Double Points Anime Week 4: Now and Then, Here and There (6/22-6/28)
I’ve been hesitant to pick this as my double points anime and while I have numerous reasons as to why I guess it could best be summarized as the fact that I need to use TRIGGER WARNINGS: rape (implied, child abuse, war violence, slavery, etc.. I could go on I suppose, but I think the ultimate thing to think about is the fact that this anime is a rather stark portrayal of war. What held me back from not recommending it at all is that while it is at times hard to process, its idea of confrontation is not meant to shock but rather, to bring to the light the fact that humanity is always capable of such evil things. This is an anime about war and rather than pretend that war is some classy confrontation between sides over differing ideologies, it shows what happens to those who are caught in the middle of the upper echelons, destroying your sensibilities that such things are graceful and making them raw and powerful and evocative. I have always triumphed the fact that anything that any work of art that makes you feel powerful emotions, no matter what they may be, is doing its task, and this qualifies wholly.
Shu is an affable if unskilled kendo student who one day sees a girl sitting atop a smokestack. He climbs to meet her and learns her name is Lala-Ru, before she is attacked by some mechanical entities. Shu attempts to defend her, only to be defeated and sucked into her world. In a desert waste, he is now between a war waged over limited water and the horror it brings to the populace.
As I said, this is a brutal work of fiction and in fact, confrontation of the evils that humanity can inflect. But… it is also a shockingly hopeful work. Perhaps the thing that draws me back to NaTHaT is the fact that it brings to life the fact that even when our world is at our worst, the best of us continue to rise above the horrors and sew something more. Shu is an atypical protagonist for an anime, but is so unique in the setting he is put in, always rising to show why others are worth protecting, why our spirits are worth protecting, why life is worth protecting. Thematically, it is willing to confront in a way my friend has described as akin to Grave of the Fireflies (but with less hyperbole and manipulation in my pinion) and does not accuse, but merely states why we must continue to grow beyond our baser selves.
As I said, this with reservations but I think those of you who can make it past its surface horror will find a remarkably sensitive story and one that encourages the best of us. This week Here and There, Now and Then is worth eight pointsand can be found here.
- The Curator