The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Noein – to your other self

Title: Noein – to your other self aka Noein – Mou Hitori no Kimi e
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Bandai/Media Factory/Satelight
Format: 24 episodes
Dates: 11 Oct 2005 – 28 Mar 2006

Synopsis: Yuu and Haruka are two ordinary kids living in a small Japanese town. Little do they know that they exist in one of many parallel universes until they meet Yuu’s alternate persona, Karasu. Things quickly go awry as the war between Shangri-La and Karasu’s universe gets introduced to Yuu and Haruka’s home town. Only Haruka has the power to stop a massive calamity with her ability to warp the space-time continuum with her “Dragon Torque.”

The Highlights
Uncompromising, in-your-face visuals.
Characters: Fascinating cast full of dynamic personalities.
Story: A small work of brilliance.
Atmosphere: Feels refreshingly original and engaging.

Most good anomalies in anime are either sleeper hits or very obscure titles that are essentially buried masterpieces. Very rarely does a third, less tangible category appear. However, when it does, an onslaught of convention breaking is to follow. Noein is such an anime, and while it has its blemishes, it is more than worth your time to watch it.

Using the parallel universe theory as its base, the anime is certainly a unique concoction. From scratchy, FLCL-meets-Dragonball Z fight scenes to the unusual character designs, the show shuns convention and walks the path that is seldom taken. Despite this, the show never has to resort to complete randomness or incoherence to flaunt its unorthodox style. While a few scenes are undoubtedly mind bending, they could be adequately deciphered without a PhD in psychology. In the end, a massive conglomeration of little oddities makes the show feel unlike any other.

What distinguishes Noein from other sci-fi action anime is the use of its incredibly human cast. The story is merely the backdrop where the conflicting interests clash. The characters create and carry the real substance. With a powerful musical score to set the mood, the show uses an unusual method of storytelling that fits the character-oriented story. Much like a crazy taxi driver, the plot puts the pedal to the metal before screeching to a halt, then does the whole process all over again. This unusual pacing makes the show feel a bit unbalanced but the series never fails to be entertaining.

Noein does have a few blemishes, but they are relatively minor. For instance, one major character, Yuu, remains irksome throughout the entire course of the show. Yes, two other protagonists, Haruka and Karasu, push Yuu’s angst behind the curtains, but his presence, as necessary as it is, brings down the show. Also, the ending feels anticlimactic and a bit too clean cut. Everything truly spectacular happens before the fall of the antagonist, and everything afterwards feel unduly bland. I’m sure most will not care about these small flaws, but they simply do not sit too well with me.

Despite a few rough spots, this series deserves a round of applause if only for successfully capitalizing on its parallel universe premise. This may not be a trend setting anime, but the show is a fine piece of entertainment. If you want great action, great character development… heck, if you just want a downright great anime, Noein will more than fit the bill.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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