Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Now and Then, Here and There

As promised, here goes a little heads up on the 13 episodes' anime series, Now and Then, Here and There. Honestly, I have lost quite the urge to make this post but since a few persistent friends still want me to keep writing, I'll do this. Now and Then, Here and There (Jap: Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku) in short, is a story about a dumb-ass kid who puts everything on the line for a girl he barely knew. He is the stereotypical anime hero with all the traits you can imagine Pokemon's Ash Ketchum had. He's stubborn, idealistic, obsessive and basically.. a brat. I present this in a negative light but really, NNTHNT's lead Shu (Shuzo Matsutani) is quite the hard core. Initially, what started as a tiring kiddy episode about a dumbfuck of a kid and a really irritating, alien looking, bitch of a girl who doesn't open her mouth to this unusually loud mouthed boy, critically changed into a moral horror of sorts by the end of the series.
The series is serious. Period.
Though Shu, is himself an amusing character who if put in a series like umm.. let's say, Perman, would not really stand out much but damn, the situations he's put into would make you feel otherwise. The idiotically brave little boy meets some of the gravest decisions one could have to make in their life, but for Shu, the idealistic motherfucker, it's just a matter of stubborn outbursts of saving the weird girl with the weird name LaLaRuu, for whom he feels he is responsible for.. as a tomodachi. Sheesh. So far, so dumb, right? Right!? But no.. the series is dangerous, dark and difficult. At one point, you start to think like the characters and wonder 'if I were in thei
r shoes, whose side would I be on?'
The first episode follows the life of Shu who is enrolled in a kendo and who "relies on his instincts" to beat his opponent. Imagine Mugen from Samurai Champloo. Yeah, Shu could be his childhood, only more on the whiter side and not that sexy. So yeah, the kid relies on his instincts, fights without even knowing where his opponent is, goes all "Men! Men! Men! Men! Men!" and... loses. Poww! But just as I said, he's stereotypical, so like normal human beings, he doesn't give up or like other vengeful fools, plot a strategy against his opponent, he just hopes he'll win 'the next day, or the next, or the day after that." Yeah, THAT's Matsutabi Shuzo. After the fail kendo practice, he walks in the city and different aspects of the city life are shown. He then notices a girl sitting on top of a smoke stack. Since
there are many others in the surrounding area he climbs and sits on top of another smoke stack and like a loser, tries to strike up a conversation with the girl with dull and dead yet starkly blue eyes. He keeps yapping and talking out of his ass but the girl seems to be a person of few words. He introduces himself and asks her her name and in an inaudible voice, she, for the first time, moves her lips which form a La-La-Ru. That's her name alright but what next? Well, a weirdly sexy lady by the name Abelia suddenly appears with strange big monsters with in turn appear to be machines from the future. They come to capture Lalaru but Shu gets in the way and tries to save her, only he along with the fragile little girl with blue eyes, enters a world entirely new to him which marks the end of the first episode.

After seeing the first episode, I wasn't intrigued enough to continue with the second one. It can also be because I was staying over at my uncle's who is a stern lawgiver and wishes the lights be turned off soon after dinner. Whatever might be the case, before I watched the second episode there was quite a gap. I was sleeping off, reading.. whatever, but I didn't come back to the anime though it did stay on my mind.
So, I gathered all the patience I could, worked on my uncompromising laptop and started on with the second episode and what the fun, I didn't stop after that. In fact, there came a time, I slowed down in order to let the show run longer.

The first episode was the only happily normal episode of the series. Major themes are war and the aftermath, assault by and on children, child exploitation, rape, use of children in the army, torture, mass murder.

Now and Then, Here and There is a short and crisp anime series talking about some very serious issues that come with war without really showing the willingness to mark outlines around it and by just stating things as they are. The series has all the shades of white, black and grey. It's about making decisions and dealing with the consequences. Difficult, tiring and extremely powerful, is what this anime really is. I don't remember having seen a more powerful anime than this. I have seen war animes but not one like this.
The characters are not what you can call memorable but while it lasts, you come to form a bond with them. You see Spike Spiegel and you wish to be cool like him, smoke cigarettes and be a one woman man but you will not feel like being Shu or Lalaru or Nabucca, or Hamudo, Boo, Sara, Abelia or Sis. They're all in pain, have difficult choices to make that so real that you'd rather live your own life than ask for theirs. And it's true, the words that come out of those animated characters' are full of purpose. With an eerie feel and strong use of imagery, the series comes off as not only genuine but truly epic. Some might say the kind of moe style characters it used held it back a little but I can't picture it following the Final Fantasy style of animation. That would come off as trying too hard and sure, if it were live action, it would have been a hell lot more brutal but man, the animation gives it a weird edge as if to remind you it's just tale and to go back to your normal life afterwards.

To sum it all up.. Brilliant!

Now scram and go get downloading!