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"Because ten billion years' time is so fragile, so arouses such a bittersweet, almost heartbreaking fondness."

WARNING: NOT for the faint of heart.

Now and Then, Here and There (a.k.a Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku or "The Me That's There Now"), originally broadcasted between October 1999 and January 2000, is a grim piece by Akitaroh Daichi, the director responsible for such manic comedies as Kodocha and Fruits Basket, and Hideyuki Kurata, former staff writer on shows such as Pretty Sammy and Excel Saga. Only this time, they put the laughs away in a lockbox and melted the key.

NTHT (as the title is often shortened) takes the old plot of being transported to another world and turns it on its head. Shu, our hero, 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 he 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.


The normal conventions of this genre decree that the alternate world be a cool, mildly dangerous place where the transportee soon hooks up with some cool friends and a protector/mentor who explains the new world and guides our hero on his great quest to rescue the damsel...

Not this time. Shu is transported to a dying desert planet orbiting a bloated sun in the process of becoming a red giant. 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. Only, things don't work that way in Hellywood, the battle fortress ruled by an insane king served by a super-efficient minion who inflicts his every demented whim on a helpless population.


Daichi pulls no punches in the thirteen episodes of this TV series and gives us no let-up. 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. 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 a young American girl named Sara, who is mistakenly grabbed because of her resemblance to Lala Ru. Indeed, a couple episodes in the middle of the series focus entirely on her story, not Shu's.

Daichi was influenced to create this story based on the reports coming out of Rwanda during the Genocide, and boy does it show. The anime is considered by many fans to be a masterpiece, but be warned: it is intense enough that you will probably only be able to watch it once. This one belongs on the shelf right beside Grave of the Fireflies.

Definitely not to be confused with the 1995 Coming-of-Age Story Now and Then.

Provides Examples Of:

