Pros: Fascinating premise, character development of the main characters, character designs, musical score, interesting fictional technology.
Cons: Awkward pronunciations in dub, premise is never fully explored, weak conclusion, animation, under-developed characters, genre-mixing.
Plot Summary: The Wiki article (see above) summarizes the series very well, so I will not be redundant and restate it.
Review: Firstly, one of the more positive aspects of Noein is that of its soundtrack. The opening and closing themes are both J-Pop songs by female vocalists, but both are catchy, and I often found myself humming them throughout the day. The background music is also fitting and enjoyable, though not as memorable as the opening and closing themes.
I usually prefer English dubs, but in Noein's case, the English dub is a mixed bag. On the one hand, all of the characters' voices seem to match their characters, but on the other hand, every single voice actor, aside from Crispin Freeman (Karasu) and Melissa Fahn (Haruka), cannot seem to pronounce Haruka's name correctly. They call her Ha-ROO-ka, which, although only it's a minor flaw, becomes incredibly irritating after the first two episodes, especially because everyone always seems to be screaming her name. It was extremely hard to ignore.
Noein's animation also has its ups and downs. The character designs are unique, but the CG used to animated Haruka's house and a few other locations blends in so badly with the rest of the animation that it looks cheap and mediocre. There are also times when the characters look like they were drawn sloppily in pencil, which is evident especially in the fight-scenes. There were even a few fight scenes where no color was used. It looked sloppy and lazily-done.
Noein's biggest problem, however, is its utilization of multiple genres in order to tell a story. When I first read about Noein, I was fascinated at the idea of an anime exploring Hugh Everett's Many-Worlds Interpretation, the Copenhagen Interpretation, existentialism, and the paradox of Schrodinger's cat. (It would take too long to explain these concepts here, but there are several online resources available.) However, the majority of the series focuses on Haruka, Yû, and their three friends as they go ghost-hunting in a cemetary, experiment with a ouija board, handle their parents and school, and deal with mixed feelings and crushes. While the slice-of-life aspect is entertaining to watch, as the characters are extremely likeable, I could not get over the fact that none of it had to do with the plot. Even with the appearance of Karasu, the kids go on with their whimsical, pre-teen lives, only becoming concerned when an enemy surfaces. Perhaps this was to cause the viewers to care for the characters, or to make them seem more innocent so that the events of the series would be more affecting, but I personally feel that the plot could have been explored in more depth without compromising character development. It was almost like a physics-based anime for children, in that it never becomes too deep.
Overall, Noein was a let down in the sense that it opened with an interesting premise that was never really explored. There are under-used characters that exist solely for the purpose of revealing information about physics to the viewer(s), and the series' conclusion is disappointing in that the problems caused by the antagonist are resolved after a brief "revelation". After it was all over, I felt that it took far to long just to get to the point where the series ended. Noein was an entertaining series to watch, mainly because the characters were so likeable, but it could have been so much better.
I would recommend Noein only if you are interested in watching a character-driven series. If you are interested in learning more about physics, read a book on the subject instead.
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