Shu is a typical Japanese boy, but has an unbeatable, optimistic and determined attitude. However, when he sees a mysterious girl with strange eyes named Lala-Ru up on a smokestack, he is soon pulled into a strange desert world. Shu soon discovers the true terrors of war, which includes genocide, brutal torture, hunger, thirst, and child exploitation. Now Shu is trying to save Lala-Ru, as well as his hard earned, and often reluctant, new friends from the insane dictator, Hamdo. Whether Shu can possibly accomplish saving those he cares about while still holding up to his values remains to be seen.
Now and Then, Here and There is a real wall-gazer. The kind of show that you pause to reflect upon, and then find yourself gazing deeply into the nearest wall. Spacing out, utterly deflated, with that melancholy soundtrack echoing through the halls of your mind—like an empty ballroom, with only you left sitting at the bar. The dance is over, but the mood lingers, and there's not much you can do but sit and sigh... and realize you're a little bit older.
The hero of this story, Shu, is actually not so much a hero as he is just another victim of an
ugly world gone wrong, and one who himself is nearly broken a number of times. What makes him stand out is his stubborn refusal to succumb to the hopelessness and terror of it all, even while everyone around him has been beaten down to the point where they commit terrible acts out of overwhelming fear and a desire to survive—in some cases a distant yet precious hope that if they can make it through, they'll one day be set free from this hell that holds them captive.
The setting is an alternate world that Shu finds himself pulled into, a bleak dystopian wasteland of endless, bone-dry desert; the atmosphere is stifling and oppressive, a nihilistic Future Boy Conan where skies are not blue, but blood-red, and there isn't a drop of water to be found. Enter Lala-Ru, a girl who, like Lana of the aforementioned classic, holds a power that can save the world from its ruin—a power that has fallen into the wrong hands. This is very much like a story Hayao Miyazaki might come up with were he feeling suicidally depressed. Lala-Ru, unlike Lana, would sooner let the squabbling humans wither up and die than exert herself to aid them.
It's easy to understand how Shu must feel, having stumbled into this world gone mad, but while I become more and more depressed and anxious as characters descend further and further into misery and anguish with each episode, Shu never loses his resolve. Even after being beaten and starved and nearly killed a number of times, he retains his determination to protect those in need of help, and to try to reassure them that as grim as things seem, everything will be okay.
It's tough to believe him, in the face of so much kidnapping, murder, and rape, all at the behest of Lord Hamdo, the completely insane fruitcake dictator of Hellywood and desperate captor of Lala-Ru. Other characters will accuse Shu of lying, and you'll wonder if there really is any escape from the utterly dismal state of this nightmarish world. But you'll also find that there are fragments of hope, and in some sense one may ultimately find illumination in all this darkness and despair.
Now and Then, Here and There has a look and feel that suggests it was a project made on a tight budget, yet with a lot of feeling behind it—especially evident in the wistful ending theme. You won't find yourself impressed with flashy modern animation, but the overall production is sufficient to convey the bleak atmosphere effectively.
The makers of this anime clearly wanted to say something, and they've gone about doing so in the most dire, soul-draining way they could muster. It's up to you if you can weather the journey, but I guarantee you'll come out on the other end a bit wiser for it.
Very rarely does something come along with such detail, such characterization, such perfection that it is able to ascend being just something on a screen, canvas or a musical chart, truly reaching the pinnacle of what we call art. To be able to convey so much in so few episodes, Now and Then, Here and There is one of them. With this in mind, like any art, its not going to be appreciated by everyone. This is a dark, depressing series that masterfully - almost to a horrifying point - is able to illustrate the true terrors and setting of war. Understandably so, it is
going to fall short for some viewers, yet only because of how well it truly executes itself as a war plagued dystopian fantasy. As such, I consider this to be the most emotionally impactful anime series I have ever watched.
