Huaha. I promised myself I would write a review after letting my giddiness simmer down. So! Here I am, doing exactly that. Still a bit giddy, though. Well then!
With the original author's imagination and seemingly plausible scientific facts coupled with the direction and pacing of the series, the show pulled this off with aplomb. I must admit, I was kind of worried when this started, because anime of this genre can seem really good at first but fall flat by the ending. Shin Sekai Yori started slow and strong, building up solid foundation and groundwork for its characters, and finished strong, with little loose strings left hanging. It pains me that I can't write anything too specific, for fear that it may spoil all of you, but I can tell you to pay attention to the story -- stick with it. You won't regret anything.
I have a love and hate relationship with the way Shin Sekai Yori is animated. But it's possible that my OCD is interfering with my judgment. Simply put, the quality of the animation isn't exactly... consistent. Some episodes, especially the ones right in the middle of the series, isn't exactly up to par with what I've seen on earlier ones. Characters' eyes would sometimes find themselves in weird locations, and sometimes body proportions were a bit off.
But! I still give this category a high score. The series's greatest weakness is also one of its strengths. With the way it was animated, it really felt like you're viewing something From the New World. If the character animation wasn't consistent, the background art was. In almost every episode, there is at least one "wow" scene that makes you pause and just admire how beautiful it is. From landscapes to villages, each background is unique.
The animation would sometimes change to fit the overall mood of an episode. It is manipulated in a way that light-hearted feelings would change to one full of darkness and uncertainty. Childishness would be replaced with the thought of being mature. And with the way the story goes, it happens quite often.
Of course, there's also the design of the different types of "animals" present throughout the series. They really took the time to accurately depict the different characteristics of each specie, each embodying their own role. The queerats, earth-dwellers, look like earth-dwelling moles. The minoshiro, mystical and untangible, has been depicted as such.
Let me take this time to applaud Daisuke Namikawa for his amazing work as Squera. You would think that voicing a mole-like character would bring your dogs barking, but in this case, it was surprisingly good. It may sound weird, but his almost nasally voice fit Squera's character perfectly.
Shin Sekai doesn't have an OP, but the ED songs are enough to get me to listen every time. Background music almost always fit the mood of a scene.
Ah, woe is me. One cannot talk about the characters without spoiling a little. But! Try I shall, for the characters deserve the highest amount of praise one can give.
There is, however, a special character that deserve the highest amount of praise more than anyone else.
Saki, Saki, Saki.
I loved her development throughout the series. Troubles would throw themselves at the main cast, but she remained headstrong and resilient. One might call her stubborn. Another might say she just keeps her ground. Either way, Saki might be the most interesting female lead I've ever had the pleasure of knowing, and seeing her grow and become more mature, dealing with all sorts of otherwordly problems and how she reacts to them, it was an amazing experience.
Shun, with his calm demeanor; Satoru and Maria, both special to Saki in their own way; even Mamoru and his cowardice--Everyone played a part in helping the story move towards its goal. Each character had their own specific role. Even side-characters that I have forgotten at some point contribute to how the story plays out in its grand scheme.
Imaginative and thought-provoking, I've never watched (or read) anything quite like this. I just wish I could do it more justice - hence why I wrote this review. Stories like this should not be overlooked.
Also, would like to share this with you guys:
Remember, Squera is moe.
Image credit to BokuSatchii.
Shinsekai Yori has an amazing start, the first 7 episodes are magical and intense, beautiful and stunning. While it's drop off point is earlier than others, it too suffers from a problem in anime where the story goes off quite quickly. The story takes several turns and so it's hard to give an overall synposis but since there isn't one provided by AP...
Shinsekai Yori is set in a small village that practices psychic abillities called Cantus, which are taught and studied by everyone who lives there. However when students who underperform or break the rules start disappearing, Saki and her group become suspicious, when they themselves become targets for removal they have no choice but to investigate why children are disappearing and who is the cause.
I need to vent my frustrations with the anime in this review but its possible people who haven't already watched it won't find it interesting to read, if so just skip this part.
The most frustrating element of this anime is how drawn out the story telling becomes after the first relatively fast-pace episodes. I wouldn't say it's slow paced but many episodes consist of nothing really happening, if anything whats happening is more likely to confuse you than teach you anything. Leaps in time which make no effort to explain anything but have so much new stuff going on that it's very easy to just give up trying to figure out whats going wrong. While there are explanations for why something is happening the HOW DID THIS HAPPEN part is ignored. I'm being vague so i'll just come out with it and say that in the first leap of time there are a few episodes dealing with yaoi/yuri relationships that weren't even hinted at before. I understand and it is explained why these relationships might be desirable but it's hard to care about them for that same reason and without knowing how they came about.
