Following a sudden outbreak of psychokinesis in 0.1% of the population, a rapid transformation swept the world. The godlike ability to manipulate matter remotely turned many power wielders to violence, inciting a long period of upheaval. Finally, after a chaotic era shaped by the rise and fall of oppressive regimes, the psychic humans were able to achieve a fragile peace by isolating their society, creating a new world bound by complex rules.
In the town of Kamisu 66, 12-year-old Saki Watanabe has just awakened to her powers and is relieved to rejoin her friends—the mischievous Satoru Asahina, the shy Mamoru Itou, the cheerful Maria Akizuki, and Shun Aonuma, a mysterious boy whom Saki admires—at Sage Academy, a special school for psychics. However, unease looms as Saki begins to question the fate of those unable to awaken to their powers, and the children begin to get involved with secretive matters such as the rumored Tainted Cats said to abduct children.
Shinsekai yori tells the unique coming-of-age story of Saki and her friends as they journey to grow into their roles in the supposed utopia. Accepting these roles, however, might not come easy when faced with the dark and shocking truths of society, and the impending havoc born from the new world.
Little inspection into the dystopia genre is required to realise that the majority of the dystopic anime are set in a cyberpunk universe. Be it Psycho Pass, Ergo Proxy or Texhnolyze, the average viewer is likely to have seen these "hi-tech" interpretations of future societies. Enter Shinsekai Yori – a series where whose setting is uncannily quaint such that on first glance, it is hard to see it as a dystopia; but it is, and an exceptionally remarkable one indeed.
What distinguishes Shinsekai Yori from its counterparts is the sheer unorthodoxy of its universe. It is one where
the modern society as we know it has not been replaced by a technologically advanced civilisation but that of a small picturesque town characterised by a community whose lifestyles have regressed into that of villagers. It is within these bounds that we follow our protagonists from the ages of 12 to 26 in this insidiously deceptive world. Throughout the series, Shinsekai Yori’s universe is constantly developed with fascinating conceptions such as the Karma Demons, Cantus and the Queerats (an entirely different yet intelligent species) that all bring into question many of our humanity’s morals and beliefs. Each concept is thoroughly explored and reinforce each other to create a powerful and fascinating dystopia whose elements successfully examines and challenges the philosophies we take for granted.
Despite its complexity, it does not lazily “narrate” the ideologies that we question. You won't be sitting through monologues of lecture-like philosophy or psychology. You see society being critiqued through the journey and consequences of the actions of our protagonists. This is what I find to be the most impressive aspect of the show because Shinsekai Yori fully takes advantage of anime as a medium - a feat that I feel is rare in this genre. The characters' dialogue exist to explore their mind whilst it is their actions and interactions with this post-apocalyptic world that we explore humanity. In order to truly appreciate Shinsekai Yori, it has to be completed as only then will the experience be complete as the show's construction of its world is careful to convey certain messages and hidden meanings throughout the show allowing viewers to formulate and reformulate key ideas and questions without ever stooping to overbearing narration.
The characters in Shinsekai Yori all play crucial elements to our story and the range of our cast fully captures the countless perspectives that people in such a world can hold. They are all effectively portrayed via their interactions which unravels how multi-dimensional they are. These interactions are genuine and there is an excellent balance between dialogue, silence and narration from our female lead Saki whose voice actor must be praised for such an alluring performance. Despite the show’s timespan ranging from our protagonists’ youth to their adulthood, the pacing is impeccable as it changes from a slower pace to accommodate the universe-building to a faster pace needed to match the gravity of the conflicts that occur.
For an immense dystopia, it only makes sense for it to be accompanied with diverse artwork. As we observe their world throughout the seasons and its numerous settings – oceans, mountains, villages both desolate and populated, they are portrayed with their own unique environment and colour choices. This is all contrasted with the use of experimental visuals and cinematography during the more dream-like and ethereal scenes which do not exist to simply invoke awe but contribute to subtly send hints across to the viewer on certain mysteries and foreshadowing certain events. Complementing the visuals is a soundtrack which encapsulates the essence of the show with each track strengthening the visuals and enhancing the overall experience. The soundtrack demonstrates how effectively music can make emotions across the human spectrum more compelling whilst respecting its role of being a supplement to the show and thus maintains our focus on the story the series presents - one which no extent of audiovisuals is required to make its ideas any more resounding than they already are.