From the inception we are presented with a warm, innocent presentation of modern day life. Queue our lovable - or hateable - idiot protagonist, Shu, who has those cliched principles of righteousness who is enjoying his everyday life. This is a deliberate juxtaposition to the rest of the series, as sadly, this innocence is expeditiously turned into insufferable inhumanity. It takes this cliched story of facing hardship and adversity to protect those important to you, deconstructing itself into a brutal, often disturbing narrative filled with equally disturbing themes. Conscription of children, rape, murder, human extortion and manipulation are examples of these themes. While these are not new themes by themselves, they are masterfully incorporated together in a truly effective manner.
While this is a dystopian fantasy, what separates this from its counterparts isn’t just its horrific portrayal of humanity, but also the characters themselves. Although overdone and overbearing at times, Shu is the embodiment of hope. He is the small flickering light in the vast and dark world whose beliefs are often questioned and dismissed as naive and ignorant idealism. Despite this, he is never defeated, his unrelenting attitude serves as a beacon of righteousness and optimism which directly juxtaposes everyone and everything in this world. Admittedly, his personality can be obnoxious at times, however there is a clear justification to why he acts the way he does and why his resolve does not falter. Shu is only one example of the fantastic characters that make up the driving force of this series.
The entire ensemble of characters are well done and often, like Shu, are personifications of themes and beliefs. For instance, Lala-Ru is a personification of power and success. She is often seen as such, simply a means of power instead of a person. It doesn’t matter who or what she is, all that is important is the fact that she holds the answer to one of the biggest problems this dystopian world faces. She is a character of few words and has a delphic air to her, despite this she is a detailed character who grows significantly as the series progresses. This is a feat of its own as she doesn’t have a particularly large amount of time on screen in these 13 short episodes. Her interactions with Shu are genuine and offers an almost heartwarming comparison to the overly dark series. Most importantly, despite being of the supernatural, she is genuine and realistic in both her actions and her speech.
Sara typifies innocence and even humanity itself. She, like many others, is an unsuspecting victim of the story who is wrongly mistaken for Lala-Ru and suffers greatly for it. She loses her innocence in both a literal and metaphorical sense. She is shaped by this dystopian world, largely for worse and is victimized not only by the world but inevitably her own actions too. She - like myself - cannot cope with Shu’s unwavering resolve, often attacking him and his beliefs losing hope for the future. Regardless of if it’s for better or worse, she is largely developed over the course of the series and by the end is almost a different person. I can only say that with absolute praise for such development to occur in such a short time frame.
King Hamdo represents harsh brutality and megalomania. He is a tyrant, manipulating and coercing people to work - and often kill - for him. He is a man with no remorse and is self centered. Having just described a very generic, often cliched and overused villain, it’s worth noting that just like the story, Hamado’s strength lies in the characters execution rather than its originality. Having said this, he is still in my eyes the weakest character as his insanity is a simple means to justify his actions with no real explanation, often at times becoming frustrating. Hamdo’s number two, Abelia, represents unconditional loyalty. Despite not agreeing with Hamdo on many occasions she bends to his will, even when he mistreats and berates her. There is no real justification of this either, it is clear that she has issues with what he is doing at many points she is never able to stand up for herself or her beliefs. These are the only two criticisms I have towards the cast of this series which is a testament to how brilliant they are.
The most tragic character is Nabuca. Like Abelia he often has a sense of unconditional loyalty to the man that has ruined his life. He is a victim, like every subject of Hamdo and despite his appalling actions, Nabuca has a sense of morality and his actions weigh heavily upon him. Nabuca and Shu both act as foils to each other, often questioning each other’s actions. Yet, both of them share the same goal of survival and a desire to return home. They have a mutual understanding and bring out both the good and bad in each other. Ultimately they are both changed by one another and they end up understanding and coming to terms with each other.
