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.