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Noein – And so we reach the end

I feel like I’ve been watching Noein for years now and writing this entry is daunting. Complex multi dimensional time travel, heart breaking tragedy and gut wrenching friendships. Here is a series bursting with ideas and without breaking into an essay length review, it’s hard to do justice to the sheer narrative majesty of Noein.

I marathoned the last 6 episodes tonight and I’m now lulled somewhere between admiration and confusion. There is no denying Noein was heavy on time travel techno-babble and I’d be lying if I said I understood it all, but still – what a ride! I was first attracted to this series because of its unique art and the final couple of episodes are a total blur of world sweeping conflict and hulking gangly monsters. Experimental is a word I’d use to explain how a lot of this looks- there is a real speed and physicality about the action in Noein, often the character designs contort and take on new styles, but it’s always exciting. We feel every punch, fly alongside Karasu and watch his cape ripple in the wind every time he takes on another crazy opponent.

Almost all of the characters turn out sympathetic yet flawed, and essentially human. Of course at the heart of Noein is the relationship between Yuu and Haruka, but the rest of the cast are just as important (if not more so). For example Atori is such an insane, heroic bundle of pent up emotion, by the end of the series he will surely be everyone’s favourite; the lovable eccentric, tinged with a tragic war torn past and an attraction to self sacrifice, his transformation through out Noein encapsulates my growing attachment to most of these characters. The “flashback” to La’cryma’s younger versions of Miho, Isami and Hasebe was a harsh and gruelling example of utterly captivating characterisation.

The underlying theme of Noein- that no one should try to deny their future (or change the past) – was conveyed with fairy tale elegance. Things never get too dark or depressing, and there are enough laughs and stupid moments to lighten the tone and offer up some rest from the sometimes unrelenting onslaughts of mind bending time travelling theories. The story may suffer from spending a bit too much time meandering in the every day angsty lives of young teenagers but this is merely a passing complaint- when anime looks as exciting as this, and grasps your heart as well as your mind, it’s a winner. Noein is a winner.

Comments

kuromitsu says:

Oh Noein. Had Mushishi not existed, this would’ve been my favorite anime of 2005 (yes, I like it more than Hachikuro). Like Escaflowne, Noein has just about everything that made me fall in love with anime in the first place, right down to the somewhat old-school charm (I can’t really explain it otherwise). It’s not perfect at all, but its emotional power simply overshadows every flaw. It’s real high-quality television.
Also, I loved how they didn’t really show a conclusion to what happens with Haruka – for what we know she may die even in this timespace, but even then, we can be sure that this Yuu won’t end up like Karasu or Noein did. I wish they continued the telephone plotline, though… it was so cool, but they dropped the thread and never picked it up again. Ah well, just a minor nitpick.

hashihime says:

Great review. Terrific show. Not as good as Honey & Clover, but much more interesting to me than Mushishi. I know that’s just my taste: I need more story and emotion. Personally, I liked the "everyday angsty lives of young teenagers" aspect of the show. And Noein gave me some of the best animation, in terms of movement especially, that I’ve ever seen. It was the best SF of the past two years, along with Simoun (and maybe Suzumiya Haruhi).

The openness of the ending, and the indefiniteness of some of the ideas, can be thought of as strengths instead of weaknesses, just as you say. "Real high-quality television," indeed.

BluWacky says:

Yadda yadda yadda, loved Noein, great review, that’s about it really :)

DVDs in October!

bateszi says:

Yup, I’ll be holding out for the UK DVDs actually, though an artbox for such a great looking series is a mandatory import. I did the same with Gankutsuou… Such a pretty box! :) I’m sure the Noein DVD art will be beautiful.

And guys thanks for saying the review was worth reading. God knows I was up until 01:30am writing it :)

BluWacky says:

Are Manga UK releasing Noein, and if so when? If it’s much later than the US release I don’t think I could hold out for long (and the last Manga DVD I bought was the X movie many, many years ago…)

bateszi says:

Yup, they will be releasing Noein over here (and Beez are releasing Fantastic Children in the UK starting in the Autumn too!).

I suspect the UK release will be staggered one or two months behind the US DVDs, but we actually got KARAS one day before the US so anything is possible. As far as I know though, Manga UK haven’t announced any specific release dates for Noein yet. I’m expecting some announcements from them in the coming months.

Asuka K says:

Hey there!! This comment might be a little late but I just wanted to say that Noein was a BEAUTIFUL & SPECTACULAR anime. Hell no, those words don’t even do justice to it. T__T I cried, laughed, got pissed throughout the anime. Such a wonderful journey. Wonderful character backgrounds and storyline. I just love everyone there and you know what? You’re right, despite being an asshole whom I hated so much, Atori did become a lovable character in the end!! XD

Good job with the review!

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