03 Feb 2007
I first saw Noein during my trip to the States in January. As someone who gets sent a lot of anime to review, it's rare that I buy any these days, but I did consider Noein.
The story (so far) concerns two high school students - the confident and sensitive Haruka, and her stressed friend Yuu. Together they plan to run away from home, but intervention by "ghosts" throws a wrench into their plans. These ghosts are in fact a team of agents sent from another dimension to retrieve an item known as the "Dragon Torque", and it seems that Haruka is central to their plans...
Initially I found this hard going. Noein takes the bold decision to drop us right into the middle of events (the first sequence is a fight that's ludicrously hard to follow) and the series takes a dangerous gamble - explain nothing and have the viewer empathise by knowing as little as the main characters. To some extent it succeeds in adding to the mystery, but it waits a little too long (episode 3) to start divulging what's actually happening, and for the first hour I found my attention waning as seemingly random things happened in no particular order.
By episode 3 the series began to piece itself together, and I found my interest rekindled, so persistance is rewarded.
Aesthetically it's very pleasing - jumping from otherworldy vistas to high school surroundings, it captures the look of two very different worlds with some style. Equally, the animation is excellent, particuarly the computer generated scenes, which really are moving on leaps and bounds these days. Compare, for example, the CGI on the cars in the series to those seen in Ghost in the Shell, and the difference in fluidity and blending is marked.
Overall impressions are favourable then. This is Manga's big new release for 2007, and if it continues to improve it deserves to do well. Time will tell.
Director/VA commentaries, alternative opening animation and original Japanese trailers make up the extras on this release. As with GitS, this is a 2 disc edition with a superior sound track on disc 2.