Review- From the New World(Shin Sekai Yori): One of the Greats(SPOILERS)
When I first started this blog for sharing my watching experience I wrote a review of Eureka Seven and said that it was one of the best shows I’ve seen to date. Two months later and I’ve watched another near perfect show. From the New World is not only one of the best anime I’ve ever seen, It’s also a piece of art that should be recognized for its wonderful dystopian story and masterful presentation.
To say that the writing is good is to sell this show short. Its brilliance begins with its premise: a story of a world torn apart by a war against a group of people who, in the course of human evolution, developed the ability to manipulate reality with his or her mind. In a new society set a millennium after the war tore apart the world, a town made up of humans with reality manipulating powers lives in relative peace.
What makes From the New World’s writing so interesting has a lot to do with the town itself. Most of the struggles in our main character Saki’s life come as a direct or indirect result of the leaders of the town, who generally comprise either the Ethics Committee and the Education Committee. Under the authority of these groups, the town has become what can only be described as a hyper-authoritarian state. The ability to move outside of the spiritual barrier that has been setup around the town is highly restricted. It is also found out later that the ethics committee has hypnotized all the groups of children accept Saki and her friends in order to make sure that they do not go against the committee’s wishes. This setup serves to show just how seriously the powers that they hold are taken. Someone with their Psychokinetic powers could easily kill thousands of those without it. As such, the Ethics Committee felt as though they had to protect their peace.
The show does make sure to call into question the morality of their policies of the Committees often. After all, they send out Trickster Cats to eliminate those who they feel are a problem, and they are openly hostile to those who question their authority. These actions are always shown in much darker and unforgiving light.
Saki and her friends ultimately carry the show. It is through their eyes that we see the corruption of the town’s leadership throughout all stages of their lives. Saki, the shows main character, is portrayed as someone who is constantly the learning. As she grows up she learns more and more about their town Kamisu 66 and what really goes on behind the scenes. It is through her that we find out about the trickster cats, the leader of the ethics committee Tomiko, and the treatment of the Monster Rats. She is both our main perspective of the world and also herself a bystander to its tragedy. It is also through her that we see a loss of innocence, both in herself and her friends, as they learn about the horrors of their history and about the society they live in.
Wataru is also an important character and one that complements Saki well. When she is in a moment of hesitation and she feels like she can’t move on it’s Wataru that snaps her out of it. We also see the world through his eyes, to a lesser extent, but as he grows up with her Wataru becomes a bit more cynical of the world than Saki. He is constantly making Saki evaluate the decisions she is going to make while also being there to protect her.
The Music in the show isn’t what I would call the greatest, but it is by no means bad. It does well to complement the tones of the scenes they are used in, whether those tones are romantic or horrific. I do have to mention one song, in particular, Kage no Denshouka Daisanbu, which while being one of the most prominent songs in the show is also the best song and is definitely worth listening to on its own.
It’s very hard to find fault in a show like From the New World given how perfectly executed it is, but then we get to the animation. Admittedly it gets better as the show goes on, but it the beginning it is really jarring inconsistent some of the characters look, especially during scenes when the characters are the focus. Although, I can definitely see an argument of this being intentional. As the show goes on the animation of Saki and her friends becomes more rigid and structured, mirroring her conformity to the society of the town.
I’ve had a lot more to say about this show because I feel like it deserves a good explanation of why it’s so great, and I hope this review has done it the justice it deserves. From the New World is a show that will stand the test of time because of its quality storytelling and ability to portray tragedy in all the complexity and nuance that a story like it requires. It is definitely a must-watch.