Anime review: “Now and Then, Here and There”

now and then here and there
Shu and Lalaru (another protagonist) watch the sunset amidst all the turmoil in “Now and Then, Here and There.”

I’ve wanted to review “Now and Then, Here and There” (NTHT) for quite some time. I’ve know about this anime for quite some time, but only watched it last December. At first, I was turned off by many reviews who stated that the show was great, but too sad to bear. Well, yes, NTHT is a sad show, but it has such a powerful sense of purpose; it does not wander and it’s hard hitting for a reason.

Plot Summary: Shu is an ordinary middle school boy with ordinary problems. He is a standout Kendo fighter with his eyes on a certain girl in his class. He doesn’t quite have the nerve to talk to her, but he hopes his rising popularity will increase his confidence. After school one day, he notices a girl sitting atop a smoke stack in his neighborhood. Intrigued, he climbs the structure and speaks to her. Soon, Shu is battling a dragon-like monster and is transported to a dystopian military-based dictatorship in which children are forced to fight wars. What follows are incredibly heavy themes associated with what you would expect in a children’s war: death, sorrow, repression, rebellion, lust, betrayal, confusion and imprisonment.

Discussion: As you can see, this becomes a heavy show very quickly. But as stated before, there is a purpose for all this pain: NTHT is a portrait of true hatred and the innocent effected by this evil. It is also a possible commentary on the immense pressure placed on young people, especially in Japanese society.  NTHT is not the easiest show to watch, but one of the most rewarding and thought-provoking.

When watching NTHT, viewers may consistently ask themselves: what would I do in that terrible situation, or would I be strong enough to survive? This show is a challenge, something of an introspective cleansing. How lucky are you not be in Shu’s situation? Or maybe, metaphorically, are you?

Despite all the difficulties presented to the show’s characters, there is a strong symbol of hope in NTHT: the sunset. Once the sunset draws near, Shu and his comrades know there is hope for tomorrow. They know that they have lived through another day, and if they can do that, there is no reason they cannot witness another.

Watching this 12 episode series is like reading a Holocaust survivor memoir in a way. In both instances, you know that if the narrator makes it out alive, things will never be the same.

Regarding the episode count, NTHT fits a surprising amount of content in such a short time frame. Any more episodes and this series might have overstayed its welcome. In conclusion, NTHT deserves more attention because it is one of the most thought-provoking anime that is not afraid to tackle some challenging issues.

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