Amazing Nurse Nanako – Memories Of You

AmazingNurseNanako1coverOf all of the reactions one can have to a show, the most frustrating to express is ambivalence, and towards Amazing Nurse Nanako ambivalence is what I feel. There’s a lot to dislike in this show, but not enough, it seems to me, to be able to dismiss it out of hand. The story is…complicated. Or at least it wants to appear to be. Actually, the back of the DVD tells more about the story than the actual contents of the disc do. Ignoring that, from what I can gather this OAV is about a wide-ranging conspiracy between the Vatican and the U.S. government (was that the U.S.? I think it was) involving alien autopsies, mutations involving a “triple-helix,” and the exercise habits of a grotesquely bosomed young nurse named Nanako.

Said nurse is the center of the piece (couldn’t ya tell? Her name’s in the title, for Pete’s sake) and she is…well-endowed. Screw that, her breasts arehuge. They’d kill ya if they fell on ya from a height. I’m surprised poor Nanako doesn’t walk around wearing massive back supports. Rest assured, Nanako’s assets are a major focus of the show, and they bounce delightfully (or nauseatingly, depending on your point of view) as she goes through her major tasks for the day. These include preparing foods, going through a stringent training regimen, and being abused by her employer, Dr. Kyoji Ogami. The end of all of this…is still unclear. And why she has such abuse heaped on her by the doctor is also in the dark.

Frankly, in these first two episodes Nanako’s breasts are about the only things that get uncovered. The rest of the story remains murky to the point of annoyance. The conspiratorial ambience is certainly reminiscent of the X-Files, while the fan-service traits more closely mirror another excursion of director Hiroshi Negishi’s, Burn Up W. Negishi’s best known work is probably the Tenchi Universe series, my personal favorite incarnation of the Tenchi universe. Here he shows himself again adept at handling humor with darker, or at least more melancholy, undercurrents without succumbing to the cheesiness that sometimes plagued TU, but the plot here unfortunately ends up muddled when it needs to be tight and succinct.

Or perhaps it is entirely too early to tell. Which returns me to the idea of ambivalence: I don’t love this show by any stretch of the imagination, and in some ways I was internally cringing as I watched it. But I don’t hate it, either, and I found myself not only wanting more, but I had a desire to watch the show again. The production values are high, with very decent animation (though the use of digital pans and zooms is a little more prevalent then I’d prefer, especially in POV shots, where it looks wholly unnatural) and a professional sound job. The music I found enjoyable, particularly in the visually arresting openings. The English dub is from a relatively new Los Angeles studio called New Generation Pictures, and I found it quite commendable. Nanako’s VA finds a very nice balance for her character, who isn’t the total airhead that even she may think she is. This was particularly refreshing because I found the Japanese Nanako almost unlistenably annoying. The rest of the English voices are almost universally terrific. This is the same studio that is handling the new 3 X 3 Eyes dub directed by Gargoyle’s Greg Weisman, and I await it with baited breath.

Amazing Nurse Nanako is strange, because it feels filled with potentials and depths that I’m almost certain will remain unplumbed. There is burgeoning interest between Nanako and the doctor, who is alternately cruel and kind to the poor girl, and who seems to have some very long past with her, though exactly how and what it all means is still a mystery. Saint, an emissary from the Church, is another source of interest. His character is as shadowy as anybody else’s, but there is an ambience about him that makes me want to know more. There are more unanswered questions. So many, in fact, that I don’t know whether or not this six-episode OAV will be able to handle them all to any degree of satisfaction.

And this all brings me to the reasoning behind my dual grade. Based on just what I see here, I give the show a C. It has nothing to do with bad production values concerning either the content or the disc (though the bouncing menus are nothing short of tasteless) but rather with the incompleteness of the storyline. These two episodes feel like they were almost plucked at random from the ranks of a different, longer show. I still want to pick up the rest of the series, to see if it fulfills any of its potential and to find out where its surprises will lead, and with that in mind I have the higher grade there. However, as it stands, with no knowledge of what’s to come, I can’t really recommend this disc. I just don’t know if there’s enough ‘there’ there.

Rating: C+

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