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.
"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!
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.
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.
Following rave reviews from plenty of sources I came onto Now and Then, Here and There with guarded optimism. I was promised a brutal and uncompromising look on the atrocities of war that would bring real emotion from characters. The only thing phonier than that statement is how absurdly fake the main character Shu is.
Coming back from a devastating loss in Kendo, Shu notices a mysterious girl on top of a precarious smokestack. Deciding to investigate, he climbs onto another smokestack and engages with a short one-sided conversation with the blue girl named Lala-ru when suddenly a giant rift in time-space
brings villains who have come to retrieve her. Lala-ru is able to call forth water from her pendant which is needed by King Hamdo, an evil dictator, to fuel his giant moving fortress Hellywood in order to destroy the world. An interesting if unoriginal story, but that is not the problem with the series. It’s the characters that fail to function like humans.
Shu is typical boy protagonist who is energetic and absurdly naïve. He’s the messianic “voice of reason” in the series who is the main problem with Now and Then, Here and There. Shu is thrown into a foreign world, tortured, whipped, beaten, kicked, hanged, shot, and pecked on by a bird yet his only thought in mind is to save the magic girl who he barely talked to for 3 minutes. His every other line is “Where is Lala-ru?” or “I have to save Lala-ru!” or simply “Lala-ru!” He suffers no psychological trauma from so much punishment and is still the moral compass for a “world gone mad” as a cheery cheeky Japanese adolescent. I’d rather ask what is wrong with him, is the Japanese education system so thorough that they include torture resistance lessons? Even Jesus on the cross asked “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Lala-ru is no better as she is the archetypal ice girl(or water in this case) with little dialogue and even lesser interest. She is simply an object to be fought over rather than a character. The chief antagonist is King Hamdo, who is a generic insane leader, he is a bore to watch. He rants and such, but his script and behavior is ever so recycled. These three inhuman freaks dominate the screen time while more nuanced and human characters like Nabuca, Abelia and Sara take a backseat.
The animation is choppy and simplistic. While some the mecha designs aren’t bad, they hardly get enough attention to matter much. The faces hardly differ. Some episodes seem more like slideshows considering the slow frames. I thought several times I had accidently pressed pause when it was simply the animators being lazy.
The sad violin main theme is used far too often for emotional scenes with very few musical pieces in between. It eventually loses its impact when you hear it in almost every episode. Character voices generally fit, though the little children voices do seem forced at times. Neither the OP nor ED is memorable.
For an anime that brings up so many real problems of child soldiers, slavery, rape, abortion and war, it sure dodges any solution or resolution. The ending is so saccharin and unsatisfying, one must ask, what was the point? Shu repeats his mantra ad naseum, “As long as you’ve got your life, something good is bound to happen.” This lazy conclusion is sickening and pathetic when faced with these atrocities. Now and Then, Here and There tries to add realism to the majou shoujo genre yet its result is even more unrealistic and ends up worse off; it’s sad pathetic experiment for all the wrong reasons.
Seldom have I found it so difficult to grade a series with a simple 'good'. Not because I found it difficult to provide a rating itself, but because I feel this series could have been so much more.
The basic storyline should be clear from the synopsis and the other reviews: boy from Earth travels to war-torn world lacking abundant natural resources, becomes embroiled within a war, of which some of the horrors are shown in some detail, and struggles to explain his own moral code to a society that has a tendency to name it baseless idealism unfit for the grim reality. All the
while, a few side stories show a bit more about that grim reality, leading to some scenes that indeed make the viewer feel a bit uncomfortable, all being connected to the main story by the atrocities stemming from the megalomania of the main Bad Guy.
It's not a bad story, even though it might seem like it's done before, though with varying degrees of wanting to make the story seem 'real' and 'dramatic'. The main reason the story works this time over seems to me to be the pacing: the story does not progress very fast, meaning there's a lot of room to show some of the gritty details (such as the subplot focusing on Sara), with the drama being heightened by solid use of sound effects and music that fits the dramatic mold, and of end-of-episode-scenes which cannot be described as real cliffhangers.
The art, though quite basic with regard to the characters (the backgrounds can become simply gorgeous, even if they bring little that's new), in fact makes it possible to give the characters very clear expressions which tend to heighten the drama at appropriate times.
So, as said, it could have been very good, it could have become 'gut-wrenching', as this series has been described, but to me there were just a few too many problems to make it work.
First, this series does rely on cheap tricks to heighten the drama. The somewhat slow pacing and somber music seems artificial: personally, I couldn't help but imagine how a few of the same scenes that were pretty dramatic as shown in the series could be almost comical when the background music would be, for instance, the Benny Hill-tune. This simply means that the scene within the storyline in and of itself was not enough to provide the proper mood.
Second, having the main Bad Guy act the way he acts because he's clearly portrayed as being insane is too easy an explanation. Yes, insanity is a way out of cheesy motives, but it also means that a proper motive or method behind what happens is lacking.
Third, and here I'm going to flatly disagree with some of the other reviews, many of the elements of the story are completely predictable in a 'well, that was bound to happen' way. Again, I specifically point to the Sara-subplot which could be predicted from the very first scene in which she appeared.
Fourth, and to my idea the gravest error, there is the issue of the last episode, which wrecks the totality of the rest of the series. All of a sudden the pacing is lost. All of a sudden characters make a volte-face in the way they act. All of a sudden the story turns from a drama into something a bit more action-oriented, and seems to slide to an unnecessary happy ending. In order to have the series end the way it does end, it seems that the makers wanted to rush too many final pieces of storyline and character development into a single episode.
That said, what remains is for the most part good. It's discomforting at times, perhaps, though not overly so because of the lack of unexpected things happening, and it's solidly dramatic in many cases. It's just not great.
This is one of those anime you really can't judge from the cover!!!
Its animation and music weren't spectacular, and its starts off like many other steryotipical "out of this world" Shounen development stories; but it is infact much more than that.
The basic plot of the story is; A young boy named Shu meets a mysterious young girl named Lala Ru, and is sucked into a mysterious choatic world that is engulfed in an Apocolyptic war. In this world, even small children are kidnapped from their villages and forced to fight in the armies. The mysterious girl seems to have a mysterious power the enemy
is after; if she is captured any hope for the future will be gone.
The basic plot summary seems standard right?
You could just watch Inuyasha if you wanted to jump to different times and worlds. And little kids fighting wars; what about the kid ninja's in Naruto; thats serious business right! Don't be fooled by the simple plot summary; Now and Then, Here and There offers something most anime don't; a Serious reality check. The characters in this anime are very human, they have no real powers. They're personofied as normal children, not super heroes. The story abounds with death, violence, rape (insinuated), and general hopelessness, and the characters react to their situation in a realistic manner.
This series is explicitely violent. It does not sugar coat war honorable; just as an unending cycle humans choose that results in hatred for one another. This is perhaps the most brilliant anti-war story since Ghibli film, Grave of the fire flies.
The story is relatively quick paced; it rarely drags on. It does try and hang on by the nails to the general steryotypica "Shounen" plot, but just a hair. Overall the story is very Origenal, and unpredictable. Almost every episode has another shocking development, and leaves the veiwer anxious to watch the next episode because of cleverly placed cliff hangers.
The scenic animation, of the backrounds and buildings are very detailed. Even though the world they are in is practically desolate, there are many vibrant colors and interesting details everywhere. The character animation was slightly lacking. Their character art lacked much detail, and many just didn't seem "unique" enough to be main characters. The largest problem with animation, that repeats in many episodes, are very long pane shots that focus on characters. Sometimes for 30 seconds nothing will happen, the focus will just be on a character thinking, or the sky. These are sometimes placed appropriately at parts where something very sad just happened, but it happens so frequently it becomes tedious.
