Series Review: Noein

November 16, 2006 | Author: | In: Anime Blogs, Series Review

What can I say about Noein? Well I must admit it was actually better than I had thought. Everything from the storyline, to action scenes, and character development. It has been one of the more enjoyable series that I have watched recently. A science-fiction drama that is not clichéd like many other sci-fi series that are often plagued by.

Noein has a very simple storyline to it, but it handles it in a very clever manner, introducing plot twists throughout the course of the series. With some questions answered, it gives new questions unanswered, and this is what keeps your interest in the series. Pacing over all can be slow at times, very slow where I actually got slightly bored. But it does make up for it in content and action when it calls for it. The action itself is very fast paced, but it doesn’t give the feeling that the story itself is rushed. Something that is usually evident in sci-fi series.

Portraying a variety of characters, Noein has done well in developing, and exploring the characters, making the viewer draw into them and care for them. All this in the space of 24 episodes. Though centralised on both Haruka and Yuu, the other characters still play an important role. Atori is definitely a character who has a lot of development, from being a insane, emotion driven maniac, to a tragic war-torn person who is willing to self-sacrifice. Though episode 22 was a nice final touch to character development which makes you aware that there can be other side to these characters.

At first I didn’t really enjoy the graphics that much. But once I reached a few episodes in, the art work grew on me. It blends in well and doesn’t distract you from the overall story that is being shown. When it came to the action scenes, the rough drawing style slightly reminded me of parts of Samurai Champloo. But there are at times that the drawing style bugged me, but the story made up for that.

Now like most sci-fi series, there is always a great deal of technobabble, and Noein is no exception. Unless you have a good understanding of physics it’s probably best that you don’t watch more than 5 episodes in a sitting. The amount of quantum physics terminology used can be quite confusing (especially if you decided to wakeup at 5 a.m. and watch 8 episodes straight) but it is still pretty straight forward, and if you are a bit of a sci-fi junkie, then it will seem even more interesting.

From what I read of reviews and from what other people have told me, some say it has one of the best endings. I don’t exactly agree. The overall series and build up was excellent, but it has a very typical ending. A good one at that.So if you haven’t seen Noein, I do recommend you to watch it as it is quite an enjoyable series to watch.



3 Responses to Series Review: Noein

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Gabi

August 11th, 2007 at 9:11 am

Um….
is the show only 24 episodes,or is there more?
Please,please,email me at ilovejeans411@yahoo.com to give me the answer!

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Finduilas

February 14th, 2008 at 4:09 pm

There’s a lot of psychology and metaphor in NOEIN.

It also has some superficial homages to various standard superhero stuff; you’ll see resemblances to spider man at some points and superman at others, etc. take your pick of typical heros. This, along with having at least one whiny-annoying character, seems to be genre-specific though I find it irritating. (The episode ‘Nightmare’ was particularly blighted by this problem.)

On the psych elements–on one hand you’ve got a mother who is ‘there’ for her kid in all the typical things that qualify for ‘non-neglect’–cooking, cleaning, keeping track of where her kid is–but is so emotionally detatched that her kid is a complete mess and has the potential to turn into a real dark-sider. (How many well balanced kids do you know who thrash their algebra workbook with a box-knife? Granted he may well have been influenced by what his other self was doing at the time, but still…)

On the other hand you’ve got a mother who is completely negligent in the usual standards of child care, whose kid does the shopping and cooking, but who is right there emotionally every time her kid is in some kind of emotional conflict. So her kid, by contrast, is independent and emotionally-centered.

The fathers of these kids are either not involved or only marginally involved in their kids lives.

Then you’ve got a bunch of highly-stressed combat veterans suddenly dumped into a peaceful setting without any kind of emotional preparation for their change in environment–and still on a high-stress mission, at that, affecting the survival of their civilization. And their home office is resistant to adjusting to any new information from the field that might have changed their primary mission when it appeared that their initial assumptions about the best thing to do might be flawed.

Then there’s the mysterious NOEIN, who really can’t be discussed without spoiling the final episodes. (Did he remind anyone else of a lion-fish, or is that just me?)

There’s a lot of good stuff in this series, but getting it is rather experiential; it has to be shown, not told. One episode that is semi-explicable involves showing a scene in several parallel dimensions, each only slightly more rude than the last, but with those tiny cultural changes manifesting in significant differences in the overall society (grade-school kids worried about getting in trouble for walking home late vs. worried about being detained by authority.) But most of the episodes leave you a lesson which you’re at a loss to explain; you are left telling people ‘just watch it’.

If you have the DVD’s and are not watching on SciFi (where many of the scenes with Kooryama and Uchida are cut short, further garbling the technobabble), despite the mostly good dub performances, I recommend watching in Japanese with the subtitles switched on. The acting is a bit better (eg: Atori is a bit less over-played, which makes some later evolutions in his character seem more credible), you don’t get distracted by Mr. Crispin’s (english-version’s Karasu) occasional fall back into his ‘Batman’ voice, and the technobabble is much better rendered. The dubs seem to be ‘American’ english, while the subtitles seem to be ‘British’ english (eg: ‘will-o-the-wisp’ instead of ‘flying ghost’) but this is not distracting.

