Thursday, June 5, 2014

Spring 2014 Anime: Nanana's Buried Treasure

Nanana's Buried Treasure follows a young man named Yama Juugo.  Having decided to leave home and be independent, Juugo enrolls in a school located on an island.  He's pleasantly surprised to find an apartment on-campus that's fairly comfortable and charging a rent that's within his means, until he discovers too late that there's already someone living in it: Nanana, a ghost bound to that apartment.  Unable to pass on, she spends her time playing videogames and feasting on pudding.  Her presence is--to say the least--perplexing at best and quite an inconvenience at worst for Juugo, but as the two get to know each other, Nanana talks to Juugo about her past life.  Before she was murdered, Nanana was an adventurer; over the course of her life she raided tombs, explored ruins, and built up quite a hoard of treasure.  This collection, known as the "Nanana Collection", is now hidden and scattered all over the island, protected by traps and puzzles of Nanana's own design.

Now at this point, you'd assume that Nanana's Buried Treasure is basically Indiana Jones: The Anime, following Juugo and a motley crew of fellow adventurers as they hunt down Nanana's Collection.  Well, it is.  But only sometimes.  Let me get this out of the way: Nanana's Buried Treasure is a great show.  It has a very strong cast; Juugo, though inconsistently characterized at times, is a solid and capable MC.  Nanana's a fun and quirky character who always turns around before consuming an entire cup of pudding in a single gulp, with a sound effect that could have been ripped right out of an early 90s videogame.  Daruku is completely useless but might be the most flawless trap I've ever seen.  The best of the bunch however, is self-proclaimed Master Detective Ikkyu Tensai, who usually steals every scene with a wild combination of character traits, from brilliant intellect to her penchant for roleplaying.  Putting aside everything else good or bad, this show is worth watching just for Tensai.

The show also has an interesting backdrop and plenty of compelling plot hooks going for it.  In fact, I would say that it has too many plot hooks going on.  If there's one problem I have with Nanana's Buried Treasure, it's that it bites off far more than it can chew.  What could have easily been an enjoyable, well-paced and fleshed out story about a group of fun characters hunting down the Nanana Collection has inflated into a show with more going on than it has time to address in the 11 episodes ostensibly allotted to it.  We don't know who murdered Nanana.  Juugo has a past he's running from.  There are characters who are connected to him in ways the show has yet to properly explain.  And in the shadows of the plot sits a possible antagonist who has yet to show himself.  And that's putting aside any character development that has yet to be carried out.  We're more than halfway through the season and this show is still introducing new plot strings.

To reiterate, Nanana's Buried Treasure is a great show so far.  It's paced well, it has a great cast and truth be told, it's not like all these plot strings aren't interesting.  It's just that without a continuation, we're headed towards a non-ending filled with loose ends and undeveloped characters.  I'm not criticizing the show; I'm worried about it.

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