Shin Sekai Yori (REVIEW)

Shinsekai yori logo
Watch it.

What a great watch.
Shin Sekai Yori / From the New World (REVIEW)
(THERE ARE NO SPOILERS)

NOTE: This review does not meet my standards any longer and will be updated sometime in the future.

After going through Sword Art OnlineAccel World, two fairly sizable series for the last two seasons, I thought that I came to blog about anime at a great time. The former is a hype-train, and for one reason or another, I was glad to have joined it. The latter is something I enjoyed blogging about greatly. However, I can safely say that having the pleasure of blogging Shin Sekai Yori while it is airing makes me truly delighted to have picked up this hobby at such an opportune time.

Shin sekai yori anime

You know, I approached reviewing with a very cautious attitude, laying out setting, characters, story, plot and even theme to outline what to go over. Such a structured approach is by no means ineffective, but I feel that a review, for me, should be something that I should communicate with others from how I feel from subjective and objective standpoints, and should flow from my heart (as cheesy as that sounds). I have to give Shin Sekai Yori credit because it became impossible for me to review everything in such a structured manner as so many elements, characters, setting, and theme conflicted with each other and knit with each other tightly enough for reviewing in such a structured way something meaninglessly difficult. As a result, I changed how I approach reviewing anime, and I will probably stick with something similar as I find it much more fluid and fascinating to write. Without further ado, let’s get started.

Watanabe Saki ritual Aonuma Shun kid

I was introduced to Shin Sekai Yori when I was browsing around trying to find some anime I could do episodic reviews for. As I browsed the previews for the Fall 2012 season, the cover art of the anime stared at me in the face, and I didn’t think much of it. The cover art isn’t extremely appealing, but the novel won the 2008 Nihon SF Taisho Award which gave me more confidence in following it right from the beginning. While I can’t say the first impressions blew me away, I realized just how much of a journey we were going to be taken through after a couple of episodes and decided that I would stick with it. That was a fantastic decision.

Akizuki Maria wave Asahina Satoru smile

Firstly, let’s talk about a couple of obstacles that will undoubtedly block people from watching the anime as that’s what I’ve been seeing lately. Apparently, people aren’t too interested in the anime as the beginning half is fairly “uninteresting” or “dull.” While I can understand as some of my friends dropped it until I basically forced them into it, I don’t feel that anything is “uninteresting” as there is plenty of foreshadowing, atmosphere and tension even in the beginning few episodes. Some people may find the lack of exciting moments or action to be “boring,” but look a little bit deeper and be taken into the flow of the story. There is plenty of symbolism, and interesting dialogue to be found.

Shinsekai Yori

The second “problem” people have is the yaoi and yuri in the anime. Alright, I can understand. Who in their right straight mind would want to see two guys getting it on? I get it, you don’t want to see it. You know what? That’s fine. However, people have dropped this anime because it had it in one episode. Why didn’t they even bother checking the next? Or the one after? It never really happens again. By the way, what homosexual elements are presented are not randomly inserted; they pertain to the context of the story very well. So, if you are stepping into this anime and you are homophobic or just don’t like those things, you can rest assured that it basically only happens in episode 8. You have been warned so don’t punch your screen when it happens.

Bakenezumi or Queerats False Minoshiro

Enough of that. Let’s get to the heart of this gem. What exactly is it that makes Shin Sekai Yori great? I would say that it’s a combination of atmosphere, tension, and fantastic storytelling. Even in the first few episodes, one can probably feel how dreary and dark situations are. The setting is definitely something that assists in creating the feeling of being suppressed by an unseeable force that screams dystopia. However, as the story progresses, it’s not as clear cut and we begin to question almost everything. This leads to the major point that Shin Sekai Yori excels at, storytelling.

Tomiko Asahina education council From the New World

You can’t have atmosphere and tension without storytelling that compels viewers to feel that way. To this extent, the anime does a marvelous job presenting itself in different occasions that keep me in awe. Without spoiling anything, the pace quickens quickly and every episode has something to present. It could be moral dilemmas, mental conflict within the character’s minds, personal conflict between characters, the setting itself that forces characters into tense situations, and so on. The lack of an opening is indicative of how A-1 Pictures is using the time given to them to portray as much as they possibly can. Even in the endings, of which there are two, there are plenty of symbolism and foreshadowing.

From the new world fiend Squealer queerat

The characters are another strong point. Even if some argue that the main character, Saki, isn’t necessarily that great, I would still say that the other characters that appear throughout have their own unique traits and quirks that make them easily likable. Characters are not limited to humans; there are these strange creatures called Queerats that play critical and intriguing role. As the series progresses, everything becomes more serious and grand as a result. With what’s on the line, it’s easy to be at the edge of your seat while watching this anime.

