Hello all! Today I am getting off of my butt to review a nifty little series called Shin Sekai Yori, or From the New World, so let's get to it!
Plot Summary: A millennium from now, in Japan, exists a utopia. The Protagonist, Saki Watanabe, lives in an idyllic village barred from the outside world. Her world is ruled by the people who possess the "gods' power" of psychokinesis. After finally obtaining her own powers, Saki enters the Zenjin Academy to train along with five other children: Satoru Asahina, Maria Akizuki, Mamoru Itou, Shun Aonuma, and Reiko Amano.
Not all is as it seems, however. In this utopian village, strange rumors about a monstrous cat that abducts children circulate, and students are said to disappear from the academy. The world and its history are much darker than they appear and humanity is on the verge of collapse.
The summary makes it sound a little bit like a typical high school supernatural anime, but take my word for it, Shin Sekai Yori is nothing like that at all.
What I loved:
Shin Sekai Yori is a very dark show, but it doesn't reveal itself to be that way immediately. There are hints here and there, and many of the opening scenes show that something isn't right, but the buildup to the big reveals works so well. Like really well. I'd be more specific, but I don't want to spoil anything. There's also a ton of symbolism, and the show isn't afraid to tackle controversial subjects. It's also not afraid to be incredibly gruesome and graphic, which works very well in context, considering what is revealed throughout the show. And the show is pretty. Dear God it's pretty. Its animation wasn't that great and was really patchy in some parts, but where it really matters, the show is breathtaking. There is so much emotion in this show and almost all of it is conveyed perfectly and hits you straight in the heart. This show is on the short list of books, video games, movies, and shows that almost made me cry. Also, the big conflict near the end was really interesting and I especially like how it was resolved.
I especially loved the way the story handled the society based around psychokinesis. Everything about the new society made sense in regard to the powers the people had, especially considering what took place after the powers were discovered. Everything was put into place for a reason, and no matter what emotions the show will try to evoke, it makes sure to make that point extremely clear. You will find yourself both hating and understanding why things are the way they are, and it evokes a great response, or at least it did for me.
Oh, and it just so happens that Shin Sekai Yori is soul-crushingly ruthless and depressing when it comes to handling the characters and their world, which is always a plus.
The soundtrack is pretty good, and most tracks fit the mood very well. There are a few standouts, like the fantastic ending song, which can be found here, and one of the songs that is played in fitting moments, found here.
What I didn't like:
Although I said the show was beautiful, there were some parts that it really wasn't. Overall the animation was really inconsistent. Also, there was a guest director for some of the episodes, and while one of them was really good, one of them wasn't. I did not like episode 5 at all. It didn't make a whole lot of sense, and there was some stuff in it that I flat out didn't get. The other episode I didn't like was episode 8. It wasn't a bad episode, and I respect what it is trying to do, and also acknowledge that it makes sense in the context of the show, but the sexy stuff was a bit much. I understand that it was to emphasize the difference between the humans in the new world and humans now, but it was not handled as tactfully as it could have been. There were also some minor plot holes, which were pretty easy to overlook, and one bigger plot hole near the end that was a bit harder to overlook. Outside of these few gripes, I liked or was indifferent to everything else about the show.
My Favorite Part of the Whole Series:
I absolutely loved the ending. I'm not going to be too descriptive here, because I don't want to spoil any of it, I won't even say if it's a happy or a sad ending, but I think the ending worked so well. Considering everything that happened to Satoru, Saki, and their society, I think the ending was fantastic. It felt completely natural. I left the show feeling completely satisfied, yet craving more. That's the same feeling I got after finishing Psycho Pass, Gurren Lagann, Cowboy Bebop, and all of my other favorite anime. This is easily one of my favorite shows from the past few years, and I think everyone who likes anime should watch it.
The comparison I had to make:
Shin Sekai Yori and Psycho Pass have a lot in common. Both are set in a distant, seemingly utopian future. Both have incredibly dark undertones and gruesome scenes. Both feature good characters, although I would have to give the edge to Psycho Pass in that regard for the reason that it starts off more focused on the leads. Both have excellent villains. Both aired at roughly the same time. If I had to make an analogy, I would say the shows are fraternal twins, in the sense that one twin is a boy and one twin is a girl. They are very similar, but they have key differences. Shin Sekai Yori has a very tranquil, nature-filled setting while Psycho Pass features a high-tech city. Either way, both are excellent and if you like one you should definitely check out the other.
First of all, I was deliberately vague in this review. Since this isn't a very well known anime, at least to my knowledge, I decided to just touch on things. The reason I did that is because I think this is a show every anime fan should watch. I loved almost every minute of it, and the show made me think. Psycho Pass did the same thing.
Shin Sekai Yori is a very deep and emotional show. Go watch it and be sucked into its world. I was completely invested in the world it built and I ended up marathoning the whole show in one day. The few gripes I had with it are completely outshone by the good and this is something everyone should watch. Unlike Redline, the last anime I reviewed, this show is very thought provoking, so put your thinking cap and attention glasses on and completely immerse yourself in this work of art.
Shin Sekai Yori gets a score of 93/100 from me and an overall rating of pretty dang awesome. It is tied with Psycho Pass as my favorite anime from 2013.
If you like Shin Sekai Yori, you'll probably like Psycho Pass. According to the Crunchyroll comments section, it is somewhat similar to Another, but I've never seen Another so I can't make that comparison. If you haven't seen Psycho Pass and are curious to know more about it, click here for Sylverfyst's Fabulous Fyst Review on it. If you are curious to know more about Another, click here for Dexomega's review of it.
Well, that's all folks, I hope it was enjoyable. Hopefully I made everyone who read this to want to run out and watch Shin Sekai Yori. If you disagree with my opinion, feel free to make your case in the comments or in a different post and feel free to give me constructive criticism so that I can improve for next time.
Colorful, Wolf Children, and Tokyo Godfathers will all be reviewed within the month of February. Probably.