There were many characters who did not show any character development at all yet we continually went over them, even very minor characters such as Saki's parents. I found these episodes very boring to say the least.
(Queerats are humanoid creatures that are less intelligent and look like rats) The humans dealing with the Queerats also frustrated me, throughout the anime human cruelty is constantly demonstrated - to the point where if humans thought the same way in real life as in this anime, I doubt Japan would even exist as the Allies would have destroyed it or enslaved it after WW2. Yet despite this, Queerat cruelty is always emphasised and characters are horrified by it. In almost every example, the Queerat cruelty is more humane and reasonable than the Human's cruelty. I felt like I had to do justice by the Queerats by consciously acknowledging how stupid and unempathetic most of the characters were when judging the actions of Queerats. I'd like to think that this is purposefully done as it could be a smart plot point but I doubt it.
Sometimes the scenery is quite pretty but otherwise not much to be said, I also liked the Queerats appearence although it's difficult to understand how Kiroumaru is a Queerat when he looks nothing like any of the others.
Whenever the story line was getting boring, I could always count on the OST to make dull moments seem incredibly epic. While there wasn't an OP, the EDs were fairly nice. Voice acting wasn't that great, but I can't really articulate why, their voices just got annoying after a while.
"Saki you are strong, you give up easily and you are weak-willed, you aren't phsyically strong and you are easily discouraged, however you are strong because even if you are disheartened, you will stablize quickly and move on". If we exclude suicidals and those suffering from depression, this could description could pretty much fit anyone if you want to interpret it that way. Yet Saki recieves this "compliment" like five times throughout the anime like it's some major character point, I can not understand any of these characters at all. There is nothing special about them, they don't change and their stories aren't particuarly interesting. Their perspectives are boring and they never have anything interesting to say. Every time I learn something new about them, I dislike them more. There is really nothing to say here, this for me was the weakest point in the anime as it's hard to care about any drama when you don't like the characters. After all they went through, some character development was defininetly necessary, even just for the point of realism.
I haven't made much of an effort in this review, for me there are two kinds of reviews and this was the kind where I vent my frustration. That doesn't mean that I think 5.5 is an unreasonable score because I really did dislike many elements of this anime. Although the twists throughout it are quite clever and thoughtout. For me if the OST wasn't as good as it was, I wouldn't have watched it until the end, I can't really recommend this but unlike most of my other reviews this was more my opinion than an attempt to be objective and analytyical. I think in order for you to enjoy this anime you have to be a big fan of romance and you have to be able to love and relate with the characters. I didn't find any of the romances convicing or moving and that really killed the anime for me, but if you liked some of those more... childish? Romances.. like Kimi ni Todoke or Honey and Clover then I can see you liking this anime a lot.
Shinsekai Yori really surprised me by developing some pretty heavy themes throughout the last two seasons. If you're a sci-fi fan, read on.
Story: Set in a utopian/dystopian future (depending which species you belong to, I suppose), it is about a girl named Saki growing up, being confronted with problems of her society's own creation, and then piecing together the truth of her people's history while solving the various issues that crop up. The issues start small and ramp up, and the foreshadowing and doomsy, creepy vibe seeps into every nook and cranny of the story as it progresses.
The storyline is notably complex--which I actually thought was its main downfall. The first few episodes lacked what I like to call "signs of a coherent narrative" (ie a clear objective for the main character) and I very nearly dropped it around episode 4. That's my biggest criticism though, and if you stick with it long enough for the plot pieces to start falling into place, it's very rewarding.
Animation & Sound: I have no complaints here, but then, I favor pretty art over gritty art. I did think, though, that making everything pretty enhanced the sense of utopian peace love and happiness--so that when the darker parts came out, it enhanced the sense that they'd really tried to sweep all forms of badness under the rug and failed. Music was great.
Characters: I thought they were a little weak. Saki isn't overly complex, just your basic do-gooder. Nothing that happens to her is actually of her own personal making, which weakens her development. None of the other characters were particularly remarkable, but they weren't bad either. Just kind of average.
In the end, Shinsekai Yori is not for anyone with a short attention span. It offers some very heavy themes, almost hard to watch at times, and doesn't shy away from any topic. It is a very thought-provoking watch, and well worth your time.
I generalized this review to contain no spoilers for those who haven’t watched but are curious. However, you don’t need to read my review for me to tell you to go watch this anime right now. Just go.
