based on Hayao Miyazaki's manga of the same name, and directed by Miyazaki in the middle of the manga's run. Technically, this is not a Studio Ghibli film; the success of Nausicaä provided the money to found Studio Ghibli and the credibility to get Studio Ghibli movies into theaters in Japan.

A poorly-received edited translation, Warriors of the Wind, was released some years ago but is no longer available. (The edits made to Nausicaä to create Warriors of the Wind are the direct cause of Miyazaki's insistence of a "no cuts" clause in North American distribution contracts of his movies.) Disney has released a newer English translation of Nausicaä.

[Entry by Rob Kelk]

DMOZ Open Directory Project

Neko Taruto

see Mahou Shoujo Neko Taruto

Neon Genesis Evangelion (a.k.a. Shin Seiki Evangelion)
Shin Seiki Evangelion: Shinji, Asuka, and Rei

Fifteen years after the Second Impact that wiped out half of humanity, Ikari Shinji is recruited by his father to fight alongside Ayanami Rei and Asuka Langley Soryu to save mankind from the invading mechanical Angels. This psychological drama amongst a cast of flawed characters filled with intrigue, deception, and carnage has two vastly different endings.

North American availability: ADV Films has released the 26-episode TV series, and is re-releasing a "Platinum Edition" of the TV series with improved video quality on DVD. The two movies Death and Rebirth and End of Evangelion (an alternate ending to the series) were released by Manga Video.

Official website; R1 official website

[Entry by Rob Maxwell]

DMOZ Open Directory Project

Nerima Daikon Brothers

See Oroshite Musical Nerima Daikon Brothers

New Cutey Honey

This is an eight part OAV that is based on the 1970 TV series Cutey Honey (sometime romanized as Q-tey Honey). In the TV series, Cutey Honey is a high school girl, the only daughter of an elderly single-parent scientist. When her father is murdered, she finds out that she is not human but an android that he created. She has the ability to transform herself into different superheroes, each with her own special abilities and equipment. She avenges her father/creator's death and defeats an extensive crime syndicate.

The OAV takes place many years after Cutey Honey has graduated from High School. Being an android, she has not aged. Because she had lost her memory, she had not been active as a superhero. When the powers of evil resurface, she recollects who she once was and, as before, battles a monolithic crime syndicate that employs the dark arts to subjugate the city. Some of the characters from the TV series resurface. Unlike Cutey Honey, they have aged considerably.

To a western audience, the OAV is very risqué. There is brief nudity and suggestive sexual innuendoes. To a Japanese audience, this aspect is much less pronounced. The OAV was marketed in such a way as to capitalize on viewer nostalgia; in many ways, it was just a grown-up form of a show that men and women had watched as children. The TV show (which catered to all ages) had some brief nudity itself, although it was much more subdued in comparison to the OAV. The OAV mixes light-hearted action with cutting satire. It makes extensive in-jokes, assuming that the viewer is familiar with the TV series and with a wide range of anime and manga (especially the magical girl, superhero, and mecha genres). However, if the non-Japanese viewer is able to accept the cultural differences, Cutey Honey has a certain charm and can be appreciated for its entertainment value if not for its satire and wit.

[Entry by Phil Yff]


Meet Mayuko, a poor, introverted, hard-working student who lives in a rented room above an old-style Japanese community bath. Her roommate is an "under 7" category alien called Niea who freeloads off of Mayuko while doing nothing really. In this alternate version of our world, an alien spacecraft crash-landed near Tokyo almost a decade ago and brought humanity's first contact with aliens, but the series isn't even really about that.

The series is kind of odd, because there is no major arc or plot through the series. It's just a look into a year in the life of Mayuko and Niea and a particular period of change for both of them. Even the supposed back story of the alien crash is barely mentioned; aliens are part of modern-day Japan and people just accept it. The main thrust of the series is observing the people of this small ward somewhere in Tokyo's sprawling suburbs.

There are two surprising things about this show. The first is the way it examines changes in Japanese culture over the last 50 years almost allegorically, and the subtle way it develops of the characters. The aliens' arrival on Earth and their integration into Japanese society seems to reflect Japan's experience with a flood of foreign people and culture after WWII. A lot of the issues in the series are familiar to foreigners living in Japan: alien registration, culture clashes, aliens trying to out-assimilate the locals, multi-culturalism, trying to increase the status of aliens in society, etc. It's also just looking into the lives of some very normal characters. Mayuko is introverted and painfully shy, but so is her childhood friend who would like to confess his feelings for her, but can just never say them. Even Kaana, an alien, finds herself attracted to the same boy. But this entire subplot is done without dialog. It's just watching people's reactions to each other and situations, something you very rarely see in anime.

