by Chris Shepard,

Now and Then, Here and There

Now and Then, Here and There
Dragged through a time warp by a giant machine, Shu is thrust into a hellish future just as it explodes into war! He is caught in the carnage as a tyrant unleashes deadly force against a rebel army. But Shu is not alone… he is surrounded by courageous soldiers, a battalion of enslaved children, and enigmatic wanderers, each with their own fascinating story. Together, they face the ultimate challenge of survival in a world gone mad!
Now and Then, Here and There is definitely the sleeper hit of 2002 in the United States. With Akitaroh Daichi at the helm as director for Japanese animation studio AIC, one would naturally think Now and Then would almost have to be some sort of lighthearted comedy romp. Afterall, Daichi's most famous past works include fan-favorites Child's Toy and Jubei-chan, while AIC is well known for recreating the same series over and over again with series such as Tenchi, El Hazard, and Dual. However, AIC has pulled a strong 180; Now and Then, Here and There is dark, serious and grim. Much in the same light of Green Legend Ran, except even more extreme.

Now and Then's utmost dark tone makes it a real oddball among the rest of the top tier titles which have come out recently. You won't find any Cowboy Bebop or Trigun comedy elements mixed in here. With the exception of occasional short yet optimistic speeches by Shu, Now and Then is serious and depressing. Brutal beatings, torture, twisted characters, feelings of hopelessness, rape, murder; it's all here. Episodes, more often than not, end in a negative light, which could leave viewers on a bit a sad note. While there will surely be fans of Now and Then who will hold the show in their most highest regard, it is not a happy-fun series.

Despite Now and Then being as mature and dark as it is, the series' main target audience seems to be much lower than one would normally expect. With its twisted characters and mass killings, Now and Then would seem as if it'd be adult only with no exceptions. Most often, series of this nature seem to feature hard-to-follow story lines and have very little to please the younger crowd. But that's definitely not the case here. It's like Future Boy Conan on acid; the plot is easy to follow, not too complex, and is much like an adventure story. The only difference is the characters constantly get the tar beat out of each other and there are rarely any happy moments.

Not having a complex plot does not necessarily mean that the plot is bad. In fact, Now and Then, Here and There's plot is very involving and will definitely hit home with a number of the sci-fi people out there. After main character Shu stumbles across a strange yet mysterious girl, he gets pulled from his carefree life and is thrown into a futuristic world where most of the Earth's population is dead. He's forced to live in a large mechanical structure of a town, where everybody is part of the military with kidnapped children making up the bulk of it. Not very many people like him, either. Shu's main goal is saving the girl he once came across and getting the hell out of where ever he is. Each episode continues his desperate adventure of trying to do so.

When you're not watching to embrace some weird political commentary and you don't want to just salivate over ninjas chopping each other up, likable and real characters are a must. They must be well developed and interesting or else the series becomes nothing but a waste. Thankfully, Now and Then, Here and There excels exceptionally well in this area as well. However screwed up they are, the main characters have real personalities and do grow a bit or get more extreme as the series moves on. They are each intriguing and are sure to keep the interested viewer absorbed throughout each episode.

As it must be mentioned, Now and Then, Here and There is very atmospheric as well. The camera occasionally pans across scenery and characters just enough to create a vibe for the show but never long enough to become annoying. Akitaroh Daichi did a very fine job despite normally working with comedy series. The soundtrack matches the mood and helps to absorb viewers as well. Occasional fight scenes are dramatic and will keep you on the edge of your seat. Now and Then is an all around very fine anime.

Comedy fans will definitely want to stay far away from this show but if you like your anime dark with a bit of adventure and a bit of style, Now and Then may be the title for you. It's one of the best newer shows I've seen in a while. Despite not having an overly complex plotline, it remains very involving. The exact target audience this show reaches to is a little hard to pinpoint but some people will certainly to love this one. Fans of Green Legend Ran must definitely check Now and Then out. Galaxy Express 999, Battle Angel, and 3x3 Eyes are somewhat similar shows as well. If you think you can handle it, go ahead and view it.

+ Very involving.
May be a little too serious for some people.

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Production Info:
Director: Akitarō Daichi
Series Composition: Hideyuki Kurata
Screenplay: Hideyuki Kurata
Tadashi Hiramatsu
Rie Nishino
Kiyoko Sayama
Episode Director:
Hiroki Hayashi
Tadashi Hiramatsu
Nagisa Miyazaki
Yoshimitsu Ohashi
Kunitoshi Okajima
Masayuki Onchi
Masahiko Otsuka
Hitoshi Rokutanda
Masahiro Sekiguchi
Koichiro Sohtome
Kenji Yasuda
Music: Taku Iwasaki
Original creator: Akitarō Daichi
Character Design:
Rie Nishino
Atsushi Ohizumi
Art Director: Masanobu Nomura
Chief Animation Director: Rie Nishino
Animation Director:
Takahiro Kagami
Yuko Kusumoto
Hiroshi Nagahama
Rie Nishino
Ichiro Ogawa
Atsushi Ohizumi
Fumitoshi Oizaki
Masayuki Onchi
Masahiro Sekiguchi
Koichiro Sohtome
Waruo Suzuki
Kenji Yamazaki
Art design: Masahiro Sato
Sound Director: Kazuya Tanaka
Director of Photography: Akio Saitô
Shouchi Kumabe
Kazuaki Morijiri

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Now and Then, Here and There (TV)

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