All in all, Shinsekai Yori is a series that delivers in every single aspect it aims to explore. It displays enough to connect all the ideas examined together into a singular full dystopia but leaves enough for viewers to intellectually ponder and elaborate for themselves. It is profound yet not pretentious and examines humanity without falling into a safety net of tropes that may suffice the viewer but do not inspire. Unlike many of its counterparts, Shinsekai Yori is not a dystopia that relies on a singular premise but a whole host of powerful conceptions that coalesce to create, not just a society, but an entire universe. It achieves this with excellence and elegantly provides us with the most wholesome and meticulously crafted package of dystopian fiction I have ever seen and I unhesitatingly recommend it to anyone who seeks the same.
Rewind back to the dawn of fall 2012, you are looking at the fall 2012 anime chart, and you pick probably 5-7 anime you are going to watch. But I can promise that the majority of you, as did I, most likely did not have Shinsekai Yori as a pick. During midst of 2013 I looked at Shinsekai Yori, the promotional picture did not catch my eye and the premises did not spark my interests. However, I did give it a shot and after finishing the anime I can promise that it is truly a spectacle, a diamond in the ruff.
The story takes place in
Japan a thousand years from the present in a utopia where a portion of the population retain a special power called psychokinesis. From the beginning we follow a group of five children as they grow up in the anime and see how they develop within a community bounded by strict rules, and deal with the decisions they make that alter the course of their lives and the entire society they live in. The plot of the show flows very nicely from episode to episode and just as we approach the climax, there’s a plot twist and the storyline from that point just flips upside down in a way you would never expect it to.
The characters in this anime are just something else, with Saki as it’s shining star. The main characters start off as children and by the end of the anime they are adults, with proper illustration of character development. There are a couple of anime who have attempted this children to adulthood metamorphosis motif within one season but they do not pull it off as well as Shinsekai Yori. With an anime that has twenty-five episodes, you would think it would not be enough time for proper character development from children to adults. However, Shinsekai Yori pulls this off very smoothly, which is evidently seen with Saki and Satoru, which even applies to the supporting characters as well. You will not see one character behaving as such and then the next episode they are being the polar opposite, everything is explained and shown very well.
The sound is one of the areas this anime excels in. Every sound that you would not even care for is implemented in every episode and added in the appropriate places, at the appropriate times; the echoing of the voices in a dim room, the rippling of water flowing from a stream. Not to mention soundtrack produced in this amine, which is amazing. Just youtube the battle theme, even if you have not watched the anime yet, it will entice your interests in this anime.
The quality of the art and the animation is what you would expect of any anime standards that are out there today: clear, crisp and pleasing to the eye. The characters and the environment in each of the scenes are drawn to a level of detail, not too simple, yet not to far in detail as well, just in the middle. The quality of art really makes you focus on the message the anime is trying to radiate to the viewer; more than focusing of the wow factor on how amazing the art is.
In terms of the enjoyment, this is not an anime that starts off on a high note and continues as such from there. The first two or three episodes really butters you up, but once you hit the fourth or fifth episode, I promise you, you will be hooked and you will just watch one episode after another. Even if you are more into romance, comedy, action or any genre that is not related to Shinsekai Yori, this anime is definitely worth watching and will probably open the doors to other anime series you never bothered to watch.
Overall I really enjoyed this anime, people should give it a try (unexpectedly, it even became one of my favourites). It did not look appealing to me at first, hence “diamond in the ruff”, but once I started and things picked up, I just wrapped myself in a blanket and marathon’d the whole show. Just looking back at the anime, I will say that one of the highlights of this show is it's ability to take the morals and values of the world we live in and put it into perspective from watching what the characters do to each other and the outcomes that blossom from their decisions. Give Shinsekai Yori a try and you will see what I mean!
I hope you enjoyed my seemingly short review, I would not mind any feedback and if you enjoyed this series or feel enticed to watch it after reading this, feel free to leave a comment !
Shinsekai Yori was that show where I could sit in awe watching the director roll out things one after the other making it look so very effortless. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't bat an eye if the writer actually happens to be from the future because his description of the ‘New World’ is not only persuasive but also connected.
The story is set in the future [1000 years from now] where mankind has created themselves an utopia, though the events are restricted to only Japan. It follows the students of a certain batch in a certain school
that helps the students master their PK[Psychokinesis] ability aka Cantus. In this period, PK users[humans] are the dominant species and Queerats are their sub-ordinates or slaves and often address the former as Kami-sama[literally translating as 'God']. We follow Watanabe Saki and her friends through the sufferings and pain they endure as they try to unravel the origin and possibly vile past of their present society.
