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Now and Then Here and There.jpg


 "All the good people of this world are already dead."


Not for the faint of heart.

Now and Then, Here and There (aka Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku or "The Me That's There Now") is a grim piece by Akitaroh Daichi, the director responsible for such manic comedies as Kodocha and the first Fruits Basket anime. According to Daichi himself, he was influenced to create this story based on reports coming out of Rwanda during the genocide taking place in that country - and boy, does it show.

Now and Then, Here and There takes the old anime plot of being transported to another world and turns it on its head. Shuzo "Shu" Mizutani, a normal Japanese young teen, is on his way home from kendo practice one day when he sees a strange girl sitting atop a smokestack. Curious, he goes up to meet her. The girl's name is Lala Ru and as Shu is introducing himself and talking to her two strange machines warp in and attack them. Shu attempts to defend the girl but is easily brushed aside and Lala Ru is taken. Shu renews his attack as Lala Ru calls for help but everyone ends up getting transported back to where the machines came from.

As a consequence of this, Shu is transported to a dying desert planet orbiting a bloated sun in the early stages of nova. Only the worst of humanity has survived this crucible and Shu has been dumped alone into the heart of this hell. Shu tries to behave as the hero would, ever optimistic that good will always triumph and that if he tries hard enough he will win and restore goodness to the world. Things don't work that way in Hellywood, the fortress ruled by an insane king (Hamdo) served by a super-efficient minion (Abelia) who inflicts his every demented whim on a helpless population...

In this world, children are the targets of atrocities committed by other children. Neighboring villages are raided for vital supplies and young boys to be conscripted into the insane king Hamdo's army - Shu is just one of them and witnesses how boys like him (like his squad leader Nabuca, his Number Two Boo and his rival Tabool) are forced into this. Women and young girls are captured to be passed around to and raped by Hellywood soldiers as a reward for good performance, in the hope that they will become pregnant and provide future soldiers and breeders. This latter fate befalls to the first friend Shu actually makes in the new world, a young American girl named Sara Ringwalt who was mistakenly grabbed because of her resemblance to Lala Ru. And still, poor Shu does what he can to not fully lose himself in this violent world, trying to reach for Lala Ru, Sara, Nabuca, Tabool and Boo so they can all survive in the middle of Hamdo's crazy reign. . .