The art is certainly outdated by today’s standards and for a 90s series the art is not groundbreaking, fortunately its a series that doesn't rely nor need its art to be masterful. Having said this, the art is by no means bad, but it is the weakest aspect of the series. Yet there is a wide range of cinematography techniques that are used to greatly compliment the series. For instance, the deliberately slow and repeated shots serve to illustrate the painful decisions and heartbreaking scenes. Similarly the use of grainy black and white visuals resonate with the atrocious nature of war. While the art itself isn't particularly strong, the cinematography makes up for it. Comparably, the musical score is used brilliantly to evoke pathos, often complimenting both the heartwarming and heart wrenching scenes. The score perfectly dramatizes the series and whether you listen to it by its own or while watching the series, the poignancy Iwasaki Taku’s score exhumes is beautiful.
13 short episodes is all it took. In 13 fleeting episodes a story was told. A story of the loss, horror and tragedy of war and its toll on humanity. It is a story that sends a clear condemning message of war, yet at the same time sends a message of hope. Despite the darkness, there is always a light, a beacon of hope. It is a bittersweet series in the sense that it is equally horrifying as it is enjoyable to watch. While there are minor flaws scattered through the series, the amalgamation of each and every individual aspect of the series forms something truly great. As a whole, Now and Then, Here and There reaches the pinnacle of excellence and art alike.
Now and Then, Here and There is the most emotional engaging anime series I was ever lucky enough to watch. With it's amazing directing (Akitaro Daichi famous for directing Fruits Basket and Kodacha), and incredible writing (Hideyuki Kurata, famouse for writing Excel Saga, Bamboo Blade, and both the ROD OVA and TV series) this is a series that deserves a place in any anime fan's top ten spot. Don't let it's happy-go-lucky first episode or it's director or writer trick you into thinking this is a comedy or easy-going slice of life show. This is a dark, disturbing, and violent sci-fi/drama. It can become
very diffucult to watch, but I will bet you if you can find the power to watch it all, you will thank me. This is truly one of the best anime series ever created. Why it's not ranked higher on this site is a true sin, and why it's not more well know is a greater one.
So this anime starts out like so many others do. A typicial shounen-anime like boy lead nicknamed Shu, who is living is daily life normally in Japan circa 1999, who's a little slow but good hearted finds a mysterious girl on top of some smoke stacks at the edge of town. He tries to talk to her, and ask her how she got to the top of the other smoke stack, when all of a sudden these futuristic machines get teleported there, and the people controling them want to capture this girl (named Lala-Ru). Bust just like in any typicial shounen-anime our hero tries to save her, a bit a little stupidely, but he tries. He ends up being teleported to the strange world (possibly the future of earth) along with these strange military people, and Lala-Ru. The place he gets transported to is called "Hellywood" , and he gets separated from Lala-Ru, and accidentally get's her pendant. But this is were the similarities with all other anime series pretty much stops. After this point this anime evolves into something much, much more. It's a dark seinen series, about how war effects people, and can destory the lives of everyone. It's also grounded in reality, even though most of the events take place in this "distant world", it's very realistic and feels as though most of this could happen right now (and to be fair, it was inspired by horrble events that happened in Africa over ten years ago). This anime is brutally honest, it doesn't sugar coat anything, nor does it glorify war or violence. It's a slap to the face to the DBZ's and Naruto's as well as many American war movies and novels of our current era. It also has a very powerful and blunt statement. But it's much, much more then that too. The story is emotional, engaging, and one of the best overall stories I've ever seen. The only "problem" I can find with the story is it isn't very "deep", it's a pretty straightforward, simple story, not very layered, but it wasn't going for deep in that sense anyway. It does have a message, and a point to it all, and it's a very good story. I can't mark it down for that small problem so 10/10.