The music was also less than pefect. The opening theme didn't really match the feeling of the show as a whole, and while I have nothing against Openings without vocals, but this one was particularly boring (especially in addition to any real opening animation either.) The music in the series was very good I thought, but there wasn't enough different songs, or songs that really stood out at all. The ending theme was suitable for the anime though at least. It was very calming (also with out vocals).
There are many very interesting characters in the series, and a good amount of character development in many of them. I took one point off because some of them, specifically the main character, have a very "reused" feel to them. Its not that they weren't origenal in the series in their action, but their overall ethos seemed typical. Naive, but proud and brave main character, Mysterious Girl type, and several others. I took another point off because while there is a decent amount of character development, some other interesting characters never really were delved into. The main villain for example is immediatly portrayed as paranoid and slightly nuts, but we never get much of a backstory to his personality. There are several other side characters that very strong personalities, but little screen time. Overall though, there is a diverse and relatively large group of well developed characters for such a short anime.
This isn't an anime that you just sit down to entertain yourself with. If you just want a quick laugh, or some heart racing action and gore this isn't the right anime for you. Most of the story is extremely depressing, and most people I know have cried at least once while watching this. I rated my enjoyment on my overall desire to watch the series. After nearly every episode I wanted to continue watching. It does a fantastic job manipulating your emotions and really drawing you into the story. Because the characters are so human its easy to connect with what they must be going through. I finished the series with a sense of satisfaction at the end.
Not a "perfect" anime; its technical aspects have alot of flaws, but the story and characters are what really made this anime worth watching. This probably isn't an anime for everyone~ It looks a little older (even though it was made in 2000), which may chase some people off, and there's very little comedy, and even though its about war there is very little "action" that can be enjoyed. (most of what is shown is the after math of war.) But it so perfectly captures your emotions, and the story plays out creating so much suspense its a truly enjoyable anime.
It falls Short of "Masterpeice," but the elements for a truly awsome anime are here.
"Because ten billion years of time is so fragile, so ephemeral..it arouses such a bittersweet, almost heartbreaking fondness".
Let me preface this review by saying that very rarely have I met paths with an animation that potently sheds light on the very tragic state of our world by charmingly forcing it's viewers to remind themselves that they are a part of that reality. "Now and Then, Here and There" is one of such, and it truly is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. Perhaps one of the most praise worthy attribute of this animation is the fact that it draws it's viewers into it's own world and it is
only after you watch the final episode when you realize how remarkably powerful of an experience it has been. I am quite mesmerized to be honest because I am convinced that this is more than a animation for me. Having just completed the final episode 10 minutes ago, I have come to the conclusion that the experience of watching this anime was more like an inner journey for me (almost spiritual in nature) and although the story has come to an end, I feel that it has become a part of me.
At this point, I should remind the reader that "Now and Then, Here and There" is certainly not for the faint hearted simply because the faint hearted is not inclined to be reminded of the dark and disturbing realities that form the fabric of our societies. When we scrutinize the current state of our world, it is easy to see that all it takes is a single tyrant to upset the harmony of nature. As a consequence, man becomes willing to kill man for personal gains and innocent lives are lost in vain. But then in the midst of this bloodshed, a strong willed and determined individual emerges who bluntly challenges the "system" at all costs, driven by a natural sense of justice making us realize that a "Deus Ex Machina" is perhaps not far fetched at all. Along the line, all participants of war are forced to question their natural inclinations, which ultimately separates a strong sense of morality from tyranny. "Now and Then, Here are There" accurately reflects all of this in 13 episodes.
As far as the story goes, it begins when a highly spirited teenager called Shu meets a mysterious girl (Lala-Ru) as they both sit quietly on a smokestack looking at the beautiful sunset. While Shu is progressing with his attempt to communicate with her, they find themselves under swift attack by an unconventional machine. Immediately, the attackers emerge from the machine and force Lala-Ru to go back with them. Not thinking twice, Shu intervenes unsuccessfully and they are both taken as prisoners and transported into a strange desert world. This is where the story really begins and this is the point when together with Shu and Lala-Ru, we are also transported into that desert world. This is as much as you need to know with regards to the story because words are not capable of expressing how captivating the story becomes once they are in the desert world. You must watch this show to understand.
Be warned that from the outlook this anime may seem like a normal shounen action-packed show. However, do not be deceived, for the gripping essence of this animation is not reliant on the "action" but rather on the intangible factors that lead to violence. In terms of the graphic content, you are safe to assume that there is a fair deal of violence, killing, blood, rape and it is especially not easy to watch considering that the victims are young kids.
With regards to the Art work, it was fantastic. Having read some reviews on this anime coupled with listening to other peoples opinions, I am forced to disagree with people who say that the Art was less than superb. Based on the theme, I could not imagine the art being any different because it perfectly captures the "dark" and the "light" and it combines them into a beautiful spectacle of duality. As far as the enjoyment goes, I enjoyed every single moment of this anime and it has no doubt found it's place in my top 10 list of animations. The music was completely in sync with the rest of the anime, specifically the ending theme to each episode. A beautiful song indeed!
I must also point out that do not be deceived by the ranking and scores given on myanimelist. Just because this anime is not in the top 200, it does not mean that it cannot make it into your list of top anime. I strongly suggest that you watch the first 3 or 4 episodes and if you feel that it is not your cup of tea, then by all means do not continue with it. However if you do, then be prepared for a magnificent roller coaster ride, and I have several reasons to believe that this will be a ride that you will never forget.
Anime is a medium, like video games and comic books, that has struggled to attain the label of "art." But what is art? Is it mere scribblings on a piece of paper? Is it the words in a book? Or is it much more? Can art make you question your perceptions of the world around you? Can it evoke strong feelings of sadness and joy? If that is what art is, then Now and Then, Here and There is the epitome of art. It is heartbreaking, and cruel but it never ceases to be starkly realistic in its depiction of war. It is a true
classic, and I do not use the word classic lightly.
Story (9/10)- Now and Then, intentionally starts off like any other anime, stubborn, yet optimistic young boy meets mysterious girl who ominously stares off into the sunset being being sent toward another world. In most anime, the alternate world would be full of wonder, intrigue, and a harem full of beautiful women. However, Now and Then, Here and There is not like most anime. Shu, the protagonist, is sent to Earth billions of years in the future, where it has become a barren wasteland where people kill each other for mere drops of water, and malice & fear fill the hearts its inhabitants. He is sent to a place where war is the norm, and where children are taken from their homes to fight. A place of nightmares.
Now and Then, Here and There is an anti-war anime. It focuses on the horrors of war and the atrocities committed by those involved. Now and Then holds no punches when it comes to showing the horrors of war. You will witness some of the most vile and disgusting things that man is capable of. You will most likely cry, I was driven to near tears at certain points, but the show always gives off a faint glimmer of hope throughout all of the bleakness and despair. And it does so without coming off preachy or patronizing.
Art(5/10)- Although the anime was released in the late 90's, the art and animation is mediocre. The character designs are a bit immersion breaking because they come off as cartoonish. The backgrounds are scenic and very aesthetically pleasing too the eye. Well, as much as desolate wastelands can be pleasing to the eye.
Soundtrack(9/10)- The soundtrack, composed by Taku iwasaki, is nothing short of beautiful. The mood of each piece ranges from uplifting, to melancholic but never fails to make an impact. As for sub or dub, I highly recommend watching the show subbed. The dub is fine, but some of the children sound too old and it takes away from the gravitas of the show.
Character(9/10)- The characters of Now and Then are superb because they come off genuinely human. None of them can be easily described with just one word, all of them are complex. Yes, there are evil characters like King Hamdo for example, who is one of the most vile and reprehensible characters conceived, but he isn't evil to the point where it becomes comical. No matter how many atrocities he commits, you never forget the disturbing fact that he is human. The main protagonist, Shu, is hard-headed and a bit naive, but he matures throughout the story. His optimistic nature provides a noticeable contrast with how bleak and depressing most of the other characters are. Normally, characters like that have a tendency to become annoying but not in this instance. Each member of the cast is well rounded. None of them are simple and have different reasons for why they fight and what they believe.
