Noein – to your other self

Noein - to your other selfType: TV Series
Episode Count: 24
Genre: Sci-Fi / Slice Of Life
Vintage: 2005

Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 20 Feb 2009

Grade: B

The animation might be second rate, but the story more than makes up for it.

Plot Summary
In a place known as La’cryma, a battle is taking place between its people and strange contraptions from another land called Shangri-La, which seems set on destroying La’cryma.

Meanwhile, back on earth, Haruka, Yuu, and their friends are out for a night of ghost hunting, at the insistence of their supernatural-obsessed friend Miho. Defying all expectations they do see a ghost, but it turns out that this being is no mere ghost. It is looking for something called the “Dragon Torque”, and comes from a place called La’cryma.

The Review
Do you know about Schrödinger’s Cat? No? Take a minute to look it up, it’ll make understanding the story in Noein that much easier. I’ll wait.

Understand the basics of Schrödinger’s Cat now? Good! On we go…

Noein takes a concept of quantum physics and turns it into a story that anyone without a doctorate in theoretical science can understand. The concept of infinite dimensions is nothing new in the world of quantum mechanics, and in Noein, a somewhat plausible interpretation of it is presented, albeit with artistic liberties taken to make a good fictional story out of it. The simplest way I can think of to describe it is that at every time an action is taken, a new parallel dimension is spawned. Schrödinger’s Cat suggests that reality is subjective. Observation dictates reality. To adapt an example given in the series, take the rolling of dice. There are six possible outcomes. In this dimension, I may roll a 4, but there is the possibility that I also rolled a 2. I saw the 4, so that is my reality. But in another dimension, I rolled a 2. Rolling that 2 may lead to a different sequence of events than rolling the 4, so the “me” in each dimension follows a different path of observed reality. Now I’m no particle physicist, so that’s the best explanation I can try to give. But if you’ve researched Schrödinger’s Cat at all, that’s the plot device at work here.

Enough science… on to the story. Noein takes place in two places at once, which makes perfect sense, given the underlying plot device. First, there is the crisis on La’cryma. A small group of dimension-travelling soldiers (for lack of a better term) are searching the dimensions for something called the Dragon Torque in order to save their land from the advances of Shangri-La. They determine that the Dragon Torque is located in a dimension which corresponds to the early 21st century that we all know as “the present”. This is where Haruka and her friends come in. Both of their fates are apparently intertwined, despite existing in different planes of reality.

Haruka is the focus of the series, so her reality is the relative base for the story. She and her friends are in their final year of elementary school, though they seem very sophisticated for grade-school kids. Through their words and behavior, they seem more like middle school kids, but I can accept the notion of savvy sixth-graders for the story. It’s only a minor point anyway, for the most part. The portion of the story focusing on their reality takes the form of a slice of life character drama, and it is where most of the character exposition and growth takes place. The search for the Dragon Torque and battle with Shangri-La for La’cryma is the parallel story, no pun intended. Noein manages to balance these two aspects of the story pretty well.

Visually, Noein is a bit of an oddity. It’s a recent show, but the animation is B-grade at best. Character designs are rather simple and blocky at times, and the CG used doesn’t always blend well, but the series doesn’t look “bad” either. Whatever shortfalls lie in the visual presentation of the story are made up for quite nicely in the premise and story.

So overall I liked Noein quite a bit. The use of quantum physics in a quasi-hard-science sort of way in a story about grade school kids is an interesting mix. Also, it takes place in the Hokkaido port city of Hakodate, which is a nice change of pace from Tokyo. If you want a story with a hard sci-fi slant that won’t leave you scratching your head, check out Noein.

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