Now and Then Here and There is a groundbreaking anime. It makes extremely good use of the 13 episode format. There was not one moment in this where I thought "we've hit filler town!". Whatever scenes were reused added to the affecting moments of the series. Surely, these scenes are not meant to be pleasant to watch but they definitely make you feel. So for just that reason, one can see the greatness of Now and Then Here and There. However it does not stop there, Akitaro Daichi has made a masterpiece using all elements that make one: involving story, complex characters, moving music and at times brilliant visuals.
The animation in this series is the only thing that is not up to the standard of the other elements. This is mainly due to the character design, it is just a little plain to look at. However this allows the creators to show what the characters go through to better effect, when they get bashed up, violated or murdered the bruising is shocking. You can actually feel their pain because of the depth and intensity of what is happening to them. Other aspects of the visuals are quite breathtaking. The backgrounds are wonderful to look at, from the textured empty deserts to the detailed wastes of Hellywood to the beautiful blue of the fountains. The action scenes are also beautifully co-ordinated. These scenes are the most fluid of the anime (as they should be) and their intensity is great.
The sound is definitely one of the series strengths. The opening theme is wonderful. It really suits the series and has a tribal feel to it that does not fail to remind me of "The Mysterious Cities of Gold" music. The ending theme is like a soothing lullaby after the carnage of some of the episodes here which is a welcomed thing. It adds an element of hope to the series. The background music is excellent here, so good that I actually bought a copy of the soundtrack! With Taku Iwasaki in charge of the soundtrack though, could you expect any less?
The story is excellent in portraying the struggles of the characters. The way it unfolds really develops the characters and the overall narrative. As I have pointed out before, this is not a pleasant anime to watch. It portrays the struggles of a world at war. Women and children getting enslaved while their husbands and father are killed will not be everyone' cup of tea. It's just that the storytelling is so strong that you can't help but be moved by it.
The characters really help with that. They are all individuals and show the rainbow of human emotions. From Shu's self-reliance and determination, Sarah's pain and frustration, Nabuca's hope and devotion, to Hamdo's unstable and irrational madness; they are all portrayed beautifully, realistically and with conviction. The seiyuus are to thank for this, they really deliver in making the characters the best they can be.
This series has recently been repriced by US Distributor CPM and you can get the whole thing + a bonus disc for aroung US $25. This should definitely belong in everyone's collection (if they are 16 yrs old and up). You can't get a better deal than that!
I have tremendously enjoyed this anime. Its exploration of the human condition without holding back themes or scenes makes it one of the jewels of animation. It is very unpleasant to watch at times but the raw emotion it could get out of me makes it one of the titles I will revisit.