Full name - Noein: To Your Other Self (Mou Hitori no Kimi e)Haruka is an average girl, living an average life. Or so she thinks. In fact, she is a Cosmic Keystone being sought by the forces of two alternate dimensions, La'Cryma and Shangri'La. Each represents a possible future for Haruka's world, and Haruka has the power to determine which one becomes reality. La'Cryma is a shattered, dystopian place... but there is something sinister about the seemingly serene Shangri'La as well. Which side should she choose?Haruka and her friends find themselves in the middle of a war, with multiple factions and rapidly shifting allegiances. Some wish to protect her, while others will go to any length to abduct her. A few important characters include:
Haruka: Main character and MacGuffin Girl, despite those two usually being mutually exclusive.
Yuu: Haruka's troubled friend/love interest. Emo Teen extraordinare, complete with box cutter.
Ai: Haruka's best friend, she's the most Hot-Blooded of Haruka's friends.
Isami: Yuu's best friend, he has a fear of ghosts.
Miho: A close friend of Haruka's and The Ditz of the group.
Karasu: A Future Badass version of Yuu from La'Cryma, sent to abduct Haruka but desiring to protect her.
Amicable Exes: Haruka's parents, although it took them a long time after a very bitter divorce to get to that point, and even in the present tempers can sometimes flare up. Despite this, near the end Haruka's father asks her mother to "bring Haruka to the park together, like old times," possibly implying an attempt to reconcile with her for good.
Art Shift: An intentional example. Alternates per episode; only two animators, so only two styles.
Assimilation Plot: Shangri'La is composed of all of the other realities that Noein wishes to prevent from happening. The inhabitants of Shangri'La are all humans whom Noein has absorbed into his cause.
Bad Future: La'Cryma, but arguably Shangri'La as well. At one point Noein shows Haruka a bad future where each of her friends ends up getting broken. Creepily enough, the specific injuries the other characters sustain imply that the timestream Noein shows to Haruka is Lacryma's past.
Best of All Possible Worlds: Deconstructed and back. Haruka has the ability to jump dimensions, and spends an episode or two observing possible parallel or future time lines. One is 'perfect' in a Stepford Smiler kind of way, one is seriously post-apocalyptic, and most are pretty average, but after all of it she comes to decide there really isn't a best world, and even if there was, it's really not where she belongs.
Bittersweet Ending: Noein's plans have been thwarted, but Haruka has to say goodbye to the other-dimensional Karasu, and she will still likely face her untimely death a few years later in one way or the other.
Catch Phrase: Isami thinks that it is impossible for him to have a catch phrase.
Cat Fight: Haruka gets into one with Ai, who is jealous over what she believes to be a budding romantic relationship between Haruka and Isami, despite Haruka's attempts to explain. The audience knows from the get-go that it's not too serious, though, as it's accompanied by playful, cheerful background music (and they make up at the end of the episode).
Lampshaded by a cut to a pair of lazy cats observing the proceedings.
Chekhov's Gunman: Throughout the series, Uchida makes repeated attempts to get in touch with a "Dr. Mayuzumi", apparently one of the scientists in charge of overseeing the Magic Circle Project. He turns out to be Haruka's father.
Cynicism Catalyst: Yuu's mother, Miyuki, was hit pretty hard by the death of her sister Emi when they were teenagers. It didn't help that their parents seemed to favor Emi for her better grades and achievements. This is the main reason she's pushing her son to get a good education.
There's also Karasu, who, while not necessarily cynical, is so hell-bent on protecting Haruka after seeing the Haruka from his own dimension willingly sacrifice herself to try to keep La'Cryma safe.
Diabolus ex Machina: The "future" shown to Haruka by Noein in episode 22, where she sees all of her friends' lives ruined. In quick summary, Isami turns into a delinquent and loses his eye in a fight, Ai is told her leg must be amputated, effectively ruining her future of being an all-star soccer player, and Miho becomes a depressed Hikikomori due to bullying. The episode itself ends on a high note, though.
Disney Death: Yuu in episode 20, and Kōriyama in the final episode.
Dissonant Serenity: When we finally see behind the mask, Noein manages to act in a manner that can be described as being filled with rage and depression, but he does it with a creepy smile and a calm voice.
Drives Like Crazy: Miss Yukie, driving completely off the road. Justified in that she was trying to lose someone, but she was clearly enjoying herself.
Evil Phone: In one episode, after things start getting strange, Haruka asks her mother if she's ever encountered anything paranormal, and her mother mentions that her old house phone once rang, even though it was unplugged. At the end of the episode, the same unplugged phone rings again when Haruka's alone, so she picks it up, and realizes the person on the other side is her mother in the past. Haruka's mother is puzzled, while Haruka is very amused by the situation... and then her mother gets disconnected, and Haruka finds herself talking to herself from an alternate future. Her future self sounds so sad, and combined with the advice she offers, our Haruka is left quite shaken up by a vague hint at something terrible.
Explosive Overclocking: Dragon Knights can turn themselves into huge beings of energy, but it is very dangerous.
Expository Hairstyle Change: After the Ax-Crazy Atori loses all his memories and powers, his pointed bangs become rounded and curled up at the end. It's reverted back by the final episode, though he never regains his sadistic tendencies.
Eye Scream: Isami in the Bad Future of episode 22 loses an eye after being stabbed during a robbery. It's implied that this is where Fukuro's scar came from.