Now and Then, Here and There is not a show that broadcasts the failures of humanity. Quite the contrary, it celebrates human life. It shows us the evils of war without preaching them to us. It shows man's indomitable spirit when placed under tremendous adversity. And that is why Now and Then, Here and There shines.
Well, I couldn’t put this off forever. Whilst I’ve made it perfectly clear in the past that I think all non-Ghibli war anime, war movies, and war fiction in general can suck someone else’s critically acclaimed dick far away from me, I’m also aware that there are times when you have to step out of your comfort zone and review something that you only like because “based Shaft”, whatever the fuck that means. So let’s take a look at that late 90s tear-jerking piece of anti-war propaganda that everyone considers to be a classic but I consider to be exploitative rubbish.
Admittedly, it’s kind of awkward
trying to criticize Now and Then, Here and There properly because most of the negative qualities you can associate with the show are what most people actually like about it. Most specifically, the fact that it’s hard to watch, which is about as give or take a quality as the nature of School Days. If you’re one of those people who aren’t familiar with the show – which is understandable given it’s kind of obscure these days – let me fill you in. After realizing that acting like Naruto only causes you to lose tournaments, a young boy named Shu meets a strange blue-haired girl named Lala Ru and is transported into the far future – or at least that’s what people have been telling me, because I apparently missed when that fact was clarified in the show – where water is scarce and children are enslaved in order to serve a dictator who reminds me so much of Billy Zane from Titanic or that boring ponce of a villain from Moulin Rouge it astounds me that people could take him seriously. He is then forced to become a child soldier and from there we follow his struggle to survive in a world gone mad.
Whilst the anime clearly shows signs of being influenced by Evangelion (because weren’t all anime during that period trying to recapture that feeling during that time period?), Now and Then, Here and There recaptures that feeling better than most due to its direction actually being really good. Most of the story is told through the visuals and whilst the animation itself hasn’t aged too well, as far as that era goes, it’s actually pretty good. I’m bringing this up because that’s about the only real good thing this show has if you’re not into torture porn. And even that’s tainted by the fact that a good chunk of the visuals overplay how many times I can watch Shu getting the crap beaten out of him before getting bored out of my mind.
And believe me when I say that watching these characters getting abused gets old very fast. What the director – along with most war anime in general – fails to understand is that no matter how much he tries to convince me, anime is inherently fictional and thus you cannot make me sympathize with what’s going on in the world just by having your cartoon portray what child soldiers go through and leave it at that. Especially when the child soldiers you’re using to portray the going-ons in Rwanda are shallow stock characters who were created solely to tug at your heartstrings, and make decisions that are so 28 Days Later-levels of dumb that it made me hard to sympathize when they got killed off. I’ve heard some people talk about Nabuca and Sara as fleshed-out human characters – and yeah, when you compare them to that asshole kid who just wants to stay a soldier and climb the ranks, they’re Citizen Fucking Kane – but the Nabuca and Sara I saw was an idiot who couldn’t have telegraphed the fact that his village was a pile of rubble any harder if he tried, and a girl who was created solely to suffer because “war does that to people, and thus we’re allowed to do whatever the hell we want to her!”
Another thing that the director, and most war stuff in general, doesn’t seem to understand is that “war is hell” is about as boring and standard a message as that godawful “we need to save the rainforest” stuff that was rampant during the 90s for largely the same reasons. Ghibli understood that almost twenty years before this series came out and thus did its best to breathe life into that tired genre. This is especially true in the studio’s very own tear-jerking war epic, Grave of the Fireflies, which was actually pretty good despite me not being a fan of the setting because of its unique message underneath all the war tragedies regarding youth culture that was relevant at the time it came out and continues to be relevant to this day: listen to your elders and don’t run away from home or you and your cute sister will die like a dog, alone and forgotten. Unless someone can convince me otherwise, Now and Then, Here and There has no such ambition other than to make you feel emotional, which might have been tolerable if the characters had been interesting rather than, well, the inspiration for 28 Days Later’s characters I described them as earlier.
Speaking of which, I’m fully aware that Shu is supposed to represent what a normal kid would be like if he was dropped into a strange world (ultimately useless, lone bright spot in a dark depressing world, can’t fight worth shit…except said untrained fighting style actually works on every single bad guy he faces so way to confuse whatever message you were trying to get across with the amount of time dedicated to commenting on it, NTHT), but I’m sure there’s a way to convey that point without making my eardrums rupture. I’m too lazy to look up who did his voice, but my god his simplistic morality combined with that high-pitch was such a chore to sit through I had to change the language to English where his voice sounded twenty years too old, which was at least tolerable in its mild hilarity. Also, regardless of what he’s supposed to represent, that doesn’t change the fact that he had no real character arc, so why did you even have him be the main character in the first place? At least the kid from War in the Pocket had a few minutes dedicated to his changed worldview after the final climax. All I got from Shu was just a few seconds of forlorn reminiscing and everything else up to that was “you can’t hurt each other like this!”.
Watching him communicate with practically every single character in this show was like watching an anime adaptation of Ace Attorney without all the funny to the point that the anime might as well have consisted of a war council where people just shouted out “Objection!” whenever a flimsy as fuck point was made and counter with their own flimsy as fuck point. And to make things worse, that’s the most substance you get out of this anime. The entire series feels padded like someone stretched a two-hour long movie into a series and filled up the time by either putting in those overlong “let’s hurt this character just so the audience can feel sympathy for them, but we’re justified because our stuff is actually grounded in reality” scenes I mentioned earlier, or some set piece that sounds cool on paper, but in practice it’s very awkwardly inserted.
There’s an entire episode dedicated to Shu and Lala Ru trying to fend off a carnivorous planet that adds fuck all to the plot and only exists just because the staff needed to fill up time and couldn’t think of a good way to put our main characters through the ringer that actually expanded on the “war is hell” message meaningfully. Aside from clarifying that Lala Ru’s powers would kill her if she overuses them too much, which sort of justifies why the show’s conclusion couldn’t have happened much sooner, said event is never brought up again. Don’t even get me started on the way the show padded out the time between Lala Ru losing her pendant and Shu finding it. This review is long enough as is and there’s only so much I can clarify in written words to begin with.
For all of Now and Then, Here and There’s apparent teeth, it’s surprisingly shallow in terms of theme, characters, story, and emotions, just leaving me with pure shallow exploitation that isn’t funny nor comforting to watch (and not in the good way that fans seem to enjoy about the show). But I think the final nail in the coffin for why I think it fails is the fact that this show is supposed to be a commentary not necessarily on war and child slavery as a whole, but what was happening in Rwanda during that time specifically. Exactly what part of NTHT indicates that? The show isn’t set in Rwanda. Nobody speaks the language. Unless Boo is actually black, there are no natives from said country in this show. For all I know, the creators might as well have said they based this anime on the American Revolution and I’d have no choice but to believe them.
PS: Fully aware that the lack of child slave soldiers during the American Revolution would have made it impossible to base NTHT on that event, thank you very much.
You're thinking not another end of the world anime...wrong. Now and Then, Here and There is probably the best end of the world anime I've seen. Even better than other great end of the world anime i.e. RahXephon, and Saikano. Heck it's one of the best anime I've seen.
Before I go on let me say this, this anime in my opinion isn't for anyone under 16 years old. There is a great deal of violence, rape, torture, and language. If you are older than 16 than this anime is a must.
The story is like nothing you've seen and will keep you
engrossed all the way through. The story follows Shuzo Matsutani who on the way home from Kendo practice sees a girl on top of a factory smokestack. He tries to talk to her, then time stops everywhere and giant robots appear to capture the girl Lala Ru. They have come from 10 billion years in the future to take her back to their time. Shu tries to help but gets taken to the future with them.
