Posted by psgels on 6 August 2007 with categories: Anime Reviews


I actually started watching anime quite late. At the moment, it’s a bit more than three years ago since I started with my first fansubbed series, .Hack//Sign, when compared to most people. That’s why I’ve got a huge list of anime that I still need to catch up to. Anyway, another series I tried around that time, perhaps a bit later, was Now and Then, Here and There. It looked all-right, and I saw some good reviews of it.

I didn’t even last half an episode.

The way this anime seemed to start was like a bad shounen-title. We’ve got a brat for a main character, who happens to practice Kendo. He’s got a rival who is always better than him, and of course a girl he has a crush on. All signs pointed to the fact that the guy would grow, beat his rival and get the girl, and that lady luck would smile at him all the way.

Boy, was I wrong.

If I had only watched till the second episode, I would have realized that this anime is something very special. For starters, we never see the rival and crush again after the first episode, and already with the second episode, things are done to that boy you just couldn’t imagine. A lot of taboos in anime are scarily brought to the surface, and the first half has to contain some of the saddest hours of anime.

I’m SO glad that I decided to give this anime a second chance, as it really is something unique. It’s one of these anime that isn’t afraid to pull its protagonists through hell, and it actually succeeds in making this avoid the pits of cheesiness by developing a cast of excellent characters. The graphics may not seem to suggest it, but this is one of the darkest shounen-titles I’ve seen. And especially one of the most realistic ones. The music also comes with a perfect score to accompany this.

Still, all good things must come to an end. The problem with this series is that the second half of the series just doesn’t live up to the first half. Oh, it’s by no means bad, it’s got about half a dozen of awesome moments, but the entire thing is nowhere near as intense and unique as the first half, and at a number of points, it gets a formulaic and a bit unrealistic.

Still, you just have to see this series for its first half. It’s been a long time since I last awarded a rating of 90/100 and above, and this series deserves it. Like Eureka7, it’s a great example of how wrong first impressions can be.

23 Responses

  1. Avatar roguewrath says:

    Its been a long time since I’ve watched this, I might have to watch this again. I almost did the same thing with Juuni Kokki, which almost seemed to formulaic in the beginning. The only reason I stuck with it was because the books it were based off were supposed to be really good.

  2. Avatar kauldron26 a.k.a tman says:

    i agree that this anime was amazing, however like saikano they were just sooo heartbreaking that i dont think i have the heart to watch them again. have u seen saikano?? it will break ur heart many times over. its pretty phenomenal tho. funny thing i also struggled to make it thru

  3. Avatar Wyrdwad says:

    This is a great anime indeed, and it’s really hard to believe that it was directed by Daichi Akitarou, of all people… the same guy who directed Kodocha, Fruits Basket, Elf Princess Rane, Jubei-chan, Grrl Power, Sexy Commando Gaiden, Animation Runner Kuromi, and a bunch of other fairly light-hearted shows. I guess he wanted to try his hand at directing something dark, and I’d say he succeeded with flying colors. Just goes to show you, when you’re a TRULY good director, you can handle almost anything the writers throw at you…

    -Tom

  4. Avatar orangee says:

    I remember watching this and thinking of how the themes that resonate in this anime were unlike any other. And how surprised I was that it brought those themes to the surface.
    As much as it is not my favorite series, it still stands out because of the storyline, and it really reminds you that storytelling through anime can encompass many aspects of life, even the harsh ones.

  5. Avatar Chris says:

    Oh wow, I saw this anime when I was still very young, it was a very different type of show and I guess it made me look for more mature shows. Now and Then has got to be one of the most depressing series out there, and it’s also based on events that are going on in Africa so it’s even worse when you think of it like that.

    This series also features a great soundtrack by Taku Iwasaki (Read or Die, Kenshin OVAs, Witch Hunter Robin) and his sad violin pieces are very effecting (like when Sara is cutting off her hair.)

    My favorite character was Sara, I really felt for her through all her abuse and I couldn’t help but think of how violated she must have felt and how helpless her situation must have been. The main lead is very likable and I was really touched by his emotional strength and determination to go on despite everything that happened to him and the girl he liked. The only thing I didn’t like was the ending, it was very depressing I was hoping for something a bit more happy after all the ordeals these kids when through.