With Niea_7, don't expect a lot of action. It's very Seinfeld-like in being a show about "nothing". There is no grand arc or exciting payoff. It's just the passing of life and enjoying the journey.

[Entry by Travers Naran]

Ninja Scroll (original title Jubei Nimpuucho)

The original title translates as "Story of wind-ninja Jubei". This epic tells a semi-historical story about Kibagami Jubei, well known in Japan as a master swordsman and special agent. Once he was missing for a dozen years, and it was believed that he was on special duty. There were many versions, and here is one of them: Jubei was fighting with Eight Demons of Kimon, evil fighters/sorcerers under command of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, who was believed to be a demon in Japan.

The movie is licenced by Manga Entertainment in North America and the UK, and by Madman in Australia. The TV series is licenced by Urban Vision in North America, and by MVM in the UK.

[Entry by Andrew V. Tupkalo and Terrence Walker]

DMOZ Open Directory Project

No Need for Tenchi

see Tenchi Muyo


At the start of the summer holidays in present-day Hakodate, Japan, Haruka Kaminogi seems to be an ordinary 12 year old girl, with ordinary problems like her best friend Yuu Gotou being forced into studying to go to Tokyo by his mother. However, all this changes when a mysterious group of super-powered beings called Dragoons appear in Hakodate, claiming to be from a parallel universe 15 years into the future called Lacrima; and while one of them, Karasu, claims to be Yuu in Lacrima, Haruka herself manifests the "Dragon's Torque", a mysterious neck bracelet that can control space and time.

Confused? That's not the half of it. Noein's plot twists and turns all over the place, incorporating simple stories of first love with complex quantum psychobabble and parallel universe theories. While the slightly bug-eyed character designs (from the same man who did Lain and Arjuna) and the rough, experimental animation choices are an acquired taste, the incredibly kinetic action sequences (thanks to Kazuki Akane, director of Escaflowne) and the amount of imagination that goes into the show more than make up for any possible flaws.

While the series has finished airing, only the first 20 episodes are currently available on fansub; the DVD release in Japan is ongoing.

[Entry by Andrew Hollingbury]

Noir: Kirika and Mireille

Noir is a 26 episode TV series about two female assassins, and their search to uncover the conspiracy that threatens their lives. Mireille is a beautiful French professional assassin who is haunted by a childhood tragedy. Kirika is a Japanese schoolgirl with deadly skills and no memory of her past. The series takes place in France/Europe, and features a stunning soundtrack, stylish gunplay, a twisting plot, and lots of bodies at the end of each episode. Despite this, the series isn't graphically violent - the fight scenes usually don't even have blood in them!

The series has received raves for being daring and different, as the two main characters willingly kill lots of people (this isn't Sailor Moon, folks) with minimal angst. The main complaints are that the pacing is too slow and the show suffers from "main characters gun down bad guys too easily" syndrome. The pacing and tension do pick up as the series progresses, with a solid ending that asks whether killing can ever be justified in the name of good. Some people dislike the main characters, due to their seeming coldness, but Noir has good character development so that you care about these people to a surprising extent in the end.

Warning: If you're looking for fan service, the show is surprisingly free of it, considering what a babe Mireille is. C'est dommage.

Licenced by ADV.

R1 official website

[Entry by Scott Fujimoto]

DMOZ Open Directory Project

Now and Then, Here and There

Shu is an ordinary, cheerful Japanese boy until one day when he meets a mysterious, ethereal girl named Lala Ru and is accidentally brought to a hellish future. There he must struggle to survive and keep his ideals through slavery, war, and the tyranny of an insane would-be conqueror. A deep and powerful but extremely depressing show, which goes into some detail about the inhuman brutality created by war. Definitely not for children, as there are onscreen depictions of torture, some fairly graphic deaths, off-screen rape, and other nastiness. 13 episodes, available now from Central Park Media.

[Entry by Blade]

DMOZ Open Directory Project


see All Purpose Cultural Cat-Girl Nuku-Nuku

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Any images on this page are copyright their respective creators or licencees, and are used under Fair Use (review) provisions of the Copyright Act. All reviews on this page are copyright their respective authors, and are used with permission. The compilation copyright for this page is held by Rob Kelk.

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