This is a series that has been on my watch list for literally years, probably since I started watching anime 5 years ago or so. However, I never really got around to watching it…until now.
Series: Now and Then, Here and There
Media: Netflix Online, Episodes 1 – 13
If you open the dictionary and look for “gut wrenching and depressing,” this show will probably be listed under it. Now and Then, Here and There is truly a work of depression, desperation, and despair. It puts the eternally optimistic Shu into the world of wanna-be ruler of the world King Hondo. The rule under the despotic and paranoid King Hondo is brutal, even by historical standards, yet many of the characters there cling to some hope or another that helps them get through the hells of day-to-day life, and to rationalize the brutality they’re forced to inflict on others.
Now and Then, Here and There certainly can’t be criticized for not going “there,” wherever “there” is. It doesn’t shy away from the unpleasantness of conflict, such as forcing children to fight, soldier’s raping of captured women (and resulting pregnancy of the victim), and the indiscriminate killing of children. It is no surprise that even the ever-optimistic Shu finds himself becoming despondent in the face of such evil and brutality, especially when everyone is too afraid to stand up to it.
If any moral can be derived from the show, it’s that, while shit happens, and that life isn’t fair and the worst things can happen to the best people, one should try to live the best you can with what life dishes to you, even if it serves you a steaming pile shit served with a glass of vomit. Of course, doing that is much more easily said than done, as Shu observes and even experiences for himself.
There were a few instances where I thought Shu’s outlook on life was counter-productive or over intrusive, however. First, he absolutely refuses to kill anyone, even when they probably damn well deserve it, or when doing so might serve the greater good. I realize the moral is that one should act to remain righteous, even in the worst of times, but sometimes the moral thing to do is to eliminate an evil before it can do even more harm, even if means killing. Shu’s absolute aversion to killing, or even resorting to violence at times, often extended the grief for everyone, just so he wouldn’t (literally) get blood on his hands.
The second instance that comes to mind is when he pleads with Sara not to abort her baby. Now, the issue of abortion is clearly a very touchy topic, and granted, bashing a rock against one’s stomach isn’t exactly the recommended way to go about causing a miscarriage. However, his actions regarding Sara’s pregnancy I found nearly borderline preachy, like something I would hear from people protesting outside an abortion clinic. And while it’s not my business if someone decides to keep their baby after getting pregnant from being raped, I found Shu’s almost shaming Sara into keeping her baby, despite her wishes, to be rather overbearing.
In the end, I thought this was a pretty good series, story wise. I thought it hung together well and told a good story while portraying the world that Shu found himself in. I thought the animation quality might have been a tad dodgy for a series made as late as 1999 (not that I’ve seen many from that time, but shows that I have seen from then, or even a little earlier, seemed to be of a little better quality than NTHT). However, it was still good enough to where I didn’t pay very much attention to it. If you’re willing to stomach a series such as this, I would definitely recommend it.
I give thanks to THAT Anime Blog, from where I stole my screenshot