The 2nd Dimension

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Viewing Journal: Noein (complete)

Series Overview
DVD Info

Overall= B-
Story = B-
Video = B-
Audio = B+


Fifteen years in the future, by high-level scientific power, a violent battle takes place between Lacrima, that protects humanity, and Shangri-La, that plans the annihilation of all space-time. The key to stopping Shangri-La's invasion is a mysterious object known as "the Dragon's Torque." A group known as the Dragon Cavalry is being sent through space and time to find it. 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 Cavalry named Karasu (Crow). He believes that Haruka has the Dragon's Torque and claims to be Yuu from fifteen years in the future. (Source: ANN)

This is just an all around strange show. It has a baffling sci-fi plot, but it is balanced out just enough by relatable characters and dynamic animation to keep me interested.

To start, the show throws out a lot of pseudo-scientific terms that attempt to explain how the whole time-space traveling thing works. And on one hand, that makes the show engaging because you are forced to keep track of all the explanations that are given. But even though I was able to eventually understand some of the general ideas (ie, that time branches off new dimensions for each possibility that exists at any given moment), I was still confused about a lot of the technical details and how it all related to some of the key plot elements -- like why was the world of Lacrima deteriorating, and how did Noein end up in his current condition. But as confusing as a lot of the key concepts and plot elements were, there were two things that kept me watching: the characters and the animation.

The show deals a lot with universal -- almost conventional themes of maturity and regret, and as a result the characters' motivations and relationships are easy to understand and empathize with. This gave me something to connect with; so even if I didn't understand the technical details of what was going on, I could at least understand it in terms of the characters' motivations. Also, the show shifts often between scenes that advance the plot and scenes that show the kids just hanging out and joking around. And while this can make for some rather odd shifts in tone, it also gives the audience something familiar to connect with.

The other thing that kept me watching was the animation. The style and quality can shift wildly from scene to scene but regardless it is always fast paced and dynamic. Both the characters and the crazy-looking Shangri-La attack ships have loose -- almost other-worldly designs that makes the overall look of the show all the more dynamic.

The music does a great job of giving the show an epic feel and at times is even helpful in clarifying the plot. There were times when characters would be talking in all kinds of confusing scientific terms and the only way I was able to understand the implications of what they were saying was the ominous background music.

So in summary, this show is an odd mixture of elements that balance each other out well. It's sci-fi concepts alone might have been too cumbersome, and it's character development alone may have been too conventional, and it's action alone may have been too abstract, but strangely enough, all of them together balance each other out to make this it an overall enjoyable and original viewing experience.

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