Tropes used in Now and Then, Here and There include:
  • Adorably Precocious Child: Boo, though the responsibility is of the emotionally scarring kind.
  • Adrenaline Makeover: Sara is introduced as a Shrinking Violet with long blond hair and a rather girlish pink bluse/skirt outfit, right before she's forced into Sex Slavery and hit with lots of misfortune. When she kills one of her rapists and escapes from Hellywood into the desert, she gets rid of the blouse and skirt plus cuts her hair with a knife; from then on she's seen in a more practical t-shirt/pants get-up, marking how she evolves into a still kind but more serious young woman who eventually becomes determined to protect herself and others.
  • Adult Fear: Children are stuck alone in a foreign land. And that's just the beginning.
  • Aerith and Bob: The girls and women all have real names, even in the future; Soon is a Korean name, Abelia is the name of a plant, and Sis is likely a nickname. And then you have the guys; Boo, Tabool, Nabuca...
  • Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: Lala Ru's pendant has the still great remains of a massive store of water tied directly to her own life. How much more concentrated do you get?
  • Anyone Can Die: And by anyone we actually mean everyone. Especially if you can feel any sympathy for them.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Hellywood's airship is fueled by...water? To be fair. They put in the briefly shown "Converters" which allow the water to be used as fuel.
  • Apron Matron: Sis, the local Team Mom.
  • Art Style Dissonance: It's not exactly cutesy, but it's unusually stylized for such serious subject matter. This arguably works in its favor, softening the blow of the most traumatic scenes.
  • The Atoner: Abelia is strongly implied to become this, after Sara shows her mercy.
    • Kazam, the spy soldier who brought Hellywood to Zaribars (and one of Sara's rapists) pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to save one of the kids Sara's escorting.
  • Barrier Maiden: Lala-Ru, also the MacGuffin Girl.
  • Bedouin Rescue Service: Sis does this with Shu and Lala-Ru
  • Bodyguard Crush: The straight trope and the inversion are both played with between Abelia and Hamdo. It's heavily implied that Hamdo used to be sane, and that the only reason Abelia stays with him is because she remembers what he used to be like. That combined with the wistful look in her eyes when he dies, especially when she was perfectly capable of saving him, made it look like she was saying goodbye to someone she cared deeply about, but she finally admitted had already been gone for years. There's also her rage towards Lala Ru, who Hamdo talks to like his lover half of the time. As for Hamdo's feelings, the way he touches Abelia (caressing her face, hugging her from behind) is not quite sexual but definitely more than friendly.
  • Break the Cutie: In spades.
  • Breather Episode: Episode 8. While Shu and Lala Ru do talk about the horrors of the world they're in, it's not up in your face, so you can take a break from the depression brought on by the last 7 episodes while they fight a giant desert plant monster with grenades.
  • The Caligula: King Hamdo
  • Character Development: Some of them change almost completely throughout the show.
  • Child Soldiers: played much more realistically and darkly than usual withn Shu, Nabuca, Boo and Tabool.
  • Children Are Innocent: Arguably the entire point of the show, to such an extent that Nabuca is treated like a monster for killing Soon, even though she just killed Boo.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Abelia goes right past the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique and into this. An adult woman torturing a young boy into unconsciousness for information is just not something you see in many media.
  • Cool Airship: Hellywood
  • Crapsack World: The epitome and the definition.
  • Death Glare: The apparently emotionless Lala Ru managed one when Hamdo had Abelia shoot Shu. For half the series, he bribed, cajoled, pleaded, and threatened her without so much as getting her to look at him. After the shooting? "Why are you looking at me like that?... Stop looking at me like that!"
  • Decoy Protagonist: While almost the entire series is shown to us as seen through Shu's eyes so as to achieve the haunting effect of a child's perception of brutality, surprisingly little of the story has anything to do with him. The real protagonist is Lala-Ru.
  • Deconstruction: This show is supposed to deconstruct the whole Trapped in Another World plot, but actually averts it in other ways. While the world is brutal, "realistic", and plausible in his apocalyptic mindset, it isn't a true Deconstruction because it doesn't actually follow the tropes in Trapped in Another World. Most works are done in the Medieval European Fantasy setting, with White and Black Morality or at least gray ("All the good people of this world are already dead." indeed), Heroic Fantasy conflicts and following the The Hero's Journey... which this work doesn't. It would be like trying to deconstruct the Lord of the Rings using the Dark Sun setting by Terry Goodkind.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Lala Ru and Abelia.
  • Determinator: Shu
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Arguably, Lala-ru wasn't up for grabs to begin with.
  • Downer Ending: Sure, Earth survives 10 billion years into the future, but you've sent back a young man that knows that the world will eventually devolve into the world that Shu experienced. Not to mention the fact that he won't be there to save the day when that time comes.
    • The world is already like that, so eather than the world devolving, the point seems to be that the world did not and will not change at all. Both the good (people like Sis) and the bad (child armies like Hellywood) persist.
    • Bujt since it's never made exactly clear how time travel (if it is that) works, Shu can try to change the world in The Slow Path using the knowledge he's gained.
  • Driven to Suicide: Sara, though Shu stops her.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Shu knows Lala Ru's name and precisely nothing else at the time he starts casually risking his life at every turn for her.
  • Enfant Terrible: Tabool
  • Evil Versus Evil: Elamba vs Hamdo
  • Emotionless Girl: Lala Ru, and to a lesser extent, Soon.
  • Eternal English
  • Expy: Tenchi? Tenchi who?
  • Fallen Hero: It's strongly hinted that Hamdo once was a sane leader, but he's VERY gone in the present.
