“Shinsekai Yori” or “From The New World” is a true gem. I do warn you that it is not a light watch – there is plenty of gore and many upsetting themes within this. If you can manage to get past this, you will find an immersive story full of plot twists and characters you’ll learn to love or hate.
“From The New World” is set in a cut-off fantasy world. Set long after humanity has destroyed itself by war and famine, the society consists of the ancestors of the few survivors who have adapted to survive. In order for humanity to continue existing, they had to learn to use the power of the Gods – psychokinesis. The anime follows a group of five children as they journey through childhood and face many challenges. The children believe to live in an idyllic, peaceful civilisation where they can expand their knowledge and live happily – but not all is as it seems. The citizens are hiding many dark secrets with humanity on the point of collapse.
The anime is very heavily story and character based. I was expecting an anime that was not very well thought out – with a lot of the story being too weak. I’m pleased to say that this was not what I got. The themes of betrayal, loyalty, friendship and questioning morals are constantly being explored throughout the series. Just when you thought you were getting used to the story, another unexpected twist would throw you off balance. I found myself thinking a lot about our society today, questioning certain aspects that were greatly influential on the story.
The soundtrack deserves a mention. Usually a soundtrack feels like a last minute effort put together to make the anime a bit more enjoyable. I say “feels” not that it is. With “From The New World” the soundtrack compliments each new story, adding more tension and enjoyment to the anime. I especially liked one of the main themes, sung by what sounds to be a child choir, to help reinforce that the characters were young children.
I also found that both dubbed and subbed versions of the anime were very good. I thought that the voices suited the characters well, although the dubbed version I felt had a wider range in voices and so this made the dubbed version slightly more enjoyable.
The animation and art style were also very impressive. It took me a while to get used to the designs but I feel they compliment the story being set in the very distant future. The backgrounds fully compliment this too. I feel that the art style was charming enough to be intrigued but as the story developed and the plot got darker, the art followed this. I was very pleased with this as I felt it complimented the story more. I also liked that every now and again you got the subtle reminder from the art that the main characters are children by adding in a bright, colourful character or scene.
The majority of these episodes were introducing the main characters and setting up the scene. Despite it being character introductions, the anime goes into each character’s personality in depth. This is key to linking the two parts as in part one they are young children so are naïve and powerless against the adults decisions. Part two is different and focuses on how the characters change and become stronger. I feel that the strong development in the first part set up this development really well. The story itself I thought was very well told in the first part. The first three episodes were a bit slow but as the camping trip was introduced, the story sped up and I found myself becoming engrossed.
The story mainly centred on the five children growing up. Part one shows them growing up and eventually the adults kill off characters or some decide to run away to escape certain death. At first I found the characters to be very weak. I expected them to act up more and rebel as children. As I watched more of the anime I’m glad this was not the case. Rather than a story climax arising from the beginning, tension was being created so you could slowly see the development of the characters during each new situation. I’m also glad that although there are a few romance scenes (both opposite and same sex) this did not dominate the series. I say romance scenes but these were very brief so do not let them deter you from watching this anime. They are critical to the story but are very quick and tame.
Both parts of the anime feature Japanese promotion videos and clean versions of the closing songs. Although these feature in both, the trailers are different for both parts. Part one features a lot of fantasy/supernatural trailers, which suits the anime completely. I feel that these were aimed towards a similar audience. The trailers include “Familiar of Zero”, “Girls und Panzar”, “Campione!”, “Accel World” and “Medaka Box”.
This anime was full of surprises. I was expecting the second part to be a lot slower paced as it had a lot to live up to. I’m extremely pleased to say that the story not only was better than the first part, but it completely absorbed me right from the beginning.
A lot of side characters were introduced but not developed in detail. I felt this was better as it was showing the isolation of the two children who were left (Saki and Satoru). The “monster rat” leaders returned from the first part to help develop the story and a new enemy was shown to make the threat even greater. I thought this was good as you could sense the betrayal from their “friends” and there was a big shock with the new enemy. As the story unfolds, the characters personalities become very deep, especially with the “monster rat” leaders. You were allowed to explore all of the characters, including their dark and weak sides, which I feel added a lot more enjoyment to the series.
The extras in part two differ from the first part. These extras range from ‘mecha’ to general ‘shounen’ so they appeal to more audiences. These trailers include “Nekomonogatari Black”, “Amnesia”, “Devil Survivor 2”, “Valvrave the Liberator” and “Watamote”.