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World of Narue DVD Collector's Series Box Set (Hyb)

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Reviews of this title:

Ken S - Aug 30 2004
Rating: Pretty good!
Refreshingly Simple and Cute
Most animes have a developing drama with plot twists growing around a central theme. Though I'm not saying that's wrong or bad in any way. But it does make an anime like this one very refreshing where the initial plot is the the story thruoughout with plenty of gags and character developmnts. Of course for those more perverted types, lots of panty flashes too. I'll never understand the draw for that in animes. Anywways the dvds are good and they really do bring the characters to life. I'd suggest getting them. I also suggest getting the books as well. They have deep stories and more than what the dvds have. The entire dvd collection is based largely on he first two books anyways so there's a lot more.

Jon F. Turner - Dec 16 2005 JTurner82@AOL.com
Rating: Pretty good!
A direct hit to your heart indeed--well, almost.
One of 2004's biggest surprises was this charming 12-episode TV series, THE WORLD OF NARUE. Gorgeously animated and populated with a very believable cast of characters, the show is a classic "boy meets girl" story with many twists and elements thrown in for good measure. There are even pop culture references--which include (in the English version at least) a hilarious spoof on Arnold Schwarzenegger!

Narue Nanase is a fourteen-year-old girl who lives with her father in a rundown apartment. She's not normal, however; it takes us about three-quarters of the way through the first episode for us to realize that she is, in fact, an alien from outer space. When Narue rescues a young boy her age, nerdy yet sweet Kazuto Iizuka (who, by the way, is very similar to Jean in NADIA: THE SECRET OF BLUE WATER), it sparks the beginning of a beautiful relationship and, naturally, the expected obstacles that occasionally threaten them.

Like most classic Anime shows, it's the character development that gives THE WORLD OF NARUE its heart and soul. Narue and Kazuto are both very likeable and pleasant protagonists, and if their puppy love sometimes comes across as a tad too saccharine, the well-rounded supporting cast somehow prevents the show from falling into treacly territory. There's Masaki Maruo, Kazu's zany (and outrageously funny) best friend, who doesn't know a thing or two about dealing with the opposite sex yet has his heart in the right place. And then we have Kanaka Nanase, Narue's "younger, older" sister who possesses a nasty kick and an occasionally mischievous nature, yet her outgoing friendliness quickly wins our hearts.

My favorite of the supporting cast, though, has to be Hajime Yagi, a self-proclaimed expert on UFOs who changes a lot more than the rest of the cast does. When we first meet Yagi, she comes across as a sullen, sulky young girl who doesn't believe Narue is really an alien and tries to expose her as a fraud. She also tends to be adversarial around Maruo when he tries to reach out to her. But we learn later that this is all a mask to cover her insecurity and loneliness, and, as the show progresses, Yagi eventually changes her attitude and becomes friends with Narue. Yagi even gives the young alien advice on how to deal with her feelings for Kazu, particularly when she feels threatened by an android girl who tries to come between them.

As colorful as the cast is, however, THE WORLD OF NARUE is, alas, far from a perfect series. The problem does not lie in the production values, which are absolutely stunning and colorful, but rather, in the story structure. The concept of an alien learning how to deal with ordinary situations in real-life is one that offers a lot of potential and interest for fans. Sadly, one of NARUE's primary shortcomings is its failure to delve more deeply into the idea. Instead, it serves to give fans exactly what they demand from usual Anime shows--introductory sequences for the characters that serve over five episodes, occasional story arcs, and filler fare.

And while many of these side stories are very entertaining, one of them--which involves Narue trying to win Kazu back from a bitchy voice actress at a cosplay contest--is a complete waste. Here in this episode, Kazu, usually a very sweet and caring boy, suddenly takes a 180 degree turn and ditches Narue in favor of getting online for an autograph from the aforementioned voice actress. Not only is this story bizarrely out of character, it's poorly written and sloppily executed--every bit as bad as those unbearable island and African episodes from NADIA: THE SECRET OF BLUE WATER. A better idea would have been to do a heartwarming Christmas episode.

That isn't to say that THE WORLD OF NARUE is worthless; in fact, it's absolutely delightful as a series, but what would have elevated this show to classic status might be an even deeper analysis of the ups and downs of life as told from an outsider's point of view. And it's disappointing that a show as entertaining as this could make the unfortunate mistake of playing it safe rather than taking risks.

For Central Park Media's part, though, I have nothing but compliments for their presentation of this series. The video quality is above average, and the audio tracks are very well mixed. The show is laid out over four discs, each of which is packed with extras, including a lengthy documentary on the Big Apple Voice Acting Idol Contest, where the champion, a talented young actress by the name of Michele Knotz, got the role of Hajime Yagi. Her performance, by the way, is my absolute favorite of the English version; she really does bring out Yagi's troubled yet sympathetic qualities and projects a lot of energy into the role. If this bravura example of voice acting is any indication, Knotz could very well be on her way to becoming a talented actress in the future.

Speaking of the dub, I have to say that this is one of Central Park Media's finest efforts so far, ranking up there with my favorites from them such as LODOSS WAR, SLAYERS, and ANIMATION RUNNER KUROMI. Veronica Taylor is delightfully sweet and adorable as Narue, Jimmy Zoppi is delightfully nutty as Maruo, and Rachel Lillis delivers yet another bang-up performance as Kanaka. Jamie McGonnigal's Kazu rubbed my ears the wrong way upon my first listen (he sounded way different from what I was expecting), but after a while he grew on me. Rounding out the cast are some more multi-talented performers, including Lisa Ortiz (in two hilariously villainous roles!), Angora Deb, Carol Jacobanis, and Dan Green. But as mentioned, it's Knotz's Yagi who takes the cake. She really is that good.

While THE WORLD OF NARUE falls short of classic status (and would have been better off without that stupid cosplay episode), there is no denying that the show has an enormous charm, with lovable characters and irresistible entertainment (not to mention occasional fan service) throughout. In short, it's a direct hit to your heart!