  6. Avatar shuffee says:

    i just discovered this about a month ago, and i instatly deemed it my favourite anime of all time XD!! i like depressing stories.

  7. Avatar ap says:

    I watched this 4 years ago – the last two episodes were breathtakingly beautiful.

  8. Avatar Solaris says:

    This serie is a masterpice and a perfect example of how much anime can be well done with adult themes. Dedicated to all those who think anime are child stuff

  9. Avatar nathan porrata says:

    i bought this anime after seeing it on amazon, and right away said “this is teh best anime ever!” i’ve seen all the greats and “greats” like EVA, Miyazaki’s films, Akira, Bebop, Graves of the Fireflies, but none of those animes, nay, almost NO movie i’ve EVER seen depresed me the way this one did. i literaly walked aroudn slumped over in a depressed stump for weeks after seeing this show. the best character by far is Sara, who goes through so much during this show and comes out in the end a COMPLETLY different person than she was at the beggining. her ordeal depressed me most of all.

  10. Avatar Pegah says:

    best anime experience i ever had. recommended for everyone.

  11. Avatar Oya says:

    This is an excellent one.

  12. Avatar Youwish says:

    The protagonist has his good parts, with his emotional strength (unrealistic if you ask me though) and optimistic outlook. I can understand his continuous outlook on things as strange, but his stupidity and the associated stubbornness really frustrate me. Albeit I haven’t finished watching the series, he drives me nuts sometimes…

  13. Avatar Gottis says:

    This is a really good anime, but I still liked Fantastic Children a lot more. In fact I did a small comparison post about the two anime in my livejournal, if someone’s interested to check it out. It’s here. ^^

  14. Avatar Firechick says:

    I just got into this series and I’m already on episode 6! Episode 6 frightened me because of Sara nearly getting raped and Nabuca (who is possibly becoming my favorite character) hesitating to kill that little boy in the end, when everyone else (except Boo and Shu) are. I can really see some heart in Nabuca, and FINALLY LALA-RU TALKED!! But she didn’t sound like Nazuka Kaori to me, but hearing her talk was fine for me of all things! I’ll finish this series soon because I’m already addicted to it even though I have a tight list of anime I need to finish up!

  15. Avatar Firechick says:

    I finally got to finish this, and I think I’m officially going to put this anime in my top 20 (or at least my top 30)! Everything about it was just incredible (though three of my most favorite characters died in the most horrifying ways and I DIDN’T EVEN CRY!!! Why don’t I cry at most anime!?) and heartbreaking! And normally if a character I like kills another, I’d hate them, but in this case I STILL liked Nabuca even after what he did! Sara and Nabuca are my all-time favorite characters in this show (along with the cute little girl named Soon)! I think this anime is gonna stick with me for a loooong time! I better find a DVD boxset for it and watch the dub! But before that, I recently started watching Haibane Renmei because of the overwhelming positive reviews. All in all, this anime was overwhelmingly great and cruel (though nothing can ever beat my #1: Shounen Onmyouji!) but awesome!

  16. Avatar cheesesticks says:

    aaaah this anime disturbed me, watched it as a child a couple of years ago. O.O brutal.

  17. Avatar israel84911 says:

    I just finished watching this anime because you gave it such a good review. Wow. This was truly brilliant.
    It reminded me a lot of Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky. There’s a boy and a mysterious girl and the boy spends quite a bit of time yelling her name and trying to find her. There’s a magical pendant/crystal. The evil dude is nuts.
    Except, you know, this is 6 bajillion times darker. Seriously. This is the darkest thing I have ever seen/read.
    Still, totally brilliant. I’m just amazed this ever got shown on television.

  18. Avatar Badesh says:

    Am i the only one who thinks this show is overrated? I was… not overly satisfied with the first half. The reason i kept watching was that it at least didn’t confuse me or demanded much of attention. The harsh fate of sara was the only thing that attached me but besides it was pretty underwhelming. I found the second halft way more satisfying – after the escape.

