Are you having a hard time squeezing some entertainment out of your TV set? Please allow me to recommend a wonderful science fiction anime series: Noein: Mô hitori no kimi he (Or, in English, Noein: To Your Other Self). It was directed by Kazuki Akane and Kenji Yasuda and produced by Satelight. The series, which ran from 2005 to 2006, has 24 episodes which comprise a complete storyline.
You probably expect a Japanese SF/F anime to be fantasy, so let me reassure you: Noein really is an SF story. It’s all about quantum physics, starting with Hugh Everett’s Many-Worlds Interpretation, and progressing to the Copenhagen Interpretation, which suggests that an observer or measurement is important in determining the decoherency of any particular probability.
Be warned: you cannot doze or check you FB page while watching Noein; it requires your full attention. The story intertwines events from numerous dimensions, and the protagonists change both their names and their ages as they shift from reality to reality, in pursuit of the mysterious Dragon Torc. This relic, which is as much symbolic as physical, represents a point of absolute observation which can stabilize specific probabilities. Not many TV shows reference Schrödinger’s cat (The Big Bang Theory is the only other one that comes quickly to mind) but then, not many TV shows need to do so. Noein does, and it also mentions Einstein’s answer.
The most dominant “time-space” in Noein is our present day reality. The story focuses on Haruka and her friends Yu, Ai, Miho and Isami. They are junior high students who entertain themselves during vacation by looking for ghosts. They live in the Japanese port city of Hakodate on the northern island of Hokkaido. Hakodate is so perfectly rendered that it becomes a character in itself. Its buildings, port and environs-all closely modeled on the actual city-are reassuringly familiar to a viewer struggling to navigate the tangle of alien imagery.
In similar fashion, the circle of children becomes more endearing with every episode, simply because they are so splendidly ordinary. These are not the noble, big-eyed children so common in Japanese anime; they are normal kids, realistically drawn. They act impulsively and make foolish mistakes. We believe in them implicitly and share their need to shelter against the size and complexity of the multiverse.
Contrasting with this present day world is a grim possible future only fifteen years out, immersed in a bitter pan-dimensional war. Many of the characters in it are recognizable variants of the children from our own time-space, and we see the issues those children faced reflected in some of their possible decisions. The detailed and accurate depiction of the real gives way to elaborate and sometimes mind-boggling visuals of future worlds and things only just barely possible. The animation meets and exceeds the high standards associated with the genre. It is glorious.
Michaele Jordan is the author of the period occult thriller Mirror Maze and her stories have appeared in Redstone Science Fiction and Buzzy Mag. You can watch for her next story in Fantasy and Science Fiction.