It's a little dated, but it's still very beautiful. For whatever reason the powers that be decided to give this anime a more "simple" look to it. When compared to other anime from around or before it's time (Revolutionary Girl Utena, To Heart, Cowboy Bebop) it's not as detailed. This does not make it ugly, far from it. Still it's not the best animation and art ever, even given it's time. Cowboy Bebop truly shows what could be done with technology of the time, and a extremely large budget. This anime has no use of CGI or other computer techniques that newer anime series use. It's not as flashy as Cowboy Bebop (1998), and no where near as nice looking as say Black Lagoon (2006), a newer anime for example. The character designs are simple but effective, and the background art is very beautiful. The sunset in episode one is something to really enjoy, feel free to pause and just look at how nice it is. It's clear this anime was not made with a very large budget, but it still is very nice looking at times, esecially backgrounds. Don't let the dated animation turn you off this show, because it is an amazing series. This anime proves you don't need flashy animation, and gimmicks to make a great anime, all that's needed is a good story, and some talented people involved.
The music in this series is quite amazing. From it's very nice opening theme to it's background music everything is great! The ending theme is one of my favorites from any anime, because not only is it a great song, but it helps to calm the audience down after seeing some brutal and disturbing stuff. This anime has some of the best use of music I've ever seen.
The dub for this anime was recorded at Taj Studios Inc (NYC), for Central Park Media. The group of actors from New York City have proven themselves to be a talented bunch, but sadly many of the producations are still very poor. I think they get a bad rap due to the many poor 4Kid's dubs these guys have been in though. They are great actors, and they have have good directors and writers that work for the dubbing studios in NYC too. Luckily this is one of the best dubs I've ever heard, and definitely my favorite dub from a studio in/near New York City. The first episode starts off a little iffy, strong but with some awkard lines here and there (no pun intended) but afterwards it's really a top level dub. This anime needed a good dub, and CPM reconized that and allowed extra time for the dubbing to take place. Actors got to watch the entire show once or twice through before even starting on this anime. Special attention was given to this dub, and it clearly shows. With well known actors/actresses like Lisa Ortiz, Dan Green, Crispin Freeman, and Rachael Lillis giving great performances (that we've come to expect from them), but the one who steals this anime is Jack Taylor. He plays the horrible and insane ruler of Hellywood, King Hamdo, and he nails it! Jack Taylor is incredibly frightening and convincing! You would NOT want to deal with King Hamdo! If Jack Taylor's performance was not as strong as it is, the entire show might have buckled under the weight of that. The man should get an award for what he did in this show. He makes you hate Hamdo, with an undieing passion! Another relatively unknown, Dana Halsted, plays his assistant Lady Abelia, and she quickly gets used to her role. She gives out another great performance. Everyone in this anime knows their roles, and can really act. Only problem with the dub is the confusion on how to say the name "Nabuka". That and some may say a few of the children sound a little too old. I however did not think so at all. Both are forgivable seeing how amazing this dub is. The dub script stays pretty close to the subtitle track, as many CPM titles tend to do. This is one to show to the sub-only fans!
(I checked out the sub and it seemed fine to me)
This is not an anime you will "enjoy" as a form of entertainment. This is not an action show, this is not a comedy, this is some serious stuff! This is an anime that will be hard to re-watch because it is very depressing, very dark, and very distrubing. But this is an anime you will be very happy you watched. This is an anime that truly uses the medium to it's full advantage, much in the same way Grave of the Fireflies did. I can't imagine watching this as a live action movie, or reading it as a book. Anime is the perfect medium for this story. It may be a little too dark and depressing for some, but if you have the strength to finish it, you will look back at it and say "that was amazing".
Very well directed and written story. The animation may be a little dated and simple but it's still very nice and it works, and the music is stunning. The dub is one of the best from NYC, and it's one to test on those subtitle only type people, but the subtitle track is perfectly alright as well. Both are very good. This anime is very dark, disturibing, depressing, visualy graphic at times, but it's still one of the best stories ever told. Brutal, but brutally honest and realistic. Highly recommended esecially to those who like Grave of the Fireflies , fans of Mohiro Kitoh's mangas, or fans of Akitaro Daichi (who want to see him do something darker). Actually if you are a human being (and even if your not, lol) I suggest this to you, as long as you can deal with it. It's really 16+ due to the subject matter,violence, implied rape, visually graphic scenes, and overall dark tune. Much of the violence is aimed at innocent children, and it makes it much worse. A very mature series, but a true masterpeice.
