Norn9: Norn + Nonet – 02

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Last week’s episode-ending bang came from an attacking ship from the outside. One of its two crew members boards the Norn, testing Mikoto’s defensive powers and warning her that she and the other ten are the true “disaster.”

So begins an episode full of mysteries big and small, most of which remain too obscure to really care about. Rather than feeling all that enticed, I felt a bit left out as the episode kinda did its own thing, darting from one activity to another.

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It actually reminded me of playing a game with lots of long cutscenes, which while very technically impressive and pretty, are still cutscenes, meaning I’m waiting to get back control of the game.

Seeing Koharu’s powers in action was pretty righteous, but was undercut by the just-along-for-the-ride, autopilot feeling emanating from the rest of the episode.

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With the attackers repelled, the second half of the episode focuses on who their foe was and what they want. It is believed someone was “working on the inside”, so everyone suspects everyone else, and gets paired up so they can keep an eye on/out for one another.

In two of the three cases of guy-girl pair-ups, it is implied the guy and girl have some kind of unpleasant past that drew them apart, but everyone’s very tight-lipped on what those pasts entailed, only that they were painful in some way.

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Naturally, Koharu gets paired up with Kakeru, and they set to work replanting the orchard she accidentally incinerated, her love for him growing with each planted sapling and descending sakura petal. He even has a little fun with her isolated upbringing by joking that they must sleep and bathe together…ribbing that was more awkward than witty.

Then, one morning, while Koharu is watering her garden, some snot-nosed kid from 2016 shows up, having no idea how he got there. We saw him earlier in the embrace of a mysterious woman in a big pretty blue chamber, perhaps the core of Norn; now he’s out and very confused.

I know how he feels! This episode was a random jumble of strange events, mysteries, and clashing tones, resulting in a kind of indifferent shrug…and I’m only now mentioning the bevy of miniature duck slaves who serve the Norners their meals! My resulting impression was…a lot more ambiguous than last week. Ethereal scenery alone will not save this show!

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Norn9: Norn + Nonet – 01 (First Impressions)

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I’ll say one thing about No9No+No: it’s a very pretty show; far better-looking than I expected going in. Its first episode is adept at utilizing light and color to portray temperature and mood, which is with a few notable exceptions, very pleasant and upbeat, even…fluffy.

And that’s no moon, nor is it a space station: it’s the titular Norn, a giant spherical ship (kind of a “Life Star”) with a crew of ten humans, A sakura-haired maiden becomes the eleventh, delivering her from snow and solitude to a new life of adventure, mystery, and beautiful people.

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The show definitely has the “retro-futuristic fantasy” aesthetic going on, blending Last Exile-style steampunk elements with Castle in the Sky-like architecture. There’s a decent sense of awe, and also a distinct “I want to be there” welcoming quality.

This is really an episode of introductions, with Pinky, who later remembers her name is probably Koharu, standing in as the audience surrogate, all wide-eyed and ready to soak it all in. We also get some cursory introductions to the other eight crew members besides her and her guide, first friend, and perhaps down the road, more, Yuiga Kakeru, who get the lion’s share of screen time.

Koharu becomes the third female member of the crew (there’s also the stoic Shiranui Nanami and more fervent, less patient Kuga Mikoto. There’s also Ichinose Senri, who initially refuses to come outside to meet Koharu, not wanting to get close to anyone since he fears they could all “become enemies” someday soon.

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All eleven crew members have special abilities and were chosen specifically to crew the Norn, on a mission of peace sanctioned by a powerful, advanced organization called The World. We can glean that Koharu’s abilities may have been responsible for some kind of disaster in her past that separated her from her family (or killed them) and left her alone to the point she forgot her name.

But now she’s no longer alone; the other crew members ask her to rely on them, just as they’ll come to rely on her once she has her bearings (there’s a rather staged-for-romantic-benefit sequence where she falls out of a tree and nearly to her death before being saved by Kakeru).

Finally, the episode ends with a literal bang, an explosion that instantly made me recall the flames in Koharu’s memories. Perhaps her ability relates to fire in some way, and she’ll be of some use in whatever incident is afoot. I won’t mind tuning in next week to see what transpires.

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