The synopsis and the first episode speaks a little to nothing about what the anime truly aims to deliver but the intro of 1 minute[First episode] was enough to keep me reeled in. Fourth episode was bewildering, I had to watch it twice to get most of what was being explained. There was also a portion that temporarily lost my attention and then there was the conclusion that meticulously sealed off the deal on this beautiful creation.
Fantasy toned genres never piqued much of my interest but the whole future setting here was surprisingly compelling. Even the plot holes get over shadowed by an unbelievably smooth story transition. One could almost relate our world with the ugly facade put up by the otherwise apparent dystopia. I am deliberately refraining from describing the story but I assure you it's a staggering watch indeed. Whenever I thought- this is it, this is the writer’s limit of imagination, the show would prove me wrong. This is not purely SF or Fantasy, bring in a darker theme, an ingenious screenplay and Shinsekai Yori is born.
Shinsekai Yori does contain violence/blood and profanity saturated at some parts of the show. The happenings and revelations in this series can be depressing hence should not be mistaken as a light watch. Shinsekai Yori impressively manages to portray the discriminatory nature in us humans in a completely unorthodox thought provoking manner. Story becomes pretty linear after 6th or 7th episode, but that doesn't stop it from keeping you at the edge of your seat especially near the end. I still can't commend the writer enough for the conclusion he’s given to this work. Best possible ending, as far as it concerns me.
As for the Homosexual sequences[very little amount of Shounen Ai and perhaps a little Shoujo Ai/Yuri, 1-2 Episodes tops], it saddens me deeply to see people dropping Shinsekai Yori because of the same. I believe they play a tiny yet essential part in describing the re-casted lives of humans of their time and do not qualify enough for a reason to drop this series.
The character designs can be hard to get used to for many, but I've come to realize how much it suits the whole 'Shinsekai' module of the show. A1 pictures out stood themselves again in the Backgrounds Dept. The backgrounds are extremely gorgeous to look at; effects and animation are well above mediocre. Just wow to all the creatures we encounter other than humans and queerats. The color selection fit perfectly and beautifully brings the New World concept to life. Indubitably deserves to be watched in 720p or more.
The characters in their entirety do a great job in painting the manufactured mentality and traits native to the people 1000 years from now. You'll doubt their authenticity, their feelings, pity their helpless state and still be able to relate to a degree, for they are at core still humans like us. Again, this is something that the viewers should see for themselves. [ Queerats : If you're familiar with Harry Potter franchise, Queerats look similar to Dobby, but more disfigured and fat with further diversities as well. Squealer is one of those queerats and plays a significant role in the later half yet main plot of Shinsekai Yori by assuming the personification of 'Resistance' against the atrocities of the Powerful. ]
Sound- Bravo! It blends so well into the setting and environment that I couldn't help being mesmerized by it. The BGMs & OSTs were captivating and spot on almost entirely. A custom version of ‘Going Home’ [adapted from the second movement of Symphony No. 9 (Dvořák)] featured earlier in Mawaru Penguindrum was used in Shinsekai Yori, and for me it worked magic in the latter. I remember watching the first episode again and again just to hear that and the first ED 'Wareta Ringo'. Voice actors did an incredible job, I don't know how but Hanazawa Kana-san's voice always gets me.
I personally enjoyed Shinsekai Yori way more than I'd initially expected. The entire run had a consistent dark atmosphere, which contributed in keeping the tension. I haven’t been this satisfied with an ending in a long time. This is unquestionably a rare gem among the current trend in Japanese animation industry and is not something one should overlook. Sure there are downfalls like the slow pace in initial episodes, few dry episodes in the middle, minuscule amount of homosexual themes that can irrationally put some viewers off, perhaps some sloppy facial animation now and then, but in the bigger picture Shinsekai Yori more than makes up for the flaws and to me it's no less than something close to masterpiece.
That being said, Shinsekai Yori is not a show for everyone but do try it and decide for yourself.
Overall Score: 8.5/10.
Thank you for reading the entire heap. Feedback greatly appreciated.