Yes. This is what stories are supposed to be about. They are supposed to dig deep into the crevices of the world, exploring topics that are sensitive to human nature and will never stop being discussed. The stories that make you think and make you want to talk about things that mean something are the best. The setting and circumstances of this anime’s world are genius. It takes a few episodes for the story to pick up because at first, reflecting the main characters’ cluelessness, the viewer isn’t sure what’s going on even though many things seem suspicious and mysterious. By the time you realize what you’re in the middle of, you’re wallowing in so much brilliance that you can’t crawl out until everything is finished. This anime picks up quickly after the initial journey, swooping you into a world that might just be insane. It is a wonderful experience. I don’t usually watch many episodes in a single day, but I just about marathoned the second half of this anime because I physically could not stop watching.
Vibe: Animation + Sound [9.5/10]
Erratic, but perfect. At times things are solemn and dark, with drab colors and simple animation. Then the next episode may be filled with flashes of vibrant dreams or visions, crazy animations of forces and beings dancing across the screen. The animation and colors change with what is necessary to translate the current message, which works perfectly with the disorientation of most of the characters. I often don’t pay much attention to music, but during the last few episodes I instinctually had chills run up my arms during some of the intense pieces of sound. That is rare. The vibe of the anime says a lot and paying attention to it helps you stay in tune with what the characters are experiencing.
The characters are somewhat secondary to the story. They play an important part and they’re pretty fleshed out, but a few of them could easily be replaced with somewhat similar people and the anime wouldn’t take a hit. The story drives the characters and they play their parts. That doesn’t mean they are only props, but the progression of circumstances is mostly the thing that shapes them rather than their individual personalities and decisions. This process works well for this anime, given what it was going for. I still found an attachment to the characters, especially our main girl Saki.
This was a great ride. I was not expecting such brilliance when I first began watching and I was continually surprised by each turn of events. In the beginning it seemed a little slow and I wasn’t quite sure where things were going, but it paid off to be patient and let the anime take its path. I enjoyed this story thoroughly, my fascination only increasing with every episode. Even at the very end, I took a big breath, smiled, and thought about how great the whole series had been. It activated my brain and raised some deep questions about life, some of which I still don’t have a concrete answer for. Watch it, no matter who you are or what you like. I feel like this piece of work is universally Good.
From the New World was an enjoyably unusual story. Refreshingly different from a typical run-of-the-mill show, this story told of a world of the future where humans have advanced psychokinetic powers.
This show explores the consequences of having such abilities and dealing with those consequences. It creates a world where some people have power and some do not; a world where it is imperative that those with power can maintain control. If the power ever gets out of control, dangerous monsters appear that can destroy the entire society.
And thus a moral quandary is created: how far can you go? How much control over others is allowable and how much is too much? Does the end result truly justify the means used to obtain societal control?
Weighty thoughts for an anime show to ponder. Which this show does with mixed results.
Five children are showcased; They are learning to use and control their abilities in order to take their places as adults alongside the other adults of their community. We see the objectional means (methods such as hypnotism and mind control, slavery and even outright elimination) used for subjugating the members of the society and we learn the horrible consequences an out-of-control power can cause.
FTNW does a really good job juxtaposing the elements of freedom vs safety and presenting both sides such that there is no truly right nor truly wrong aspect to either side. Both sides encompass both good and evil elements.
However, some glaring problems prevented me from enjoying this anime as much as I might have. The animation quality is glaringly inconsistent; on one hand sometimes astonishingly beautiful and creative but at other times, jarringly rough and crude. This continuous bouncing level of animation quality was very distracting to me and greatly lessened the impact of the story.
The show also devolved too much into mysticism to explain things. Understandably, mystical motives were ascribed to help the utilization of hypnotism and mind control in governing the individual's usage of power, but the story really bogged down and the pacing slowed to a crawl whenever a mystical exposition was being drawn out, notably during Shin's transformation arc. This show's focus on realism and science made the mystical pseudo-philosophy sound too much like so much majical mumbo jumbo. Not a fan.
Pacing was all over the place which can be expected since the show features many time skips, but overall tendency featured a slower paced story to draw out and explain the world's features. Still, the erratic story advancement made for some definite yawn moments and other Huh? What just happened? moments.
The characters were also a weak point in my eyes. None of them really gained enough personality or distinction to gain the relatability the audience needs to empathize with and cheer on and root for a character or sympathize with his/her setbacks. None of the main characters truly stood out as unique and distinctive. Each had a role to play out, and each served their purpose but lacked the personality to really garner our attention. Sad to say, the most sympathetic character of all in the entire story may have been a Monster Rat!
I truly enjoyed the unique vision and really remarkably unique story presented in FTNW; I just wish it had been executed a bit better...
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