Ima Sokoniiru Boku
(Now and Then, Here and There)
Episode 1: Tasogare wo Mitsumeru Shoujo
(The Girl who Stared into the Twilight)
Copyright: © 1999, AIC, Pioneer LDC Inc.
Length: 25 minutes
Rating: NR, Mature Audiences
Format: Original Japanese Dialogue (VHS, LD, DVD)
Kokowa dokoda?! (What is this place?!)
Matsutani Shuzo (Shuu for short) is an energetic, happy go-lucky kid in the kendo club. However, while he tries to fight, his lack of planning and thinking beyond the moment results in an almost comic fighting style, one which most of the other students would rather not deal with. After losing yet another match at kendo, Shuu wanders home to see a young girl perched atop an old smoke stack. How she got there when the ladder leading to the top hangs broken is a mystery. Shuu however, decides to try to talk to the girl as she watches the sun set over the ocean. Just as he starts to befriend the girl however, there is a great noise and huge, centipedal machines appear around the two. It seems that people have come to take Lala-ru back to Hamdo - their leader's side. However, Lala-ru wants nothing to do with the insane dictator. And so, Shuu, trying to help Lala-ru, ends up being transported with her. Transported to a world where water is extremely scarce, life difficult, and war is everyday.
Dealing with the concepts of war and the brutality that occurs in such situations, it would be easy to get lost in lots of graphic blood and violence. Rather than a lot of "splatter" however, Ima Soko is more psychologically brutal. Starting off in a very sunny and cheerful manner, we are quickly drawn into the world of Matsutani Shuzo, Shuu for short. Indeed it's almost painful watching Shuu and his antics at times and we quickly come to understand that he is a brash young teenager who doesn't think beyond the moment. And while we may not entirely identify with him, we can certainly feel for him and understand his reactions. With solid voice acting on the part of Okamura Akemi, Shuu's character takes on a strong personality that viewers can grasp.
As this is the first episode to the series, character introductions abound but are by no means overwhelming. And while subsequently important characters are given very brief cameos, overall, the introductions occur in a natural, easy to follow manner as we follow Shuu and his encounters. While primarily concentrating on introducing the major characters with definite emphasis on the main character of Shuu, we are also introduced to certain aspects of the storyline which will unfold later. Also, while the story is set up using the oft-used plot device of a dimensional/time slip, viewers are still very quickly pulled into the story being slowly revealed.
While one scene was overly reminiscent of Star Wars - the Empire Strikes Back, the overall unfolding of the story before us is solidly portrayed and directed. With scenes ranging from quiet serenity, brash folly, and high action, the direction is very well done, things fall into place well and keep viewers attention firmly on the story unfolding before them. Also, while some parts are almost too comic in their representation of reality versus the comic world, it gives a touch of the whimsical to this episode. Indeed, it's almost a guilty pleasure to see that. While not entirely realistic, the animators are poking a bit of fun at how animation breaks the laws of physics. Likewise, rather than detracting from the episode in general, the light humourous parts are there to keep the series from becoming too serious too soon.
Overall, the animation in this episode was quite nice. With better than average detail in certain background shots, we are treated to seeing reactions in background characters as well as those in the foreground. However, that's not to say that there is an exceptional amount of detail either as there are a number of stills as well.
While most characters are given minimal lines, overall the voice acting is solidly done. Okamura Akemi is solidly into character portraying Shuu and his running dialogue. Likewise, the music is solidly done and works well at enhancing the overall viewing experience. At times melancholic, and other times with a driving beat, it is a treat to listen to. While there were occasions where I find the mixing levels a touch out (I really don't enjoy being deafened by background music regardless of how exciting a scene is!) overall it makes for good listening. And as is typical of most anime productions, the ending theme is very nice and highly in keeping with the feel of the whole series.
With some fast paced action and some very humourous parts as well, this first episode makes an interesting start to the series. Ending on a high point, viewers are left hanging (literally) wanting to see what happens next.
- JYN, 2001.04.10
café rating (original japanese):
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