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Norn 9 Anime Review

Title: Norn 9 on  Blu-Ray

Publisher: Sentai Filmworks

Release Date: June 20th, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Fantasy Drama with romance

Age Rating: 14+

Overall Personal Grade: A-

Synopsis:

A young woman has been living a solitary life. Once years ago, a traveler foretold that a ship would someday be coming to take her to her destiny. When it happens, she is shy in the strange new life she finds herself experiencing, but she has been waiting for this a long time and is very happy to live among people. She begins to meet the rest of the group and learn the way of life on this unusual ship. It really is a small world, traveling through the clouds. They have everything they need including buildings, gardens, a lake and even little yellow chicks that help out and do the cooking.

Not intended as an utopian society as it seems, there is  a lot of mystery surrounding the group, their pasts and future. They have been brought together by “the World” because they possess special powers and they will face any epic task, although little is known of what they will be call to do. They basically take on faith that they will be led through a clear path to help save the earth. It is near the end when they begin to discover that the entity challenged to take on the existence of humanity may not be the pure intention they assumed and that there is an opposition force to the proposed solution. As more is revealed, who to trust and what choices to make become increasingly complex. It is more than finding the one right answer. Would you choose to stay on the path humanity has become entrenched or choose to create a new start?

Commentary: 

Norn9 is a science fiction blended with fantasy and romance. That’s were I see problem with the name. It doesn’t relate a message to the potential audience. I’ve not heard anyone talk about this one at all. Now, it has existed first as a video game, but if you are not a gamer, then it would be easy to miss. There is nothing flashy or over the top amazing but Norn9 is beautifully animated and has a decent story with relatable characters. It isn’t too heavy, quirky or fan service loaded, all making it an interesting show with little to find as faults, but makes it difficult to be noticed in a crowd of new and old anime coming to America.

The story begins to unfold slowly, as Koharu is waiting for the ship to pick her up. We are nearly as clueless as her as to what is going on. So, we get to learn about the next situation along side of her. I thought this worked really well, drawing the audience in and also making the experience feel more natural. The only extra thing she knows is her power which doesn’t get fully revealed to us until near the end. As things are pieced together in the story, the pace of action and drama increase. Then, it seems that time was running out, so characters needed to start explaining things to us which seemed to be a loss for me. I liked the way the mystery had been unveiled prior to this. Three more episodes would probably have fleshed it all out nicely.

Visually, Norn9 is beautifully animated. I like the art style, enjoyed the use of colors and the creative illustration of the more magical aspects. Earth currently seems pretty much as it is now, but the ship’s technology is advanced mixed with the mystical. It’s amazing that the futuristic world ship they travel on is not a sleek, stark, modern looking machine, but it simulates a more human existence with a lake, gardens and home structures. It is a comfortable mix of natural and engineered, technology and humanity, perhaps a metaphor for the task set to the group.

The group consists of young adults, mostly male, but 3 women. Koharu is the protagonist, she seems a typical sort of character at first, naive and compliant, but she has a spark in her that is more than her power. She is the girl who is going to fall in love, and forces will pull her in opposing directions, but she is in essence our guide. The character’s pasts are revealed to us in snippets, those histories really influencing they way they understand things and the interactions they have with one another. They all have flaws, some obvious, but most simmer under the surface. The people who know them best, are the ones who can use the knowledge to manipulate them, and most don’t hesitate to do so.

 

Overall rating: A-     A blend of science fiction, action, magic, fantasy and mystery with a touch of romance set in the future linked to the past in surprising ways.

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