From the New World (Shinsekai Yori). A new look at a dystopian society of the future with a supernatural twist. If you enjoyed literature such as Brave New World, Animal Farm, 1986 or Anthem, this is definitely the anime for you. These pieces of literature and From the New World share many similar themes from the prejudice of factions to use of propaganda. Shinsekai Yori is based in the world one thousand years in the future where humans have evolved gaining the power of Cantus (psychokinesis or telepathy powers), and a weaker race, the queerats worship humans and work for them. In this apparently Utopian world where no human can harm another lies the mystery of how this society is held together.
The story revolves around Saki Watanabe as she lives her life and discovers the hidden truths “From the New World” (puns are cool don’t hate). Though the plot is definitely not boring, to me it felt a bit lackluster compared to the praise its receiving from the community. Many of the “twists” are easily predicted and often times the pacing feels rushed. Now not everything about the plot was below par, the creation of the setting is its selling point. Immersing yourself in this world is simple, yet it still seems vast because of the many different environments they animated. I wish they explored the world outside of Japan though.
The artwork and animation of Shinsekai Yori ranges from disproportionate bodies, and terribly bad crotch shots for no reason as seen above, to innovative depictions of hallucinations and out of the box uses of vibrant colors to contrast to the darker mood. When the animation was good, it was good, but a couple times too often did the quality drop. Enough to be annoyed if you really pay attention to it. The exclusion to this is the action scenes, which I thought were pretty smooth overall. They always made sure to accent with sound and animation whenever Cantus was being used during the action too. The character designs themselves I have no qualms with, but none of them really stand out (except I love the color of Maria’s hair). There was some out of place fan service. Though some of the fan service was necessary in establishing the great setting itonly happened a few times throughout the show, and has little relevance to how much enjoyment you will get from Shinsekai Yori.
I have no qualms with the design, but the development of the characters and the personalities they had were just disappointing. They had boring personalities, and none of them really interested me I know this was done on purpose to portray their lack of freedom at first, but none of them developed into more. Other than the main protagonist Saki, no one ever really changed, and I failed to have empathy for anyone except the main queerat. Even though Saki matured, I do not believe it accurately represents how much a person would change over the many years the story had.
The saving grace for this anime is really the soundtrack. The use of traditional Japanese instruments mixed with some modern tracks really heighten the tense points throughout the series. One particular track has a choir of children singing in an uninterpreted language giving off an eerie and unsettling feeling. While the ending theme was so catchy, and still illustrating the essence of Shinsekai Yori. Lastly the sound effects for the use of Cantus I mentioned earlier was a nice touch.
Overall if you enjoy the dystopian society, and really like to delve deep into questions of human nature Shinsekai Yori is for you. Do not let my harsh criticism scare you away from watching it, I just do not believe it deserves the grand praise it is getting, but it definitely was a good watch. Keep in mind that this show is not for younger audiences, and contains quite a bit of gore and violence. Though for a “horror” genre it was not that scary, its other elements hold it up there, as an above average anime.
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