Mamoru Satou and Maria

Sometimes, I can’t help but cheer for one side only to realize a short while after that things aren’t exactly what they seem to be. Shin Sekai Yori easily twists the perspectives around and questions the foundations of society and what’s “right” and “wrong.” Sure, we had plenty of anime questioning these common philosophical questions, but the execution is spot on in Shin Sekai Yori. It’s not just a character vocalizing these questions, but it’s just the way that the story is told which makes us think in that direction. In this respect, the setting also plays a vital role that supports the suspicion viewers may have towards certain elements of the story which, in turn, creates a great amount of atmospheric tension.

To add to the storytelling is the soundtrack. I have to give credit to Komori Shigeo for giving such a marvelous soundtrack that really adds to the atmosphere of this anime. At the right times, the right soundtrack is played and the right emotions are conveyed. I have no qualms to that extent. The animation might be a touchy one for some as it’s not the best. However, A-1 utilizes what they have fairly well and while it’s not horrific, it’s definitely not superb. But who really cares? If you’re watching Shin Sekai Yori for the visuals… go watch K or something instead.

Review Recommendation

Do I even need this section? Just try it. If the first few episodes do not captivate you, do not worry, keep going. I can’t guarantee that you’ll love the anime, but at the very least I believe this is an anime that deserves a run through by anyone. I’m not going to say it’s the best anime ever made or whatever, but I can say that most people will appreciate what SSY has to offer.

Shin Sekai Yori Review Conclusion

shinsekai-yori-r18-SSY

I’m definitely overlooking some aspects as that would spoil things for new viewers, but I have my thoughts on the episodic reviews so it’s not a problem. Anyways, Shin Sekai Yori tells a tense, interesting, and captivating story that people should definitely watch at least once. It’s smart and doesn’t spoon-feed everything to the viewers. We have to think and put things together ourselves, and in the end, people can come up with different conclusions with valid points on each side. With all the fantastic storytelling, atmosphere, soundtrack, and interesting characters, it would be a shame not to go through this journey.

NO SPOILERS PLEASE!

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  • Daniel

    If you want to see Saki and Satoru VA together again you should watch the second season of High School DxD!

    I know I will :X

    • http://www.entravity.com/ Entrav

      Yep, will be watching High School DxD regardless of that fact, but it’s nice that you mention it because I never knew. We all need our dose of fan service :)

  • Flaiboy

    I appreciate your comments, as usual, Entrav. For me, Shin Sekai Yori embodies that which makes an anime a compelling watch: plot and storytelling. It seems to me that every show that I have watched that excels in those two things also excels in other areas that help the show to form a wonderful experience, such as characters and soundtrack. I think it was a plus that I was not familiar with the novel or I may not have been so intrigued, as I have read of others being disappointed who were expecting greater things. In this case it seems there might be enough material to have told the complete story in greater detail over three seasons, though I understand sales have been low and there was no motive to do so.

    I’m a relative newcomer to anime. I started watching about 5 years ago with my first experience being Neon Genesis Evangelion. I was hooked. It didn’t occur to me until later that Eva was the perfect show to watch first because it contains the things I look for in great anime. I spent the next few years watching a limited number of shows, combing through past releases to find the ones deep with complexity. What I found is that those rich, emotional experiences were rare, having been sprinkled among the flashy, slam-bang, shallow series. So I always appreciate the former when they come along, and partake of the latter for pure enjoyment’s sake. Not since FMA has there been a show that had me counting down the days until the next release like SSY (ok, and maybe MAYBE some of the non-filler Naruto).

    This show reminds me of how I felt while watching Ergo Proxy (questionable animation, dystopian society, complex story, uneven pacing, good characters) though SSY is a better experience from start to finish.

    Thanks again for an interesting place to read and comment!

    • http://www.entravity.com/ Entrav

      I too think that it is probably beneficial for me to not have read the novel as I kept guessing every episode and it gave me more of an incentive to keep following the anime. It’s really, really too bad that the sales are so low though. It could be because of the homosexual elements, but I think it’s just bad marketing. I do hope that people start realizing that Shin Sekai Yori is more than what the sales numbers represent. There’s still a lot left to explore from this world, and I hope to see more from it however unlikely that may be.

      To be honest, I picked up anime a long time ago, but I really haven’t honestly started watching it until just a year ago. Like you, I started on anime like NGE, but I have also grown up on older anime like Astro Boy, Pokemon, Dragon Ball, and so on. While I was interested in anime before, now it’s on a completely different level and I have my friend to thank for that.

