I am writing this post for Shoujo, even though my opinions of it are going to be far different from hers. But, Norn 9 was a show that sounded interesting because it was a science fiction series with a focus on the shoujo demographic. While shoujo and science fiction were things in the past, those combinations just don’t happen as often anymore. That made Norn9 worth looking into. Pretty helpful to look for now that most of my mecha march shows and Urobuchi shows have been watched and re-watched. Finally, its time to start watching random shows that I have been interested in watching. I almost didn’t think I would make it out for all of that yet. Very interesting to think of for this anime based on an otome game.
What is Norn9 about? Well, that is a mystery at the start. But, what we do know is our lonely protagonist Koharu, once she is 17, is taken to the mystical spaceship called Norn9. A ship that is full of older teenagers with powers. 9 guys and 2 other girls are there. Obviously, a bunch of them are living together because they were all called to this ship for one reason or another. The ship itself is sphere that continues its own small city with farms that allows each of them to move forward. Why are they here? No one knows yet, but they are on their journey and there is a faction out there that doesn’t want it.
This is unusual for me, but lets talk visuals for the show first. I am just saying this because I want to start the most positive, I can be. Norn9 is animated by Kinema Citrus and boy are their production values astonishingly good. For all the same face different hair character designs in this show, Norn9 does a fantastic job of making them look distinct anyway. The setting of Norn9 is so detailed and beautiful. Also, all the science fiction madness here. The character’s abilities, spaceships, and all sorts of flying are amazing. I appreciate all of that here. I love it. Worth watching the show for all of this. I’m not kidding.
I also think the relationship between our lonely girl Koharu and Kakeru, the boy who has taken a liking to her. There are some forced elements to this relationship, but this is the core of the shot itself and over time, it gets pretty well established and thought out. Heck, there is some drama from how their powers are not compatible with each other, but I think that makes it so much more interesting. Especially when Koharu goes missing with Kakeru stopping at nothing to get to her. From that stand point, this show is so worth watching for it all to happen. Especially when the science fiction elements of this show hinges on them too. How? Well, I am not going to share it here. Go watch the thing for that.
So, let’s go with some negatives now. The first thing is that the small synopsis of the show on anilist, myanimelist, or anywhere else, is so bizarrely wrong. Here is that synopsis:
The story takes place a little in the future. Guided by one particular song, young elementary school student Suzuhara Sorata, from the Heisei Era, is warped through a time skip to an unfamiliar place that looks much like the towns from the Meiji or Taishou period from his textbooks. In this world, he meets three young ladies and nine young men and joins them on a journey aboard the mysterious Norn ship, a giant globe that floats in midair.AniList
So according to what I told you, some of that is right correct? I didn’t mention the heisei era but you know…now you know! The bizarre thing is that Sorato doe show up but Sorata isn’t important at all. He very clearly shows up in episode 3 and then nothing. Clearly nothing. Yes, he becomes apart of the crew but Sorata could have not been there at all and literally nothing would have changed. Maybe I am thinking too hard about this, but if you have seen this show tell me I am lying. I dare you.
That is where my troubles with Norn9 start. The next one follows the line of thought about most of the cast. There are great members of this cast like Mikoto, but all of these relationships feel so quick and forced. Like, there is one relationship between a guy and a girl that is strangely abusive and strange towards for some reason we don’t see until later maybe. Or the fact that most of the cast are never explore that well. Or that maybe time skipped and suddenly these characters are friends with each other despite spending literally zero time with each other on screen. Either way, the story telling in a lot of elements in Norn9 are completely awful. I can’t buy most of them at all and even when they are explained it’s full of “whatever, man” for me.
And it just gets worse and worse. The whole show is on autopilot. Besides some incidents in a town somewhere when certain characters in the show get kidnapped, the plot just continues to happen. Maybe that is the point. Maybe the show is supposed to lead this all like fate or something. Its interesting to explore I guess. At the same time, knowing that characters are going to be ok and show up somewhere with some people’s future seeing ability is so…easy. Same when there is a retrieval story and the whole thing is set up for the character doing the retrieving. There was no real danger there because when the tension hit, it was immediately released because of the guys from outside. There, all that is needed it running.
That feeling of pointlessness continues for the one betrayer living on Norn9. There is an incident regarding some person trying to sabotage the entire Norn9 and who it was couldn’t be anymore obvious. It helps when the show doesn’t have enough time to actually characterize most of these people besides one of them being a clear bad guy. The guy sits evilly and wears shades unlike everyone else. How could it be any less obvious? Yes, not one cast member in the crew ever picked that up. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that I am arm chair quarterbacking. Honestly possible, but I don’t care. Besides maybe Mikoto, all of these characters are either just dumb as rocks or we didn’t get to know them enough to figure out they aren’t as dumb as rocks.
I’m sure that Norn9 is a fantastic visual novel or otome or whatever. It has all the sorts of plots and things that could be interesting if there were more hours of game play to flesh it all out. Same with these characters they are talked to through the game so you know more of their personalities. I feel like this is what happens when something is condensed to less then 6 hours worth of time from however long Norn9 is. I feel like fans who know everything about Norn9 or played the game get a lot more out of it by seeing all of these things animated if Norn9 isn’t as well animated. I mean, Kinema Citrus is pretty good at animating things considering they come from Production I.G. and Bones. So yeah, just going to give this one an ok. I bet you were expecting a bad, but there were some strengths in the show too.
I think this was Kevin Penkin’s first anime score!
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Yeah, I think you are right 🙂
You watched this show for me!! 😭 I love that!!
As much as I adore this show, I can understand your criticisms, and in any case, we both agree that the visuals are *chef’s kiss*! You are right about the game; it explains things–even changes some main plot points–and goes deeper. I actually just played Senri’s route the other day, and man, did it add a lot!
I’m so excited that you watched Norn9!
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Oh jeez, you’re welcome! 😅
I’m glad. I didn’t want to act like I was attacking it. Also, I would like to know more about Senri. They’re seems to be a lot going on that the anime couldn’t get into.
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