AKA: Noein: To Your Other Self, Noein: Mo Hitori no Kimi E
Year Released: 2005-2006
Running Time: TV Series, 24 episodes, 24 minutes each
Rating/Recommended Audience: 13+
Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: The Place Promised In Our Early Days, Geneshaft, Arjuna, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Raxhephon, Paprika, Divergent, Avengers: Infinity War
-The Japanese language track was used for this review.
-The original Manga Entertainment DVDs were used for this review.
-Noein is an original screenplay by Kazuki Akane. That’s the same guy who’s responsible for Escaflowne, Geneshaft, Heat Guy J, and directed Code Geass: Akito the Exiled.
-Language Bonus: The Dragon Knights all have code names relating to birds in Japanese. Examples: Karasu=Crow, Atori=Finch, Kosagi=Egret, etc…
-Noein takes place in Hakodate, which is a city in Hokkaido (the northernmost island in Japan). There are roughly 279k+ people living there and it’s the third most populated city in that island. Interestingly enough, Hakodate is sister cities with Halifax, NS, Canada, Vladivostok, Russia, and Tianjin, China.
-Hilarious in Hindsight: Haruka is played by someone of that same first name…Haruka Kudo!
-Karasu is voiced by Kazuya Nakai, but he’s not playing a swordsman this time. I say that because he always has a habit of playing those type of fighters. Case in point: Zoro from One Piece, Mugen from Samurai Champloo, Toshiro from Gintama, and Yajiro from Grenadier.
-The composer is none other than Masumi Ito from Oranges & Lemons and Heart of Air. You should know those bands if you’ve listened to certain theme songs from Azumanga Daioh (both opening and ending themes), Zone of the Enders (“Kiss Me Sunlights”), and Haibane Renmei (“Blue Flow”).
Much like my review of Comic Party, I wanted to revisit some anime series I remember watching a long time ago. I’ve been out of the loop, but I was surprised that Satelight was still going strong with animating things. I’ve known about them because of Heat Guy J, Arjuna, and with them co-animating Glass Fleet with Gonzo, but they’re still doing things with Girly Air Force, the newer Macross properties, and Caligula to name a few. For this pick from Satelight, I’m going to take on one of their animated series from the 00s.
How about something that involves alternate universes?
Noein takes place across different dimensions. There’s the main one taking place in present day Hakodate, Japan. There’s another one in the post-apocalyptic La’cryma which takes place in one possible future fifteen years from now. The last one is Shangri-La. Despite the divine name of it, this dimension is the result (also fifteen years in the future in a different timeline) of humanity becoming extinct. The Dragon Knights from La’cryma go to the present to retrieve an enchanted item called the Dragon Torque which will save the present and future from Shangri-La’s encroachment to all the possible timelines and universes. The person who is rumored to carry that item is the twelve-year old Haruka Kaminogi. She’s a typical outgoing girl who moved from Tokyo to Hakodate four years ago after her parents were divorced, but she’s surprised by this chain of events. Even more surprised is her friend Yuu Goto who’s often depressed and very introverted. He also has a connection to the events transpiring when it’s revealed that Karasu is actually Yuu from the La’cryma timeline.
This was certainly an anime full of twists and turns. A journey that spans across multiple dimensions can certainly be unwieldy, but everything made sense for the most part. It was fascinating how they incorporated elements of quantum physics, metaphysics, and most obviously the Many-Worlds interpretation as it plays with the plot at large. The characters were certainly interesting and I wanted to root for them. Haruka is a lead protagonist who acts mature, but is still believable even with this intergalactic plot. She’s a brave soul who’s gone through a lot, but I like how she’s able to stand up for herself no matter how dangerous the situation is. Yuu was a nice counterpoint to the more headstrong Haruka and how his personality clashes with his possible future self Karasu. He’s put upon so much by his mom who wants him to be good at his studies, but he feels that he can crack at any moment to the point where he brings a knife with him at all times in case he fails which gives him a very tragic edge. Karasu being the potential grown-up version of Yuu has seen his fair share of tragedies in his own timeline as he is intense and even despises the present day Yuu for his angst and cowardice. The title character is the main villain who certainly is creepy every time he shows up. While he doesn’t do anything major at first, he has a huge connection to the events going on as he is the de facto leader of Shangri-La that wasted the existences of millions of people, but it looks so peaceful with all these unpolluted green fields around. He certainly is scary and that final fight between him and Karasu gets to nightmare fuel levels multiple times. Besides those examples of the characters, the fight scenes are very good and use some creative abilities in numerous ways that could make Shonen Jump fans take notice. The imagery of La’cryma and Shangri-La were certainly impressive in their designs and surrealistic natures.
Noein does falter in places. The first thing I’ve noticed was how aged the CGI was. Back in the mid-00s, this would’ve been sakuga level animation, but nowadays, the graphics look outdated and the 2D animation tends to go off-model during certain scenes. The theme songs were nothing special and the ending theme was just a mediocre ballad in my opinion. While the concept of multiple dimensions was a nice touch, I do admit that it resorts to technobabble and brief science lessons which can be didactic. Sure, The Place Promised In Our Early Days did resort to the former, but they didn’t try to teach the audience on how quantum physics or multiple dimensions work in a scientific context. The revelation of the Noein character was too obvious for me. Not just because of some of the hints, but it’s also because I can tell who’s voice that was beneath the deluging voice mutator effect which killed the surprise in the last few episodes. I don’t know if it’s because I’m that good at voice actor recognition, but that was something that should’ve been more subtle for me.
This work from Satelight had redeemable things, but some aged elements prevent me from giving it my highest recommendations. The worldbuilding between the numerous dimensions was certainly worth applauding. The main and supporting characters had their own quirks and several them get their own chance to develop and shine. From a visual standpoint, it has suffered from dated CGI and some off-model animation from time to time. If you want to check out some creative sci-fi series with parallel world concepts, you can certainly do far worse than Noein.
Adjustable Point System:
Add 1-2 points if you’re a Kazuki Akane fan.
Add 1 point if you like stories involving multiple dimensions.
Subtract 1-3 points if you can’t stand dated animation or simplistic character designs.
-Unique worldbuilding with the dimensions
-Strong characters all around
-Good fight scenes
-Outdated CGI and off-model moments
-The Noein reveal was too obvious
-Mediocre theme songs
Final Score: 7/10 points
Content Warning: Noein is good for teens and up. The fights do get very intense and there’s blood drawn at times. Atori is a VERY sadistic individual and he’s willing to hurt children if it means helping save La’cryma. There’s a bunch of disturbing imagery in parts especially involving the main villain Noein which certainly gave me the creeps (that “pink tint scene” and what happens as he’s defeated are up there). Yuu carries a knife with him and it’s strongly implied that he wants to do self-infliction or suicide with it. There’s some swearing here and there, but nothing else too major in those fields.
All photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. Noein is property of Kazuki Akane and Funimation. The DVD cover is from Amazon and is property of Funimation.