      Anyways, I agree that deeper stories are hard to find, but there are still quite a few out there. Clannad After Story is one I picked back up after seeing some opinions. I actually stopped because it disappointed me. However, to my surprise, this is actually one of the anime that is truly, truly emotional. It really starts getting amazing about halfway through After Story which is actually quite long considering the original Clannad is 2-cours. But if you haven’t checked that out, give it a shot, I guarantee it will be worth it if you’re looking for big emotional impacts that may even change some of your viewpoints on life, but be very mindful of spoilers. (I got ruined by one :X)

      I actually feel kind of bad giving out reviews when I haven’t watched a lot of other great anime out there like Eden of the East, and I haven’t finished Monster which I should have. Which reminds me that if you’re checking some more profound anime out, definitely, definitely watch Monster. It’s fantastic, very lengthy (74 episodes), and from what I’ve seen, it’s definitely worth the time.

      Ah, Ergo Proxy, I was actually watching that with a friend of mine and we kind of stopped midway. I’ll have to pick that up again when I get the time to do so. Thank you for your comment. I definitely enjoy reading your opinions and insights!

      • Flaiboy

        I have started Monster and am also reading the manga concurrently. I’m only several episodes in and realize that with my time constraints it’s going to take some time to finish, but like you I have enjoyed what I’ve seen so far. Ergo Proxy suffers from pacing which isn’t so much of a concern once you’ve seen it once. I’ve re-watched it twice after I figured out the complexities of it; there are a lot of nuances in those slower episodes that add detail to the main story that you can miss if you don’t really know what’s going on.

        I just checked MAL and realized how few intricate series there are. A few I would recommend: RahXephon, Seirei no Moribito, Rudouni Kenshin, and Juuni Kokuki (unfinished yet worth every second spent learning the names and understanding the culture).

        I look forward to your future posts.

        • http://www.entravity.com/ Entrav

          What you have recommended are on my list to watch. Which reminds me that you should also check out Gankutsuou. A lot of people have positive opinions of said anime and is apparently similar to Monster. It’s definitely one I’m going to check up ASAP.

  • issaxchan

    What I really like in Shin Sekai Yori was how they delivered the feelings of Saki in losing Shun. It’s rare for me to feel sad when a character dies in an anime because the others just simply moved on. However in the case of SSY, Shun never really disappeared throughout the story. Saki’s remorse upon losing and not remember Shun just flows through me that there were times I wish he was still alive. Even more so when Saki finally remembered Shun and when Shun turned around, Saki asked, “Why?” and I find myself asking why as well… Ugghhh.. So. Much. Feels. I praise this anime for delivering that feeling of regret so damn well.

    I wish I’ve found your blog earlier and shared some of my thoughts but oh well, I’m actually enjoying your review in Kakumeiki Valvrave. That’s actually the reason why I picked it up again. LOL

    Keep it up!

    • http://www.entravity.com/ Entrav

      Thanks! I just have to remind you that this post has a no spoilers policy, so sadly I’m going to have to remove a lot of your thoughts.

      • issaxchan

        Oops! Sorry, that was stupid of me. It was my first time to be posting in a blog so I’ll be more careful next time. Again, sorry!

  • Kuzame

    I started watching this anime today, got extremely hooked up and curious (bc of how disturbing it is..), and unbelievably finished the whole series in <12 hours… even though I planned to watch it little by little daily as part of my watching tradition. I got a LOT of WTF, disturbed, & horrified moments, and this is definitely one of very few animes that could made me feel so nervous and thrilled. Although I usually dug some info through wikipedia, wikia, etc, seems like I couldn't find any of em that specifically write some details about this anime. Is it just me, or I felt that the series didn't entirely explain the details about.. erh, guy "X", the "mouse", death of *** and ***, and some other cliffhangers (hope I censor those properly)? Did I read somewhere in your blogs that you may have a link/translation/info about further details of this anime from its novel? Or do you know any of these websites?
    This type of anime isn't genuinely a cup of my coffee, but I guess I've grown attached to the important of details (sounds weird.. but yeah) and curiosity as I grew up watching anime over years. Although my primary reason of watching anime is absolutely for an enjoyment, I still so wonder why I've taken fond of psychological details in story & its footage–not to mention how the curiosity could drive me for a 25-episodes marathon in such my busy days (Oh yeah.. f***, I needa made up my time for studying and doing my english research LOL). Wish I could put more comments.. but damn, seems like I completely losing the track of time, as you've had known why.

    Sorry if I'm reviving this old page of yours, but I guess this anime deserves more details at least on its wikipedia/wikia's page :P

    • http://www.entravity.com/ Entrav

      I’m not sure what happened to that novel translation project. The link doesn’t work anymore, though there are already fan translations out there so you can just Google that.

  • Ian Smith

    I think a lot of the issues is probably from the manga series. It’s seriously one step away from being almost a complete hentai series. People probably know of the manga and it is VERY graphic in the sex and frequently shows it. They probably know of it from there and try to avoid the anime in a bit that taint, that’s my guess. It’s one of the reasons this anime is killed for me, personally; I just can’t take it seriously anymore.