Noein Volume 1
What would you do if your future self told you that you can’t save the person you love? That’s the dilemma facing schoolboy Yuu in this time travelling, dimension hopping adventure. The doomed girl is Haruka, his twelve year old school mate and Noein’s heroine. Whilst on a ghost hunt with her fellow friends, Haruka and Yuu encounter the mysterious Karasu who claims to be Yuu from 15 years in the future. He’s a member of the Dragon Cavalry from the La’cryma dimension, sent back through time and space to the present day to find the Dragon’s Torque – a powerful being capable of destroying dimensions.
Unaware that she is the Dragon’s Torque, Haruka is planning on running away to Tokyo with Yuu when she becomes involved in a power struggle between the La’cryma and rival Shangri-La dimensions who both want to use her to their own ends. Watching this, sci-fi fans will experience feeling of déjà vu as the series borrows traits from others shows including Terminator, Matrix and even Sliders. Whilst the ideas present in Noein are not new, the series is visually intriguing. Imagine shojo characters stepping out from their manga pages and into our real world. That’s how realistic some of the scenes are.
Where Noein really shines is at its more childish moments. A humorous slapping scene occurs after Haruka and a friend have a misunderstanding over a boy. Haruka, then sees into the near future and uses her knowledge to mend a fragile friendship. In a world where the past and the future are intricately linked, small gestures have lasting impacts.
The director Kazuki Akane has described the series as being an anime version of ‘Stand By Me.’ He not only explores children’s friendships, but also what happens to these bonds in adult life. And here is where the real charm in Noein lies. In the ‘what ifs’ – Is destiny a path you only follow and can never change? Can people only be friends if past events had never occurred? Will enemies ever be friends? Or is that only a wishful dream? I don’t know the answers, but I’m certainly interested in finding out.
Overall, there is a lot going on in this volume, a complex plot with very few explanations. Noein briefly touches on a lot of interesting ideas about time, parallel dimensions and the endless possibilities that go with it. Now we have the basic story and who the characters are; all that remains is to see what happens next. And what does happen… is a little surprising. The volumes finale caught me a little off guard, but there is so much potential in Noein that I can only wonder where this series will eventually go. I hope it will be a memorable journey.