The second volume in the ongoing Noein series has a lot to do after the cliffhanger ending at the end of episode five. Haruka Kaminogi has entered a world she didn’t know existed, old friends are struggling to find their proper place, and Karasu is stuck in the middle as he tries to decide which is more important: duty or friendship. The Dragon Torque Haruka carries within her needs to be mastered if Hakodate and La’cryma are to have any chance at survival. Manga Entertainment brings director Kazuki Akane’s (The Vision of Escaflowne, Escaflowne the Movie, Heat Guy J) newest original creation to America with Noein – to your other self: Volume 2.
Audio: English 5.1 DD, Japanese 5.1 DD, English 2.0 DD, Japanese 2.0 DD
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Extras: On location with Japanese voice actor and director (part 2), Player Cards gallery, Trailers.
Notes: Review is based on a Screener copy of the final product. Preview audio clips are available.
Life was simple before Karasu and his fellow soldiers from La’cryma entered into Haruka’s dimension. She had friends who liked her, a mom who loved her, and a guy she enjoyed hanging out with. In the city of Hakodate, Haruka is a 14-year-old blessed with many good things in her life. Yet, in an instant, everything can change. In only a moment, Haruka was snatched up by Karasu and taken back to La’cryma against her will. Now, stuck on the other side, Haruka meets a world very similar to her own and yet radically different. Friends have grown up over the last 15 years and the bonds that held them have broken down some. The surface is a wasteland of former cities now wiped out by frequent alien attacks. And the remaining survivors of La’cryma huddle deep below the surface in the last refuges of mankind.
Episode six opens with Haruka transporting through time and space to La’cryma after Karasu grabbed her at the dam. Now a wanted man by the Dragon soldiers, Karasu is taken prisoner and Haruka is sent to the medical ward for observation after a risky transport. A council of leaders for La’cryma discuss how to use Haruka and more specifically her Dragon Torque to stop the Shangri-la aliens from invading anymore. Meanwhile, Haruka’s friends find out from Yu about Haruka’s disappearance. Ryoko Uchicha and Kyoji Kooriyama, having become wary of all the odd events surrounding Haruka, notice the kids in the park and start to ask Yu questions about what happened at the dam. Quickly, the group brings in their homeroom teacher, Yukie Nijo, to help with Haruka’s disappearance and the investigators from the government. Back in La’cryma, Amamiku explains to Haruka “many-worlds interpretation” and how she can possibly exist in a dimension not her own. However, the information becomes too much for Haruka to accept and she makes a daring escape to see the outside world.
Episodes seven and eight revolve around Haruka’s place in the grand play of time and space as the Dragon Torque. Having seen what will become of some of her friends, she is heartbroken to discover how harsh life is in La’cryma. Karasu is held prisoner as some of the other Dragon soldiers stop by to convince him of how his views to save Haruka are wrong. Yet, when Amamaki places Haruka in a testing chamber, he risks everything to take her back to her home. In Hakodate, Haruka’s friends keep searching for their lost friend while Yu breaks down to the fact that he really couldn’t do anything to protect her.
With Haruka home again and Karasu cutting off any way of his returning to La’cryma, life returns to somewhat normal as we enter the final two episodes for Volume 2. Yu Goto is still struggling with family issues as his mother forces him to live a life that was meant for his deceased Aunt. As he hides out at the Kaminogi home, Ms. Goto drops by looking for her son. It’s the quick thinking of Haruka’s mom, Asuka, that keeps the angry mother at bay as the two old friends sit down and catch up on what has happened over the last few years. Yet, something strange is happening as Miyuki Goto is pulled into a dimension in the past to relive all the happy and sad memories surrounding Miyuki’s dead sister.
Noein – to your other self continues to provide a deep story told very well through its arcs. The music lends a helping hand to provide the right touch to each moment whether it’s a troubled or peaceful time. Again we are given several strong performances by both casts as Haruka Kudo and Melissa Fahn equally keep up with the tough, rollercoaster life Haruka Kaminogi experiences. Direction in the dubbing of the series by Media Concepts continues to be strong, although we are given some slight changes in the script that affect some of the scenes. Overall, it’s still a good dub for the show but could use some tightening to make sure the intent doesn’t get lost as it’s translated over for the English-listening audience. Nakai Kazuya and Crispin Freeman also get some serious screen time in this volume as Karasu battles the sadness and pain both with his own past regarding Haruka and with the world he is now a part of in Hakodate.
Noein – to your other self: Volume 2 should be on your shelf and in your DVD player. There is no getting around how strong of a title this is and it’s probably one of the best anime series for this year. Manga has put together another DVD with crisp video, good subtitles, and a 16-minute featurette with the Japanese director and cast. The growing storyline will tug on the soul of the viewer as we can now start to put the pieces together between present day Hakodate and the future that is known as La’cryma. For $19.98 MSRP, you really can’t go wrong picking up the second volume of Noein with its five episodes that reveal all the basics you need to know to start learning the past and future of the Dragon Torque.