NOW AND THEN, HERE AND THERE DVD COLLECTION (A J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)
August 18, 2008 by Dennis Amith
“An anime series that shows a perspective of war through the eyes of a young teen. The savagery, the brutality and how even through darkness, how hope can go along way. A riveting anime series that is worth watching and even worth owning! “
DVD TITLE: NOW AND THEN, HERE AND THERE DVD COLLECTION
DURATION: 325 minutes
DVD INFORMATION: Animated, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
COMPANY: Central Park Media/ US Manga Corps
RATING: 16 and Up
DIRECTOR & ORIGINAL CREATOR: Daichi Akitaro
SERIES COMPOSITION & SCREEN PLAY: Kurata Hideyuki
MUSIC: Iwasaki Taku
CHARACTER DESIGN: Ohizumi Atsushi, Nishino Rie
ART DIRECTOR: Nomura Masanobu
CHIEF DIRECTOR: Nishino Rie
Matsutani “Shu” Shuzo – Okamura Akemi
Lala-Ru – Nazuka Kaori
Tabool – Suyama Akio
Sara – Nakao Azusa
Boo – Konishi Hiroko
Hamdo – Ishii Kouji
Abelia – Yasuhara Reiko
Sis – Matsumoto Rica
Nabuca – Imai Yuka
Dragged through a time warp by a strange machine, Shu is thrust into a hellish future 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!
I’ve read so much about “NOW AND THEN, HERE AND THERE” for so many years.
Pretty much about the brutality featured in war and children having to fight in war. War can be depicted in so many ways on screen but director Daichi Akitaroh (Director of Jubei-Chan the Ninja Girl and Elf Princess Rane) wanted to show how dark, dangerous and sick war can be.
You also have the talents of screenwriter Kurata Hideyuki onboard and is works with “R.O.D.”, “Kamichu!”, “Excel Saga” and many other series is well noted.
But for the series main protagonist, not a knight in shining armor but a naive young teenager who believes in himself and others and his passion for survival and not at all submitting himself to the woes of a war is what I found quite interesting
This 13-episode anime series aired on WOWOW in Japan back in 1999-2000, was released on DVD in the US by Central Park Media/US Manga Corps back in 2002 and is currently airing on the Sci-Fi Channel in 2008.
I figured I wanted to watch for myself of how this anime series truly is and figure out if it would impact me the same way anime such as “The Grave of the Fireflies” or “Barefoot Gen”. And although those anime can be seen as ultimately depressing ie. casualty of war, I know “NOW AND THEN, HERE AND THERE” for some reviewers felt it was too much for them because of the brutality and torture of key characters. So, I had to watch it myself and see if I felt the same.
The storyline of “NOW AND THEN, HERE AND THERE” is about a teenager named Shu. Shu is naive, almost a brat in someways and it shows in his technique during Kendo training. No focus, just all out attack and not worrying about defense.
One day as he walks home from his training, he goes up a water tower and sees a girl sitting down. As he tries to communicate with her, some monsters and space craft teleport to capture her. Shu goes to rescue the girl.
After some intense fighting, everyone is teleported back to another time. Where war and strife is common and water is a resource that is not available and rationed.
Whoever owns water will be powerful and thus a dictator named Hamdo wants it.
Hamdo who has conquered towns and killed many, destroyed their villages and whoever survives has become part of their army, typically the children who are then forced to be soldiers and inflict the same kind of destruction and pain on other villages by a the dictator’s false promise that upon wars end, they get to go back to their village.
The Hamdo and the army of Hellywood knows they need the water and to do that, they need the girl named Lala-Ru.
Lala-Ru is the keeper of a bracelet and with her power and the bracelet, she has the power to create water or oceans but each time it is used, she uses up her life force.
Both Shu and Lala-Ru are held captive but Lala-Ru’s bracelet is held by Shu and eventually loses it. But Hamdo, being the evil maniac he is, tortures Shu to find out where the bracelet is.
In Hellywood, you are introduced to other kids who are in the army such as Nabuco. Nabuco is the top of young soldier list and is seen as a leader and wants so much to return back home to his village but knows he must kill to do so.
Because he is saved by Shu, he tries to help Shu at a distance and eventually trying to convert Shu to a soldier.
