Anime can convey a lot of different emotions. So can war, at least in the entertainment realm. Anime can make us both laugh and cry and when you can attach yourself to a certain character or situation it can really get under your skin, keeping you enthralled in that world. War films and shows depict what is easily one of mankind’s largest flaws. Our ability to kill each other so easily.
I realize that aspects of war and an ability to advocate for peace separate us from animals but the bare bones fact remains that most of humanity will fight and do awful things to survive.
Saving Private Ryan is a war film that showcases the irony of combat. One looks to end conflict when on the battlefield by battling. We hope to save lives by taking them. There are no negotiation tables with treaties in the trenches, and as such the reality of war is that it pits human against human to see who has the stronger will to live regardless of the cost. You fight for your family, and that entails killing those who may also have families. You bomb as to not be remnants of a man scattered on the rubble, but to transform the enemy into such remnants.
Now and then here and there is an anime that accurately portrays, as far as citizens can project, the horrors of war. This anime came out in 1999 and it largely fell by the wayside of larger shows of that era such as DBZ, One Piece, and Evangelion. One thing it does far better than all three of those put together is the sense of despair in it’s characters. The series is not afraid to go toward unforgettable avenues to convey discord, and there are scenes here I will never forget.
Our plot is about a boy named Shu who meets a mysterious girl named Lala-Ru who is hunted down by mechs from a dystopian future. Shu tries to save Lala-Ru and is dragged back to her time with her. Shu is then kept as a prisoner and later a child soldier serving Hellywood, a power led by the evil King Hamdo.
The world where Hellywood reigns is very bleak and water has become a rarity. Those who have it have power and those who don’t get crushed by the will of Hellywood. King will do whatever it takes and I mean whatever…to get water, especially from Lalaru who has the ability to create water from a magic pendant she wears. in their scuffle the pendant is lost and the rest of the show is about various levels of imprisonment and torture. Shu is beaten down and forces into the military as are many children in this world. Lala-Ru is kept as personal prisoner of the King, and is forced to submit to terrible things.
Young girls in this world seem to get it the worst. They are seen as tools to breed more soldiers, and along the way Shu meets an American girl named Sara, who is new to this realm as well. Just as Shu is taken into the military, Sara is brought into her role in this life and while we are thankfully not shown too much, we see enough to indicate the horrors she experienced.
The anime delves into the minds of some of the child soldiers as well as the surrounding villages who fear Hellywood. It truly shows how the desire to end war can easily spark flames to continue it.
It is within its characters than Now and then here and there most reminds me of Saving Private Ryan. Soldiers are often given missions they do not wish to partake in yet they do so to serve the country and most importantly get home. Now while the Saving Private Ryan soldiers are a bit more noble than those in this anime, The child soldiers want just that, to get home. And they will do terrible things to return to normalcy.
Can things really return to normalcy postbellum? What parts of your personality will be left on the battlefield? How will you recover from the sacrifices made and the treachery you and many others had to endure or inflict upon other human beings? These questions I cannot answer, and I bet few can, but Now and Then Here and There asks these questions vividly, and like in most war films the viewer is left pondering if they could navigate themselves emotionally to the their own answers.
The animation of this anime was alright, especially for 1999. It won’t blow you away, but I’ve seen way worse. The music of the series was hit or miss for me, as the opening and ending themes were something i rushed to skip to keep the story going. But some of the background music was great especially in one scene where a character makes a traumatic escape. I watched the dub and its casting was great, but the mouth flaps were off quite often which distracted me. We see Dan Green from Yugioh and a much younger Crispin Freeman. I was most impressed with the performance of Lisa Ortiz as Lalaru, as she is a stoic Rei Ayanami like character, yet I feel she nailed the delivery of every line and was able to convey emotion heavily despite having few lines. The anime never really explains a lot of its loose ends such as how they are able to time travel, why the world is in drought, and I wish it had gone deeper into Lala-Ru’s background.
Now and then, here and there was an incredible experience. There are several scenes I will never forget and it will make you feel sorry for these characters and fill you with hatred for the King. No other anime I have ever seen recognizes the complexities of humanity like this series did. At times it can show the toxicity of human nature but within the same world show the power of peace. It wraps up rather nicely and has one of the more fitting endings I’ve seen in awhile, besides my few unanswered questions, which aren’t entirely necessary to enjoy the experience. Please buy this anime it is well worth it and very underrated. But be warned it is heavy on its mature themes of rape, torture, and murder.