The future Shu comes to is a bleak place. There is a on going war brought on by the country Hellywood bent on controlling the world. The earth is mainly desert and everyone fights for water. Shu grows up quickly and is determained to help Lala Ru and defeat Hellywood.
The story telling is amazing. I haven't watch anime with a story like this since. The story is intense, compelling, and has many parallels with today. The characters bring life to the tragic story that manages to bring hope at the end. The animation is nothing like other anime that seems glossed over it rough and light yet dark the adds to the story. The music is simply great.
Overall this is one of the best anime series ever. I highly doubt you've seen anything like this and highly recommend everyone who is over 16 watch this anime.
Tired of mentally unstable and whiny mecha protagonists? Or the ubiquitous bitchy damsel in distress? Well fret no more, "Now and Then, Here and There" has neither.
This is an anime that blew me away the first time I watched it. A deceptively gory and disturbing piece with perhaps the most proactive and "ballsy" hero of all time. The story is nothing spectacular, quite cliche really, with subtle political undertones, the animation is mediocre, the sound is satisfactory but the character design is absolutely brilliant. From the insanely narcissistic and delusional dictator to his most basic minions, every character
in this anime has a personality.
The theme, of course, is the power of one, but this protagonist is no superpower, he's just a regular adolescent forced to fight for his right to survive. It is the truth in the characters (and the amazing shock value of ordinary joes killing in a barbaric manner) that made this anime quite enjoyable.
Don't be fooled by the cutsie animation, this anime is gut wrenching.
If you hadn't heard anything about this series beforehand, watching it would be a hell of a shock. The cover image depicts only a determined looking young boy with a stick standing protectively in front of a fragile looking young woman, and the first episode of the show gives no indication of the radical tone shift and hellishly bleak atmosphere that sets in during episode two. I weep for anyone who, lacking the forethought or desire to read a brief synopsis, thought this was going to be a "for kids" show, only to find out that it is an all-out assault on the state of
the world, and on human nature.
Allow me to start by echoing a sentiment that others have stated in their reviews: This is not the kind of show that you watch for old-fashioned entertainment. Watching this is like watching the news station say that there's been some natural disaster that killed hundreds in a far-off land. It's not entertaining, but it grips you. It's fascinating in some strange, subconscious way. I'm what the average person would call "really cynical," but I would be lying if I said there weren't a couple moments during this show's runtime where I felt the uncomfortable and foreign urge to look away from the screen, appalled at what I was seeing, but simultaneously transfixed by the weight of what was happening.
Writers today could take a lesson in character development from this series. Characters evolve completely throughout the thirteen episode span. Even if this show didn't carry a powerful subtext about the nature of humanity, it would be a worthwhile endeavor into the realm of character-driven drama. Some characters are almost broken by the new world they inhabit, some were broken long ago and struggle to fix themselves, and a few more lie somewhere in between. The show uses a simple but effective trick in that every character who is from the "past" in this show is a surrogate for the audience. We immediately attach ourselves to these characters because they're from our time, and share our values. So when those values get stepped on by the harsh world that the writers have created, we feel it that much more. There's a heartbreaking contrast between what the children who are brought against their will to this place and time consider "normal," and what those who know no other world consider "normal," and when these perspectives are inverted, the series really shines. Indeed, one of the most emotionally affecting scenes of the show comes when a child commanding officer berates a child soldier for helping a prisoner of war escape: "Are you crazy?" "No. We're the ones who are crazy. We're the ones who are wrong. Can't you see that?"
The sound and music in this series are nothing to scoff at. Soaring orchestral pieces highlight the sparse moments of optimism while their darker counterparts underscore the plentiful moments of despair, resonating chillingly in the ethically bankrupt halls of Hellywood. Every sound effect in the series seems to be played against others to the point where the audio track alone could tell a story. Screams and sobs play against maniacal laughter, the harsh bark of machine-gun fire is followed by the hollow sound of bodies dropping in the darkness, and whenever something particularly sad happens, there's a heavy, meaningful silence that's just damned awful to sit through, as though they want you to have time to contemplate the sheer horror of what just happened while you count your own heartbeats.
Indeed, if there's a reason I don't rate this a ten, it's the art and animation. They're competetent for their day and age, but not stunning. Don't get me wrong--this show is compelling and interesting without any over-the-top visual magic. You don't a lot of special effects to convey meaning when you have writers like this working for you. It's just that if I rate "masterpiece," it should be a masterpiece in every regard, and in this category the series just falls a little short.
It's seems a little ironic to me that, after everything I've said, the greatest compliment I can give to a show this well-written is a simple, crude, even vulgar statement, but I guess sometimes that's just the way things turn out. So here goes: The best thing about "Now and Then, Here and There" is that it just has balls. Balls of a kind that probably won't be seen in many new releases. When this show displays something that is hideous and potentially painful to watch, it isn't a pitiful attempt to get you to sympathize with the characters (although you will anyway). This show doesn't shy away from showing not only terrible actions, but the consequences of those actions--how they affect the people who are wronged, and how the wrongs accumulate to affect the world. It's the second half of the equation that many other series miss altogether, and this is an even more beautiful piece of work for it. And nor is it a sympathy-garnering gimmick that the cast is made up almost entirely of children (although horrible things that center around children are a very real thing in warfare). It's done because this world cries out to be interpreted with both the black-and-white ethical code of a child, and the more complex thoughts of an adult. Sometimes things are as simple as good and bad, but sometimes life just isn't that way.
To finish up, I'll comment briefly on the show's "message" by saying that its genius lies in the sheer number of ways you could interpret it. The series could be a woeful comment on our past, a salvo fired at our present, or a warning about our future. All are equally valid thoughts, but I think they're just stepping stones to reach the conclusion the writers really wanted you to reach: That time is irrelevant to those who commit atrocities for their own sake. This is just what people do, no matter when (or where) they are.
As much as I hate to echo what I feel is a cheesy saying, it really does seem like "they just don't make 'em like this anymore."
Modern anime seems to have taken a favor to 'eye candy'. 'Eye candy' is profitable after all. Huge budgets, gratuitous fanservice, and bright colors have surely made many rich men in Japan; else the industry wouldn't be drowning in such scum. Refreshingly, "Now and Then, Here and There" could be called the 'anti-eye candy'.
As such, NTHT is decidedly understated in its visual aspects. There are no panty shots here, nor are there glorious, shiny, ten minute battle sequences. NTHT achieves something much more elusive: powerful, compelling storytelling.
Foremost, this is a story about war. And there is nothing romanticized about
war to be found here. Themes such as rape and despotism permeate the story. Balancing this are brief, poignant moments of hope and innocence. The players in this drama are similarly human. Nearly every character is, to some extent, a shade of gray. Flawed and confused, the events taking place before them seem uncontrollable. The first instinct is to survive, no matter the cost. In the end, the story only offers vague optimism; it is up to the viewer as to what is taken from this beautiful story.
Almost everything that has happened until now are on my "please don't let THAT happen"-list. I hate everything that has happened; in fact, I hate the whole show. But the sheer emotional impact each episode leaves me with is enough for me to want more, hoping for the "please let it end well" or something similar. Each episode has its own denouement, only to be completed by the best ED I've ever heard: Reiko Yasuhara's "Lullaby...". It's a true tear-jerker, I must say.
Whether or not you like emotional animes, concentrating on the character's psychology rather than immediate character development, this is an anime that will
truly reach your heart, and open your eyes to what war really is, and that in a way that is sky-high in comparison to modern war documentaries "from the soldier's own eyes" and all of that. This pictures the soldiers, the victims, the perpertrators, the survivors.
Opening each and every episode with "Because ten billion years' time is so fragile, so ephemeral, it arouses such a bittersweet, almost heartbreaking fondness", it tells us simply why the characters continue to live, and exactly WHY they live.
