Title: Noein – to your other self aka Noein – Mou Hitori no Kimi e
Company: Bandai/Media Factory/Satelight
Format: 24 episodes
Dates: 11 Oct 2005 – 28 Mar 2006
Synopsis: Haruka and her friends are just getting ready to enjoy their summer vacation when they are confronted by a group of mysterious strangers in dark cloaks. Emerging from another dimension, they seek a power that lies within Haruka herself. Yet those grasping for the power of the Dragon Torque are trying to save their own world from destruction by the powerful entity known as Noein. The worlds become more entwined when one of Haruka’s friends, Yuu, discovers one of the strangers is actually… himself from the future. Which dimension is real and which the illusion?
Kids: Actually behave like real kids.
Physics: Dimension twisting.
Focus: Kept small.
As a science fiction piece about a group of children with the power to save or destroy the world, Noien immediately reminded me of a more recent series – Bokurano. But while the basic premise is similar, the two series remain very different in their scope and execution. Whereas Bokurano makes the potential end of the world a global catastrophe, Noein keeps the focus on a small group of mostly children and a team of dimension jumpers. The logistical aspects of moving through dimensions are creative and well explored, with the strangers using safety lines to pull them back to their own world. It is a shame, then, that the emotional impact of changing dimensions is only touched on at a very surface level. The big questions are asked, and then largely forgotten. Instead, it is the relationships that form the backbone of the story, and this is what Noein does very well. The kids here actually act like real kids and worry about kid stuff – overprotective mothers, playing soccer and what they want for their futures. They don’t grasp their importance to the fate of the world, instead choosing to act on their instincts.
It helps that the lines of good and evil here are blurred. Some characters go through surprising changes and there is never a clearly correct course of action. That said, a few characters remain fairly one-dimensional throughout the series, serving only to create tension or assist the plot. Yuu, the male lead, unfortunately falls into the familiar mindset of “I have to save her, but I can’t” and could have been much more interesting if the implications of coming face to face with a future version of yourself were more deftly explored. Haruka herself is pleasant, but reactive, never driving the action around her and often requiring the other characters to help or save her. She fails to really understand her own power, though to be fair, neither does the audience. The physics and dimension twisting that occur would probably drive a theoretical physicist crazy. In this case, I think Bokurano was more the successful series in leaving the science largely unexplained. Too much science jargon in Noein bogs down some scenes and bears little impact on the main story.
Technically, Noein is a bit of a mixed bag. The soundtrack is solid and fitting with its piano melodies and choral pieces and a beautiful closing theme. The animation, however, ranges from alright to terrible, in some fight scenes becoming very uneven and “sketchy”. At points this became distracting, and comes across as lazy rather than artistic.
In the end, Noein is about the friendships between the characters more than it is about saving the world. The concept is creative and intricately developed, if not as deeply engaged as it could have been. However, I grew to care about these characters in their efforts to forge a better future. Noein pushes in a lot of the right places, just not quite far enough.
The Rating: 7
Reviewed by: Kaikyaku