Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Anime Review: From the New World

To keep moving on, this was a show I had pretty high hopes for when the fall season started and never ended up fulfilling them. Of course, I expected the story would have a totally different plot than it actually did which can cause that problem, really there's not much I can say to introduce this title so let's just get to the review.

From the New World (Shin Sekai Yori)

Summary: One thousand years from now Japan, and presumably the rest of the world, is quite a new world where everyone has psychic abilities and there is peace everywhere. Yet to keep this world peaceful there are many dark secrets lurking and, whether by accident or design, young Saki and her group of friends keep running into them and as the years go by and they start to uncover the real truth behind their world the consequences for their discoveries become higher and higher.  

The Good: You know, I'm almost surprised that I haven't seen a real blend between science fiction and horror before (I'm sure it's out there, I simply haven't seen it) and SSY got really close to it at times. Despite that, I can't quite call this story a dystopian story but the way it played around with so many of the elements from it (the slow realization the viewer gets when they see how messed up Kamisu 66 has become in order to have a peaceful world filled with people with godlike powers, the history of how it got there, and the monster-rats in general) was great. Now, if only the last third of the show had been completely different in some ways (while still keeping the same revelations and twists if that makes any sense) then I could love it, as it stands I have some very deep problems with the show. 

The Bad: I had a problem with this series but it’s not exactly a problem with the story per-say. The way I see it, there are two broad types of stories out there, character driven (where character growth in the main focus, with it’s timeskips I can’t really call SSY this since we miss a lot of growth, that and the memory erasure) and plot driven. When you write a plot driven story just about all the time you focus on characters at a pivotal point in their lives or in the society they live in and how they change it, that’s what I was expecting here but not precisely what I got. Yes the show all leads up to one big events that changes their town forever but in the end this will just become another forgotten part of Kamisu 66’s history, it just wasn’t a pivotal enough moment. I was expecting something along the lines that I was half expecting, and now hope, that Psycho Pass would do, a lot of other people have noted similarities in their ending and since that does involve spoilers I’ll talk more about that in a footnote*.

The Audio: This show was a bit odd since it never had a proper opening sequence which, given the mood of the show, I think was a great idea since I'm not even sure what they could have done for one. It did have two different ending themes (and the second one started at a really odd point) and while I liked the music of the first more than the second neither just fit the show for me. I'm not sure at all what the visuals of the first one were supposed to represent, honestly they reminded me of a series of fan(?) songs I'd seen on youtube, although in this case I can actually come up with an idea for an ending sequence that would have worked with the mood of the show. I thought the voice acting for the characters at all ages was done fairly well, they choose to have different voice actors for the characters as 10 year olds which was a smart choice (since if you can do 10, 12/14, and 26 year old voices then you have some crazy vocal cords the rest of us don't) and I was surprised at how quickly I got used to the changes. Oh and I have no idea how Squealer's voice actor managed to do that voice, I'm fairly sure they didn't use many digital effects on it but if they did I can't blame them, that must not have been an easy voice to do, especially considering how often that character appeared.

The Visuals: The character designs took a bit of a while for me to get used to, there was something just a bit off there and I don't think it was on purpose, and if you saw the internet streams you can see that they really experimented with color, lighting, and animation styles in some episodes. Which of course made everyone whine (how come when I like it no one else does and vice versa? I'll never understand that) and I've seen some screenshots of the DVD/BR release and everything seems to have been changed to be in line with the rest of the show now.

Honestly I think I might need to just make a long, very spoilerific, tumblr post about my exact feelings for the show since I do appreciate some of the things it did but, in my opinion of course, just didn't do other things right and that combination really bothers me. It bothers me enough that I'm still not sure what to rate the show, I guess a 3 or 3.5 out of 5 and at this rate I'll probably want to rewatch it (although knowing what's coming is going to make it a haaaard rewatch) although I'm not sure how I feel about owning it. For those who want to watch it it's being streamed on both Crunchyroll and Sentai's websites and Sentai will come out with a release (no word yet if it's DVD only or BR as well) sometime within the next 12 months most likely. 

*in short, SSY does have a stronger ending than P-P because it does manage to wrap up all it’s ends but I found it to be a much bleaker ending where the remaining characters have accepted the good and evil of their society and merely hope for a better one, they aren’t actively seeking a way to create it. Again there was at least a small timeskip right before the epilogue, it is entirely possible that Saki is trying to change some things but unlike Akane’s determined declaration that she will turn off the Sibyil system, Saki seems content to live a more quiet life and the fact that she now lives on a farm raising the impure cats, which apparently in the novel were sent to kill her the night she awakened so she barely escaped death, creeped me out more than anything in P-P did. 

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