Now and Then, Here and There (TV Series, 1999-2000)
Produced by Pioneer LDC
I've just finished re-watching Now and Then, Here and There, and honestly I have no idea where to begin. That's less than ideal when my entire point of watching this millennium-crossing series again was to write a review for it, but alas... I'll just have to take a deep breath and fling myself right into it.
“We won't be fighting. It will be much worse.”
Created and directed by Akitaro Daichi, Now and Then had its broadcast debut in October of 1999. The series sees Shu, a young boy who loves recklessly charging forward in kendo class, sucked from his peaceful hometown into a world of war and chaos. For Shu, and all of those he meets on this unnamed planet, things only go downhill from here.
On the warpath is Hamdo: a maniacal military dictator with a paranoid streak and a desire to bend the world around him to its knees. He's a fantastic villain—splendidly out of his mind and merciless. His abrupt changes in tone are very jarring at first. To complete his vision of domination, Hamdo has abducted entire villages: men, women and especially children. His primary objective, however, is the powerful Lala-Ru: a child in appearance who uses a special pendant to control water. So begins Shu's journey to protect Lala-Ru and put an end to the terrible fighting.
Running at thirteen episodes, Now and Then wastes no time. Exceptional writing makes each episode breeze by, but the powerful scenes make sure that definite impressions are left. Dynamics between characters such as Hamdo and his right-hand woman Abelia are unpredictable and fascinating to watch.
Animation by AIC is pretty standard and probably the most forgettable aspect of the series. The flat-colored late-nineties look is in full effect. Details are lost in big picture shots, but the animation is thankfully more consistent than Blue Gender (another AIC title which debuted the same week).
Handling the music is a favorite composer of mine, Taku Iwasaki (Katanagatari, Noragami, Soul Eater, Gurrenn Lagann, etc.). As only his third animation assignment, Iwasaki stepped up to the task with some devastating themes (“The Bottom”) and intense action tracks (“Deadlock,” “Tumbling”). Reiko Yasuhara, the voice of Abelia, also lends her voice to the great closing theme composed by Toshio Masuda.
Now and Then isn't a pleasant watch. It's cruel, and not for those who are unable to watch cruelty unfold in all manner of ways. There are no punches pulled in this grisly depiction of war. Even on re-watch the final few episodes had me sobbing. Each time you imagine things can't get more awful they do—senseless tragedy, all spurred on by power and the greed for more. Despite the strong anti-war sentiments of Now and Then the only “preaching” comes in the form of action. Great characters carried by great writing. In my opinion this should be required watching.
-2 Awful, ruined it
-1 Took away from the experience
0 Okay, didn't leave an impression good/bad
+1 Added to the experience
Personal Bias: +1