  • Adorably Precocious Child: Boo, though the responsibility is of the emotionally scarring kind.
  • Aerith and Bob: The females 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?
  • Animal Mecha: The snake-like robots that some of Hellywood's soldiers pilot.
  • Antlion Monster: After escaping Hellywood, Shu and Lala-ru narrowly avoid being eaten by a sand-dwelling creature with snapping jaws and vine-like tentacles.
  • 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 fuelled by water, due to the briefly-shown "Converters" which allow the water to be used as fuel, which possibly explains why there is no more water on the planet.
  • Apron Matron: Sis.
  • Art-Style Dissonance: It's not exactly cutesy, but it's unusually stylized for such serious subject matter. (Some have compared the art style with World Masterpiece Theater.) 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. The spy soldier who brought Hellywood to Zaribars pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to save one of the kids Sara's escorting.
  • Ax-Crazy: King Hamdo is this in spades.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: This is Hamdo's Establishing Character Moment— he's introduced strangling a cat.
  • Bedouin Rescue Service: Sis, upon taking in Sara after she escapes Hellywood. And then Shu and Lala Ru for the same reason.
  • Being Evil Sucks: The show goes to great lengths to show the circumstances that drive people to do terrible things, and it doesn't do wonders for their psyches either.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Shu manages to survive the destruction of Hellywood and is returned to his time period through Abelia's 'bound' technology. A pregnant Sara remains with Abelia and the survivors of Sis' village, planning to keep her child. And Lala Ru, having regained her hope in humanity through Shu's example, has returned water to the world. However, Lala Ru, Boo, Sis, and Nabuca are dead, and since the story takes place ten billion years into the future, the world is going to end anyway (assuming humanity hasn't already colonized other planets) due to the already-bloated sun about to go supernova.
  • 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. Someone 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.
  • Boy Meets Girl: Shu and Lala Ru meet on a pair of chimneys of an abandoned factory, as both are Watching the Sunset.
  • The Caligula: King Hamdo
  • Character Development: Some of them change almost completely throughout the show. Sara probably being the most extreme example.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Shu's climbing abilities are demonstrated in the first episode, when he scales a derelict smokestack. He puts his climbing skills to good use again during his breakout in episode 7.
  • 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.
  • Child Soldiers: Played much more realistically and darkly than usual.
  • Circling Vultures: In the second episode, when Shu is hanging from the outside of Hellywood, a vulture lands on him and tries to eat him. It flies away when it turns out he's still alive.
  • 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 is revealed to be a gigantic flying machine that uses water as fuel.
  • Covers Always Lie: The English DVD box shows Shu and Lala-ru sitting in the cockpit of a Humongous Mecha, looking ready to kick some serious ass. They don't do anything like that in the show.
  • Crapsack World: The setting.
  • Death Glare: You wouldn't guess her capable of it, but 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!"
  • Death by Irony: Hamdo wanted Lala-Ru to give him water, and Lala-Ru drowned him in water.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: Of the Trapped in Another World scenario. In most of these stories, a hero is taken to another world (normally Medieval European Fantasy, but it just has to be somewhere fantastical), and turns out to be the Chosen One to solve the problems there. Shu's status as a pinball protagonist reveals how much he can actually do to save the world... which isn't a whole lot. The series follows him on his journey as he tries to solve things, but most of it involves him getting kicked around and subdued; establishing that things are generally out of his control. However, by the end of the story he does manage to restore Lala Ru's faith in humanity, which results in her Heroic Sacrifice to save the remaining survivors of Sis' village. He also frees other prisoners before hunting Hamdo down to rescue Lala Ru in the final episode. Shu can't directly influence events very often, but his Incorruptible Pure Pureness changes many characters significantly, thus sparing more than a few lives (if not quite the entire world).
  • Determinator: Shu
  • Diabolus ex Nihilo: The giant sand monster in Episode 8. It makes for a good Jump Scare and is quite hard to shake off, but it doesn't affect the plot much and is never spoken of again. It might even have counted as a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment if not for some of threatening animals already seen skulking around, as well as the general Crapsack World atmosphere.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Shu to Lala-Ru. Arguably she wasn't up for grabs to begin with.
  • Dies Wide Open: Boo, who was dead before he hit the floor. Also, Soon who was shot by Nabuca in return.
  • Domestic Abuse: There is a lot of parallels to this with Hamdo and Abelia's relationship.
  • Dread Zeppelin: Hellywood itself turns out to be one.
  • Drinking Game: Take a shot each time Shu says "Lala-ru!" (Have an ambulance on standby.)
  • 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.
  • Emotionless Girl: Lala Ru, and to a lesser extent, Soon.
  • Eternal English: Or Eternal Japanese. Either way, Shu has no problems communicating with the people of the distant future,
  • Epic Launch Sequence: Hellywood gets one, in what might be the show's only real concession to the conventions of normal sci-fi anime.
  • Easily Forgiven: Abelia, full stop. She tortured people for Hamdo, followed his most his most brutal orders without question, and only refused to save him in the end, yet somehow that was all enough for Sarah to forgive her.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Hellywood itself. As shown in the last few episodes, it can fly too!
  • Evil Versus Evil: Elamba vs Hamdo
  • Expy: Tenchi? Tenchi who?
  • From Bad to Worse: A child stuck alone in a foreign land can be enough by itself, but it's only the beginning here.
    • The story's governing philosophy. Every episode introduces fresh torture for its characters, usually in escalating fashion leading up to a brutal finale.
  • 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. On the other hand, the doctor who recommends it (and makes it clear that it's her choice) is unambiguously one of the few completely-good people in the setting.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Played straight with Boo; averted with Soon and her father.
  • Green Aesop: More subtle than the anti-war one, but definitely there. The most obvious part is how Lala-ru represents Earth's raw natural resources and how they are wasted and fought over by humanity.
  • 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 both start to realize the wrongness of their actions in Hamdo's army after Shu shows up.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Boo, Kazam, and Lala Ru. Boo in the 12th episode by taking a bullet for Nabuca. Kazam in the final episode, exchanging his life to save a child soldier from Hellywood's flood. Lala-Ru brings back water to the world but fades away.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Elamba. He 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.
  • Honor Before Reason: Shu absolutely refuses to do anything even slightly morally reprehensible regardless of logic or reason.
  • Humongous Mecha: Hellywood has several of these in its army.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Abelia to Hamdo.
  • I Choose to Stay: Sara, to replace Sis.
  • Important Haircut: Sara, after murdering a soldier to escape from Hellywood.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Shu. Psychotic dictators can torture him, child soldiers can kill people before his eyes, but no matter how hard the world tries to break his morality, it will not break.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Mecha!: There seem to be two main types of Humongous Mecha that Hellywood's army uses. One is a sort of mechanical snake that the soldiers who capture Lala-ru pilot, while the other is a more conventional-looking Mini-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 lucid periods and realizes that maybe the boy doesn't really know anything.
