Nana x 7 = Nana?
The episode starts out a slow, then picks up pace, and ends fast-paced. Not a bad thing, but it makes it easy to get lost quickly.
The characters are all introduced nicely. We meet Nana Suzuki, and learn why there are seven Nanas. We know she lives with her grandfather, and that her parents are in America. Her best friend surely is Hitomi, and Nana has a crush on Kamichika, a student from her school. In her way stand three girls who bully her. Nothing else needs to be said about the characters yet, as this is only the first episode.
The premise seems simple enough: one Nana becomes seven Nanas. Nana has a crush on Kamichika, but will be separated from him when they go to different high schools. With six other Nanas supporting her, Nana must study hard for the entrance exams to be able to attend the same high school as top-student Kamichika. Oh, and the Nanas have rainbow-colored pendants which make them strong and allow them to fly. Maybe it’s not so simple after all…
Actually, to be honest, the first time I watched this episode, I wasn’t sure what was going on at times. Only the original Nana is properly introduced, which is understandable: you can’t introduce so many characters properly in one episode, nor would you want to. You need to develop them over many episodes. The high speed battle over which Nana would give the cake to Kamichika was also hard to follow, but it gave the original Nana something that makes her stand out from the others: she won’t recklessly damage the town which Kamichika loves to photograph so much.
The animation looks smooth enough, sometimes a little choppy. I’ve read that part of the art form for animation in Japan involves using different frames per second at different parts in a single episode, so maybe that’s what I’m seeing. Music fits the generally quiet atmosphere. Colors are somewhat pastel, and the backgrounds look like. Nana appears to live in an old-style Japanese house, probably one that Grandpa’s had in the family for a long time.
For the English version, I’ll set aside the changes in how the characters address one another (with Nana referring to the boy she has a crush on informally by his given name “Yuichi” instead of by “Kamichika”). That’s somewhat forgivable, although it would have been better suited for me if they didn’t make this change. I can always watch the series in Japanese. The subtitling also uses these dub-version names rather than the names being said in the Japanese, and that is a bit unsettling. That’s probably done so the subtitles can substitute as “closed captioning”, but it makes it a little jarring when watching with subtitles, and suddenly what a character says doesn’t match what the subtitle says.
The English dubbing has impressed me very much. While the Nanas are voiced by seven different voice actresses in the Japanese (Nana Mizuki, Sumomo Momomori, Mai Asaki, Yukari Fukui, Madoka Akita, Mai Nakahara, and Kaori Natsuka), the English Nanas are all voiced by Veronica Taylor (Botan from the Yu Yu Hakusho movie dub, and Ash Ketchum in the 4Kids dubbing of Pokémon). Taylor sounds to have a distinct and unique voice for each Nana, but the Nanas didn’t get enough “individual” speech time to compare.
The voice of Hitomi is done by Rachael Lillis (Misty and Jessie in the 4Kids dubbing of Pokémon). While I prefer when the English voices 1) sound similar to the Japanese and 2) capture the personality of the Japanese, I’m glad Lillis’s voice isn’t too close to Miyu Matsuki. I find Matsuki’s Hitomi a little screeching when she shouts. Nails on a chalkboard, anyone? At the same time, though, it does add to Hitomi’s character. I expected the shy-bookworm-in-glasses type, and instead found someone quite outgoing.