From The New World
Also known as: Shin Sekai Yori
A thousand years in the future, Japan appears as it did a thousand years in the past. In a small isolated village, Saki is a young girl attending the local academy in hopes her psychic abilities (which everyone has) will finally awaken and she'll be able to advance. Finding her powers is only a small step in growing up in such a strange world, and through the years Saki will uncover many lies fed to her as a child. Some will have consequences for her and her friends. Yet for humanity is to survive this grim reality, it requires a new generation which knows the truth, if it doesn't destroy them first.
It's a truly rare breed of anime I find captivating for a full 26 episodes. (Well there was a single dud episode, but an impressive ratio all the same). There are so many great things about this anime, I'm not sure where to even start.
Few anime (and I've seen a lot) create such a detailed and exotic world such as done in From The New World. Rarer still that concepts are so well thought out. As a novel adaptation, the depth in details with characters and story shows through.
It's not only the story that's good, the way it's told is exceptional too. It begins following five friends as children. Through their eyes we see the world: strange, new, but in a pure and innocent way. As the world is so unlike our own, it's hard to know if what the children are told is the truth or stories. As they mature, so does their tale and perspective on the way things really are. There is clearly a bigger truth which isn't known, but the children are left to unravel the mysteries and the viewer accompanies them in their discovery.
Woven into the anime are themes of human nature, friendship, moral dilemmas, and growing up. The most prominent becomes the human desire for dignity. However my favorite theme involved growing and parenting. The children are shielded from harsh realities, so most never know the truth. But the elders are left with the dilemma of passing the torch to the next generation. Drones cannot lead drones. Leaders can only emerge if the children are allowed to grow into adults while given the chance to make decisions and mistakes. This anime digs into the fear adults can have of what children can grow into, and the fear of allowing them enough freedom to do so. A very fascinating theme!
From the New World has a somewhat simplistic, yet appealing art style. Although clearly constrained budget wise, it pulls off a surprising amount of great visuals. What really drives the exotic feel of this anime is the haunting and beautiful soundtrack. There's something about the way the music kept me engrossed that I always felt like I was waking from a dream when the end credits rolled.
I get down on modern titles sometimes, but watching a show this good gives me hope, that the best anime I'll see has yet to be made. Or if anything, that one shining jewel of a title makes it worth wading through the rest. From the New World is this kind of title. It doesn't just show you a world. You feel like you've truly discovered and experienced it. Riveting, thought provoking, and haunting end to end. Watch it.
Tomiko: It takes more than loyal sheep to protect a town. A leader must have a broad and open mind, with strong convictions allowing them to make hard decisions.
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