Actually, even if you watch in English, I’d say turn on the English subtitles, to fall back on when the dialog becomes confusing. There are places where there are changes to single lines, reflecting perhaps differences in Japanese vs. American sensibilities, but which actually change the character context for some later events. (At one point Mrs. Goto has a line stating that Yu does not have a choice about his future; in the dubbed version this line is changed to the opposite meaning. Later, another character is making a forceful argument in favor of a deterministic universe with no free will and no way to alter the future or control one’s own fate; this seemingly insignificant line in the earlier scene is actually critical to explaining some later character attitudes–a point lost in the dub version. The line was likely changed by someone working on the episode who wanted it to reflect what s/he thought was right and who had no understanding of the overall story arc. But Yu’s mom is *intended* to be ‘wrong’ in that scene.)

The last four episodes are hard to watch; first there’s the mental gymnastics of trying to think like a quantum particle but applying that ‘logic’ to characters (the old joke “Quantum junction, take both lanes” comes to mind…). But more importantly, the ‘slow development’ of characters mentioned in the original review here means that you’ve become very invested in these characters and have compassion for all of them, even those who initially appeared to perhaps be the ‘bad guys’ (Even Atori’s evil-seeming comment ‘an arm would do’ in Episode 1 takes on new significance when you see an incident from his childhood, in episode 22 or 23…). This abundance of compassion for the characters makes the ending really painful to watch.

Which I think is part of the point; most of the characters who ‘go darkside’ (full or part-time) in this series do so as the result of remembering, seeing, or anticipating the misery of others, and finally arriving at a ‘nuke them all let God sort them out’ sort of frustration. The only force that counters this angst seems to be that of friendship–present or remembered.

It isn’t what happens, though, that makes a character good or evil, but how they react to it.

This is a really good series dealing with some serious psychological, philosophical, and moral issues, if you’re willing to take a cartoon seriously.

Or you can just watch it for the fantastic fight-scenes, if you’re not up to looking for depth in anime.

PS: The incidental music is also fabulous. I particularly liked the Shangri-la theme.

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PostApocolyptica

August 9th, 2013 at 3:12 am

I realise that this post is about seven years old, but I feel that I must comment on this spectacular animé.

The story and art style are both refreshing after several experiences with generic plot and sketchy-ness. There are some sketchy elements of Noein, but they fit in well with the style. The plot easily draws the viewer during the first episode; who is this mysterious “Karasu” that is roaming around? What happens in the future? What does Haruka have to do with it all?

As this progresses, we learn more of the separate dimensions that exist, and the importance of the wonderfully written protagonist, Haruka. I feel that she and Yuu are written very well throughout, and receive decent character development as the series progresses. Karasu is a tragic character; his reasons for being so sombre are hinted at early on, but it takes a while for him to open up about his past. The other characters, Ai and Isami especially, complement the main protagonists very well, and I think that the two definitely deserve the pairing that is hinted at practically whenever the pairing between Haruka and Yuu isn’t being hinted at.

Yes, the action scenes are brilliant, and the climax of the final battle definitely feels powerful; it really gives a sense of triumph. However, the ending is probably what bothered me the most about Noein (and yes, I am going to spoil it, so stop reading here if you wish). After Noein had ultimately been erased from existence, Haruka, Yuu and Karasu escape the dimension of Shangri-La. Only Karasu and Haruka are travelling through the void to the present dimension, as Haruka asks if she will ever see Karasu again. The heart-warming moment here is when he says that she will, in fifteen years, as she again states that Karasu and Yuu are one and the same. Then Karasu merges into Yuu and they return home, where they are seen in the pose shown in the very last picture of this blog post. Haruka’s exact words are “Yuu, I-”, before being (painfully, from the fans’ point of view) interrupted by the others greeting them once more. It then suddenly cuts ahead to around half a year or so in the future: Yuu has indeed left to Tokyo, though emails Haruka frequently (no such relationship is confirmed), and then she stops of at the church where she first saw Karasu, again in wintertime. Bells ring out as the episode draws to a close.

Albeit wonderfully written, there is a lot of stuff that isn’t exactly clarified. Ai and Isami’s relationship is never quite established. Neither is Yuu and Haruka’s, which is one of the main focuses of the entire series, and the church bell ending really gives a sense that it isn’t quite over, even though Noein is no longer a threat.

This animé is about seven years old at the time of writing this, but I can’t help but want some kind of resolution, in the form of an OVA, or even a movie. After all, there are strange authoritative forces that speak to Noein before his “death”, and he notes that Shangri-La will return, so I feel that the writers could easily work on something new. The main things I need to see to fully satisfy me about Noein are definitive confirmations of relationships, as they are crucial to the story, and some kind of ending that feels final, not leaving me wanting more, but feeling at peace once again.

I apologise for the length of this post, but I had a lot to get off of my chest. I just hope that someone takes the time to read this…

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