The anime was done in 1999 and 2000. I must say: I can't tell the difference between usual stuff from the 2005-6 from this anime. The artwork is brilliant for its era, easily giving off its intended impact on the visual end.
Although the artwork is very good (note: VERY good), it is far from as good on the audio end. The sounds sound dated, and effects like gun fire and growling stomachs (yes, when you're hungry, y'know) sound like taken from the 80s western "Dirty Harry"-esque movies (except for the growling stomachs. That one sounds like a rubber band being stretched in a children's cartoon). But y'know what? The dialogue and the musical compositions are far from being dated, in my opinion. The voice acting is superb, again giving off the real essence of the situation at hand. This is coupled with a musical score that really knows when to leave you in utter silence, only to dwell upon the piece of emotional dilemma put before you.
As I am writing this review, I'm thinking "will this be enough?" and "will the reader get a good picture of what kind of anime this is?" and last, but most importantly if you ask me "Will the reader decide to watch this anime after reading this review?". I can simply answer to myself on the first one "No." Simple words cannot summarize this anime in whatever way it may be. Words can't carry on the dark and sad tones brought to you by the animes voice acting, art, sound effects and especially script. If you truly want to know what war does to everyone involved, then I ask of you to watch this anime. You will either hate it, or love it. I myself hate what is happening (only watched 11 episodes yet), but I hope for a good ending; an ending to the horrors I see here.
I am sure I've forgotten something vital in this review, but that'll have to do; no matter how much I polish this review, it'll still remain as an incomplete, imperfect representation of my thoughts about this anime.
Even though I say a lot of the anime is bad (sound, for example), the plotline, the characters, the voice acting and the variety of ways to make you say "Oh, no..." in a sad way truly makes up for it by far. This anime has earned my 10. The writers on this one aren't holding back on the punches at all. They're going all out, and you can really feel it. This is the kind of anime I love: the ones that give it all they've got.
Edit: Watched the last episodes now. I stand by my 10 with no regret whatsoever.
"War doesn't determine who's right, only who's left." -Bertrand Russel
A recurring fact throughout the anime.
“Because ten billion years’ time is so fragile, so ephemeral…it arouses such a bittersweet, almost heartbreaking fondness.”
“Wow,” I thought as I saw these words in the opening, “what sort of deep, philosophical questions is this show going to tackle?”
I was shocked to learn that the list included children being forced to fight, rape, kidnapping, starvation, and an insane dictator who wanted nothing more than war. After reading a few reviews, I was optimistic that I was really going to enjoy the show, especially since it covered such dark themes. Being “dark” isn’t always the easiest thing to pull off, and this show may be a
poster child of that very problem.
The show gives a small look into the life of Shu, the protagonist, from the very beginning, demonstrating what an optimistic, naïve young man he really is. When Shu finds himself swept into a world completely unlike his own, his optimism is viewed with scorn. Basically, the other characters tell him that the world is a giant pile of crap, so he may as well get used to it. Shu doesn’t waver, however, and remains a firm believer that things will ultimately work out for the better.
The show gets plenty of things right with this contrast, in which a central character resists the negativity that he is surrounded with, but it stumbles in other areas. Some of the characters, including the protagonist, are so stereotypical that it’s almost painful at times. Despite Shu’s resilience being an overarching theme, he is so immune to the effects of the depressing world he’s in that it really isn’t believable at times.
Other characters don’t fare much better, falling into a number of stereotypes that somewhat weaken the overall impact of the show. A surprisingly large chunk of the cast is killed off at the end, but I personally didn’t feel very emotionally attached to most of them. The deaths certainly helped to bring a sense of what the cost of war can be, but I felt that this issue was just evidence of an overarching problem that the entire show had.
The show tries to be something it isn’t. It tries to be “dark” and depressing, but it really isn’t. If the show wanted to shock us and really make us feel something, it should have been much more in the viewer’s face with all of the horrors that are committed. Now, I’m not advocating that things like rape be shown in detail on screen, but I felt like death and despair could have been shown on a much closer level.
Frankly, not all of this is the fault of the creators, but simply a lack of funding. This show had a very low budget, and it shows up in the animation, glaringly at times. The animation is, frankly, quite poor. The character designs are unimaginative, and aren’t drawn all that well either. Lots of shortcuts are used to make up for the low budget, and it does show from time to time. The most glaring example is during the pillaging of a village, where many are killed and most taken captive, was shown in a series of black and white stills, which I suppose was intended to be dramatic, but in my opinion, fell flat.
The voice acting wasn’t stellar either, and this was compounded by the fact that I was forced to watch much of the show in the English dub *shudder*. The English voice acting was really quite poor, though the Japanese was at least acceptable. The music was nothing to brag about either, and some of it sounds like it was composed in the 1980’s. The Opening was the most glaring offender of this. It was basically just background music and some credits. The ending theme was better, but not a whole lot.
However, despite the numerous flaws I just listed, this show somehow managed to get me emotionally involved by the end. The ending makes up for at least some of the shortcomings of the rest of the show, and nicely wraps up the overall message that the creators were going for. Has the world gone to crap? Yeah, maybe, but there’s always a sliver of hope that it can get better if there are still people willing to give it a shot.
This anime is certainly no masterpiece, and I almost quit watching it once or twice. I typically don’t finish anything I rate below a six, and this one hovered around that rating for most of the time. Ultimately, I came to realize that this isn’t the sort of show that one watches purely to be entertained. It comes with a deeper message, a message which doesn’t require a ton of digging to find.
I actually watched the whole thing in a day, so perhaps you could think of it as a really long movie instead of a short TV show. Just don’t go into this one expecting something outstanding. Expect to learn something about humanity, and perhaps yourself, and you’ll enjoy the time you spent watching this.
Want to watch a happy, feel-good story? This isn't it. Want to watch children getting murdered, kidnapped, and raped? No, you don't, but Now and Then is going to shove that harsh reality down your throat.
This show is immensely flow-inducing. Every episode, I arrived at the ED before I knew it. That's how immersed I became in the NTHT world.
This isn't a pretty world. The moral is anti-military, but the story is military horror. I almost threw up watching some of the scenes. NTHT invokes sympathy like no other show I've ever seen.
Now and Then is utterly and completely an anti-miliary tragedy. You will be
shocked to see people spared their lives after someone intervenes. Moreover, you will immersed into the story because, unlike other boy-meets-mysterious-girl animes, the situation is explained clearly after the second episode, letting us see what happens to the characters rather than wondering why the insane dicator has a need for this mysterious powerful girl.
This is by far one of the best shows I've seen. The animation is simplistic, but that doesn't detract from the deep, bone-chilling message that it delivers. I strongly suggest that any anime fan watch this series.
Akitarou Daichi: a man who has spent his entire directing career working primarily on shoujo manga adaptations, comedy anime, and countless other long running gag series. Many could be familiar with his work on the Kodomo no Omocha anime where his influence was hard to miss, as the comedy had been ramped up to absurd levels when compared to the source material. You see, comedy was kind of his thing. So, what in the hell compelled him to create such a grimdark reimagining of a Miyazaki work? That has got to be one of anime's greatest mysteries.
Now and Then, Here and There is arguably
one of the most cruel and unforgiving series ever animated—though, not one without hope—and yet it comes off the back of Jubei-Chan: Lovely Gantai no Himitsu, Daichi's lighthearted slapstick comedy from earlier that year. There couldn't possibly have been a sharper contrast... It stands out like a sore thumb even if you consider the projects that he's worked on since, being that he immediately went back to exclusively directing comedy and shoujo anime. This series is truly an anomaly, but what a blessing it is.
