This is review number one hundred and sixty seven. This anime is part of the Fall 2012 lineup. It’s a really amazing anime called Shin Sekai Yori. I wasn’t expecting much from this anime but damn, this one is really wonderful. It’s a twenty five episode anime about people with psychic powers and the history of mankind. It’s a tale about how the truth is often a bit hard to swallow. Let’s read on.
The anime is set in a world in the distant future where humans have developed telepathic powers. It centers around five kids. Saki, Satoru, Shun, Maria and Mamoru are all taking lessons at Sage Academy to hone their psychic powers. They live in a society that is very secretive and often does a lot of things in the shadows. The people don’t question it though and they live on with their normal lives. The five kids were then participating in a field trip but wandered off the restricted areas they aren’t supposed to be in. They soon discover the true nature of the society they live in. After this incident, the kids soon face challenges that their unready mind can’t grasp and they are soon forced to question the very notion of how their world works.
Taking the Pants Off
I wasn’t really sure what I’d expect from this anime. Judging by the promo picture, it looks like a bunch of kids in an Action/Adventure anime where they’re teleported to a new world and they need to get back to Earth. I don’t know. It just looks pretty familiar and ordinary. After finishing the anime, I can honestly say though that this is one of the most thrilling anime I’ve ever seen. It’s actually more about a microscopic look at society and the humans living in it. This anime is pretty heavy and I think the effects still linger as I write this review. You just don’t watch a lot of anime that can blur the lines on what is right and wrong. Rarely do you see something so thought provoking that you often feel a heavy heart watching the events of the anime unfold. This anime is really amazing and something that is so brilliantly well done.
This anime was adapted from a novel. These kinds of anime are usually very slow but the intrigue really permeates. One best example of a novel anime is Shiki. Shiki started out slow and eventually picks up pace until the excitement builds that explodes in its climax. They start slow but the story is never dragged and it doesn’t slow down as well. A little bit of patience can go a long way and you will need it for Shin Sekai Yori. The anime started out a bit obscure. You aren’t really sure what you are looking at and the anime moves at its own pace. Basically, you’ll have to catch up. The anime also provides little information at first. Just bits and pieces that don’t make sense until you reach the second half. Yeah, a little bit of patience until you’ve reached the second half. As I said though, the anime has enough intrigue to keep you going that far. Despite not establishing the setting or status quo clearly, the mystery behind the scenes of the anime is enough to draw viewers in.
Another hurdle, despite the painfully slow and muddled start, is the terminologies in the anime. It ties with the status quo and the setting of the anime but the show doesn’t present that at first so you’re often left out of the loop. There are terms like Cantus, Minoshiro and Karma Demon used freely in the anime that doesn’t really get a proper explanation until the second half. The lack of explanation on various things is a bit annoying in the anime. It doesn’t even try to present at least a bit of clarity on various events so the viewers can get sense of it. All is explained in the second half and I actually like how the anime handled that.
The first half of the anime laid the groundwork of the anime though. It presented everything that will be heavily explored in the second half. Basically though, you’d get a gist of the story in the first half. The anime is set in the distant future, the kids are endowed with the “spirit” to awaken their inborn psychic powers, they attend school to practice their powers, kids mysteriously vanish when they act out and no one seems to care, the village they live in is very secretive doing things ordinary people aren’t authorized to know, the powers of the people can be used to help or kill others and there are various rumors about the village that may hold more merit that meets the eye. Personally, it was the lingering feeling of doubt and “something doesn’t seem right” that really hooked me in the anime. You can tell from the first half of the anime that the world the kids live in is a bit twisted with all of its secrets and shady people. The rising suspicions of the kids add more speculations to the viewers. As you progress to the anime, you just basically want to know exactly what the hell is going on in the village the kids live in. Something is definitely amiss yet no one seems to notice it except you, the viewers. It gets a whole of a hell more intriguing when even the kids, who gave you a reason to feel speculative, suddenly brushes off their own suspicions. At that point, you just have to know and the anime prepared everything in the second half.
The second half explained it all. Every question that arises from the anime was slowly covered. The anime doesn’t hold back. Every single detail of every single thing in the Shin Sekai Yori world is slowly explored. The curiosity being satisfied is actually pretty great but the events that soon followed really set the anime on a high rise towards the end. There are three plot points in the anime. Actually, I’m just breaking it down into three but these are really closely related to each other that it moves in a single story. The anime only have one strong story which is about the harsh reality of the world the kids live in. There were a lot explored though and it makes sense breaking it down into their respective plot points.
The first plot point is about the history of the world. How did the people gain psychic powers and what lead to the demise of the society that came before theirs? This is really vaguely touched upon by the anime but it was really important to the rest of the anime. The show nicely used flashbacks that happen in the first half relating to some events in the second half to clearly explain the implications of the things that were mentioned in the anime so it doesn’t get confusing. The anime is set in the distant future yet the villagers seem to have shunned technology and have embraced a more superstitious society. This was explained and the various truth revealed in the anime is often a bit unsettling. There were also some nice evolutionary and psychological elements in this plot point that were nicely touched upon as you progress in the anime.
