What if the Axis powers had won World War II?
What if penecillin had never been invented?
What if your parents had never met?
'Noein' is set in a a universe consisting of a nigh infinite number of dimensions in which every 'what if', no matter how big or small, must have occured in one dimension or another. The focus of the story, however, is limited to two dimensions: one closely resembling the world we live in (which will henceforth be referred to as 'our world') and 'La'Cryma', a dimension which is a possible future of 'our world' in 15 years where humans are forced underground due to a calamity that has befallen the earth.
It was a wise decision on the creators' part to keep the amount of dimensions limited seeing as excessive 'dimension hopping' could have lead to a huge mess of a plot; though I do feel it prevented the series from feeling as 'epic' as it tried to be. I think the focus ended up being too limited especially in the series' finale in which only 3 dimensions matter even though things are happening that involves each of the nigh innumerable dimensions. This in turn severely undermines the 'epic' interdimensional conflict the series is insistently trying to portray.
All this is a real pity seeing as the series had a strong opening-act featuring impressive action-sequences and an excellent balance between tender drama of the kids' lives in our world, personal and dimensional intruige between the characters (the most important being an organization called the 'Dragon Knights' in La'Cryma and suspenseful clashes when Dragon Knights come down to our world. The creators sadly fail to keep it engaging and the whole plot is ultimately all but ruined by inconsistencies, contrivances.
The characters are sufficiently entertaining: the kids in 'our world' are a collection of rag-tag clichés (the tomboy, the sweet girl, the quiet boy with mommy-issues, the ditzy girl, the wannabe though-guy) while the Dragon Knights also consist of some well-known archetypes (the gruff guy haunted by his past, the smart girl, the hacker, the psychopath). Most of the character play their roles well and are fleshed out in a satisfying manner. Special mention goes to a particularly engaging and poignant subplot involving a boy's difficult relationship with his mother.
Not all of it is good, sadly. 'Our world' also contains two adult side-characters who feel incredibly tacked-on and add nothing to the overall plot. They serve as a connection to a laughably clichéd evil coorporation overlooking the dimensions (though their influnce is barely felt within the series) to try and use them for their own sinister ends; but the whole plot-thread ends up being rather insignificant and yet it still hogs up a good chunk of screentime especially towards the end. Another huge weakness is the main antagonist, who remains an enigma until the show's finale and never manages to be a convincing threat seeing as he mostly pops up to give ominous warnings every so often. One last issue I want to adress is that the female lead's abilities end up negating any possible tension one is supposed to feel when she's in danger (and the makers actually try to make you worry for her safety); but in her defense: she's a likable and reasonably well-developed character.
The visuals are also a mixed bag. Fight scenes generally look stunning and art-direction is pleasantly distinctive without being excessively bizarre but normal motions like walking or running are often choppy and the amount of detail put in characters and backgrounds wildly fluctuates. The soundtrack is the only aspect of the series I have no major complaints about seeing as the music does a good job setting the mood of each and every scene though they could have cut back on the 'epic' choir track a bit.
All in all, 'Noein' is a series that is crushed under the weight of its own ambition while further suffering from sloppy writing and inconsistent animation. I applaud its many attempts at trying to be something genuinely distinctive and engaging but feel that the series failed to captivate me all the way through.
I still recommend anyone intruiged by the premise to give it a try seeing as there are those who are able to overlook the show's problems to enjoy its stronger aspects. Who knows? Maybe you, like them, will end up enjoying the series more than I did.
overall score: 2/10
overall score: 8/10
overall score: 4/10