Now and Then, Here and There

Now and Then, Here and There

Now and Then, Here and There anime series cover art
Now and Then, Here and There

Overview

Now and Then, Here and There (Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku / 今、そこにいる僕) is an isekai anime from the good old days in which we weren’t flooded with at least one new variation on the subgenre every season. However, if you’re a fan of modern isekai series, don’t expect this one to feel familiar.

The only things this series has in common with modern isekai are those which it has in common with just about every other anime featuring a young, male protagonist. And, of course, the fact that the series takes place in another world.

But, I think you’ll find that even this other world isn’t familiar to those of us who watch modern isekai. Rather than being a fantasy world full of wonder, this world is a post-apocalyptic one in which the world’s water supply is dwindling, leaving colonies of humans to fight over what resources remain.

Over the course of the series we see three significant locations, which we can assume sum up the state of the entire world:

  1. Hellywood
  2. The desert
  3. Zari Bars

Hellywood is a massive human colony, ruled by King Hamdo, which survives by raiding nearby settlements, kidnapping civilians to turn them into soldiers, and killing those who refuse to cooperate. This colony serves as the main antagonist for the series.

Rather than oceans or forests, the only thing standing between the scattered colonies is a vast desert which has become the home of monsters. It’s unclear if these monsters are native to this world, or if this world is supposed to be a future version of Earth where these monsters have evolved to survive post-apocalypse.

Finally, we have the rebel colony, Zari Bars. This colony was built inside a canyon which has an underground spring nearby. Not only is this location ideal due to the water source, but the canyon also serves to hide the settlement from the gaze of Hellywood.

Characters

Shuuzou “Shuu” Matsutani is our protagonist taken from his home world this time around. When a group of Hellywood soldiers appears to kidnap a mysterious girl named Lala-Ru, Shuu just happens to get caught up in the action and is teleported back with them.

Of everything and everyone in this anime, Shuu is the most generic. He’s your typical young, male protagonist who has a loud mouth, isn’t afraid to risk his life to save the heroine he just met, and has an extreme aversion to killing for any reason (including abortion which turns out to be a surprisingly big topic in this anime).

If you’re ever unsure which character Shuu is, you can find him simply by looking for the idiot carrying around a large stick while everyone else has guns and knives.

The heroine of this story is Lala-Ru, a mysterious girl who’s actually a water goddess of some sort and has been living for billions of years. As a water goddess, she can freely control water, and also just spontaneously create enough of it to flood entire colonies like Hellywood.

But, while the ability to create water on demand might seem like a blessing in this parched world, Lala-Ru only sees it as a curse. Not only does using her water ability decrease her life (by how much we’re never told), but it also causes desperate humans to try to control her.

Wherever she goes, her water only brings death, not life. Once people find out who she is, they seek to capture and use her as their own personal water supply. This in turn makes wars break out between rival colonies vying for control of her, and in the end everyone dies.

Shuuzou Matsutani and Lala-Ru from the anime series Now and Then, Here and There
Shuu and Lala-Ru

Sara is another girl from the same world as Shuu who ends up as a captive in Hellywood. While Shuu was taken to Hellywood because he tried to interfere with the capture of Lala-Ru, Sara was taken because she was mistaken for Lala-Ru.

However, once it was discovered that she wasn’t Lala-Ru, Sara wasn’t simply allowed to go home. Instead she was kept as a captive and forced to have sex with the men of Hellywood in hopes that her offspring would become future Hellywood soldiers.

As an aside, since we only ever see a single woman in Hellywood, Abelia, we can assume that while all men are turned into soldiers, all women are used for breeding and raising future “citizens.”

The fourth and final main character is Nabuca, a child soldier of Hellywood. While I have to say I hate Nabuca, his character is a good foil to Shuu. While Shuu is against killing anyone, even an enemy, Nabuca is willing to kill anyone, even innocent children, because he believes he’ll get to go home after the war is over.

However, we, and Shuu, recognize that this war over resources will never end if people like Nabuca continue to fight in it. While Nabuca thinks raiding settlements is bringing the war closer to an end, all it does is fuel the Hellywood war machine by providing new soldiers to replace those it lost.

Lessons

There are a couple different lessons we can take away from this story, some more explicitly expressed than others. So, let’s go over the three I think had the most impact on the story itself: War, natural resources, and life.

It would be hard to watch Now and Then, Here and There and somehow come out at the end thinking this was anything but an anti-war series. Not only is our protagonist a conscientious objector, but we see the human cost of war. A lot of people die in this series, both good and bad, which just goes to show war doesn’t discriminate.

As for natural resources, they’re what the wars in this series are all about. People in this anime are killing each other over access to water, and someday that may not seem like just a plot from a dystopian series if we continue to destroy our own planet.

And, finally, we have the lesson about the sanctity of life. Yes, the fact that life is precious tends to come hand-in-hand with anti-war messages, but Now and Then, Here and There takes this one step further by pushing a full-on pro-life agenda which I wasn’t really expecting.

While it doesn’t matter to me what kinds of lessons or views are pushed by a particular series, what does matter in the way in which it’s done. The fact that Sara was raped with the intention of having her child become a soldier, and then was shamed into keeping it by the “good guys” isn’t really a good message.

I think leaving out the shaming and instead having Sara decide on her own to keep the baby would have been a better way to go about this. Instead, what we got was an affirmation that repeatedly yelling at someone to keep the child they don’t want is the best course of action.

Conclusion

Overall, I’d say Now and Then, Here and There is a solid 7/10 The first nine or so episodes I’d probably give a 6, but episodes 10 – 13 are at least 8s and really bring everything else that happened in the series up until that point together.

Have you seen Now and Then, Here and There? If so, what did you think of the series and the way in which it presents its lessons? Let me know in the comments.

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