Shin Sekai Yori (From The New World) is an anime series that you might have skipped over or dropped fairly early on - indeed, when it aired I dropped it after one episode - but it is actually a deeply captivating and thought-provoking series that is so good that I heartily recommend Shin Sekai Yori as the best anime series of 2012. It’s a shining example of what more anime should be like, eschewing the ever increasing reliance on moe characters and fan service.
The synopsis of Shin Sekai Yori in my opinion is as follows: “A thousand years in the future, a group of children live in a tranquil Japanese village with the seemingly mythical terrors of the outside world barred by spiritual barriers. Their village is ruled by the people who possess the “gods’ power” of psychokinesis and to gain these powers is a blessing. Even with the protection of the spiritual barriers, rumours exist about a monstrous cat that abducts children and students are said to disappear without trace nor memory. The world and its history are much much darker than anyone could realise, as these children will find out in their journey through life…”.
Shin Sekai Yori isn’t helped by the synopsis that most other sites and reviews give it. It’s always difficult to convey the entire atmosphere and character of a series in just a couple of paragraphs but it is especially difficult for Shin Sekai Yori. The series starts off with a fairly wistful atmosphere, with some clear hints at a darker subtext, but it’s not unless you stick with the series that those subtexts come to fruition and you realise just how deep this series is.
In terms of animation as it’s media, the character style is fairly flat - no glossy skin here - but this doesn’t result in characters that are expressionless, it’s just that it’s more in tune with the setting and the atmosphere of the series. Backgrounds and lighting are beautiful and dramatic and are a great example of how they should look.
I really don’t want to spoil the story too much for those yet to watch it, so all I will say is that the story covers a greater space of time than you might realise and the pace of the plot is well thought-out with tension in all the right places and cliffhangers that actually contribute meaningfully to the series.
The biggest bugbear I have with Shin Sekai Yori is an episode fairly early on that places too much emphasis on a couple of same-sex relationships. I have no issues with it being included but I do have an issue with the emphasis and the way in which it is portrayed just not suiting the series at all. It gives the wrong impression about where the story is heading and I think is probably the point at which most people would have dropped the series. Don’t let this episode put you off!
Wrapping this up, I’m giving Shin Sekai Yori a score of 9 out of 10 and absolutely recommend that you watch it!