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Noein Vol. 3
Distributor Manga Entertainment
When a series gets over the half-way mark I expect certain things. Most importantly, I expect the story to be in full flow and I expect some kind of attachment to the main characters, but so far I don’t know what to make of Noein in these respects. At times, it seems to flirt with greatness; The roughly drawn lines used in some of the action moments really are spectacular and portray the sense that we’re dealing with a world that’s breaking the laws of physics. It looks different and unique and it is to its’ credit. But in other areas I find myself painfully willing the story to move forward and I shouldn’t have to. We’re 14 episodes in of a 24 episode series and it shouldn’t be this hard!
The writers still seem content to explain nothing 90% of the time and leave us trying to fill in the holes, only to then throw us an episode filled with expositional dialog explaining the finer points of quantum mechanics. If the reward for sitting through half a series of confusion is an episode with two people talking science, then frankly it’s not good enough!
Haruka and Yu are also turning out to be every bit as clichéd as I’d feared; the naïve and vulnerable girl with insane amounts of power that she has no control over and the boy who is as depressive and emotional as they come. To make things worse, the other characters are lacking any kind of real depth and the attachment just isn’t there for any of them.
Story wise, the volume starts off by building up to a big battle between Karasu and Fukurou which, when it comes, is actually the highlight of the entire volume. But surrounding it is a load of uninteresting story development involving Yu and his dilemma about whether he should go off to study in Tokyo or not. One moment you’re watching amazing visuals burning up your screen in fantastic action scenes and then the next, you’re dragged into watching Yu’s personal decisions about what he wants to do with his life and his arguments with his school friend Isami (the incarnation of Fukurou in Yu’s dimension). I can see what the writers are trying to do, by drawing comparisons between the two characters in both dimensions, but something about it just isn’t working.
The thing is, Noein works brilliantly as an action series primarily, but I feel that the writers are trying to be too intelligent with the story and the pacing is just off at the moment. It has the same effect of reading an interesting book that’s just about to get going before someone suddenly comes and yanks it away and replaces it with a school text book or a 14 year olds diary.
It’s not all roses in the technical department either. The main, really quite frustrating issue is with the blatantly dire dubtitles in the Japanese audio track. In a particular scene, Isami is talking about which countries he’d like to go and play football in and you don’t need to know any Japanese to notice that the countries he’s reeling off are *completely* different to the countries being shown in the titles. At other times, characters will be talking and they’ll be no titles at all; they’ll finish speaking and then the titles will pop up, by which time one of the other characters has already launched into another line. You might think I’m being picky but when something this obvious makes it through production it makes you wonder exactly how much Manga Entertainment actually care about the production at all!
Noein has a lot of work to do to redeem itself in my book and even if the second half of the series is up to scratch, I can’t help feeling that, should I even want to watch it again, I’ll probably just pick five choice episodes out of the 14 so far and enjoy them in isolation.
From Story board to screen: showing the opening battle scene in episode one.
Interview with Japanese director Kazuki Akane.
It's floundering between some great moments and sloppy pacing.