“Because ten billion years’ time is so fragile, so ephemeral… it arouses such a bittersweet, almost heartbreaking fondness.”
That is the first thing you see once you watch the show, it sets the general tone of the series and believe me, this is a type of series that once you go into, the things you see throughout the entire 13-episode run, you would want to stick around to see the output of it and once recognizing the themes and backdrops of it, the emotion of that will come to you. Strangely enough, the director of the show, Akitaro Daichi, later on which to direct Fruits Basket, and since I never seen that show, I know that the two are very different.
While walking home from a somewhat bad, but regular day of school, “Shu”, the main protagonist, spots a girl named Lala-Ru on top of a smoke stack in an industrial park where he used to hang out as a young child. There is a sudden explosion and time stops; Shu finds himself defending Lala-Ru from abductors in mechanized snakes. After attempting to defend the girl, he is caught in a transportation to the world from which the strangers hail, a wasteland devoid of water and dominated by a red giant star. Lala-Ru possesses a pendant containing a vast reservoir of water, and has the ability to control that water. He is trapped in this new, harsh reality, and he is beaten and interrogated repeatedly inside the warship commanded by the ruthless, manic dictator, Hamdo.
Now, in the first episode, the tone is very lighthearted much like any shonen series but once the whole story and plot kicks in, that is when the show thrives to be an emotionally- driven and heart breaking at the same time, preferably the themes of war, slavery, rape (in one episode that is handle right and doesn’t come off as silly or exploitative) and the fact of child soldiers having to fight for their life to keep on surviving, even if that means having to kill one person to another and that could really put an effect on their life especially after that. Not only that, they are being looked at through the eyes of a teenage character and it felt very genuine as while some of us may be cynical some of the time, we need to have a little hope like the main character Shu and I’m amazed how it succeed without being too hammy and artificially pointless.
Speaking of the characters, I really felt for some of the characters in the show even the antagonists…..well, more of Abelia than Hamdo, which does fit him as a character because he is quite hammy and paranoid but not in a meaningless or trivial fashion where you really don’t take them as a threat. Hamdo is an obsessed villain with wanting to rule the world and Abelia has to maintain her position while being berated by him. Now, with Shu…..I like Shu, he is the character that is a pacifist in a time of war but he’s more optimistic about the way to settle it but he does come off as naïve. He isn’t a hateful character at all but just very misunderstood and he doesn’t know what to do there. There is another character named Sara, who I felt so much sympathy and pain for what she had to go through, especially in some later episodes. The child soldiers, mainly Nabuca, Boo, and Tabool, are very consistent enough to know that while their reason for fighting and getting LaLa-Ru is so they can get back home but for them, it will always seems like an eternity of hell. Lala-Ru…..I’m mixed on as she does have the ‘no mention for humans’ element in her and most do blame her for what’s happening and I can see why. Other characters like Sis and Soon are very likable and comforting but however for all the characters, don’t try to get too attached to them because there is some character deaths and this isn’t really for the faint of heart.
It would be redundant to say that the animation has aged and it looks very different than most anime and of course, it did. The show was made around in the late 1990s and it is animated very appropriately while it doesn’t really have that “OMG!! So dark and emo and shit!!” color tone, it also help that while it retains its dark and mature look, there is a hopeful feel to it. I don’t know much of AIC, the company that produces the animation for this show (and this time, it’s just AIC, not AIC Plus, Build, ASTA, etc.) and their works, aside from a few shows I already watched and/or reviewed but they always managed to give good animated works.
Music has very much of a presence throughout the show as it conveys the show and the emotions it goes through exceedingly in-depth and the same can be said about the opening and ending themes as the opening is more of an instrumental piece and possibly a track that could’ve been mistaken as background music but it does the job effectively. The ending theme, however, is more like after the calm of the storm and the song does fit every time an episode ends as it’s beautifully composed and sweet fully sound.
For the English dub, going in knowing that it is a Central Park Media dub and some say that their dubs are the standard dub of the 90s and that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. The dub is fine, nothing ear-bleedingly bad but also not that fantastic. The most recognizable voices you hear and know in the dub are Lisa Ortiz(LaLa-Ru), Rachael Lillis (playing two roles, Boo and Sis), Dan Green (yes, that Dan Green playing Nabuca) and Crispin Freeman (and I didn’t even recognize his voice at first – playing Tabool). Possibly the hammiest performance in the show is Jack Taylor as Hamdo. He does have the paranoid villain angle down to a pat and as for Ed Paul playing Shu, he’s okay but not much of a highlight in the dub.
FINAL VERDICT: This is one of those dramatic anime series that hits in the right emotions and doesn’t pull any punches. It got the major themes of war down while having a few annoyances now and then but nothing too major to complain about. This, like Grave of the Fireflies, is another example of a tragic story that can be done right and I got to say, while I recommend you check this series out, this will be a tear-jerker and a heart-breaker of a show.
And with that, I give Now and Then, Here and There……..
Planet Tyro Rating: FIRST CLASS
NOW AND THEN, HERE AND THERE was available to own on DVD through Central Park Media and later on ADV Films but after both companies went out of business, Æsir Holdings got the licensing rights to the show although Manga Entertainment got streaming rights as the full show is on YouTube for legal watching as the same of it being on Hulu.
And with that being said, I’m MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid, bringing all the elements in one format.
NOW AND THEN, HERE AND THERE – animation by AIC, distributed by ÆSIR HOLDINGS, Manga Entertainment (Streaming Rights)