The World of Narue
While walking home from school in the rain, Kazuto Iizuka takes pity on a seemingly abandoned puppy left in a cardboard box. However, he hears a shout of "watch out", and then, to his horror, the puppy changes into a monster. However, before the monstrous puppy can do him any harm, he's saved by.... a schoolgirl wielding a metal bat.
The next day, when he returns the bat the girl left, he gets to know her a little better. As it turns out, she's a member of the Galactic Alliance police force -- an alien, basically, or at least half of one. And as their relationship deepens, he learns a lot more about her, and she learns a little bit about him as well.
Shows about schoolgirls seems to be a dime a dozen these days. Needless to say, we're talking shows of various qualities as well, though The World of Narue seems to actually have gotten the better end of the deal.
To The World of Narue's benefit, the show is actually fairly lighthearted, and manages to avoid most of the tired cliche's you'd expect shows like this to have. I guess it doesn't hurt that the art and animation in general is rather pleasant and well done. True, the character designs are rather typical, especially with Kazuto, who looks like a hundred male leads before him, and will have as many brothers in souls following in future schoolgirl comedies to come. The case is pretty much the same with Narue, her oddly... split... hairstyle notwithstanding.
Their character types, however, is anything but. Well, ok.. so Kazuto is your average nice guy, but Narue seems mostly aloof and is apparently a bit of a loner on top of that. And despite her being supposedly an alien, she doesn't really act a lot different than normal earthlings. She attends school, she takes care of herself and her father and, as the show progresses, she has no real problems maintaining a relationship in a somewhat normal manner, despite the show actually running a lot of sci-fi elements more or less regularly. But then, that's just the kind of guy Kazuto is. He pretty much takes everything at face value, even near the end of the first episode, where he's basically introduced to the entire fleet lying in vigilant orbit around the Earth. Though the panty-flash might have something to do with the latter.
Yes, I said panty-flash. The World of Narue does, in fact, have a few of those. Beats me why, as the show is fairly clean throughout, with nary a hint of sexual content. Which is as it should be, I guess, with the main cast being of the age they are. If I were to make an educated guess why they chose to include any fanservice at all, then that would probably be the otaku factor, which is the only really negative thing I have to say about this show. If you set the panty-shots aside, you're left with the show's peculiar desicion to portray Kazuto as an otaku -- a huge fan of some random magical girl show, and how he shoots himself in the foot by having Narue watch some of it on their first visit to his room in the second episode. It's a fairly ridiculous one too, with lots of cheesy-dramatic scenes and valedictorian speeches to go with the transformation scenes, and it adds nothing whatsoever to the show at all.
The thing is, the whole otaku deal is only visited at that short segment on episode 2, and then only again later in episode 11, where cosplay and voice acting comes into the picture. And this is where Kazuto once again shoots himself in the foot by acting uncertain when the voice actor of his favorite show insults Narue to both their faces and generally acts like an egotistical bitch. And this eventually leads to a cosplay competition? Maybe it's just me, but outside of that particular episode, Narue has broken schoolgirl tradition by being self-secure, dependant, open-minded and trustworthy, so I thought it would take more than one asshole voice actor to reduce her to tears and general feelings of insecurity.
Well, that's just one episode out of twelve, so I can live with it since the rest of the show is generally very well done. If you can ignore the otaku factor mentioned above, then most of that strength lies in how the characters are portrayed. Basically, when kazuto isn't being an otaku for the sake of the otaku viewers, he's pretty normal. I'm also sure the female viewers out there is going to appreciate the fact that he doesn't feel any shame over having to be rescued from aliens by a girl -- in fact, he respects her all the more for it.
And that's Narue. Aside from her rather odd choice of weaponry for an alien -- a metal bat -- she's basically a normal girl. A normal girl who've had combat training, true, but other than that, she's certainly in touch with the earthling part of herself. She's neither an insecure coward nor is she an abusive, violent wench, which also earns plus points.
Curiously enough, her sister impressed me even more. She was supposed to be an older sister, but due to some Star Trek-ish warp speed theories, she arrives in episode 4 at the age of 12 -- two years under Narue herself. The reason I mention this is that the story does reveal that Narues father was married to someone else, and they had Kanaka (that's Narue's sister's name.) Then, after the divorce, Narue's father headed to Earth, remarried and had Narue. Hence their odd situation regarding ages. It'll make sense if you don't think too hard about it.
Anyway, part of the reason I liked her as a character was that she was pretty much an anti-Skuld. Sure, she threw a bit of a tantrum at the first episode when she met her father again after such a long time (for him, not for her), but when she settled down, she actually supported the relationship between Kazuto (which she calls "old man") and Narue, to the point where she actually distracts the others for the purpose of giving them some "alone time". This is actually a refreshing change in lieu of having her constantly breaking off said moments.
Then, there's Kazuto's friends, Masaki Maruo and Hajime Yagi. Both of them are played off rather well for the most part; Masaki as Kazuto's somewhat suave friend and go-to guy when it comes to the way of the date, and Hajime as the childhood friend of Masaki and general half-crazed alien-crazy nerd, who, by the way, hates Narue at first because she believes Narue portrays herself as an alien just to gain popularity. (Which strikes me as odd, since Narue was hardly popular among her peers in the first place.) As far as dub voices go, the two of them got the better end of the deal, even if the voice actor of Masaki tends to overplay his lines a lot. I guess that's only part of the charm.
So, as you can see, The World of Narue is pretty much a character driven show. What's good about it is that, most of the time, they're playing the various characters greatly up against each other. Granted, some of the lines in this show could have benefitted from being kept away from the cheese buffet. But, all in all, this show doesn't put too much on its plate, so it's all ok. Even the show's battleships, like Bathyscaphe (one of the more amusing romanisations I've seen) and Haruna -- with the ability to form human bodies -- gets their own roles.
It's a fairly short show, though. I wouldn't mind seeing more of this in the future, though I'm not holding my breath for it. The show was fairly low key when it was released some time ago, and I honestly don't remember what made me check out the digital sources even longer ago than that. That being said, it's quite a nice and not too expensive package of DVDs to get, seeing as they decided to just release the entire thing in a single box. There's even a bucketload of extras to go with it to smoothen the deal, so I don't really see anyone hating this show unless they're really, REALLY fed up with shows starring schoolgirls.
The short runtime and the somewhat redundant otaku additions take it down some. If you share no such qualms, then just tack on another star and prepare for total enjoyment. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: There are a few pantyshots scattered around the show, as well as a lockerroom scene at the beginning with some lingerie-clad girls. The box states "brief nudity", but I could see no such thing in the show.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD, bilingual
Review Status: Full (12/12)
The World of Narue © 2003 Mainichi Broadcasting, Gonzo, Studio Live
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