  • Foe Yay: Tabool's unhealthy obsession with Nabuca and subsequent rage whenever Nabuca rejects his attention are typically interpreted as an example of this.
  • Freeze Sneeze
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Shu tries this on Sara when she's Driven to Suicide. Doesn't quite have the result he'd probably hoped for.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Shu and Sis dissuade Sara from having an abortion
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Played straight with Boo; averted with Soon and her father.
  • Harmful to Minors: Very.
  • Heel Face Turn: Abelia; done beautifully in a gradual buildup rather than a last-minute decision.
  • Heel Realization: Boo and Nabuca start to realize the wrongness of their actions in Hamdo's army after Shu shows up.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Boo, Kazam, and Lala Ru.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Elamba is so desperate to get his hands on the MacGuffin that he's willing to shoot Sis and let her die slowly. When the village doctor wants to tend to the wound, he refuses and shoots the doctor after he invokes this trope to call him out on his shit.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Dan Green as Nabuca in the English dub.
  • Honor Before Reason
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Abelia to Hamdo.
  • I Choose to Stay: Sara, to replace Sis.
  • Identical Stranger: Save for their hair colors and .pupils, Sara looks quite a bit like Lala-Ru.
  • Important Haircut: Sara, after murdering a soldier to escape from Hellywood.
  • Infant Immortality: Not even. No one is safe, no matter the age.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Mecha
  • Interrogated for Nothing: Happens to Shu over the course of several episodes. He's only released from the torture regimen when Hamdo has one of his very brief lucid periods and realizes that maybe the boy doesn't really know anything.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Sara, after she found out she was pregnant from being raped, tried to drown herself. Shu interrupting her only made her hurry.
    • Given that her response to being interrupted was to grab a rock and start pounding on her stomach, are we sure she was trying to kill herself?
      • Yes. After Shu successfully stops both the suicide attempt and the abortion attempt, Sara says to him, "You won't even let me die in peace." It's likely that after she failed to kill herself, she decided she would go for the second best option and kill the baby.
  • It Got Worse: Every five minutes or so.
  • Jerkass Facade - Tabool. Many write him off as a plain old Jerkass, yet he spends an awful lot of time trying to pal around with the same people he antagonizes. Closer inspection during and after Zari Bars' first attack also reveals scenes where he is both terrified and depressed by the battle, which does not seem to fit the heartless/militaristic attitude he otherwise displays.
  • Just Following Orders: The soldier boys, especially Boo. They just want to go home, so if they have to pull lots of crap to do that... They will.
  • Karmic Death: King Hamdo wanted water? He got water.
  • Kill'Em All: Only Shu, Sara and Abelia are left standing after all the other main characters are killed off.
  • Kill It with Water: Lala-Ru drowns Hamdo and takes Hellywood with him at the cost of her life in the last episode.
  • Larynx Dissonance: The English dub is notable in that none of the child characters sound like children, which takes away at least 50% of the story's impact. Shu suffers from this in the French dub as well.
  • MacGuffin Girl: Lala Ru deconstructs this via getting to give a speech about how being one sucks. People only want to use her, and eventually kill each other over her.
  • Mama Bear: Sis will NOT let any of her adoptive children be mistreated.
  • Monochromatic Eyes: No guys in the future have pupils.
    • Lala Ru is the real oddity, having blue eyes surrounding bluish-white pupils.
  • Mysterious Waif: Lala Ru. Word of God says she's a metaphor for any natural resource that humans greedily consume or exploit during a time of warfare without taking into consideration the longterm effects said greed will have on the planet and future generations. It's not uncommon for fans to perceive her as the spirit of the dying planet, or even water itself. Technically speaking, either would be a correct interpretation.
  • Necessarily Evil: Most of the Child Soldiers as well as Abelia. They know that all of the killing and kidnapping is evil, but just want to get the fighting over with and go home. Hamdo, being a Dangerously Genre Savvy Omnicidal Maniac, made sure that'll never happen by destroying every village he "recruited" from afterward.
  • Non-Indicative First Episode: The first episode seems like a light-hearted, silly, generic Shonen series; the rest of the series is much darker and a lot more brutal.
  • Not So Harmless: Hamdo is presented as so utterly insane, childlike, and paranoid that it's initially difficult to take him very seriously. Fast forward to the episode where assassins break into Hellywood. Hamdo unloads six rounds from a semi-automatic into a single assassin's body within the span of about two seconds. Holy shit., Overkill much?
  • Now Which One Was That Voice: Completely averted. The opening theme begins with a Dramatis Personae showing the main characters with their names in English and Japanese, pictures, and the names of both their seiyuu and English VA. The end credits also show both actors for each character.
  • Opening Narration: A loose example describing the general tone of the series beginning each episode: Because ten billion years' time is so fragile, so ephemeral, it arouses such a bittersweet, almost heartbreaking fondness.
  • Parental Substitute: Sis to the war orphans.
    • Also Nabuca to Boo, which is made especially more poignant when taken into consideration that Nabuca is barely a teen himself.
    • Sara takes over for Sis when she is killed.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Hamdo is not only insane, but childishly so.
  • Rape as Drama: Sara; also hinted with Lala Ru. More tragic than usual in that they're both pre-teen girls (Albeit Lala-Ru is Really Seven Hundred Years Old, so...).