"Now and Then, Here and There" seems to be a big hit with the more critical sections of the crowd. Scouring around the web, it's hard to come across reviews of it that are not overwhelmingly positive. But despite all these glowing reviews, I honestly didn't find the show to be that great, and since there's an abundance of opinions stating why it's good already, here's my take on why I don't think it's all that.
I don't really like the "Lord of the Ring" books all that much. One of the main reasons for this is that there are points in the books when it
felt like it's trying to be a fairy tale adventure for kids (the Tom Bombadil part especially), and then the next moment, it gets all serious again, trying to be an adult's fantasy novel. As a result I was confused over what frame of mind I should be reading it in.
Unfortunately, "Now and Then, Here and There" suffers from the same problem. My initial impression was that it's meant to be an anime aimed for younger viewers, due to the simplistic character design style which gave it an almost Studio Ghibli kind of look. In episode 2 or 3 the anime starts showing its true colours, portraying the kind of disturbing violence and cruelty that makes it obvious that it isn't meant for kids. And yet, and yet... the kid's style animation is still there, glaring out at me from my screen, sending contradicting signals into my brain and confusing the hell out of me. The early sudden change of settings in the opening episode definitely didn't help me get to grips with this anime either.
"Now and Then, Here and There" seems to be made with a specific purpose in mind, with a specific set of morals they wanted to tell through the anime, and it does succeed at times through some really hard hitting moments that may have caused many other viewers to forget its flaws. However, I found myself unable to look past its flaws and enjoy the show - its attempt to get its message across is just too amateurish because its story and characters often don't hold water.
The primary example here is King Hamdo. No doubt other viewers have already pointed out that history has shown how such an insane dictator can exist, and most likely pointed to dictators such as Hitler as evidence. But, in reality, there are always complications that give rise to such situations whilst in contrast, "Now and Then, Here and There" gives you a retarded version that just shouts at you: "the leader is mad... just like it can be in real life!!" You can only get away with this kind of simplification of "Mad King ruler" if you're spoonfeeding a fairy tale to children, for whom the content of this anime obviously isn't suitable for. I haven't studied other dictators in history lessons, but I can tell you a thing or two about Hitler that I learnt back in school all those many years ago (bear in mind that even this is a watered down version for kids, and the reality would have been even more complicated). Yes, Hitler may have been crazy, but there was far more to him than that. He had amazing leadership ability, and was one of the finest orators of the 20th century. He wove a magic spell over the German population, raising morale, restoring German pride and giving them new hope when the nation was suffering in the wake of an economic collapse in combination to the backlash of losing World War I. And what's more, he delivered. Germany was on its knees when he came to power, and not only did he led them to recovery, he led them back up pecking order into a position to challenge the most powerful nations in the world at the time. Although in retrospect, it seems unthinkable someone like him could have got hold of power, when you take a closer look at the details, it does make you see how it could have happened.
Now lets take a look at King Hamdo. He's obviously mad. Um... that's it. Oh yea and he's incompetent and is totally devoid of charisma. Wait! Why is he in power again?? Sure his fortress made his army practically invincible, but that isn't exactly because of his competency. A muppet could sit there and produce much the same result, so what's stopping people from overthrowing him? It seems infeasible that he could stay in power like that, especially considering that, from the way his subjects seem to feel about him, it doesn't appear to be the kind of monarchy where people see the King as some kind god's chosen - it feels closer to a dictatorship that's evolved from a military organisation. How can someone as useless and mad as King Hamdo keep his grip on his position in this kind of environment when he can't even keep his hold on his own sanity (or even give the impression that he is anything other than mad)?
