Noein: To Your Other Self

Tagged: TV

Japanese animated tv series (2005-2006). Original title Noein: Mō Hitori no Kimi e. Satelight. Directed by Kazuki Akane. Written by Kazuki Akane and Hiroshi Ōnogi. Voice cast includes Saeko Chiba, Kōhei Kiyasu, Haruka Kudō, Kōki Miyata, Kazuya Nakai, Kaori Nazuka, Sayaka Ohara and Fujiko Takimoto. Twenty-four 24 minute episodes. Colour.

In the present day, three girls – friendly Haruka Kaminogi (Kudō), strong-willed Ai Hasebe (Chiba), paranormal enthusiast Miho Mukai (Nazuka) – and two boys – downtrodden Yū Gotō (Takimoto), scrappy Isami Fujiwara (Miyata) – are beginning summer break in the small Japanese city of Hakodate.

Meanwhile, the Dimension called La'cryma is on the brink of being destroyed by another, Shangri-La. La'cryma is a Post-Holocaust Earth, its population Underground, their advanced Technology allowing travel to other possible dimensions. All matter here, including humans, is in a quantum state, unstable without an observer: so everything has been transformed into data and stored in a Quantum Computer to stabilize it. A supreme observer named the Dragon Torc, "a body of energy created by a quantum spin", is required to make everything real: its coordinates have been located by the computer. From La'cryma's perspective the Torc's location – our dimension – is an illusion; from our dimension's perspective, La'cryma is only a possible future.

La'cryma sends Cyborged agents to present day Hakodate to obtain the Dragon Torc: the agents are surprised to discover it is Haruka; she is surprised to find the agents include adult versions of Yū and Isami, named Karasu (Nakai) and Fukurō (Kiyasu), with an older Ai back in La'cryma. Karasu, never having got over the death of La'cryma's Haruka, now vows to protect this version of her. The show's main antagonist – and least successful character – is Noein (Nakai), another version of Yū who discovered that Haruka dies young in every dimension: the pastoral, lifeless Shangri-La is the result of his plan to merge all dimensions into one devoid of suffering.

The youngsters' summer in Hakodate is a pleasing "slice of life" tale interrupted by Haruka experiencing alternate versions of her and her friends' lives (see Alternate Histories) and, increasingly, by La'cryma's interventions, some of whose agents they befriend. They also meet Ryōko Uchida (Ohara), a researcher for a project building a quantum Teleportation system; she suspects, correctly, that it will destroy all dimensions: the countdown to its activation mirrors the approach of Shangri-La to Earth. The story ends busily, but with all existences saved.

Whilst being science-heavy, with exciting action and exotic locales, this enjoyable Anime is character-driven and often touching. The animation style is varied and interesting: the CGI's success is mixed, but impresses when conveying the other-worldly, such as Shangri-La's encroachments. The show plays with the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, (see Physics) with its Multiverse of constantly branching alternative dimensions or Parallel Worlds. The quantum Observer Effect is taken rather literally, though it is also used as a metaphor for the importance of friendship: "to establish existence, the most vital aspect is for people to observe one another and acknowledge them". [SP]

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