“We ultimately fear what spawns from within us” – Shun
From The New World is set a millennium from now in Japan. The story revolves around a group of friends living in the countryside in a village surrounded by pristine beauty, in what appears to be a utopic society.
I recently sat down to watched this series again and I enjoyed it almost as much as the first time I watched it.
The world is seemingly inhabited by humans who possess telekinetic powers which the villagers incorporate in their day to day lives. As the story slowly begins to gather pace, this seemingly utopic community begins to expose the dark secret it harbors.
From the anime studio A-1 Pictures (Fairy Tail, Magi: Labyrinth of Magic, Blue Exorcist), this story centres around Saki our protagonist and her close group of friends who are soon to graduate from school. Whilst on a school field trip they encounter a strange creature and begin to discover the true history of how their society came into existence and the lengths to which it’s gone to keep their lives as ordered as possible.
Struggling to come to terms with what they subsequently learn they rebel against the status-quo and set off on a life-threatening journey of discovery which unbeknownst to them may turn out to actually save those they hold dear.
The show is based on the novel of the same name by the critically acclaimed and best-selling writer Yusuke Kishi (The Crimson Labyrinth). It slowly unfolds, twists and turns over a melancholic backdrop with an eerie ‘someone is watching me’ feel given off by its slow then somewhat hurried pace. I was immediately drawn in, hours ticked by like minutes as I marathoned the show, finding myself drawn ever deeper into it.
The anime reminded me of one of my favourite shows, Now and Then, Here and There (Ima, soko ni iru boku) and although it is set in the distant future, society seems to have turned back to simpler times and ways of living. As with other Japanese anime, the show does push the boundaries, dipping into darker waters which can prove uncomfortable to watch.
I couldn’t help but empathise with the characters in the show and their struggles. Having said that, some characters did appear almost one dimensional with a frustrating lack of development. The entire show is played out within this small corner of Japan, leaving you to wonder how the rest of the country and other cities fare. Personally I prefer this concentrated approach and having not read the novel, the story was presented nicely.
“Sometimes, the truth is the cruelest thing of all” – Maria
It’s hard to put a label on this anime. It can be classed as a horror but I personally wouldn’t label it as such. This dark, supernatural drama is woven and kept together by strong psychological themes. Good intentions can have profoundly negative consequences and that’s one of this stories main messages.
From The New World had one of the most satisfying endings to a show I’ve ever seen and that is usually one of the most challenging aspects for an anime to get right. It’s a beautiful and masterful piece of work by Ishihama Masashi who also worked on the dark show Speed Grapher and should be on your list if you haven’t had the pleasure to watch it.
Catch the show over at Crunchyroll(Note: The ‘manga’ adaptation based on the novel has no relation to this anime or the novel and is completely fanservice)