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Noein Review

April 9, 2007

story 6/10

Noein screenshot

Few will deny that the anime begins well. There’s a flurry of buzzwords, well-choreographed action scenes and some genuinely awesome sci-fi themes, thrown at the audience with enough precision and style to suck them right in. It’s in this I-don’t-know-what’s-going-on-but-I-don’t-really-care stage that the anime is at its best.

Flash forward to midway through the show, and the story is still quite reasonable. The anime employs the parallel universe interpretation of quantum mechanics to explain its universe, and, surprisingly enough, does so in a way that is both easy to understand and somewhat believable. Although the luster of the unknown is gone, the anime is still fairly decent at holding your interest. After this, however, the show gradually declines.

The biggest problem is that the storyline begins to introduce twists and turns that feel almost completely arbitrary. After a while, there is no perceivable logic in between any two connected plot points – just confusion, randomness and good deal of cheez. In other words, the story ceases to “progress” in the general sense of the term; rather, it feels almost like a half-hearted brainstorm of directions the writers could have taken if only they’d focused on any one particular idea.

In the last third of the show, when all hell is breaking loose and no one (least of all the creators) really knows why, the anime completely self-destructs. In a frantic effort to tie every disjointed element into a kid-friendly, Hollywood-style ending, the story breaks any semblance of plausibility. The dialogue moves from awkward to flat out hammy, the cool quantum mechanics themes are largely replaced with absolutely nonsensical pseudo-science gibberish, and any sort of suspense that the anime might have had is lost in the face of events that are absolutely asinine. Even the action scenes start to suck.

Basically, this very much reminds me of Last Exile’s general storyline. Both shows start with a very cool and fully realized world, and both have absolutely no idea what to do with it. The result is a slow downward slope that leads right up to the end, where they hit rock bottom.

animation 7.5/10

The first episode tries very, very hard to have absolutely jaw-dropping visuals, and for the most part succeeds at doing so. After this, however, the animation becomes almost painfully inconsistent.

There are times, most noticeably in the action scenes, where the show will look absolutely fantastic. The show has a great sense of style when it comes to contrasting the futuristic parallel world to the more mundane one where most of the story takes place. I particularly liked the character designs, which differ radically depending on which dimension they are from, but as a whole are excellent all around.

On the other hand, some of what I would consider the easier scenes seem horribly askew. Character designs occasionally mesh awkwardly with the backgrounds, and simple motions like walking or talking can seem stiff and artificial. There’s also a fair bit of CGI used, and while some of it works well enough, other parts just seem horribly out of place. In particular, the show reuses the same CGI model of Haruka’s house in just about every episode, and it looks pretty bad each and every time.

As a whole, the animation is still pretty good; it’s just sort of disappointing that the undeniable highs of the visuals are somewhat cancelled out by the all-too-present lows.

sound 6.5/10

There’s competent voice acting from the entire cast and a serviceable soundtrack that I’ve already almost forgotten. Basically, this is what I’ve come to expect from modern anime series. Nothing stands out, but par really isn’t such a bad thing when it comes to crafting music that goes well with the story.

characters 7.5/10

While most SciFi anime shows tend to have boring and undeveloped characters, Noein defies convention by having characters that are actually good. In particular, Haruka is one of the best protagonists I’ve seen in a while: smart, likeable, believable. She’s surrounded by a multitude of supporting characters, which, considering their sheer number, are all surprisingly memorable and well-developed.

The only character that I wasn’t satisfied with was Yuu. He very much feels like a male version of Naruto’s Sakura, in that you’d like him if only he’d ever do something. The character’s Shinji-esque woe-is-me-I’m-so-worthless attitude just gets tedious after a while; since when is longwinded whining ever entertainment? The character gets better eventually, but at that point it’s really a case of too little, too late.

overall 6.5/10

The riddle: How many anime with lackluster endings must a reviewer watch before he stops expecting closure?

The answer: More than I’ve seen.

I really should have learned by now. It’s not just a bad habit for anime to have bad endings; it’s a time honored tradition. And yet, I fully expected Noein, a schoolkids meets quantum physics kind of science fiction, to end well. Silly me.

This is really too bad, because with a nice conclusion Noein would have been an easy thumb’s up. The characters have their weaknesses, but as a whole are solid and generally likeable. Also, the storyline certainly piqued my interest, right up to the point where it started sucking. Moreover, the animation and sound could have been better, but as a whole were nothing to be ashamed of.

As is, however, the lackluster ending, coupled with several other key weaknesses, makes me honestly question whether this anime is worth even a weak recommendation, let alone gushing fanboyism.

Is the show worth watching, in spite of its weaknesses? I suppose. There’s enough neat ideas brought up to satisfy the SciFi itch, and, if nothing else, the characters are pretty good. Still, this kind of ambition is going to lead a lot of people to call this the best series of the year, and in that regard I’d have to strongly disagree.

Anime Info

When Haruka, Yuu and their friends decided to go ghost hunting, they had no idea the "ghosts" they'd find would turn their lives upside down. Black-clad and wielding quantum powers, these knights from the future are after an artifact of immense power that they hope will save their dimension from destruction: the Dragon Torque; and Haruka seems to be the key. As factions within the knights violently disagree on how to proceed, Haruka and the gang are caught up in a fight with the Shangri La, in an existential battle where fates of entire universes are decided.

my anime:

not rated


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