I'm not gonna give this series a numerical score because... numerical scores are bull. But if you just want a quick idea, here it is: Noein is good. For anyone who enjoys some thought-provoking ideas with their giant flashing Japanese weirdness, Noein is the way to go. I would rate current series such as Black Lagoon, Naruto, Bleach, and Black Cat at the opposite end of the spectrum, in relation to Noein. So, if those are your absolute faves, you might not like this one. But if you're open to something a bit more low-key, and a bit more engaging on more than one level, then you might dig Noein.
I absolutely hated the first episode. I despised the character designs and the animation style. I hated Haruka in particular. She creeped me out with her gigantic bug eyes and her absent-mindedness and... everything. But I kept watching because at least it was something different. By the time I got to episode three or four, all of my initial impressions had done a complete 180 and I loved everything that I'd hated. What made me turn this corner and re-evaluate everything that I'd first thought about the series was the fact that Noein has heart. And not stupid "kawaii" heart, but genuine heart. There are a lot of episodes in the middle that could be classified as filler, because they take their time and they don't really add to the ending pay off in any tangible way, but the best thing about this series is that it lets itself take its time. What could be frustrating in another anime is the backbone of this one. Because it's those moments that carry this anime and make you genuinely feel for all the characters involved. I haven't cared this much about characters in any anime since Neon Genesis Evangelion. It probably has something to do with their innocence, but what's great about Noein's portrayal of innocence is that it's rarely cookie-cutter and simple and cute.
And to complement all the emotional stuff, there's some pretty wicked cool ideas about quantum theory and parallel universes, and it's used in such a way that it only adds to the character development, never detracting from it. It walks a fine line between ideas and characterization, and at times it strays more one way than the other, but overall it balances out.
The animation style is rough when it should be, graceful and moody when it should be, and slick when it should be. My only complaint with the animation is that I didn't like Haruka's CG house too much. It stuck out and it didn't seem necessary to make it CG. I mean, making it CG let them spin it and stuff, but who cares? The distracting weirdness of its CGness was one of the few things that took me out of the story.
My other big complaint is that it ended. I didn't want to leave the cozy/tragic universe the series had created. So when it DID end, I definitely didn't want it to end in a traditional way, with characters learning traditional anime lessons about the power of love and how you have to rely on others and how you're stronger if you have someone to protect and blah blah blah. But it did. The ending wasn't exactly disappointing - it's not like I wanted everyone to vaporize in some quantum paradox - but I did feel like there was a bit of a creative lapse at the end. Like, "How are we gonna wrap this bitch up?" "I know! The power of love!" Blech. I would've far preferred it if they'd not tried to wrap it up with a big, bouncy ribbon. There was enough good stuff in the series that they could have just let the characters do their thing at the end and the meaning would have been clear, without actually stating it. Without trying to hammer it up my ass. So while I don't have any HUGE problem with the way it ended, I do have a problem with the way the ending was presented. But some people dig that stuff, and you might be one of them, so if you are, enjoy. Personally, I would've preferred it if the ending came naturally from the already established characters, rather than from the demand that the series wrap itself up neatly.
But considering all the good stuff that came before that, I can forgive the ending. It's one of the few animes I've seen that I can rewatch and enjoy as much as I enjoyed it the first time. And even though I felt slightly disappointed by the ending, I didn't feel betrayed.
So ends the review.