Now and Then, Here and There, WOWOW
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Caution: spoilers, I guess.
It begins with an ordinary enough kendo match, which is where we get our first glimpse of our protagonist, a boy named Shu. He's obviously reckless and impulsive, and kind of clumsy, which causes him to lose the match. But he's a pretty optimistic, happy-go-lucky kind of guy... in fact I should say he's quite lucky, because we soon see that his recklessness extends not just to kendo, but pretty much everything he does in life. Honestly, I'm amazed this kid is still alive. As I say, I can only attribute this to luck.
As he's walking along one evening, he sees a girl sitting on top of a tall smoke stack, and he starts to climb the ladder to get to her, but finds that it's damaged, and doesn't extend to the top. So he climbs a different stack, and begins talking to her. Oh yes, he's quite talkative, while she says nothing. She simply points toward the sunset. She seems to be appreciating it; he finds it kind of boring. Anyway, he finally learns that her name is Lala-Ru.
And then, before too much longer, time seems to freeze around them. Then a woman named Abelia shows up, along with a couple of henchmen piloting strange machines, one of which is like a metallic dragon. They're trying to abduct Lala-Ru, so naturally, Shu tries to stop them, impetuously as ever. And then they all get transported... somewhere else. Or somewhen else. It isn't really clear what's going on. But Shu and Lala-Ru start running, while Abelia gets on an intercom, telling everyone to chase them. Lala-ru must be taken alive; Shu may be taken alive or dead.
Before long, Lala-Ru is recaptured, but Shu escapes, clinging to her pendant. Eventually, Shu is confronted by a boy named Nabuca, the leader of a children's army unit. In the course of their fight, Shu loses the pendant. And later, he ends up saving Nabuca's life. Shu is finally captured just after that, when another young soldier named Tabool comes along. Shu is taken to a mad king named Hamdo, who explains that the pendant contains a condensed reservoir, and that Lala-Ru can manipulate water. So he needs both her and the pendant, because he wants her to release the water contained in it. He needs water very badly, it seems. He's... in command of this mobile fortress called Hellywood. And the nations subject to him are starting to revolt. And stuff. I dunno, it's kind of confusing at this point, and anyway, he's clearly both brutal and insane. When he finds Shu uncooperative, he hands him over to Abelia to torture.
While in his cell, Shu meets a girl named Sara, who is from America. She's surprised to meet someone who is also from Earth. Apparently, Abelia had abducted her at some point, thinking she was Lala-ru (who she somewhat resembles, though personally I don't see how anyone could make that mistake; Shu thought she was Lala-Ru at first, too). Anyway, she desperately wants to return home, and Shu promises her it'll all work out. But then he gets recruited into the children's army, in Nabuca's unit, where Tabool makes trouble....
Eventually, Hamdo gets the water he needs, but Shu and Lala-Ru escape. They spend some time wandering in the desert, before finally finding a village called Zari Bars. They stay with a woman named Sis, who takes in refugees like them. Though since Lala-Ru doesn't want her identity known, Shu calls her Larla. There's also a man named Elamba, who leads a faction that want to send an assassin to Hellywood to kill Hamdo. (Sis is opposed to this violence.) This was in fact done recently, and failed. The would-be assassin was killed, leaving his daughter, Soon, orphaned, though she continues to wait for his return from the mission. And because of the attempt on his life, Hamdo has become obsessed with finding and obliterating Zari Bars, so he sends out soldiers looking for the village everywhere. Once found, Hellywood takes off....
Meanwhile, Sara shows up. She had escaped from Hellywood awhile before Shu and Lala-Ru did (after being raped by a soldier), and apparently came to Zari Bars before Lala-Ru and Shu. When she returns from some scouting mission, she recognizes Lala-Ru, and blames her for everything that has happened to her. But I guess she sort of got over that. Anyway, before long Hellywood attacks Zari Bars... and there's not much more I can really say. Don't really want to spoil how it ends, although I'm not sure it really matters much.
It's a fairly interesting story, I guess, with a rather old school anime feel to it. I mean, the kind of stuff I thought of when I thought of anime, in the late 80s or so, though this came out in 1999. Anyway, I like the animation style. A bit simpler than alot of stuff I watch now, but pretty. I find it nostalgic in the same way I do the story. Um... I dunno, it doesn't really make alot of sense, actually, and it could be a bit boring, I felt. Kind of like watching a sunset. You know... boring, but in a good way. A simple pleasure... though conversely, it did have some pretty big themes. Not all of it was boring at all. Even though there's a fair amount of violence and death, it was kind of low-key, compared to most anime these days. Mostly it's just something that's meant to make you think about the horrors of war, and making children fight in such wars. Or something like that....