Shinsekai Yori – first impressions

This has been one of the quietest, yet the most intense first episodes I’ve seen. Suspense builds up slowly but surely – and at the end of the show the mind of a viewer is filled up with questions.

Anime starts off with a scene in the modern-day world. Animation, however, is eerie and puzzling; there are killings, but the narrative is chaotic; there’s a perpetrator, but he seems uninterested in events around him. Nothing makes sense, yet it appears calm, with soothing music in the background. Suddenly, scenery changes – and here we are, immersed in a faux-historical setting, dubiously signed as a far future.

Shinsekai Yori E01

There’s a lot to love at this point. A-1 Pictures (Ano Hi Mita Hana…, Kannagi, Kuroshitsuji) did superb work with animation. Characters’ design is good so far – plot is centered around a group of school kids, and every one of them is clearly distinguishable from another, both looks-wise and personality-wise. There is quite a few people introduced in the first episode, and they’re all clearly three-dimensional – and I just love the fact that I can say that with absolute certainity right now, after merely one episode. There’s no pink hair galore, no outifts extravaganza – characters feel very real and solid.

Furthermore, animation itself has been flawless so far. It feels solid and coherent, there’s virtually no difference in art quality between scenes, and I hope it will stay that way. Don’t you just hate it when a beauitifully drawn person suddenly looks like a child’s doodle five seconds after? That’s surely not the case here.

Color palletes change from scene to scene, the feeling, however, doesn’t. From the very first frames we are enthralled in a world of mystery, world of paranormal. Undersaturated, dim scenes do set you in a certain mood, and make sure you stay that way.

Shinsekai Yori E01

What’s a real keeper here, however, is the setting. Is it the future, or is it the past? It feels like some weird kind of postapocalyptic scenario, and this feeling is fueled by existence of abnormal creatures, magic, rituals, some enigmatic power called Cantus (jap. juryoku, 呪力) – all sorts of supernatural stuff. There’s a veil of mystery over everything, and questions just pile up. Every new scene brings something new to this feeling of immersion; every little thing seems in place and contributes to this sort of ‘realness’.

There’s lots of promise here, and I can’t wait to see more.

(MAL link)

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5 comments

  1. You’re in for a treat ^_^ Shinsekai Yori is one of the best science fiction stories out there. It has shades of the classic narratives, could have been written by Bester or Asimov.

    Just keep in mind it is loyal to the book, so certain narrative techniques (aka, time skips) are common which work better in print, but if you can deal with those humps, it should prove to be a rewarding endeavor ^_^

    1. I’m all in for nonlinear and twisted narratives! :) They usually tend to tell the story in a somewhat more comprehensive way, with multiple point of views they bring. I’ll see how this will work out here though :)

      By any chance, have you seen ‘The Tatami Galaxy’? Now that’s an unorthodox storytelling…

  2. Ooh, PLEASE cover this series, it was such an underwatched and underrated series when it was airing. I’m always scrounging the internet looking for people blogging it to see their reactions and thoughts because if any show is screaming for analysis and discussion, it’s this one. The show really doesn’t pull punches on dealing with controversial topics and is definitely not something for the viewer who wants to watch something brainless.
    Just a note, in the title card for the first episode it explains the setting is 1000 years into the future, although I can definitely see how you got confused. This is one of those rare shows that portrays the future as being more pastoral rather than technological.

    1. Yeah, I will! I’m just a few episodes short of completing it. My new academic semester has started, and it’s been pretty intense so far, so I don’t get as much free time as I wish I had.
      Shinsekai Yori is astounding, and I want to take my time to finish it slowly.
      I agree; it’s rather unorthodox idea, but there has been some precedences of portraying the future in a non-technological manner, especially when it comes to apocaliptic fiction genre.

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