“Because ten billion years’ time is so fragile, so ephemeral…it arouses such a bittersweet almost heartbreaking fondness.”
When one mentions nineties anime, what comes to mind? Pokémon? Digimon? Dragon Ball Z? Maybe Cowboy Bebop? These are some of the most iconic series in anime history, but the one I am reviewing in today’s post has not been talked about often among anime fans, Now and Then, Here and There. Now, I do understand that this anime does not fall into the cliché, popular category, but the series still has the elements used in many shows, especially with the storytelling, that makes the series enjoyable and entertaining.
In this underrated anime series, the viewers follow Shu, a young and outgoing boy who mysteriously finds a strange girl with white hair named Lala-Ru in his neighborhood. As Shu tries to introduce himself to the girl, an anonymous creature snatches Lala-Ru and brings her to a post-apocalyptic world where she is wanted as hostage because of some certain power she has. Wanting to rescue Lala-Ru, he ends up in the same place where the girl was taken and is forced to enter into a military corps full of children. He must endure the harsh training he’s given and rescue Lala-Ru in the process.
While watching the trailer last summer, I was not mused with it because of how childish the series looked and how cliché it was, but I gave it a try anyway shortly after. And I have to say, I am sure glad I watched the series. By the time I got to the third episode, I was left shocked when I realized that NTHT (the abbreviation for the title) does not bring any cliché storytelling elements to the series. This anime brings in a lot of elements used in books to make allusions and themes to real-life situations, such as slavery, child and sexual abuse, peace, hope, and there’s even an allusion to an event that happened in the two world wars: the act of imperialism. In addition, director Akitaro Daichi begs the question of whether or not our society will end up like the one in the series. He also brings in questions like these: Will children in the future end up taking part in the military? Is there going to be instances where one well-known leader will be taking over a lot of the countries on this planet? There are so many other questions to be asked, but these are one of the most important ones to ask while viewing this thirteen episode series.
Although this anime does have a very in depth plot, the characters do not, even the main protagonists and antagonist, Tabool. A lot of the characters seen in NTHT either have very basic developments or thrown off to the side after they are introduced., except for one very special character: Sara. In the beginning, she is thrown in jail, being mistaken for Lala-Ru, and one bad thing after another happens to her. Sara almost gets beaten to death and much more, leading to her thinking that her insecurities and unfortunate events will always take away from the future that lies ahead. As the series progresses, though, Sara becomes a courageous young woman who sets her insecurities and horrible events aside and start her future. To me, here character growth helps with making the anime more grasping and emotional to watch.
Since NTHT was made in the nineties, there are some instances where the animation seems mediocre—except for the posters, which are drawn beautifully. In some of the screenshots I skimmed through before getting into the series, the art seemed childish and the outlining looked really rough. As the series progresses, though, the animation and colors tone evenly with each other. The character designs in the series reveal themselves as indifferent and bland as most of their physical appearances look the same, especially with the facial features. The eyes on each of the characters’ faces have the same shape, with an upside down U-shaped top and a flat eye for the bottom of the eye. The only key differences with their eyes are the various, lighter colors used for the irises.
The music in this series, composed by Taku Iwasaki, can be described as a normal nineties anime soundtrack. Most of the songs used in NTHT have either an upbeat or adventurous tone to them, which do not fit for the show. In the opening theme, Now and Then, Here and There, I did not approve of the music because of the cherry melodies and instrumental sounds used. The song grew on me eventually as I listened to it towards the end and the pictures used show a symbolic significance for the series. All of the characters seem happy and joyful in the picture when in reality, their opposite feelings and personalities are show throughout the anime. While there are pieces that do not fit well with the series, the ending, Lullaby, does mash well with the story shown on the screen. From the sad violin to the soft lyrics, this song will definitely pull at one’s heartstrings.
Now, I have to be honest, nineties anime tend to not have the greatest English dubs, except for Cowboy bebop, but NTHT falls into the bad dubbed category. All of the children in the English version sound either like older teenagers or young adults, which can aggravate those who expect great dubs. In addition, the articulation sounds all robotic and alien like, which will make the audience cringe in response to the how the characters say their words. To the people who are wanting to watch the series, please watch the Japanese version; it has better voice acting than in the English dub and the voices are right for the kids in the anime.
Overall, Now and Then, Here and There is a series that all older anime fans won’t want to miss, which comes to my conclusion of rating this show four out of five stars. Despite some of its flaws, the story is one of the elements that can’t be ignored, but this series can be very mature at times. Sensitive and/or younger viewers would not enjoy the series since there are instances of violence, child abuse, etc. For those who are wanting to watch something interesting and mature will have a wonderful yet emotional time viewing this nineties underrated anime.
Warnings: Acts of violence, some profanity, THE FEELS!!!
Aired from October 1999 to January 2000