The second plot point is the inner workings of the village. There were governing bodies introduced later on in the anime concerning various matters. The iffy rumors told in the first half of the anime was given light and the seriousness of the matters tackled by these governing bodies is pretty intriguing. This plot point also explored the various superstitious elements of the anime. The people of the village are clearly pretty deadly with their awesome psychic powers but they conform heavily to the set rules of the governing entities. Now, what would happen if they don’t conform or they show signs of becoming deadly? The village has established a pretty ingenious way of preventing people from questioning their rules that does seem to work to some extent. There are liminal and subliminal preventative measures and the truth behind these things is also explored in the anime. There is a bit of a dark element to this plot point but the mystery aspects of it were really fun to watch as well.
The last plot point is the existence of the “Queerats”. These are the small little creatures in the anime that has ugly faces that serves as workers for the humans. In the first half of the anime, you see just how savage they are but you also see just how harsh they live their life. The inner workings of the Queerats and the relationship they have with the humans are also explained in the anime. There are Queerats that considers the humans as gods and there are some that detest their existence. The unruly nature of these creatures and their role in the world is soon touched upon by the anime. Queerats are considered below the humans because the humans have their awesome psychic powers. Would you defy someone that can telepathically kill you? Well, the Queerats decided to serve under them as slaves and workers. Their lifestyle is something you can equate to a dog on the street living of dirty diapers to survive. Despite their lack of psychic powers, they do possess weapons like bows and they adapted tactical maneuvers to combat other Queerats or other invading bodies. They also outnumber the humans. It’s really only a matter of time before the scale tip towards their favor and they decide to be more than just diaper scavenging dogs for the rest of their lives. Question is, how far are they willing to go to breakout of their current existence? Rather, do you really want to know?
The anime is really heavy. It tackles a lot of uncomfortable topics and puts a spotlight on the depravity of mankind. It sheds a light on the various attitudes of humans on things and their need to control everything. The thing you’ll witness in this anime is often a bit heavy to watch. The anime doesn’t paint anyone as a bad guy or a good guy. The viewers are given that unpleasant task and the line is really blurred. How evil is a society that kills an individual to save the rest of the population? How good is an individual that helps out their friends but breaks the rules in doing so? Can you really fault someone who is fighting for their survival? How good are you to claim that what they are doing is evil? This anime is pretty amazing at how it questions the very nature of humans. The saddest part is that the reaction of the characters in the anime is probably what most ordinary people set in the same instances would do as well. There are no heroes in this anime with a clear definition of what is right or wrong. No one fights for their beliefs and challenges the system. Like how we would react, the characters are just cogs in a machine that keeps on going. The way they conform is a bit sickening and the way they just accept the truth doing nothing about it is really disheartening. Can you sit by despite knowing that a governing body is corrupt? As suck as it is, conforming is the natural reaction to such a situation.
The characters in the anime are incredible. Like the story, they start out slow with very little personality to set them apart. As the plot thickens, the characters take a pretty amazing transformation as well. The main characters, the five kids, really add a lot to the plot. Their conflicting personalities and reaction to various situations made some events in the anime a bit intriguing to watch. The kids in the anime have different stand out personalities that made the show thrilling as they are put through certain events. There is Sun, the smart guy, that satisfies his curiosity despite knowing some truths are a bit hard to bear. There is mamoru, the scaredy cat, that opposites Shun prefers living in the dark not knowing certain truths because he knows he can’t handle them. There is Maria, the concerned one, who protects and comforts her friends when she knows they are suffering. There is Satoru, the brave one, who is a pretty stand out guy that can handle any situation and fights hard when the situation calls for it. Lastly, there is Saki, the perceptive one, who has a really tough personality. She faces any challenges and seems easily accepts things for what it is. As the anime progresses, the bonds between the characters are tested and their lives are focused as they plow on discovering certain truths they aren’t supposed to know.
There were some other important characters that started out simple at first. They have very little role in the first half and gradually grows in the second half. I personally admire the transformation of one of the villains in the anime. He was cunning and he took advantage of things to suit his plan. The amazing thing is that he started out as a simple character with a conforming personality as well. He broke out of that mold and really brought hell in the most majestic way.
The rest of the characters are amazing as well. There were a lot of characters introduced as the anime progresses and they had a very precise role to the story. Some are a bit antagonistic towards the main characters while others are a bit supportive. Some are shady while others have clear intentions. These characters have very little transformation but they add a lot to the story. It doesn’t matter how little their role is though because they often make a big impact in the anime. For example, Saki’s parents have little role in the anime but they add insight to the people working in the village. Another is one of the generals of the Queerats that represents both the good ones and the bad ones. They add volume to the story since their precise role adds a lot to the events of the anime.
