In the near future, a violent battle takes place between the dimension La'cryma (protector of humanity) and the dimension Shangri-La, bent on the annihilation of all space-time. A group known as the Dragon Calvary is dispatched through space and time, searching for the only thing that can stop the invasion: the Dragon's Torque.
In the present, twelve-year old Haruka and her friend Yuu, are contemplating running away from home when they meet a member of the Dragon Calvary named Karasu (Crow). He believes that Haruka possesses the Dragon's Torque and claims to be Yuu from fifteen years in the future...
After completing Noein, I was left with the sensation you rarely get after finishing a series or movie where you personally think almost every little thing was done just right. There's very little else to say to try and express my tremendous respect and appreciation for this series. I personally believe it was orchestrated magnificently and its message carried across powerfully.
Most of all, what I truly respected in this series was its character-driven action, as opposed to plot-driven action. The characters were so fleshed out and their relationships and backgrounds so completely delved into, I had grown to feel like they were real people I
knew. This was further effective in the juxtaposition that was utilized between future and present selves of these characters (which I will refrain from spoiling further about). The development of relationships between and of the numerous characters in this series, Yuu most of all, was unimaginably compelling and convincing, giving the series an overall true feeling of completion and purpose.
Haruka, most of all, pulled me into the series more and more with the further displays of her distinctive features. Having the ferocity and absolute concern of Hermione from Harry Potter, and the curiosity and strength of Lyra of The Golden Compass, the pleasant down-to-earth character of Haruka was one that you would simply be honored to be friends with. Despite her rough upbringing, her inner strength and selflessness were clear and well-presented in a realistic manner. Yuu, too, was a realistic character suffering from a harsh upbringing and from the effects of strained familial relationships. The relationship found between Yuu and Haruka, and their development, is what I truly believe to be the defining point of this series.
The story, too, gives this series what I believe its distinctness and genius. Carrying across a story filled with Quantum Mechanics, and a great deal of everyday storytelling in a little town in this mix, I believe that the timespaces and parallel universes shown in this series to be an absolutely interesting and entertaining interpretation of Quantum Physics and many of its theories. The unique settings and conflicts only help to improve upon this story.
The only problem I had with the story was the sometimes slow pace of it in the middle of the series. Whereas a lot of information and details given were important, I believed that if I wasn't motivated enough to finish the series, I might have stopped just because of that slowness.
In terms of art and sound, I believe that Noein also delivers. The art was particularly special (even though there were some parts I believe the CGI to be sort of distracting) with its mix of CGI and line art, and the classical music used was clearly appropriate.
Overall, this was one of the most enjoyable, if not the most, anime series I've ever watched. If given the opportunity to watch this series, I suggest and strongly recommend to not let it pass.
Overall, I thought this anime was really good. It's fairly hard (for me anyway) to find an anime I really like, to where I start watching the first ep, and before I know it the suns rising and I just finished the last ep. This anime was one of the few. It's very hard to try and review this anime and not spill out any spoilers, but I will.
Story - 8
I found the story in Noein to be very entertaining, maybe thats because I just love the concept of separate dimensions, different futures with time, and quantum theories in general. This anime revolves a lot
around that, and it does it quite well.
Art - 7
The art style is fairly nice, at first its kind of like "man, this stuff looks quite sloppy" but once you learn the purpose of the drawing style you will understand. I found some of the house models to be a bit too FMVish at times, but they did blend in really well.
Sound - 9
The soundtrack of Noein is really good. The music goes in well with whats going on screen, and it blends into the anime really well. Sound effects weren't bad, and voices weren't too low, just right.
Character - 10
Character development in Noein is really good, in order not to spoil a single thing, thats all I can really say.
Enjoyment - 10
Noein really had me sucked in the entire series, and I really feel bad for the people who watched this anime weekly. If you're a sci-fi lover who likes different time-space dimensions chances are you'll love Noein. If you're someone who likes good action with a good storyline to support it, chances are you'll love Noein. If you're someone who likes character growth and watching characters change due to the storyline, chances are you'll like Noein.
Overall I slap a 9 onto this anime. It has its moments, and its definitely worth a look into if you fit into any of the categories above.