Right off the bat, we're treated to one of the strongest first episodes of any anime ever. It begins with somewhat of a bait-and-switch scenario with the first half feeling like the set-up for a standard shounen slice-of-life coming-of-age story; as it turns out, that doesn't end up being the case. However, just because there was a bait-and-switch tactic used, that doesn't mean all of this episode's first half was wasted just to trick the viewer. No: The creators did something impressive by simultaneously using that time to succinctly convey the show's themes in a nice, easy-to-understand package even before shit hits the fan. Those themes are best expressed through the actions and words of Shu, the protagonist, who already gets the opportunity to make it very clear what his core values are—to act purely based on intuition and to never lose hope, even when you've seemingly hit rock bottom. These are values that he firmly holds on to, even if the series tries its hardest to strip them away from him and crush them to pieces.
Shu, as a character, is the most telling sign that Now and Then, Here and There has taken cues from Hayao Miyazaki. He behaves much like those early Miyazaki protagonists, such as Conan from Future Boy Conan or Pazu from Laputa: Castle in the Sky. The three of them all share sizeable physical strength, an unyielding resolve, and a near-infinite amount of stamina. They're also all imbued with childlike wonder and a strong sense of righteousness, often choosing to live the life of a pacifist. Goku and Luffy are other well-known examples of characters who fit the same bill.
However, this series does something with Shu that the other works rarely do with their respective protagonists: It questions him. It questions his very nature and attempts to find out what exactly this kind of person's limits are in such a harsh world. How much shit can someone like this really take? Characters who act so irrationally are bound to learn their lesson one of these days—right? In this series where it feels like every character is calling him out for being wrong, where he must withstand grueling torture, and where hope is almost nowhere to be found...Shu refuses to crumble.
Now, having a character like this as the main protagonist can be a dangerous thing. In addition to potentially severing all suspension of disbelief, their morally fueled tirades run the risk of sounding preachy and triggering a few facepalms more than anything else. Shu isn't guilty of any of that, though, as his real strength lies in the way he influences the development of everyone else in the cast. Slowly but surely, he'll rub off on them in one way or another, leading them down the path of true self-empowerment in spite of their unfortunate circumstances. You also get the sense that this guy is totally genuine. He doesn't try to act cool nor does he try to seem clever and is generally a likable guy.
What's interesting is that, at one point, Shu does begin to question himself after he begins to empathize with the beliefs of a certain other person—beliefs which he normally would vehemently oppose. There's a brilliant scene in which he realizes that the world isn't so black and white, and a revelation like that is difficult for such a straightforward character to cope with. Protagonists from other series, such as the aforementioned Conan, don't often have to think too much about whether or not their beliefs are justified in every context. In Now and Then, Here and There, there isn't always an obvious or easy solution to problems.
Lala-Ru is the fascinating heroine of the series, and, much like Shu, she's derived from several Miyazaki tropes—at least as far as her role in the story goes. She possesses a mysterious pendant that the villains are after (likening her to Sheeta from Laputa), and she holds the key to solving the impending energy crisis of a post-apocalyptic world (reminiscent of Lana from Future Boy Conan). Having said that, her personality is wildly different, being more cold and distant; she had to have been among the first batch of "Rei clones" to emerge in anime's post-Evangelion landscape.
With her striking, alien-like design it's no surprise that she instantly catches Shu's interest. Having probably never met such an odd and quiet person, he's just as dumbfounded as he is captivated. If there's any scene that reminds the viewer just who exactly is supposed to be directing this series, it's this one. Shu's attempts to converse with her are actually really funny and genuinely endearing. The "dialogue" that then ensues is indicative of many things, including Shu's tendency to search for the good in everything, even in his admittedly boring small town. He awkwardly rambles through a list of the nice people who live there in an attempt to make a positive connection with her, but she remains fixated on the sunset. There's only one thing he says that gets a significant reaction from her, and it's for reasons that the viewer won't quite understand until further in the series. That's why this scene is definitely worth a re-watch once you've finished the entire show for that extra emotional impact.
Because Lala-Ru speaks so little, she commands your full attention any time she does. You're bound to find yourself hanging on her every word, since it's clear she has countless invaluable things to say—yet, you'll hear only a fraction. And, though she reveals just a small sampling of what she's experienced through her words—there aren't any lengthy flashbacks to fill in the unimportant details—they're so sharp and so direct that you understand exactly how she's been molded into her current self. After years of enduring various forms of abuse and witnessing the evils of mankind, she's been left in a near-perpetual state of apathy, though she hasn't quite lost her ego or the desire to go on living just yet. The beauty of her arc is that while she exudes an aura of wisdom far beyond the comprehension of Shu or of any other character in the story, she nevertheless manages to learn something important from them: to have just a little more faith in humanity.
Kaori Nazuka's performance as Lala-Ru is exceptional (you may know her as Eureka from Eureka Seven or as Subarau from .hack//Sign). It's essentially her take on the "Rei voice," but with her own unique spin on it. It's soft and whispery but at the same time piercing and delivered with confidence, like an icy wind.
Meanwhile, Shu is played by Akemi Okamura (known for her role in One Piece...as Nami, rather than Luffy as you might expect). Shu really wouldn't be the same without her voice, as she adds a ton of personality to his character that otherwise wouldn't be there in the script alone. Thanks to her voice, you totally buy everything that comes out of Shu's mouth—whether he's trying his hardest to earnestly communicate with others, excitedly going off on tangents, angry to the point of shouting, or, most impressive, when he's speaking somberly from an occasional state of weakness; you buy it all.
Now and Then, Here and There tells a story with many ideas and plot threads but in a relatively straightforward, unconfusing way. In fact, it's so incredibly easy to watch that it feels more like one giant film rather than a series, so marathoning it in one day is no problem at all. This is not a mind puzzle filled with head-scratching symbolism that requires hours of dissecting in order to understand. Its major themes should be pretty clear to the average viewer, though that's not to say it doesn't offer anything for those willing to pay closer attention.
For example, the most significant object in the entire anime is actually not Lala-Ru's McGuffin pendant, but rather an ordinary wooden stick picked up by Shu in the first episode. Simple but sturdy, this stick serves both as a pacifistic weapon and as a metaphoric gauge of sorts which reflects the level of Shu's resolve throughout the series. The stick struggles to stay whole as it gets cut, scuffed, tossed aside, shot, beaten, and battered—All the while, its physical state parallels Shu's mental composure. Never is this more apparent than in the final episode when he finally snaps in a rare fit of rage. Moreover, at his lowest points Shu will be left without his stick completely. It's at these times when it becomes the responsibility of those characters whom he's inspired to return it to him, subsequently renewing his resolve and giving him the ability to act upon his will once more. For the characters who do this, it represents the moments of their arcs in which they finally concede to Shu's philosophy.
Now, as sad as this series can be, it's never cheap. The trauma that's inflicted upon its characters is never for the sake of itself or for a desperate appeal to emotions. Each event, sad or otherwise, occurs to serve a purpose in the narrative. As such, the story doesn't rely on shocking or unconvincing plot twists to keep you engaged; you'll be engrossed well enough by virtue of the strong character dynamics.
For instance, one of the core foundations of the narrative is the relation between Shu and the main antagonist, King Hamdo. If Shu is the epitome of childlike optimism and resilience, Hamdo is conversely the epitome of childish fear and fragility. This paranoid bastard hasn't got a single good thing going for him, being that he's an utterly detestable amalgamation of every possible human flaw. There's no hiding the fact that he's a piece of shit, so right from his introduction—and all the way through to the end—he's presented as nothing other than an evil dictator, though not in the classic sense of the term; he's more of a selfish wimp than any kind of conniving villain, proven to be cripplingly weak and scared for his life in dire situations. Having said that, he does nothing to garner your sympathy, and there's no redemption waiting for him at any point—because frankly, he doesn't deserve it.