The Faceless: Future Haruka. Except for the future in which she dies in a car accident.
Flash Step: The Dragon Knights use something similar to this.
Future Me Scares Me: Yuu is scared by how cold and intense Karasu is. Karasu is disgusted by his cowardly former self. Furthermore, Noein is yet another future version of Yuu, who despises both of them.
Karasu glaring at Yuu earned the honor of page picture for this trope for a very good reason.
Gas Leak Coverup: The first appearance of the Shangri'La attackers was explained to the public as a meteorological phenomena. Given their incredible obliviousness, probably it worked for the second time as well.
Girlish Pigtails: Miho. Haruka also wore her hair this way as a very young child.
Happier Home Movie: One episode begins with Haruka watching a videotape of herself as a little girl, playing with her now-deceased grandmother.
Harmful to Minors: Atori's backstory. As a child, he was from a war-torn country and watched his friend be blown apart after coming into contact with a landmine. According to him, this is also how his sister died.
Magic Skirt: Despite all the running, jumping and climbing Haruka does while wearing a very short skirt, the viewer never gets subjected to any panty shots.
Mask Power: Noein often appears as a floating mask.
Meaningful Name: "Noein" is Greek (νοεῖν), which roughly translates to "I think/I know". More specifically, it refers to something that is known, but not through the traditional senses of the human body, only in thought. In other words, an existence defined solely by thought.
Nigh-Invulnerability: Of a sort. For the Dragon Knights, thanks to mechanical replacements and the bizarre way they take damage, its as if they were made of a uniform shiny substance underneath their skin.
Omnicidal Maniac: Noein's ultimate plan for utopia is to erase the entire multiverse and start it again from scratch.
One-Way Trip: The removal of the plugs connecting the Dragon Knights to their dimension.
Open-Minded Parent: While she's the kids' teacher rather than a legal guardian, Miss Yukie certainly fits the bill. When Kurasu lies mortally injured after a battle with the forces of Shangri'La, she is completely unfazed by the fact that the person her students are helping is missing a limb, is bleeding blue sparkles and has no recognizable internal anatomy whatsoever.
Ouija Board: Paranormal-obsessed Miho suggests using one to figure out the weird stuff going on with Haruka early in the series. It spells "Noein", but at the time none of the characters present had ever heard the name, so they chalked it up to nonsense.
Ouroboros: The motif appears with all the crazy quantum time wizzywigging. A giant one even serves as a portal to (effectively) The Legions of Hell.
Panty Shot: Averted, despite Haruka's penchant for wearing very short skirts.
Parental Obliviousness: It takes the house disappearing before Haruka's mother realizes something strange might be going on.
Parrot Exposition: Kōriyama-san. Almost any scene with him talking to Uchida-san eventually descends into her effectively talking to herself.
Pet the Dog: Haruka's dog, Baron, doesn't seem remotely intimidated by Karasu and allows the Dragon Knight to pet him. Atori's treatment of Miho counts too.
Pinky Swear: Haruka remembers moving from Tokyo years ago, making one of these with her friend Aya to write to her every day. She later runs into Aya in the present day, and is excited to see her again...until she learns Aya doesn't remember her.
Power Born of Madness: Noein. He was an ordinary high school student until a car crash killed his true love in front of him, after which it's suggested that his single-minded rage alone propelled him to gather followers, take over his Earth, master interdimensional travel and nearly succeed in obliterating everything in the multiverse. By contrast, Karasu is a badass hero, but Uchida's technobabble baffles him.
Noein has some elements of this as well. Unlike the Dragon Knights, whose bizarre powers are explained as being the result of Sufficiently Advanced Technology, Noein doesn't seem to use machinery at all, and can just do things. He started off as an ordinary human. How did he become the dimension-hopping Humanoid Abomination he is now? No one knows.
Real Place Background: The series takes place in the Japanese town of Hakodate. There is a lot of emphasis on the spectacular view from Mt. Hakodate, and the ropeway to its summit plays an important role in one scene.
Say My Name: played rather masterfully in Episode 13 when Karasu is mortally wounded
Schrödinger's Cat: The Schrodinger's Cat scenario is actually an important plot point on two occasions.
It's arguable that the entire plot can be boiled down to a schrodinger's cat. Yuu is indecisive about the future. Therefore, many possible futures exist. When he takes control and decides what he's going to do, the path he did not choose disappears.
Theme Naming: The Dragon Knights are all named after birds; Karasu is the Japanese word for crow, for example.
Also the names of two of the futures: Shangri-La is a fictional utopia in the novel Lost Horizon (as well as a term for utopias in general). The lacrimal (La'Cryma) ducts are where tears come from.
Actually, "lacrima" means "tear" in Latin. Which is why it's ridiculous that even the official translation went with the nonsensical La'Cryma spelling as if it was just a random fantasy name. (Incidentally, this spelling for "lacrima" comes from the J-Rock band La'Cryma Christi).
Viewers Are Geniuses: You can understand quantum mechanics, right? Good. (or maybe not so good, considering the research slip-ups.)
Villainous Valor: Atori is at first unlikable, yet eventually his steadfast determination turns out to be quite an admirable trait. Even if you don't consider him a villain at the end, the trope still rings true in retrospect.
Visit by Divorced Dad: Haruka has a "date" with her dad once every three months, and they still get on well.
The Watson: Kyoji's primary purpose is to have Ryoko explain quantum mechanics to him.