Then we have Hamdo's second in command Abelia, who isn't really a bad person at all. I can't understand why she hasn't taken power over from Hamdo, especially in this military environment that requires discipline and cool headed decision making. As King Hamdo is clearly in no condition to rule, you'd think someone like Abelia would just confine him somewhere, take care of him, and stop him from hurting everyone including himself. But instead she chooses to just stand around taking abuse and having her conscience knocked about on a daily basis. But of course, if she takes a course of action that actually made sense, then there would be no half-built platform for the anime to launch its intended messages from etc -_- I waited and waited to see why Abelia was so obedient to Hamdo, but still couldn't find the answer by the end, and can only conclude that it hasn't been thought through properly.
Instead of showing some of the realistic dilemmas of war like, say, "Gundam Seed", "Now and Then, Here and There" opts to go for the simplified, one sided "fighting is bad, full stop" version, and ends up tripping over it's own messages. By painting in such a saintly light one of the characters Sis who, without providing an alternative solution, is against any sort of action against Hamdo, and also painting all those who wants to take action against Hamdo as being hot headed youths, the anime is clearly endorsing her pacifist view. But at the same time, it unwittingly showed the fact that doing nothing is probably is why things have become so bad in the first place. Hamdo's own sustained grip on power is due to the unwillingness of his subordinates to overthrow him. How many lives are lost because of this kind passiveness? I'm not annoyed about which particular side of the argument that "Now and Then, Here and There" has chosen, but I'm annoyed that it has chosen to present it in such a black and white, overly simplified manner, and I'm also annoyed that it doesn't make a particularly good argument for its case - it's a bit someone like preaching against violence of any kind, including fighting back, while a crazy guy is running around unrestrained in the background mowing people down with a chainsaw.
Unlike "Lord of the Rings", the fantasy world in "Now and Then, Here and There" is severely lacking in details. We are thrown straight into this chaotic world, and at no point in the anime do we get to hear an explanation for how it got into this mess. I want to know how it happened, and I want to know about all the strange technology this world possesses. Why are they so desperately short of water when they have all this technology to go to other worlds? Can't they just appear near a massive lake in one of these other worlds and collect water?! You can argue that this isn't the point of the anime, but because of the omission of such information, it's not really easy to get a good grasp of the situation or to sympathise with the unwillingness of the characters to do the right thing. For example, if more background information is provided, then I *may* be able to understand why King Hamdo holds so much power over his subjects, for example. Throughout the series, I couldn't help but constantly questioning many aspects of "Now and Then, Here and There", and when this happen it's almost impossible to really enjoy the show.
"Now and Then, Here and There" is by no means a bad anime, though. At the end of the day, King Hamdo doesn't get that much screen time - he's just someone who annoyed me immensely with his mere existence. The main character also quite annoying with his incredulously happy-go-lucky attitude - is he from some alien race that are incapable of feeling pessimistic or something? But those aside, there are some fairly interesting characters that I would have liked to have seen more of, but their potential are not fully explored for the most part. Some of the emotions generated by the series feel very real and touching (something that's well reflected in the slow, contemplative ending theme), and the portrayal of issues such as rape is very gritty - much more convincing than some shallow attempts made by other shows such as "Elfen Lied". But at the end of the day, its childishly simplistic view of dark, complex issues just doesn't work. It's a bit like reading a twisted version of a fairy tale like Snow White where an extra bit of storyline got inserted, in which she gets raped by one of the seven dwarves or something, and has to deal with the mental trauma that results from it - it's just feels all wrong and out of place! I guess you could say that "Now and then, here and there" does kind of live up to its title though - it doesn't seem to quite know what it's doing, so ends up being a bit here and a bit there, and ultimately neither completely here nor there. I was really expecting something so critically acclaimed to be better constructed!
The Doomsday Clock - a metaphor designed to represent how close humanity is to destruction - is at 3 minutes to midnight. To help you prepare for our rapidly approaching destruction, we've got you covered with some top-notch post-apocalyptic anime.