As a sci-fi story this anime really attempts to put a lot of science and theories into the story and to give it some credibility. A lot of the quantum theories are actual theories. They really can not be proven so this leaves the plot of this story really wide open for loose interpretation of these theories. This should be enjoyable enough for sci-fi fans that have actually heard of these theories. Unfortunately this can also be a major turn-off for the general anime fan because the explanation of these theories can become quite complicated.
The main driving plot of the story is that Haruka is this anomaly called the “Dragon Torque” which takes on the theory of observation. In which what is observed is only the perception of reality that is seen but if it’s not observed it may actually not exist. Sort of goes along the line of “If a tree falls in the forest and nobody’s around does it make a sound?” In the story the people of La’ cryma is trying to prevent Shangrila from taking over it’s timespace and they need Haruka to try to prevent this because she is the Dragon Torque. La’cryma is essentially one of the possible futures of Haruka. So at first glance it appear to follow the typical time traveller story in which the future tries to alter the past to save the future, but its not! It’s way more complicated than that because remember time is relative which makes linear thinking futile. The theory is no matter how much you try you can not change your past. You can create another alternative timespace but you can not change your past.
Even thought the story appears to have an epic storyline of worlds colliding as the major plot to drive the story forward, it has still carries the themes of nostalgia,growing up and the decisions that accompany those themes. I think they did a good job at balancing the heavy meanings of the themes with a dramatic plot and still be able to have a little levity as well.
Sci-fi category this level of scientific theories is actually very rare. Even with the level of difficult theories and sciencific facts they still were able to highlight themes which everybody can relate to, nostalgia and growing up. I couldn’t give it a perfect because there are some perceived plot holes, which can be explain by time being relative, the observation theory and by difficult explanations of quantum theory but I felt they didn’t explain these plot holes well enough so I couldn’t give it a perfect, but for a sci-fi fan these reason should be enough to fill those plot holes.
The overall look of Noein immediately brought to my mind the Gamecube title “Legend of Zelda, the Wind Waker.” The characters eyes and emotions, they seemed similar. it’s an unusual look thus far in my anime experiences, Google yourself up some screen caps. Noein gets points for having a unique and distinctive look.
Of particular note, the animation style of Noein is not consistent for its 24 episodes. It changes periodically from scene to scene, which for some could be a deal breaker… for me it was probably the best part of the animation and added to the overall unique flavor. In episode 2 the senior artists add a lot of detail to the battle that takes place between the Dragon Knights. The style gets sharper and a bit angular, the quality goes up a notch to almost feature-film like detail. It’s a shame Noein doesn’t maintain this level of quality… the unique shape of the characters looks really good like this
However, the other alternative style is also very cool… for episode 12 (and a few parts of episode 24) the opposite happens and the animation becomes extremely sketchy and unpolished, almost like a flip book. The coloring changes accordingly and it provides a really REALLY fun look. Again, it’s not maintained, only for the duration of a battle scene… if somehow Noein kept either or of these styles it’d be a ten of ten, however it doesn’t for whatever reasons. Still, it’s altogether nice of the eyes and the actions and emotions are well drawn out and felt effectively.
The music score. was excellent, one of the better I’ve heard in a long time. Hikaru Nanase’s music, from the great tones of Shangri’la to the sorrowful music of Mirai no Haruka and the happy tone of Haruka no Uchi, is awesome.
If you’ve read this far you should have guessed by now that I enjoyed Noein, but didn’t love it. Noein is not underated in my opinion as the AniDB label says. it’s simply “unique”. Give it a go if you are curious and ready to play with some of the less common sci-fi elements.