Friday, February 15, 2002

Now and Then, Here and There

Genre: Action / Drama
Parental Guidance Recommended
1999 Akitaro Daichi, WOWOW, AIC, PIONEER LDC, Studio A.P.P.P.

Now and Then, Here and There DVDs
Everything Now and Then, Here and There

Cover Description:
Dragged through a time warp by a giant machine, Shu is thrust into a hellish future just as it explodes into war! He is caught in the carnage as a tyrant unleashes deadly force against a rebel army. But Shu is not alone. he is surrounded by courageous soldiers, a battalion of enslaved children, and enigmatic wanderers, each with their own fascinating story. Together, they face the ultimate challenge of survival in a world gone mad!

(13 episodes)

Perhaps the Loneliest Anime I've Ever Seen >>> by Shunichi Sakurai (02.15.20)
Bit of a shocking and depressing one, this might be. Compared to the laugh-a-minute mold of AIC/Pioneer's popular titles (Tenchi Muyo, Dual and El-Hazard), the under promoted Now and Then, Here and There (N&TH&T) is somber and gritty anime fare.

The art and character designs are great and quite stylized, greatly adding to the symbolism effect. The Heliwood fortress is very sinister and foreboding in the desert landscape (not to mention run-down). All the characters' details are appropriately done. Even Lala-ru's startlingly large, blank eyes lend themselves to explaining her character.

The simple plot goes like this: Shuzo Matsutani is a simple boy thrown into a strange Earth when he meets the mysterious blue girl Lala-ru. In this desert, she is pursued by the emperor Hamdo and his second-in-command Abelia. Hamdo wants Lala-ru to restore the desert world to life by making her summon water. Without spoiling anything else for you, Shu encounters soldiers roughly his age, beatings and frequent brushes with death simply trying to hold on to his hopes and morals...and to attempt saving Lala-ru.

This might not sound like much, but the creators maximized the trauma factor of this plot. Kids turned into soldiers are forced to kill, pilfer and kidnap other kids from other villages. Everyone else has survival as top priority, without any concern for others' rights. All who escape are tortured or killed immediately. It's almost as if the Heliwood soldier kids aren't human at all.

I have to warn you that watching all this happen onscreen may seem torturous and shocking at first, but finish the entire 13-episode run and things do change bit by bit.

The characters are simply very memorable. Shu is the hardest suffering in the series but remains the eternal optimist. Nabuca is Shu's exact opposite: a cynical survivor driven only by the hope of going back home someday. Hamdo is a megalomaniac who relies on Abelia for sanity, companionship and the chain of command. You can see and hear the constant fearful insecurity in his life as emperor, always frightened that somehow someone else might just kill him off. The American girl Sala, a lost soul like Shu, is forced into all her suffering and confusion simply because of her superficial resemblance to Lala-ru. Lala-ru herself is an aloof cynic, refusing to trust in people who have time and again simply used her for her power over water.

Adding to the somber mix is the moody sound. The opening and ending credits fit perfectly with the nature of the story and serve to heighten the emptiness and despair.

I have no idea why AIC/Pioneer decided to let this one slip by quietly when it's the best anime they have. Perhaps they limited themselves with the release of all their jovial franchises that they had such a debacle over Now and Then, Here and There. Before you sneer at this title and its weird content, I suggest you finish the entire run of N&TH&T and wait for the final cathartic conclusion. It will be well worth the trauma you watched through. Great, great anime.

Individual Rating: Art: 9; Story & Plot: 10; Characters: 10; Sounds: 10

I hated it... >>> by MarkPoa (04.08.2003)
I watched Now and Then, Here and There on cable years ago. Until now, I still remember how much I hated it.

I hated it because it featured a story so engrossing that I had to know what happened episode after episode. I remember having to set the timer to tape every show because I had classes during that time and ached when I had to wait until the weekend to watch the tape.

I hated it because it showed war in all its ugliness and the brutality it can inflict on the innocent. The show did not skimp on the details. Children could be killed, raped, and wrenched away from their peaceful lives by the cruel machinations of war.

I hated it because, despite the setting, it had the ability to show moments of peace and beauty. It was there in the opening sequences where we see what could have been for the characters if there was no war. It was there in the short moments where the children could play and laugh between attacks.

I hated it because it featured characters so real, I had to fight back tears when I saw them get hurt.

I hated its main character because he could still remain optimistic in the face of overwhelming tragedy around him. I hated his optimism because I'm not sure I could have done what he did.

I hated how the story ended because I would have preferred to make a particular spineless demented megalomaniac suffer more. Hell of a lot more for all the grief he caused in the show.

I hated this show because, up to now, it still makes me think.

Individual Rating: Art: 8; Story & Plot: 10; Characters: 10; Sounds: 9

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