Fear, Loss, Hope and Betrayal. Desire, Strength, Lies, and Perfection. If only Shinsekai Yori could be described with just these few words. You rarely see an anime that blends the Story, Art, Sound, and the growth of Characters so fluently. Its not simple to achieve this level of artistry. As a result, it’s not a simple story to watch. Your constantly given questions till the very end. However this makes the anime incredibly enjoyable to watch. It feels as though your brought closer into the story because of it. This Dark masterpiece questions humanities desires, darkens the line that separates Children form Adults, and presents
a twisted morality as the cost for power. While never losing hope of a better future.
With 1000 years passing society has been shattered through the evolution of humanity. Humans awakening of Cantus/Pk, proved to be unruly. As the episodes progress more of the timeline preceding the present is reviled. As shocking as the past appears, sadly its not an unrealistic possibility given the chaos created through Cantus, and the nature of humanity.
The setting is placed in what appears from afar as a utopia. Vast flora surrounds a seemingly tranquil town. While flowing stream’s cascade into waterways, connecting lands of mystery and wonder. The setting is very breathtaking, although its only the contour of the story. Strongly influenced by the lives and minds of the 5 children in Group One at Sage Academy, a school for teaching children how to use and control their Cantus. The story follows them from age 12 to 26. The main cast is incredibly realistic, often making believable choices and appearing very “human". However they feel distant, as far as becoming attached to them. I thought personally while they each had their moments of brilliance, they struggled to break away from simply, appearing “normal” (Looking past their Cantus of course). Although the cast overall, portray’s friendship and conflict, in a fashion that is easily some of the best writing I’ve seen. Personally I loved having the narration told by Saki Watanabe, I felt an allure about her through out the story. Hearing her reflect thoughts on her past at times, while also watching her own life mature, created a beautiful temperament.
I enjoyed that almost immediately there is a sense of danger placed into the story. Its not direct at first, but by using stories told by children, it makes for a intriguing prelim. The plot is paced extremely well, allowing for proper character development, (which there is a lot of), and story progression to mature simultaneously. At times it may feel that a lot is explained at once. So don’t be afraid to re-watch a section if you think you missed something. Its difficult to review the story with out touching on spoilers. There are so many details intertwined together, to create a perfectly flowing story. It takes adventurous children, turned rebellious teens, and finally determined young adults. Mix’s in a beastly, yet sadly relatable conflict. This being the sub species Queerats relation with the Humans. While using realistic context, the story also ties in romance and desire. Along with unique ideas such as, Cantus Leakage, Karma Demons, and Fiends. When you put it all together it creates a wonderful story. That with each episode continues to impress.
Your taken into this vast world filled with deep colors, blurring reality and fantasy effortlessly at times. The characters are drawn with detail and look very appropriate. I thought each character had a fitting appearance to portray their personality. Although their design consistency, wavers now and then unfortunately. Some details vary depending on the Key animator, working with that episode. Also a few minor animation effects, such as awkward amounts of arrows. Feel out of place but are easily forgotten by the end. Overall the shadows and colors are always vivid. While the art tone maintains a darker look. The entire story resonates to eclipse the viewer into and different but familiar world. Reflecting rivers and warped realities, the mysterious fauna seen throughout the story. All the Art elements together, create a perfect tint for the clandestine theme in Shinsekai Yori.
With music generally maintaining a serious tone, Shinsekai Yori has an incredible soundtrack. Traditional Song of Shadows, Ienikaeru (Going Home), History of Sorrow, Last Letter. They are all such moving pieces and there are so many more. The themes and scenery are portrayed wonderfully though the music, making it all very chilling. It seemed to me that appropriate score’s are often used as an introduction, in place of a opening sequence. It was a wonderful choice for the story, because of the absence of a typical OP, the show maintains more of it's mystery. The voice acting is excellent (Viewed Subbed Version). The tones match with the character designs/personalities, and it never feels forced or inadequate while expressing emotion. The entire Sound (Songs, Effects, Voice) is presented spectacularly.
This anime is incredibly detailed and well written. Ranging in all emotion it dose have a more serious tone to it. This is not a show for everyone. However it is incredibly unique, especially well written, and immense with beautiful music. Your able to see children, grow into teenagers, and finally as adults. The emotions of innocence, adolescence, and maturity, mixing together along the journey. Creates characters that are relatable and show believable emotion constantly. The choices made, and how they grew after each trial, made them feel all so real. You watch as life tries to survive, but it’s more then just that. This a true masterpiece to watch. The story will leave you thinking about not simply what you’ve just watched, but about Life and the choices we ourselves make, and the choices of societies past and future.
"We have to change our way of thinking, If we plan to change the future." Watanabe Saki.