  • Interrupted Suicide: After finding out that she was pregnant from being raped, Sara tries to drown herself, but Shu follows her to the spring and stops her just in time. Her response to being interrupted was to then grab a rock and start pounding on her stomach, lashing out at the baby instead. "You won't even let me die in peace."
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: 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 child soldiers, particularly Boo.
  • Karma Houdini: Abelia. See Easily Forgiven.
  • Karmic Death: King Hamdo wanted water? He got water.
  • Kick the Dog: King Hamdo strangles a cat for no reason. You hear the last cry it makes.
  • 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: In the English dub, none of the child characters (except Boo) sound like children. This removes at least 50% of the story's impact. Shu suffers from this in the French dub as well.
  • Little Miss Badass: Soon, who upon hearing that Nabuca murdered the assassins from Zari Bars sent to kill Hamdo, one of which was her father, readies the rifle she was taking to Shu, coldly aims it at Nabuca's back and fires. But the real badassery comes when she realizes that Boo got in the way of her shot, reloads the rifle in one swift motion and aims again. Nabuca gets in a counter-shot first, thanks to Boo taking the bullet for him. Otherwise, he would have been long dead.
  • Living MacGuffin: Lala Ru. Deconstructed in that she gets a speech about how being one sucks. People only want to use her, and eventually kill each other over her.
  • Mama Bear: Sis
  • Monochromatic Eyes: No males in the future have pupils.
    • Lala Ru is the real oddity, having blue eyes surrounding bluish-white pupils.
  • Morality Kitchen Sink: Hamdo is Black, Abelia is A Lighter Shade of Black, the Child Soldiers and Rebels are Grey, Boo is A Lighter Shade of Grey, Shu and Sis are White and Lala-Ru is Blue.
  • 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 long-term 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 an Omnicidal Maniac, made sure that'll never happen by destroying every village he "recruited" from after looting them.
  • Non-Indicative First Episode: The first episode seems like a light-hearted, silly, generic Shōnen series; the rest of the series is much darker and a lot more brutal.
  • 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.
  • Ominous Floating Castle: Hellywood is revealed to be one.
  • 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 a child himself. Sara takes over for Sis when she is killed.
  • Photoprotoneutron Torpedo: Hellywood has a "Ultra-Micro-Proton Cannon" which is capable of blowing up other flying battleships from miles away.
  • Pinball Protagonist: While Shu behaves as the hero would, his actions have little to no effect on the series' plot or resolution. Remove him from the series and pretty much the same things would have happened.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Hamdo is not only insane, but childishly so.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Near the end of the series, Shu has had enough and is angry enough to repeatedly smash his kendo stick on Hamdo over and over again until it shatters. He even throws a broken piece at the back of Hamdo's head. For a moment, it seems Shu will finally kill someone.
  • Rape as Drama: Sara; also hinted with Lala Ru. More tragic than usual in that they're both children.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Lala Ru. If the quote at the beginning of each episode is from her, then she may be ten billion years old.
  • Redemption Earns Life: When Abelia helps send Shu back to Earth, the guards present raise their guns... and Sara lowers them, despite Abelia 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. Notably, Shu does not kill Hamdo and some pieces of the kendo stick are not completely shattered. This could mean while Shu;s worldview is now shattered, it is not completely gone and can be repaired.
  • Smite Me, O 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 does not make sense because she's supposed to have an everyday American name (and the name exists in French too). Hellywood/Helliwood/Heliud, Tabool/Tabur, and Zaribars/Zali Barth also suffer from this depending on whether you watch the original, the fansubs, the English subs, the English dub, or the French dub.
  • Standard Post-Apocalyptic Setting: The setting ticks almost all the boxes, with the desert environment, scarce technology, giant sand-dwelling monsters, and a Wasteland Warlord in the form of the evil King Hamdo.
  • Steampunk: Well, we've got a giant flying machine that uses water for fuel, along with an army of Humongous Mecha and an overall rusty, forbidding look about the setting. Heck, Shu even first meets Lala-ru on top of an old factory chimney!
  • The Stoic: Nabuca, until the end. Also Lala Ru, and Abelia. Interestingly, Nabuca fits the Sugar-and-Ice Personality trope 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.
  • Stupid Evil: Hamdo wastes hundreds of his own soldiers with reckless military tactics, right before ordering a basewide search after Lala Rus pendant in which all available manpower was needed. He also impulsively kills the Zari Bar assassins, instead f taking them prisoners and extracting valuable information from them.
  • 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.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Tabool
  • 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. Assuming the opening text is dialogue from her, she considers ten billion years to be brief.
  • Token Good Teammate: Kazam among the adult soldiers of Hellywood. Nabuca and Boo for the child soldiers as well, though we don't see the personalities of many of the other children.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Shu in the last episode, prompted by Nabuca's death.
  • Tragic Dream: Nabuca's dream to go back to his village. It's heavily implied that it had been destroyed and that Hamdo has no intentions of ever letting any of his soldiers go even after the war.
  • Training from Hell: This includes having a Drill Sergeant Nasty in command and taken to an extreme.
  • Trapped in Another World: Subverted with some Decon-Recon Switch thrown in. The first episode sets you up to think you're going to get a standard trapped in another world story, then the very next episode establishes that this is actually a very brutal deconstructive take.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Lala Ru and (to a lesser extent) Abelia.
  • 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.
  • Tyrannicide: King Hamdo gets what's coming to him in the end.
  • Used Future: The futuristic flying fortress Hellywood is crumbling and can barely get off the ground. Guns appear to be held together with tape.
  • Useless Protagonist: Shu. See Deconstruction above. But then again, also mentioned above, he's not completely useless.
  • Villainous Breakdown: King Hamdo is introduced to us smack in the middle of one, and never recovers. His final one before drowning is almost pitiable.
  • Wasteland Warlord: Hamdo rules Hellywood, and every other part of the devastated world he conquers, with an iron fist.
  • We Can Rule Together: Tabool tries to convince Nabuca that they can rule Hellywood together in the future. 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 leaves Hellywood highly understaffed.
  • Wham Shot: The epic pan out at the end of the first episode as Shu hangs from the bottom of Hellywood, showing the immense, desolate scope of the burnt and lifeless alien world he's tumbled into and how tiny and insignificant he is there. Any thoughts of this being a standard shonen adventure are gone.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Tabool's final fate is never explicitly shown, unlike other characters like Abelia but he most likely drowned in Hellywood after Lala-Ru unleashes the water from her pendant. He is not seen again after that.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: 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 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 the series.