You have to wonder, then, how a scumbag like him ever got so much power and amassed such a loyal following in the first place (meant as a satire of real life, perhaps?). One such follower is Abelia, Hamdo's right-hand woman. You kind of feel for her when you see how horribly she's treated by him and when you realize that despite all of that, she's probably using his company as an emotional crutch and desperately clinging to his sparse words of praise; it's got to suck when that's the only kind of love you know.
Indeed, Hamdo's comically bizarre existence in this otherwise bleak setting is as intriguingly out of place as Shu's, but that's perfectly fine, as he fills a necessary role in the story as a symbol of absolute despair. Next to Shu's boundless positivity, the two forces exist so that other, more dynamic characters can bounce off of them in something of a grand-scale chemical reaction. And, since there's really no personal conflict between the two of them solely as characters, their true conflict is instead one of opposing mindsets and the most disparate extremes of humanity.
On the other hand, Nabuca is actually a good-hearted character, but, unlike with Shu, he unfortunately lacks the courage to challenge the corrupt authority. Therefore, he sticks to a safer, more logical approach when it comes to finding happiness, even if said approach jeopardizes his moral integrity. His inclusion in the story expands upon the themes introduced in the first episode, where he continues as the symbolic stand-in for Oda, Shu's kendo rival. Much like Oda, Nabuca can't quite understand Shu's reckless, instinctual behavior.
The great thing about Nabuca is that, unlike many characters of his type, he doesn't try to be "edgy," for lack of a better term. You won't see him smirking like an idiot when he does objectionable things nor will you see him excited to kill anyone (funnily enough, those traits are relegated to another character, Tabool), because he's actually pretty level-headed and the things he's forced to do clearly affect him quite a bit. He comes across as being very human and relatable, with realistic flaws. You want to root for the guy, and you hope that Shu can eventually help him realize the errors of his ways. Many of their interactions stand out as being major highlights of the series, especially one particularly emotional scene during the show's halfway mark in which Nabuca finally shows mutual respect towards Shu in a singular act of kindness.
The visual direction of Now and Then, Here and There is nothing short of fantastic. It's just as immersive and striking as anything else in the series, being both desolate and beautiful. When the sun is out the lighting becomes harsh and overexposed, creating equally harsh shadows. You really get the surreal feeling that this future could just as easily be an entirely different world, as it appears to be nothing but miles and miles of dry stone with very few signs of life—though, the creatures that do appear really add to the setting, and are seemingly pulled straight out of a Star Wars movie. During the many recurring sunsets the majority of the frame becomes engulfed by the dauntingly large sun (which appears to have drastically grown in size over the years). Furthermore, there are numerous fantastically directed action sequences, including one in the second episode wherein stark silhouettes are laid against a vast industrial backdrop. The color design is always on point, too: Darker scenes are often punctuated with brighter glowing shapes, usually of deep red colors, but there are also softer, blue-lit scenes featuring either the full moon or sweeping washes of white light. Each of these two visual styles wholly compliments their scenes' respective moods, be they dramatic or more contemplative.
The characters, oddly, look sort of like plastic figurines. Rounded and smooth with proportions that are slightly on the smaller side, they're also low in detail and feature large, expressive faces—a trait that only helps to convey emotion. In this regard, the characters are once again reminiscent of those from Miyazaki works. While the actual animation isn't always outstanding, it does always serve its purpose. There are never any badly drawn faces lingering on the screen for long periods or time, nor are there any movements that are choppy beyond excuse; it looks pretty nice most of the time, and even at its lowest the animation is merely serviceable, not terrible. However, even in those cases, the solid shot compositions more than make up for things; scenes with barely any motion at all—ones comprised of multiple static shots—can still be stunning, thanks in part to some beautifully painted backgrounds. Regardless, there are times when the animation is legitimately impressive—the sand creature from episode eight and the entire climax of the final episode come to mind, as well as each instance of Lala-Ru's water powers being unleashed. It feels like the creators made use of limited resources (time, money, or otherwise) to make the best possible output, and they did so with excellence.
The soundtrack for Now and Then, Here and There is fucking great. It's composed by Taku Iwasaki, the same person who went on to create the equally impressive Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann soundtrack. The music ranges from smooth, weeping strings to glitchy, claustrophobic electronica and everything in between. Some tracks outright sound like death itself (namely "The Bottom"), with its dark droning synths and jazzy piano runs. Other similar tracks feature eerie strings layered over the synths alongside repeated heavy piano tones or dissonant arpeggiated bells. Then there are more up-beat tracks, some of which are hectic and paranoia-inducing, while others are joyful or inspiring. There's an extremely varied set of tracks here, all of which accompany the visuals perfectly.
However, the series' main theme (or "Standing in the Sunset Glow" as it's called) is the real star of the show, and it's absolutely gorgeous—just unbelievably beautiful, consisting of a sorrowful but uplifting melody initially performed by only a string section. It's played in just about every episode at just the right moments, but the track only gets to be heard with full instrumentation in the final episode—as if it had been teasing you the entire time. Since you'd have already heard it many times in its stripped-down form by that point, you'll have an unexpectedly strong connection with it once you do hear its full rendition—not to mention, the events taking place are emotional enough on their own. In fact, not very much is said during this final episode, and you're not beaten over the head with the reasons for why characters are doing what they're doing—which is true for other points in the series, as well. That's masterful directing, where the visuals and the music can say everything that needs to be said.
Of all the characters, Sara is perhaps the one who's put through the most shit—more than Shu, even. She's the only character besides him to be brought to the barren world of the future and is vastly unequipped for her rough stay in comparison. It's very interesting to see how these two people wind up reacting to the same environment in different ways: Shu incessantly pushes forward, while Sara only loses steam after her luck continues to plummet. To her credit, though, she does show moments of strength—one such example being her beautifully animated escape scene—but she never seems to catch a break. Over the course of the series, Sara spirals deeper and deeper into depression, to the point where she can barely find value in her own life anymore.
Whereas Shu's attempts to persuade Nabuca deal with how one should live according to their heart, his attempts to persuade Sara deal with regaining one's desire to live at all. It proves to be the more difficult task for him, being that he's consistently had trouble putting his beliefs into words throughout the whole series; from his perspective, the importance of living is such an inherent truth that he's never taken the time to piece together why. How, then, could he possibly convince someone else that life is worth living when that person only seems to experience misery? Sara's character arc is extremely dynamic, and it concludes in a satisfying way which inevitably demonstrates—through example—what Shu couldn't seem to express through his words alone. Additionally, Sara choosing not to succumb needlessly to any feelings of revenge after all is said and done is admirable and quite moving. Just episodes before, she had lost control of herself just at the sight of a person whom she had blamed for her suffering.
Ultimately, all of the series' major characters are opposites of Shu in one way or another: Lala-Ru is the detached cynicism to his overwhelming optimism, Nabuca is the cold logic to his burning emotion, Sara is the soul-crushing emptiness to his undying will to live, and Hamdo is the selfish greed to his selfless compassion. And all of them, barring Hamdo, are made better people by the end of the story through their time spent with Shu. He can then feel satisfaction, knowing that his beliefs are true and that great things can indeed happen if you just keep your head up—and so long as you still choose to live.
So, why did Akitarou Daichi never return to this style of anime? Perhaps he felt that he had done all he wanted with more serious territory, or it could be that he simply had enough of it and felt more at home doing comedy. After all, that seems to be his forte. And sure, maybe some of the credit for the way this series turned out really lies with the other staff members who were involved. Whatever the case may be, Daichi's sole endeavor of this kind is more than satisfying and is a masterpiece all the same.
We know when immediately finish an anime, and you just don't know what to do for a while? That will happen after you finish this show and try to process what you've seen onscreen.
The Short Version:
(+) Story is very gripping beyond episode three.
(+) Great Villain
(+) Voice acting is on point.
(-) The MC doesn't development in any way.
(-) Some of the content is hard to stomach. (aka, show is kind of fucked up.)