  • Rape Discretion Shot: The first time Shu's newfound friend Sara is raped goes like this. Nabuca and Boo escort her at gunpoint to a spot outside a cell, then a haggard-looking man grabs her by the arm and pulls her inside the cell, and the scene switches back to Boo and Nabuca outside. The next time she shows up, she's seen bruised and despondent on a corner until Shu speaks to her and she begins to cry.
    • Hamdo already tends to be very handsy with Lala-Ru, but at some point he closes in on the poor girl before the scene featuring the two switches to another. . .
  • Really Seven Hundred Years Old: Lala Ru, as said above.
  • Redemption Earns Life: When Abelia helps send Shu back to Earth, the guards present raise their guns... and Sara lowers them, despite being more or less directly responsible for all the cruelty she endured.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Boo in the 12th episode by taking a bullet for Nabuca, could also be Heroic Sacrifice. Nabuca in the last episode when his change of heart gets him shot by Tabool. Kazam in the final episode, exchanging his life to save a child soldier from Hellywood's flood.
  • Rei Ayanami Expy: Lala-Ru
  • Right-Hand-Cat: Subverted. King Hamdo kills his cat in a fit of rage during the second episode, and when Shu sees it, it takes a while for him to realize it's dead. Arguably also a Squick moment.
  • Right-Hand Hottie: Abelia qualifies for this, especially considering that the series has little to no fanservice whatsoever.
  • Rival Turned Evil: Tabool to Nabuca, culminating in the latter's death.
  • Rock of Limitless Water: Lala-Ru's pendant is sought after for its ability to produce large amounts of water.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Shu's kendo stick, arguably. Kendo is taught to Japanese youth primarily as a means of instilling respect, integrity and honor, ideals that Shu attempts to spread all around him, yet he fails miserably given the circumstances of the new world. The significance of this is that regardless of how much abuse the stick takes or how many times it changes hands, it never seems subject to any degradation whatsoever, parallel to Shu's wide-eyed idealism throughout the series -- until he finally snaps and uses it to trigger what he knows will turn into a violent jailbreak and smashes it to splinters over the back of a cowering Hamdo.
  • Shoot the Dog: King Hamdo strangles a cat. You hear the last cry it makes.
  • Smite Me Oh Mighty Smiter: Partially subverted at the end of episode seven, where (during the previews for the next episode) King Hamdo has a conversation with God, calling him a "tease" for presenting him with so many problems.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Sara's name becomes Sala in the French dub, which particularly does not make sense because she's supposed to have an everyday American name. Hellywood/Helliwood/Heliud, Tabool/Tabur, and Zari Bars/Zali Barth also suffer from this depending on whether you watch the original, fansubs, the English subs, the English dub, or the French dub.
  • Take My Hand: Shu saves Nabuca from falling off to his certain death despite the fact that the two were fighting just a few moments previously, thus establishing Shu as a definite Wide-Eyed Idealist.
    • He does it again in episode seven. It's a neat juxtaposition in that both times this occurs, there's a definitive clash between Shu's philosophy and Nabuca's, but the second time around, it's Nabuca who saves Shu.
  • Sex Slave: The women in Hellywood, save for Abelia. Sara is just one of them.
  • The Stoic: Nabuca, until the end. Also Lala Ru, and Abelia
    • Interestingly, he fits the Kuudere pattern as well. While he seems cold and impersonal, he is shown holding hands with frightened children (episodes six and seven) and also shares his water (a scarce commodity) with a boy who refuses to do his share of the work. He is even shown covering up for kids in his corps who misbehave, making him something of A Father to His Men as well.
  • Team Mom: Sis. Sara later shows potential to be this.
  • Time Abyss: Lala-Ru claims to be thousands of years older than Sis. In addition, until Hamdo captured her she seems to have faded into myth in the setting, despite claiming that wars have been fought over her time and time again. She may well be tens of thousands of years old.
  • Token Good Teammate: Kazam, among the adult soldiers of Hellywood. The fact that one of Sara's rapists (and the most likely "father" of her kid) is this shows how crappy the world is.
  • Took a Level In Badass: Shu in the last episode, prompted by Nabuca's death.
  • Training From Hell
  • Trapped in Another World: Shu and Sara.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behaviour: Even off the battlefield, the child soldiers tend to talk and act exactly like adults, though it is shown to be a facade/coping mechanism for at least two of the main characters.
  • Tyke Bomb: Implied that Hellywood is trying to do this with its breeding program, although interestingly enough, none of said tyke bombs are ever depicted on screen.
  • Used Future: The futuristic flying fortress Hellywood is crumbling and can barely get off the ground. Guns appear to be held together with tape.
  • Villainous Breakdown: King Hamdo is introduced smack in the middle of one, and never recovers.
  • We Can Rule Together: Tabool tries to convince Nabuca that they can rule Hellywood together in the future. Nabuca isn't convinced. It doesn't end well.
  • We Have Reserves: Hellywood has a Wave Motion Gun capable of felling entire Land Battleships and the surrounding environment... which Hamdo has no compunction using despite his troops being engaged with said enemy. Interestingly though, they don't quite have enough reserves, as this shot in the foot left Hellywood highly understaffed.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Brutally averted. Hamdo's sacrifice of his troops is presented as senseless tragedy. His army is made up of people forced into it at gunpoint and with the empty promise that if they're obedient, once the war is over they can go home. Some (like Nabuca, Tabool and Boo) are children.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Again, Shu; see Take My Hand example above.
  • World Half Empty: The dying world 10 billion years into the future that Shu is transported to.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: The reason Hamdo employs a child army, other than children being extremely easy to corrupt, is because he's banking on his opponents' hesitance to harm them. It's shown to work at least once during series.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Lala Ru and Abelia.