Now and Then, Here and There: Now the Reflection, and Then the Reality [Recommendation]

At the water fountain outside of the dojo, Shu’s rival puts him down saying that he does not understand kendo—he is just a sword fighter. Shu says that he knows the rules and how he is supposed to think but they just do not suit his style.

Walking home, Shu spies someone on top of one of the chimney stacks of a deserted factory. He quickly tries to climb up to where she is but sees that the ladder to her stack is ruined. He climbs to a neighboring stack and tries to get her attention. 

It is not until he is about to throw his shoe at her that she looks at Shu. He asks what she is doing over there. She points towards the bay. Shu looks out at the bay and just sees the setting sun. “Nothing unusual about that…” he muses aloud. 

He asks for her name. She says it but so quietly that all Shu can see is her lips move. So he runs through the possible sounds finally hitting upon “La.” Lala Ru says her name again and from her lips, Shu deduces that it is Lala Ru.

However, just as Shu is beginning to make an impression on Lala Ru, time around them stops, and then there is a head-splitting sound. 

Suddenly they are not alone. 

A cold woman named Abelia says that she has finally found the real one and she is taking Lala Ru back with her. Shu sees Lala Ru say, “help me,” and leaps into action. 

At first, he discovers that fists are not very effective against mecha but after an initial disappointment, he keeps trying and manages to disrupt the captors’ efforts. They attempt to throw Shu away but not far enough to be out of range of their teleport back to where they came from.

Shu does not pause to wonder where he is—he immediately grabs Lala Ru and runs away into a maze. Abelia calls out all the forces to find Shu and Lala Ru. Shu asks where are they. 

Out of breath, Lala Ru says “the Heliod.” After a short chase, Lala Ru and Shu are separated by a draw-bridge that he leaps across but she is not able to make it. When Shu tries to leap back to help her, he falls short and grabs her pendant. It snaps off and he falls into the depths while the pursuers capture Lala Ru. 

Shu falls into a set of vents reminiscent of the scene from THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. He ends up hanging onto a vent covering where he gets to see the world he has landed in for the first time. Shu is shocked and all he can say is “Where is this?!”

Comprising of 13 heart-wrenching episodes, Now and Then, Here and There (Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku) was written by Hideyuki Kurata and directed by Akitarou Daichi.

It has very engaging characters and a lot of plot elements that tantalize the viewer. On top of that, you have good, clean character designs. They are not overly complex yet, each character is remarkably distinct. 

You can see at a glance who they are and what they are feeling. However, Lala Ru is so quiet and neutral that you only see hints of her feelings. She tends to keep them deliberately hidden and has the appearance of trying to erase herself from her surroundings.

That is probably the most attractive thing about the story for me—all of the characters have depth. Shu is straightforward, honest, and never gives up. Abelia is the epiphany of loyalty and cold-hearted ruthlessness. Lala Ru wishes that she were not so special and that people would not be killed because of her. Hamdo, early on, gives this impression of chilling insanity, spiteful power, and anger.

Next is the setting—the environment, how Lala Ru’s world came to be the way it is. How could it ever possibly be recovered with things as far gone as they appear to be? 

The story touches the reality of our present world… minors are used as soldiers in war, humans fight against fellow humans, greed for power exists, child abuse is rampant, and the mass killing of innocent people is common. I must say that this anime is like a mirror trying to show us the reflection of what is happening around us.

The character designs and mecha designs are unusual enough to lend them distinction among other anime shows at that time it was released. 

The soundtrack is also very well done. It fills out and accentuates the show. Especially poignant are the opening and ending themes (“Ima soko ni iru boku” and “Ko mamori uta..” respectively.)

A fictional story yet it shows reality, Now and Then, Here and There is a haunting story of a dystopian world that is a must-see for anime and non-anime fans alike.