I briefly considered starting this review by summarizing the show's plot, but it's my personal opinion that Noein should win an award for “hardest plot to summarize,” so at the risk of making an idiot of myself, I decided against it. I then considered starting by describing the concept in popular science that is behind Noein's plot, but I don't think I can really pull off the whole “Bill Nye the Science Guy” bit. He does it better. So I'll just get right down to brass tacks, and spare myself some embarrassment.
Noein definitely has a unique look to it, albeit one that's fraught with inconsistency.
The character designs are far from typical, being thinner and slightly more realistically proportioned than the norm. Although it eventually becomes clear that action was not intended to be the core of the series, the animation does have some strong moments, and, particularly in the first half, there's no shortage of creative futuristic combat. It's also a CGI-heavy show, with the invading ships from Shangri-La as well as many of the backgrounds being the most noticeable examples. The CGI looks good in general, but there are some painful hiccups. In particular, the model for Haruka's house sticks out like a sore thumb. In fact, it's pretty clear that visual quality control is a big issue across the board for Noein—when everything's working and the show is at its best, it looks fantastic, but the art quality varies on an almost minute-to-minute basis, and at its worst, it looks absolutely dreadful. When I think of the show's lovely backgrounds and its unusual use of deep, electric reds and blues in its color palette, I want to sing its praises...but then I recall a couple of action sequences that are reduced to stuttering gray messes by lapses in art and animation, and a multitude of moments where the character designs fall noticeably in quality, and it makes me think twice.
The music is acceptable, though lacking finesse. Noein's plot is an amalgamation of everyday content (like going to school and messing around with friends) and epic sci-fi content (like preventing the universe from disappearing), and the soundtrack strains to accommodate both of these aspects. The former is usually accompanied by tracks in which a recorder is used as the lead instrument, providing a distinctly childish and carefree sound that works well in this context. The more serious content is normally paired with fast-paced orchestral songs and chanted vocals. Both sides of the soundtrack are guilty of going a little over the top at times, and none of the individual songs are particularly memorable, but within the show the score suffices to build the mood.
When it comes to audio track language, I'd choose whatever your preference is, as they're both more than passable. The English dub contains a nice array of veteran voice actors. Crispin Freeman in particular sounds right at home as the haunted Karasu, his voice carrying his trademark dark edge of emotion and power, but that's not to leave some others out—Richard Epcar lends a genuinely creepy touch to Noein's booming, disembodied voice, and Melissa Fahn plays Haruka with conviction. Some secondary characters are not handled quite as well, with some unnatural sounding line deliveries being present. The dub's script also inexplicably changes a supporting cast member's gender from male to female, though that's more of a head-scratcher than a genuine problem. Overall, it's a very serviceable dub. The Japanese audio doesn't have a single hiccup that I can note, and if forced to choose at gunpoint I'd probably say that it's the better track, but it's a close enough race that you should be fine whether you go with the sub or the dub.
Despite all of the elements of sci-fi and action, it's evident that character drama is a little closer to the heart of the series. The main cast consists of Haruka, Yuu, and Karasu (who is Yuu, fifteen years in the future). Haruka is the kind of protagonist that's easy to get behind—kind, level-headed, trustworthy and above all, balanced, not leaning towards any extreme. She's a pretty open book, not written with a whole lot of complexity, but she projects enough likeability and believability to scrape by with a pass from me. The same can't be said of the male lead, Yuu, who is neither complexly written nor likeable. He spends most of the series switching schizophrenically between impotently wallowing in self-pity, and courageously risking his life to try to protect Haruka, and his changes in mood aren't very tactful—you never really know if the Yuu onscreen is the brave, devoted Yuu or the woe-is-me Yuu. Even worse, we don't know anything about his motivation for going to such great lengths to protect Haruka. A few flashbacks show that the two were childhood friends, but it's not elaborated on to any significant degree; the show presents their history in the visual equivalent of about three sentences, which makes it tough to give them a lot of thought as a couple, much less the couple that is supposed to be the centerpiece of the show.
