Back when the summer started I had a list of anime titles that I was going to get out of the local college library and get through in their entirety. The list went Neon Genesis Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop and then Trigun. Later I found that Trigun was streaming on Netflix (and then it got removed but the dub is still streaming on Hulu, very strange) so I took that off the list and added on another title I had seen which I was interested in, Noein. I had seen the first two or three episodes at my anime club sometime in the past year but honestly it was the bloopers I saw on youtube that really made me want to try out the series. Not the strangest reason I've checked out a series, although I did glance over the tvtropes page as well and thought it sounded interesting, and I'm really glad that I had just enough time to finish it before I went back to school.
Noein: To Your Other Self
Summary: Haruko and her friends were living rather normal lives in their last summer before middle school when people from another dimension (La'Cryma) begin to appear with the intention to kidnap Haruko in order to save their world from the encroaching dimension of Shangri-la.
The Good: A fellow anime blogger has said that Noein is a lot like Denno Coil in some ways and the two shows really feel similar in the way that they construct their plot. It's clear from both shows early on that there is a larger plot lurking beneath the surface and the characters are partially aware of it but the character's aren't immediately drawn into it so the show takes it's time to let things unfold and give the characters development in the mean time. It's not quite the "first half unconnected, second half plot heavy" set-up that many shows use but it does work very well with a cast of kids to get them to the point where they can deal with the problems from the main plot. This also let some subplots get resolved rather quickly (such as Yuu's troubles with his mother, something a regular anime would have dealt with much later in the plot) and that made the show very put together. A big difference between these two shows is how Noein has an adult cast that is even bigger than it's cast of children, competent adult characters even, which also provides an interesting dynamic that many shows don't have and the adults get character development as well. The characters make and hold this show even when things are getting strange and very few of them don't feel well fleshed out by the end of the show.
The Bad: At some point the writers must have realized that, for the show to have a really good climax, there needed to simultaneously be problems going on on Earth and La'Cryma and the villain of sorts for the Earth problems is a very unsatisfying one. All of his actions seem to be "for the luz" (or evulz) which was a cheap way to introduce drama and to bring Haruko's father into the plot (and then not really do anything important in the end). A few other details weren't very well explained in the series (how exactly Atori had a personality change for one) and I don't think that quantum physics works quite the way the show makes it out to be (a bit of a problem since the show revolves around quantum physics).
The Audio: For one reason or another I just didn't like the ending music that well and fast-forwarded through it after almost every episode. I liked the opening music better but at times it felt too light-hearted for the episode in question which lead to my interesting discovery of an "official" alternate opening (which would better with some episodes for sure). The background music worked fine, although some people may find the ominous chanting music a tad annoying, and thankfully here the more light-hearted music was used appropriately. Feeling a bit lazy I watched the dub which, like the show, is a bit earlier than most of what I watch and the dub is a bit weaker compared to dubs produced in the past few years. Most of the adult characters were fine but the kid's voices sounded more forced and, while they certainly got better by the end of the series, they were never quite as good as a dub made this year. Some lines were changed, or left out all together, in the dub which made me glad I was watching subtitles but thankfully it was never too major. Finally, the dub made the gender ambigous character Tobi (whom characters address with -kun in the sub) a girl which I didn't mind at all but might bother some people*.
The Visuals: Noein looks a bit strange since there are two very distinct sets of character designs: those from Earth, who looks a bit more like standard anime designs, and those from La'Cryma who look more like characters from an indie comic. It's a bit jarring at first to see the two groups of characters interact with each other (and even more jarring to cut from a scene featuring the Earth characters to a stylized fight sequence involving the La'Cryma characters) and either you get used to it or you don't. There are one, maybe two fight scenes were there is a lot of CGI is incorperated as well and some other sequences in the show that use CGI (which, since the show is from 2005, are the most jarring bits of all**). The art style is going to turn some people away from the series, there are no cutesy designs here, but for the way it's done it's done well and the fight scenes are interesting to watch if you like the looser style of animation favored by some people.
I really ended up enjoying this show and probably will buy a copy of it in the future (the fact that it's dead cheap online certainly helps me out there). It's a show that's slightly different from the way that other shows are paced/plotted out but it's because of those differences that I really liked it, although writing about it's similarities with Denno Coil makes me want to go and re-watch that show as well....
*IMO, the only thing more awesome than one lady talking about quantum physics is two ladies discussing quantum physics as equals, I did actually squee there so I liked that slight change.
**or maybe that's the part when the back of the DVD proclaims it to have great CGI, the best yet!