Thursday, January 5, 2012

"Now and Then, Here and There"

I recently finished watching "Now and Then, Here and There" on DVD.  I recalled that the anime received good reviews and decided to give it a try, not really knowing what the story was about.  I was blown away by the depiction of violence in war.  Like in most anime, the main characters are children, which makes this war story more disturbing.  It starts off like a typical anime, with the protagonist Shu dealing with adolescent first love.  But he unexpectedly meets Lalaru, a girl who is suddenly pursued by giant mechanical snake-like machines.  Shu tries to save her and is transported to a world where water is the most important commodity and is a key element in a maniac king's plan to take over the world.  Hamdo, the maniac king, is chasing Lalaru who has the (unexplained) power to create water with her pendant.  Shu spends the whole anime trying to save Lalaru from Hamdo and in the process gets tortured, beaten, and drafted into Hamdo's army of kidnapped children.  Shu meets Sara who was abducted because she was mistaken as Lalaru.    Her story of survival is one that I would never believe would be portrayed in an anime.  Shu also meets Nabuca, a natural leader in a company of soldier children.  His arc is a sad one as well.  The only "good" person in this dystopia is Sis who takes in war orphans.  Shu is totally optimistic throughout the whole show, even after getting beaten up about a million times.  It's annoying sometimes, but still admirable.  His sense of morality never wavers, although everyone else's sense of morality is totally whacked in this world, except for the end.  The ending is a bit frustrating since it's all solved in a magical way by Lalaru that maybe could have happened earlier.  I guess Lalaru deciding to finally use her power at the end shows Lalaru's emotional growth. The animation is extremely well done and the music is beautiful.  Watching this reminded me of watching "Grave of the Fireflies"...extremely depressing, but compelling and touching.  I couldn't stop watching it except for when I had to go to bed and then finished it the next day.  The music is really good in this show too.  If you want to watch a mature anime drama, this is it.

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