Much to its detriment, Noein also has a colossal number of supporting characters. It has a habit of casting one of them into the spotlight for a portion of an episode, then discarding them and never mentioning them or the importance of their actions again. The show struggles to explain even the basic motivations of some of the characters—we never do learn what exactly drives antagonist Atori's deep hatred of Karasu, why the kids' elementary school teacher is cool with their dangerous encounters with futuristic beings, or the purpose of the awkwardly introduced love triangle between three members of the Dragon Cavalry. Most of these characters' pasts and personalities ultimately end up being explained away with a brief flashback detailing a traumatic moment in their lives, and there's simply no excuse for that. The cast could have been halved, and not only would the series not lose anything, it would probably be better off.
The story, while good on paper, ends up dragging on, and on, and on. I watched intently, but to be honest, that was completely unwarranted; I could probably have slept through a third of the series and still understood the overarching plot, which says a lot about the lack of stringency in the writing. Much as with the characters, the sheer number of subplots that have, at best, a tenuous connection to the story is rather staggering. The show is dangerously lacking in focus, and to quantify that statement a little, I'll point out that Noein contains no less than two doomsday plots and four love stories, which are all occurring simultaneously in three different dimensions. Sadly, all of those dimensions feel like empty stages rather than worlds worth caring about. In theory, it could be done, but it's a tall order that the writers here just couldn't fill, and Noein all but implodes under the workload. The story still has enough interesting content and continuity to be deemed acceptable, but the way that it's organized and presented is decidedly less than good. Perhaps the worst side effect of this is that some great ideas end up getting buried. I think that a character drama in which children encounter their future selves is a superb concept, but many of the cast's “future selves” end up being throwaways—one small aspect of a massive conglomeration of plots.
To give credit where it's due, I actually think that, taken as a whole, Noein is a little bit closer to succeeding than it is to completely failing, and given the amount of elements that it tries to patch together, that's a pretty big compliment. By all indications, Noein should be an utter disaster, but it isn't. It's just not everything that it could have been. In addition, the show feels genuine, and while that's a pretty vague thing to say, I have to imagine that it counts for something. Though it doesn't stand up very well to close inspection, Noein has real heart, a lot of outward likeability, and a lot of ambition. It might be a bit of a mess, but it's definitely not lacking in creativity or artistic vision, and it has at least a couple of powerful moments. So if any aspect of the show interests you, I'd give it the benefit of the doubt and try out a couple of episodes. If you end up disliking it, at least you'll have satisfied your curiosity, and there's always the chance you might get more out of it than I did.
Just like most anime series with a weird concept, this anime is very confusing to begin with. It starts of with an amazing action-sequence, in some weird world, and then it goes to the sort of world we are all familiar with, which is where most of the story takes place.
The story follows a group kids and also some adults, which are related to those kids in some way. The characters of the story are pretty stale with only a few decent ones however the main bad point is how easily the character's personalities change. There isn't much that is clearly explained and it isn't
until a couple episodes into this series that anyone watching this will have some idea. The pace that the story develops is fairly slow, for a series with only 23 episodes and it would have been better if it developed faster.
Just like the concept for this show's plot, the animation concept is pretty weird and wonderful as it mixes CG with drawn characters. It's odd how so much detail is put into the CG but the characters have the "Fooly Cooly" look, which doesn't suit. Overall the animation is great however a lot of corners were cut, in the character designs, especially during the action sequences.
The music for the show is fairly decent with an okay amount of symphonic tunes, unlike in some great anime series with music that you simple can't forget, Noein doesn't really have memorable tunes. Although during the action sequences the music does make it all more exciting to watch, with the help of the incredible Sound FX.
Overall this is a steadily paced anime with a confusing yet interesting plot about infinite futures, time spaces and quantum physics however the main emphasis of the story is to do with friendship and bonds. The show did do well in gaining some momentum, halfway into the series but it didn't do much with that, which led to a not so great ending. There could have been ways to make the show end better but the show was forced to end in an unrealistic and lacklustre way. So this anime is meant for the open-minded anime fan.
Anime has some incredible cities. Some marvels are located not in front of our faces, but under our feet. These 10 underground anime cities may have their reasons for heading into the earth, but they're stilll pretty impressive to behold.