Friends become rivals over what to do about the Dragon Torque and the young Haruka Kaminogi who carries it within her. Karasu is willing to lay down his life to protect Haruka, but would Yu do the same if he was there? La’cryma’s Dragon Knights are dwindling with each dimensional jump, Haruka is starting to understand just what power she has over reality, and Noein reappears and wants to take Haruka to Shangri-la. Director Kazuki Akane’s (The Vision of Escaflowne, Escaflowne the Movie, Heat Guy J) twisted vision of the past and future returns with Noein – to your other self: Volume 3 from Manga Entertainment.
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 3), NOEIN: Storyboard to Screen, Image gallery, Trailers.
Notes: Review is based on a Screener copy of the final product. Preview audio clips are available.
Episode eleven opens with the confrontation between Karasu and Fukuro on the rooftop of the Kaminogi house. Fukuro hates the idea of killing his friend so he enters the recall command for the remaining Dragon Knights. Just as Kosagi draws out her bow-like weapon to shoot Haruka, the recall command takes over and reels her back to La’cryma. Meanwhile, Ryoko Uchicha explains in detail to Kyoji Kooriyama the Magic Circle Project she has been carrying out research for. While the “many-worlds interpretation” goes over his head, Kyoji does understand why it is important for Ryoko to find Dr. Takuya Mayuzumi to confirm her theories and possibly the reason why he quit this project. Of course, to find Dr. Takuya Mayuzumi means returning to Hakodate once again and following his daughter around until he shows up. After all, what father wouldn’t want to see their daughter when it’s Haruka Kaminogi.
The showdown isn’t over, as episodes twelve and thirteen reveal. Isami has been working hard on getting Yu’s head out of a funk. However, this isn’t what concerns Haruka as she passes by them. Haruka knows Fukuro has returned to face Karasu in a fight to the death. But in her vision of the fight, Fukuro dies at the hands of Karasu over her and Haruko can’t allow this to happen. As she searches the Hakodate harbor where the two have begun their epic fight, Haruka is overwhelmed by the stress until she finds herself in a strange room in Tokyo and then on a train platform following Yu. A Time Drifter explains that this is a phantom dimension that Haruka didn’t choose. In Haruka’s infinite ability, what she envisions can become a reality. As Haruka manages to find the pair fighting, she’s able to stop the battle before one of them dies. Karasu has lost an arm, but that’s the least of their concerns when Atori arrives to make trouble.
Atori has begun to de-coherence and the problem has driven him into an even further madness seeking revenge. As he tries to kill Fukuro, Atori is captured within Karasu’s restraints. Fukuro takes the chance to destory Atori completely. The men celebrate the victory and Fukuro agrees to help Karasu protect Haruka when Noein arrives. Noein has been watching the entire time and disintegrates Fukuro. Haruka calls Yu and begs him to bring help to save the slowly dying Karasu. Once again Yukie Nijo, the homeroom teacher, is dragged into the mess that she doesn’t understand. Tobi discovers Atori wandering aimlessly in the streets of Hakodate with no memory of who or what he is. Tobi tries to help his friend when Isami, Ai, and Miho run across them. Isami doesn’t trust them, but despite thinking Miho is Atori’s dead sister Sara, he appears completely harmless now. The group has no choice but to take the two dimensional travellers with them as they head down to the docks where some falling blue snow was seen. Soon after they arrive, Kosagi returns to get her revenge for Fukuro’s death.
Miss Yukie arrives the next day with two bird-watching boarders to take up residence in the Kaminogi’s spare room. Tobi and Atori have taken on false identities to help in the problems that lie ahead for Haruka. Meanwhile, Haruka’s own powers are growing again. An unconnected phone rings that lets Haruka talk to her mother from years ago. Haruka’s mother brushes off the incident while cleaning up the spare bedroom. Some old drawings by Haruka’s mother look cute and Haruka asks for them to hang in her room. The rest of Haruka’s friends show up so that Tobi can start doing research. Haruka goes downstairs only to hear the phone ring again. As she answers the call, the Dragon Torque comes to life and suddenly Haruka is watching her parents have the same fight over and over again right before her father walked out on them. Yet the dimensions of the action start to differ as Haruka keeps watching her parents’ past, from their final fight to their first meeting. Only the Time Drifter can remind her how reality truly works before she becomes lost in the past.
The final episode sets up the next major story arc as the Magic Circle Project, La’cryma, and Shangri-la set their own plans into motion. Haruka’s father arrives and takes his daughter out for the day, but a phone call from a mysterious man soon draws him away. Haruka’s friends tease and say she should ask for more presents next time to make up for it while Tobi and Karasu conduct research. Kyoji spots Karasu while driving through the countryside and holds the two men at gunpoint to ask some questions. Karasu disarms Kyoji easily and answers that they are from ten years in the future, but amazingly enough Ryoko isn’t surprised by the news. Tobi and Karasu allow the two to follow them underground to investigate a dimensional contact point, but from far away Atori can sense that this is a trap. As the four look at the Uroboros, Shangri-la’s Noein activates the trap so that he can gain the only thing he has ever wanted: Haruka Kaminogi.
Noein – to your other self is a fascinating series that will grip you from start to finish. While the animation takes some stylish changes, the quality presented is always on purpose. From the detailed 3D backgrounds as Haruka looks out a window to the rough sketch-like look of the epic battle between Fukuro and Karasu, director Kazuki Akane knows how to draw you in via sight, sound, and storyline. The Japanese cast delivers another series of strong performances with Haruka Kudo (Haruka) and Nakai Kazuya (Karasu) leading the group. Kenichi Suzumura also deserves a special mention for his wide range in playing Atori’s multiple personalities, from friendly to hostile. The English production from Media Concepts, while not perfect, has a decent version to watch in English. While the changes in the script and occasional poor choice in casting come up, overall the leads and supporting cast have done a good job. Melissa Fahn adapts Haruka’s nature very well from fear to sadness as Haruka tends to have more to frown than smile about in this volume. Eddie Frierson (Atori) picks up in this volume, adding some range and delivery his character has been needing. And Noein is just damn creepy with Richard Epcar‘s deeper voice compared to Kazuya Nakai’s slightly lighter version.
Noein – to your other self: Volume 3 continues the must-have streak Noein has been running with for three volumes. With only two more volumes to go, Noein could be one of the best series released in America this year. The video is clean and the subtitles contain no errors. The DVD artwork is getting a tad tiresome with a simple remix of the last two volumes and it’s a true shame when you note the Japanese R2 artwork. The DVD extras are part three in the On Location series with the cast and staff, a storyboard-to-screen featurette by animation studio Satellite, and an image gallery with screencaps from this volume. Noein – to your other self: Volume 3 is the perfect title to keep you glued to a TV set for two hours without even noticing. The mixture of a rich storyline, well-developed characters, and the playful rollercoaster ride will keep you coming back for more.