A group of the Gifted- teenagers with psychic powers- are gathered aboard the Norn, a fantastic (and incredibly roomy) craft plying the skies high above the Earth's surface. The purpose? So the kids can- if they choose- combine their powers with mechanisms provided by a mysterious organization called The World, to "reset" human history- in other words, bring humanity back from the verge of annihilation by setting back humanity to a "simpler" era.
I was a little curious about how far that "setting back" would go- 1000 years? 2000 years? Would all existing technology be wiped out, and people have to struggle- and DIE, in large numbers- trying to survive without it? There are a lot of important questions here, and how could the kids go through with this without some answers? But the Gifted don't really feel the need to think things through to this degree to find their answer; the shoujo concerns and feelings seem to trump the rational issues, here as elsewhere in this show.
I have to say before I go further that this is one of the most wonderful LOOKING shows I've seen. The "tech" here in particular is done as a kind of ethereal steampunk, rendered in gorgeous 3D CG. (As with the aircraft in Simoun, it's more important that it be "pretty" than that it look practical. By the way,the nominal year this is set in is 1919, but not really...you have to see it to understand, to the degree that it CAN be understood.) The character designs are fairly familiar, but well-rendered. All the prettiness is of course important for a shoujo show- the game this is based on is an RPG where you played one of three routes, one for each of its three principal females- so let's meet them:
The anime chose as its principal lady one named Koharu. When she first comes aboard the Norn, she doesn't even remember her own name, and even after she remembers it she remains an ingenue's ingenue, thinking and talking in a childlike manner. (OK, I don't find characters this naïve that appealing, though her particular psychic power is pretty impressive.) Her prospective boyfriend is named Kakeru Yuiga, and he captivates her- well, literally CAPTURES her- at the very beginning. Kakeru's love for Koharu is supposed to be "pure", yet, when everyone is paired off for safety- and Kakeru is paired with Koharu- he starts going on about bathing with her. (Once again, we have a case in anime where we're supposed to feel something- in this case, that the love here is "innocent"- where the facts suggest that for at least ONE party, it's anything BUT.) Kakeru has "daddy" issues which will occupy a great deal of the plot later.
Lady #2 is Mikoto Kuga. She's the closest to a tsundere (a female one, anyway) we have here, and in fact seems to have three potential male suitors- her childhood friend, Sakuya Nijou; a sexist "womanizer" named Itsuki Kagami; and a character named Natsuhiko Azuma, who's trying to shut down the whole Reset operation, and who abducts Mikoto. (Can we say, "Stockholm Syndrome"?) But Itsuki, for all his flaws, brings about the best episode in the whole series: his power is to give people dreams, and so he creates a dream in which all three of the principal women are fairytale characters- Koharu is Snow White; Mikoto is Cinderella; and Nanami (I'll get to her next paragraph) is Little Red Riding Hood. It's a neat device that allows each of the ladies to explore their feelings about themselves, AND the guys they're interested in, freely; if the rest of the show had been this creative with the relationships, I would have rated it higher. In particular, it's a rare case where we can see how protective Itsuki is of Mikoto, despite being the definite "dark horse" in this race.
Lady #3 is Nanami Shiranui. She's our kuudere character, with a major guilt complex about something she did to the brother of one Akito Syukuri (she was actually trying to HELP him with her power, but it went a little too far)- feelings of shame and guilt which Akito encourages her to feel as much as possible, in a frankly abusive manner; he always acts like he despises her (except when she's in peril), even though we know that he secretly- uh- loves her? (Always acting like you hate someone you actually adore would seem a bit counterproductive, but is a venerable romance cliché; Akito is our classic male tsundere.)
There's a fourth couple (of sorts) here as well- involving a literal kid (named Sorata Suzuhara) and one Aine (or Aion)- but I think I'll leave that one as a surprise.
I had a problem with a philosophical issue here: we have one character who wants to use the Resets for selfish reasons (and wants to manipulate things toward that goal, though I thought that was unlikely to EVER work out like he wanted it to), and we're supposed to see him as the show's bad guy (or at least its MOST bad guy); but when the final decision about the Reset is made, I'd say the person who did so was ALSO motivated by selfish concerns, and yet is viewed more positively.
I had too many "whoa, wait a minute!" moments in this show, where the show presented me with "fait accomplis" that troubled me a great deal. I also had issues with ALL of the couples we finally wind up with (in one or two cases, I certainly would have liked them to make other choices; in another instance or two, I would have liked the characters to be a lot less one-sided.) I would have also liked the chronology to be less confusing- if that could be managed AT ALL. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: The girls are all in the bath at one point, but nothing was showing. There's some verbal and physical abuse of women here though (including attempted murder, though not TECHNICALLY by one of our cast), and that's NOT a good thing. PG-13 or thereabouts.
Version(s) Viewed: Streaming on Crunchyroll.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Norn9 © 2016 Kinema Citrus, Orange
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