a.k.a. Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku
Shu is a kendo student full of joy and ambition. After a crushing defeat in a contest, he wanders off to his favorite hiding spot high on top of the chimney of an abandoned factory. There he will meet a taciturn young girl from whom he barely manages to get a name: Lala Ru. What Shu is about to find out is that there is a lot more to this young girl than meets the eye. As giant robots appear to kidnap her, his good heart will get him into a lot more trouble than he could ever imagine.
summary by Kjeldoran
Highs: Intense; viewpoints on many moral issues; deep in every aspect
Lows: The beginning and ending are not all they could be; a timid Iwasaki
Now, this is how to fully exploit all the benefits of the thirteen-episode format. A phenomenal story that doesn’t beat around the bush yet gives proper screen time to every character and topic. Just the way I like it.
I’ll admit I was skeptical at first. A bumbling and annoying hero trying to save a girl he had just met; this looked to be headed for a one-dimensional action series… only prettier. Somewhat lacking details but generally superior to most television series, the art certainly extended my patience, which, as it turns out, was barely of any use as this anime soon showed its true colors. I may have a soft spot for features concerning war and its futility, but the way such themes are developed in Now and Then, Here and There will surely inspire reflection from any viewer as no one can remain indifferent to the crude reality presented.
A thought-provoking storyline isn’t much without compelling characters. From the optimistic Shu to the psychopath Hamdo (who makes Escaflowne‘s Dilandeau appear rational), characters are, without exception, complex in both mindset and background. Some of them have such extreme personalities that it makes their image drift away from realism, but it all remains convincing due to remarkable voice acting.
A few disappointments here and there (no pun intended): music sure was beautiful, but when it comes to Iwasaki Taku, my expectations are high. Alas, the orchestral pieces were all too similar to some of his previous compositions in Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen and Read or Die but lacked the punch of its predecessors. The ending is, unfortunately, a mild letdown, too, because of the “quick fix” ring to it. Nevertheless, this intelligent yet emotion-driven series goes all the way and pulls no punches. A true tour de force.
Highs: Riveting storytelling; magnificent direction; characters with plenty of depth; wonderful music; outstanding seiyuu
Lows: Art and animation lacking at times; too quick of a finale
Forget about the overly simplistic character designs or the sometimes poor animation. Now and Then, Here and There operates on a plane that resides on the periphery of one’s vision: the mind. It is an anime that rewards its loyal viewers with thought-provoking drama and revelations into the psyche succumbed to the horrors of war. And it does it Oh!, so beautifully.
This anime starts out just like many high school dramas with the stubborn male lead meeting a pretty girl… but then the story kicks itself into overdrive and never touches the brakes until the final credits roll during the final episode. I was absolutely entranced by the events and characters, living in their imaginary world that seems much too real to be make-believe. I tip my hat to the excellent direction; the camera angles and use of shadows and reflections are just about as perfect as one can hope.
The sound department is no slouch, either. Iwasaki Taku serenades us with a symphony of resounding compositions which never failed to move me. The seiyuu were cast well and offer performances that you can tell came straight from the heart.
There are many great moments that inspire awe, but one scene in particular stands out. A young girl kept against her will and raped by her captors finally seizes an opportunity to escape from her both physical and mental prison. The expression on her face as she looks up into the sky and savors her first taste of freedom is absolutely exhilarating. I experienced her pain and inevitable relief the whole way through. That was when I knew this anime would be great.
For those looking for some quick, light entertainment, don’t watch Now and Then, Here and There. This anime will bring you into its dark world, whether you are ready for it or not.
Now and Then, Here and There can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.