The anime had a bit of Mystery to it. I love this aspect of the anime because it was the element that made me watch until the end. The things the characters kept secret and the way it was revealed were some of the exciting moments in the anime. Despite the slow start and the lack of gritty action, the mystery aspects had a lot to offer. The anime also had some Sci Fi aspects to it. There were a lot of talks about experiments and evolutionary things in the anime that laid the groundwork for the story. This was coupled by some Psychological elements. The way science and superstition mix in the anime was really nicely done and I love how it affected the course of the story. Lastly, there were also some Fantasy elements to it. There are weird creatures spread throughout the anime and some flashy looking things despite being set in a simple world. All of these elements in the anime were nicely balanced and they all had a hand at really making the story really amazing.
The biggest hurdle is the slow pace in the first half of the anime. A little patience can go a long way though because this is really an amazing anime. The viewers are reward plentiful just by sticking by until the anime entered its second half. I really love all of these novel anime because of how packed their stories are. The various themes in this anime are really strong and they will make a big impression on you. You really do not see a lot of well executed thought provoking anime as wonderful as this one.
Sight and Sound
The character design is pretty simple. It doesn’t really stand out but it is pretty cleanly presented. The characters have really expressive eyes and some nice body types to them. They have the typical simple body build for bishies but they aren’t as detailed for them to be called bishies, if that made any sense. There is just enough to determine their age because there are various time skips in the anime. The outfit doesn’t stand out as well. I love the rather ethnic tribal clothes that have a touch of modernity to them that the characters wear and there is enough to make the characters look good.
The designs on the Queerat were pretty great. They walk and talk like humans but they look like rats. They are a bit hard to look at in the beginning because of their disfigured faces and giant rat faces but you slowly get used to them. They have nice expressive eyes as well though that you can tell the emotions running through the characters. The no named pawns look good with their undeveloped small rat bodies and their lack of a proper facial feature. They often die so you often thank god they don’t express as much anguish as you’d expect. There are characters that have more details to them like the main Queerats characters and I love how distinguished they look. The other creatures in the anime also have a nice design to them. I love the imagination behind the look but also the scary appeal they have since they are wild creatures.
The background in the anime is amazing. There are a lot of scenic moments in the anime and I love how they all come to live. The nice angles of the scenes and the mood they set really tell a lot in the anime. They have a nice painted look to them but their artistic value is pretty recognizable. The anime really did a great job bringing certain scenes to life like the various forest scenes and the depressive atmosphere of most rundown places. The tranquil vibe of the village was nicely done as well and the mood during certain moments in the anime was brought to life by the sceneries in the anime.
There are some graphic scenes in the anime. A lot of creatures die, including humans, in the most graphic way. Some explodes, some gets twisted beyond recognition, some are burned alive, some are beheaded, some are flattened and some die in other various ways. The anime displays the animalistic side of humans and their thirst for blood so some scenes are really graphic. The blood works on the death scenes were pretty good but the anime often lacks some needed gore. No guts and some body parts disintegrate instead of decorating the sceneries. The lack of some blood curdling scenes was also evident. Some scenes are pretty depraved but the anime never wallows in it. They don’t put a lot of details in it. They die and that is all that matters.
The animation is pretty decent. The various facial reactions had nice transitions to them and you can really see how big their reactions are. A lot of characters do a lot of running and the way some characters die are nicely animated. The war scene in the anime had some amazing animation to them with a nice mix of CG that made them a lot more impressive. The interaction with the background was also nicely done. Certain hazards in the anime were nicely incorporated to certain scenes. There were a lot of talking in the anime though but the action scenes really stood out because of the nice animation.
There is no OP in the anime. There is one during one of the episodes in the second half. I also wonder why there isn’t an OP. Time constraint, maybe. There are two ED songs in the anime though. The first one is “Wareta Ringo” by Saki Watanabe (Risa Taneda). As you can see, this was sung by one of the characters in the anime. The song itself is really catchy with its lively beat and nice instrumentals. The song is about fate and how people are moved by it. The ED sequence is by far, the most telling piece in the anime though. It’s really intriguing because it features a woman and a scenic place under the water. This tells a lot of what happens in the anime really as I often speculate who the woman is, how old she I, and the activity she was doing in the bridge. The second ED is “Yuki ni Saku Hana” by Maria Akizuki (Kana Hanazawa). This is a really lovely song and kana Hanazawa’s voice nicely stands out. The song itself is romantic and a bit ominous which I really enjoy. The sequence features various scenes in the anime going through the four seasons and one of the couples in the anime.
9/10 “A thought provoking piece about the humans and their very existence.”
This is an awesome show. The slow pace is a bit bothersome but it come back strong with a great story that is really thrilling and thought provoking. If you love stories rich with social commentaries and a nice look at human behavior then you’ll enjoy this anime. It has a nice mystery, exciting action and characters that really blur the line between good and bad. It’s one of the gripping anime of 2012. I highly recommend it.