The Story (8/10): The story starts off pretty simple; boy meets girl, girl needs help for guy. Then, out of nowhere, massive snake mechs come out, and after a small fight against them, the
MC and the girl are transported to a different world where everyone is now out to kill or capture the MC and do God knows what to the girl he's helping. The theme's in the show are more or less an exploration of a more prominent theme. War, and what happens when a genocidal regime is takes place at the same time. The themes that this show touches on are: Rape, child soldiers, and mass murder, so this show isn't exactly for the faint of heart.
The show manages to puts all these points across in such a great way, and that's because it knows how to pace itself. The show has moments of such intensity that are followed by slower sections that give you time to think about what you just saw and ask yourself, "Why the fuck is this happening?" It also is rather indirect with some of it's themes; more slipping them under your nose rather than ramming them down your throat, causing you to almost miss it, but then you realize what has happened and you feel an overwhelming sense of dread, to the point where you wish you had missed it. The ending of the show left me feeling kind of hollow, not in the sense that nothing was resolved, or the show just ended with all these loose ends all over the place. It finished, I understood where all of the characters were and why they were there, it's just that I was left with a feeling of emptiness. It's the same feeling I got when I finished shows like, Clannad Afterstory, Code Geass, and Madoka Magica. Just the lingering question of, "What do I do next?"
The Characters (9/10): The characters, apart from one or two, are really interesting once you meet them, varying from exceptionally damaged to utterly insane. Like with previous reviews I'll quickly go over who are the main characters.
Shuuzou "Shu" Matsutani; Hero of the story and wielder of the strongest plank of wood I've ever seen. Out of the characters he's the one I like the least because despite experiencing all of the shit this show throws at him. His character doesn't change in the slightest, which makes his character both static and boring.
Lala-Ru: Water Bender and 'Ice-queen' character of the show. Lala is the person or thing, depending on how you look at it, holding this entire story up because if there wasn't Lala, then there wouldn't be a story.
Nabuca: Child soldier and the one with the biggest moral dilemma. Nabuca very much appears as a cut-and-dry filling in the 'Character-whose-an-asshole-but-will-probably-help-the-MC-at-some-point' role, but in truth he is much deeper than that. Again he has moral dilemma which is wanting to end the war and go home, but is forced to do things that would test anyone's mental state, thus tearing him apart inside.
Sara Ringwalt: Doppelganger to Lala and the most damaged character both physically and mentally. Sara is definitely, as I just said, the most damaged character in the show; seriously the shit she goes through I wouldn't blame her if she committed suicide at some point. (I won't tell you what since that would be spoilers, but you'll know what I mean when you see it.)
The only other character of note is the villain, people say (normally in movies) the villain can make or break a show, but don't worry, the villain for this show is done so well that once you hear his voice, before you even see the dude, you know that he's not all there up top. That and his very existence makes me sick to my stomach.
The Art & Sound (7/10) & (8/10): I wasn't watching anime when this show came out so I'll be comparing it to the only other anime I've watched from around the same period. It's pretty much the same as Evangelion without the major budget skimping in the later episodes, and it still baffles me the fact that everything you see is drawn.
The Sound however is good, all voice acting is up to today's standard, but the villains voice. As I said in the character section, the dude's voice alone lets you know what type of character this guy is. (I imagine the voice actor went through a similar process that Heath Ledger went through to play the Joker.) The OP wasn't anything special, but the ED was something...different. I don't know exactly how to explain it it's just...good, better than a lot of other ED's I've heard.
What do you think of this anime?
If I saw this anime sitting is the DVD of my local JB HiFi I would buy it in a second, because I want this show sitting in collection. Like right now.
Would you recommend this anime?
Yes. If you can handle dark themes, and some truly fucked up shit happening to child, yeah go ahead and watch this show. If you can't handle something like children killing other children, stay the hell away.
Now and Then, Here and There is said to be a masterpiece, but is it? I was curious to find out without prejudice. I watched the entire series quickly thinking I would love it and its characters. The first episode made this series look cool, but then it went from bad to worse. Heck, its title is unmemorable with no other associations.
The main character is pretty much a pinball protagonist. He starts the plot by talking to a blue-eyed, blue-haired plot-device girl (a complete stranger), and failing to rescue her when she is assaulted by mechanical snakes, which take both of them to a wretched
hive. The MC is beaten, forced to join the bad guy's army, and bounced around like a pinball.
The "story" is very slow-paced, and isn't phenomenal at all. You won't be looking forward to what happens next at all. Don't expect anything special; you'll definitely find a similar, better-told story to NTHT's somewhere else. Plus at the end, where the plot-device girl uses her water powers to flood the bad guy's castle, destroying it without any help from the MC.
If it's that easy, then this series could have been over in two seconds. Especially if no one ever says there's any limitation to this girl flooding the castle (or anyone shooting the bad guy, for that matter.) Hell, somepony even decides to kill him, and that says something. Take the MC out of NTHT and the series would still end with the destruction of Hellywood by its flooding from the blue girl.
I couldn't stand the main character. In addition to being a pinball protagonist, he would just make things worse when he tried to do anything. He also never acts traumatized or anything even if hung over a tall building. (The way he spoke reminded me of the far superior Kamina from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.) While NTHT's protagonist attempts plenty of heroic stuff, his actions have little to no effect on the story or its "resolution."
Then there's this really annoying yellow-haired girl. Worse than - say, Shinji Ikari (At
least he kicked butt AND got rescued from the Scrappy heap), Mikoto Utsugi (she yells a lot in GaoGaiGar but at least supports the heroes) and Misuzu Kamio (she's really whiny and does nothing) COMBINED. She is totally paranoid (just like the bad guy) never stops whining. Insecurity is her only emotion. Sure she's a rape victim, but not even a shell-shocked veteran would whine as much as her. And the series ends with her willingly staying in the crapsack world, where she can continue to be hunted down and eventually killed.
As for the blue-haired plot-device girl, she has no personality or emotions, and is very selfish. Honestly, she's nothing more than a watered-down (no pun) version of Rei Ayanami (who at least kicked butt.) Then after the Big Bad is defeated, she's disposed of like used tissue.
The characters are absolutely generic and forgettable. Watch something far more epic (like Fullmetal Alchemist and Brotherhood) after the final credits roll and they'll fade from the mind. I didn't name any of NTHT's characters because that's how memorable they are. Plus they couldn't influence anything by talking without action.
The character designs were so generic (and there's so little difference in their faces) that I had some trouble telling the child soldiers apart. It would also have been impossible if the show was in black and white. Even the action scenes could have easily been in any anime and I wouldn't bat an eye. If I didn't notice the title of this series, I'd have no idea which one it was.
As mentioned above, I could never stand the yellow-haired girl's voice. The rest of the voice acting is not great, but not horrible. As for the music, there are no stand-out or memorable tracks, and it simply blends into the background.
This was a bad series which should have been over before the first episode. There isn't as much action as - say, the far superior Avatar: The Last Airbender (not even in the climax), and the action sequences aren't that great. If anything, they make things worse. They also drag on with still poses and slow motion. "This isn't an action show." Yeah, but it would have been far more interesting to follow an MC who actually influences things! As I sat through NTHT with high expectations, I had a countdown for how many episodes I had left. And you know you're watching a terrible show when this happens. There were no awesome moments, either.
NTHT gets a 1/10. It sucks, it stinks, it's a terrible series, and I don't like it! It even ends abruptly; there's no epilogue or anything. The only thing that was resolved is the death of the Big Bad, and there isn't even a proper denouement. The final shot made me feel like the MC REALLY should have stayed home and not talked to that blue-haired walking plot device. *I Avada Kedavra the show* Now go watch Puss in Boots (2011) instead; that animated action-comedy movie has a rewarding storyline and an epic main character you DON'T want to strangle.