You meet Sara, another person from Earth transported to this new world and has been serving time in jail because she looks like Lala-Ru. Shu promises her that he will find a way for them to go back home but for Sara, although not tortured, she is served by Hellywood to one of their soldiers to be raped.
The scenes of rape and torture are not shown on the DVD’s. It’s pretty much implied by the screams that you hear and how Shu and Sara are after their ordeal. Shu beaten up and bloodied, Sara who’s demeanor has changed considerably after the rape.
It’s a dark anime series but you end up rooting for these people who have suffered from tyranny and just hope they can overcome their challenges, survive and go back home.
For a 1999-2000 TV series, the animation was simple, clean but the overall background theme of a desolate desert-like appearance of the land due to the lack of water and drought was well featured. The use of oranges and reds and browns, earth colors are used to showcase the overall feel of the series outdoors.
But all in all, I felt the animation to be well done, colorful and for a series nearly a decade old, everything looks very good.
The series is presented in English, Dolby Digital 5.1 and in Japanese via dolby digital stereo. I watched the series mainly in Japanese and Shu’s voice really makes him feel like a young teenage kid, while in the English dub, it gives an impression that he is slightly older.
But both audio presentations are done quite well!
The box set features a lot of special features and each volume (disc 1-3) showcases an art gallery, character sketches, mechanical sketches, background sketches, textless closing, storyboards, sneak peeks and DVD-Rom.
The fourth disc features more exclusive special features with a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the series and interview with the Central Park Media staff behind-the-scenes. Also, never-before-seen production sketches and storyboards, the Japanese opening and much more!
This is what you pretty much expect from a box set and again, Central Park Media/US Manga Corps delivered in this respect. They really give you your money’s worth with their collections and if you were going to buy this series, the box set is the best place to go and you can find it online quite cheap these days.
I really enjoyed the series and each episode was quite riveting and really didn’t want to stop watching once I started. The episodes really draw you in and there is a lot of intrigue and overall a well-written storyline and both the Japanese and English voice acting are well done.
The overall mood of war, how one has been affected by war was seen through the atmosphere created by staff and also the well-done acting to make you feel the pain of war. The storyline was well-written and each episode is definitely going to keep you glued and not wanting to stop. But also, I expect that the darkness of war and the things that happen during war time is not something everyone can see.
Yes, there is torture and their is rape. The major torture or rape scenes are not shown on this DVD but you know it happened after you see the mannerisms and the faces of Shu and Sara.
No one wants to see villages full of families and babies getting decimated by war but in war and watching the tyranny of Hellywood and its young soldiers doing the same things that were inflicted upon them by the same group they serve for is a key to show the state of how the soldiers are in.
A series built upon the survival and struggle of war is never meant to make the viewer feel easy but if anything, this series does give you hope. Hope for the main characters to get back to their homeland and hope that the war and the tyranny will end.
If I did have any problems with the anime series was the main character of Shu. If a cat has nine lives, Shu must be a cat because he was able to survive a lot of ordeals. But the main problem that I have is that Shu, literally a young teenager was able to accomplish a lot, as if he had some sort of superhuman status at times. So, I did he feel Shu’s character may be given a bit too much heroic/athletic abilities for his age and what he was able to accomplish
Granted, a person with determination and persistence can accomplish a lot but for Shu to accomplish what he did in this anime series, director and original creator Daichi Akitaroh really made this young character to a hero and able to accomplish things despite injuries, torture and yet keeping his head high and not being broken down. Definitely a rough contrast to reality, especially from those who have suffered war.
But all in all, this series was very enjoyable. Very solid storytelling and makes me wonder if there is room for a second series.
Nevertheless, I finally watched this series for myself and yes, the anime does show the dark side of war and not everyone is going to watch it because of the brutality of the soldiers and war is never beautiful. Especially with the psycho tyrannic dictator of Hamdo that is just creepy and makes you wonder why no one in his army has assassinated him.
But you do see the light through the actions of Shu and how he is able to change people through his will and determination.
An awesome box set DVD release from Central Park Media and a series worth owning!
+ Awesome anime series!
+ Characters that you care about! And well acted both in Japanese and in English.
+ Special features galore!
– This series may be too dark and brutal for some viewers. And main character Shu is given too much credit for his athletic and heroic abilities for a young teen.
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