    But nevertheless i’d give it a 80 because it was allaround a decent show. I just don’t get how it can score higher than any ghibli movie you reviewed. (ah, i know its pointless to compare scores and nitpick – afterall its estimated score and personal opinion)

    great blog. you do alone what i can’t find on whole communities :)

  19. Avatar oto says:

    The true genius of this anime cannot be understood without fully immersing oneself into the world being shown to them. Shu’s experiences in Hellywood simultaneously represent a boy’s journey into adulthood, and a descent into the often contradictory chasms of the human condition. Specifically, after the situation with Nabuca, Soon, and Boo reaches a close, we see Shu learn what it means to truly and justifiably feel hate for another being. Although this feeling was not the only realization Shu would be forced to reach, it is the one that was most in conflict with his naive values universally full and pure peace, and is insightful on a philosophical level because it illustrates how hate often stems from love and the loss of something loved, not merely from conceptions of “good” and “evil”. However, what allowed to this anime to transcend into the level of art was the director’s use of the ending credits. While each episode would depict Shu experiencing almost unimaginable horrors, it would also end would also end with a collage of images of his hometown. These images represented Shu’s consciousness, and how he was always dreaming returning to a place untouched by the madness of Hellywood, providing the viewer with a dim but constant glimmer of hope. It is because Now and Then, Here and There is so effectively able to guide its viewer through the winding path of the human definition that it should be regarded as one of the greatest anime of all time. (While I would have liked to have gone into greater detail, I will not sacrifice spoiling the unforgettable plot of this story for those who have not yet experienced it).

    • Avatar AidanAK47 says:

      I find it funny how some people get so caught up in a few concepts presented in an anime that they convince themselves that it is some giant planned out intellectual contruction. Often they get so caught up in finding cognative meaning in the plot to reniforce their interpetation that they become unreliable when it comes to gauging the story’s actual quailty.

      • Avatar oto says:

        Your comment is honestly completely valid. My described importance of the ending credits could be a complete misinterpretation, and I could be creating meaning where there is none. But is that really the case with with a story as emotionally and ideologically charged as Now and Then, Here and Now? It’s like saying the grammatical form of Hamlet’s soliloquies have no meaning, that the overall structure of Robert Frost’s poems are purely coincidental, that the Mona Lisa was painted just to look pretty. Sure, your comment can be applied to fluff anime like Dragonaut: The Resonance or Hamtaro, but Now and Then, Here and There is quite obviously not in the same class of story. The use of ending credits to express an idea is not a new concept. The credits of the movie “Seven” (released in 1995, 7 years before Now and Then, Here and There) with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman unfolded in reverse order, a technique obviously implemented to compliment the morally contradictory nature of the film’s ending. In relation to the presentation of Now and Then, Here and Now, anyone who took the time to fully watch the anime can support the claim that the animators favor the use of visual/audio stimuli and animated intention over written dialogue to express ideas, as can be seen in any of the sequences between Hamdo and Abelia, or even the numerous fights/interactions between Shu and Nabuca. This idea can be best visualized if one compares Now and Then, Here and Now to a dialogue heavy anime like Tatami Galaxy. Furthermore, why would the director choose such a “childish” looking art-style as the medium to tell a tale ripe with situations of extortion, rape, and systematic murder? Could he not find anyone who could draw well enough? Did he want to market the story grade-school children? The answer to these questions are, quite obviously, no. While this is once again a personal interpretation, I believe that the choice to present Now and Then, Here and Now in a “childish” art form was a deliberate decision on the part of the animators to constantly remind the viewer that the depicted violence of the series was most wholly felt by children. And even though the main characters, specifically Shu, still visually perceived events as children do, they were forced into situations that no person, let alone any child, should be exposed to. Taking such evidence into consideration, is it really that difficult understand how the ending credits themselves carry meaning? As I stated in my first comment, one cannot fully appreciate the genius of Now and Then, Here and Now without fully immersing themselves in the story presented to them. When it comes down to it, good stories and truly great stories are separated by subtleties. Failure, or rather, refusal to recognize and interpret these subtleties, is merely the sign of a lacking reviewer.

  20. Avatar fraggleroc says:

    Reading your comment years later… Love it, oto. And I agree with it completely.

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