Anime Review: Shinsekai yori

Shinsekai yori is making its long overdue appearance on the blog. Originally a Nihon SF Taisho award-winning novel (which is given to outstanding Japanese science-fiction works, regardless of medium), the anime adaptation arrived with already lofty expectations. Does it make a successful jump to the small screen? I’m happy to say that the expectations are met, and I’ll do my best to keep things spoiler-free.

One thousand years from now, the world has drastically changed. The emergence of psychokinesis has fundamentally changed how society operates. After a child gains access to their psychokinetic powers, they’re sent to an academy in order to hone and further develop their skills. While everything may seem calm and idyllic on the surface, mysterious disappearances and rumors of a giant cat who abducts children suggest that there may be much more going on than anyone is willing to publicly admit….

From the very first scene, things take a dramatic (and violent) turn, and it’s hard not to instantly be intrigued by the series. The subsequent twists, turns, and revelations only serve to solidify the fact that the plot is rich and rewarding for those that pay attention. There are times where the story can be a little difficult to digest—a few prolonged stretches of exposition prove to be a major culprit—but these moments don’t prove too problematic. Conversely, they are something that fills the void left from the missing millennium and provides fascinating insight on what transpired during all that lost time. Some topics that are dabbled into include ethics, metaphysics, and genocide, so depth is something that the narrative certainly isn’t lacking. What’s great are how these topics are weaved in a way that’s fairly understandable (the metaphysical aspects admittedly less so) and extremely engaging.

Pacing is brisk, for the most part, with nearly every episode ending in a fashion that makes it difficult to stop watching, and the violence on display can be viewed as essential to help move the plot forward. In conclusion, the story is well thought out, and when all is said and done, the various mysteries pretty much all sort themselves out. When I finally completed it, I wanted to go back and rewatch it, just so I could see things from a slightly different perspective. If that’s not a sign of good storytelling, then I don’t know what is.

shinsekai yori characters

From main characters like Saki and Maria, to supporting characters like Squealer and Kiroumaru, there are several characters that leave their mark on the series. The show does a good job of building up the characters, so when bad things happen—and they will happen—there’s a good chance that some feels will be felt. Becoming attached to the characters is easy, and even characters whose actions you might not agree with, you can at least understand their motivations and reasons for acting/responding in a certain manner. Even some of the characters that aren’t that great *cough*Mamoru*cough* have their charms about them and aren’t a complete loss. In short, the characters are interesting, relatable, and you’re given more than enough reason to care about their exploits.

Shinsekai yori is at its best-looking when scenes head outdoors and we’re given an eyeful of gorgeous landscapes and vistas. Where it’s at its worst is definitely with the use of 3D. It’s used on occasion, and like most other times that 3D is used in anime, it’s definitely not flattering and just looks awkward most of the time. The characters themselves look nice and detailed, although shading is minimal, resulting in a rather bland look. Nevertheless, the visuals look good, and there’s plenty of eye candy on hand to visually feast on.

Like nearly all 2-cour series, there are 2 EDs, but there strangely isn’t a single OP to speak of. The first of these EDs “Wareta Ringo” features Saki’s seiyuu and was my personal favorite of the two. The second, “Yuki ni Saku Hana” is sung by Maria’s seiyuu (HanaKana!!!) and is more poignant and relevant to the story. Honestly, I didn’t really love either one, but I found the first to be more memorable, and I didn’t skip past it nearly as much as I did the second one. The themes were good, but for me, the best aspect of the audio was the background music. The BGM adds a great deal of immersion, making the foreboding nature of the series even more tense and palpable. High production values across the board prove to be yet another feather in Shinsekai yori‘s cap.

First off, if you’re going by the patented YR yuri rating system dubbed “YuRi-Vision™” (← I totally just made that name up.), then the yuri score is technically correct. But in actuality, I don’t really think it’s deserving of a score quite that high. Yes, Saki and Maria become lovers, but I don’t think their relationship is given the necessary focus to warrant that score, especially considering that there are 25 episodes. The problem isn’t the quality, but the quantity. It also bears mentioning that during the most yuri-centric episode, you’re also served a helping of BL alongside it. Talk about a buzzkill…. If I were to disregard YuRi-Vision™, I think I’d give the yuriness more like a 6 or so. That seems pretty fair to me.

The antithesis of the fluffy kind of shows that yuri usually inundates; Shinsekai yori has the substance, the style, and a canon yuri pairing to help give yuri fans a break from the usual assortment of magical girls, pop idols, and unassuming schoolgirls that have become associated with the genre.

Year: 2012-2013
Length: 25 Episodes
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Supernatural

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26 thoughts on “Anime Review: Shinsekai yori

  1. I originally wanted to add you in the pic with Saki & Maria taking a bath, but it looked kinda weird. 😛

    Speaking of that one, I still can't understand why we were rejected. 😀

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  2. Yes. Yes, it does. 😛

    I don't really get why guys would have an aversion to that, though. As a straight male myself, I just find it more relatable than a girl x girl relationship. :3

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  3. I see I was the only one caring for spoilers. Oh well. 😛

    Ehhhh, I don't watch or read yuri for het endings. Always feels like the author saying that it's just a phase and all that stuff. Especially since 99% of the time, they actually do say exactly that.
    I've seen enough manga and anime kill off lesbians or make them straight in the end that even bi women going from yuri to het in anime or manga pisses me off now.

    Not saying Shin Sekai Yori has that kind of message, I'm just tired of it. Since most people say the anime is ultra boring anyways, I guess I'll just not bother with it.

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  4. Only repeating what I heard. 😀
    I think most people saying that dropped it pretty early though. And most people saying that definitely share my opinions on yuri.

    The anime is generally rated pretty high so it might be very good, who knows. I'm just not the target group.

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  5. Elfen Lied was good (I think I scored it an 8 on MAL), but I think this was on a different level than that.

    Hellsing Ultimate, I can't really argue about that one. That looked and was great, overall.
    Hanayamata? That's crazy talk. Maybe you should sit the next few plays out. 😛
    For Rebellion, I'd give the edge to that one too. The art was amazing. I might've given it a 10 for the art/animation.

    There's also the fact that those last 2 are newer than Shinsekai yori. Most of the stuff I've reviewed has been older stuff, so I have to retroactively assign a score to it. It gets even more dicey if I didn't watch a series when it was originally released and more recent shows keep looking better and better. I still try to consider the time frame it was released in, but it's hard to not compare those older series to newer stuff.

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  6. LOL! I totally missed you in that closing image! XD Does anyone else think that Lena is the cutest looking Impure Cat in the series? =P

    I really enjoyed this series, though i didn't really expect to. I also love how you stay with the characters as they mature. perhaps it's time for a rewatch. =D

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  7. Ehhhh, Elfien Lied is a classic in my eyes, nothing can compare to this scene

    And LOL, what are you talking about. Hayamata is visual porn to the eyes!!!

    I really hated the Het thing though. (As someone mentioned above) As you know, I really don't mind it in most cases, but this one ticked me off. She left her, because she thinks she has an obligation to have a boyfriend. People claim, “DUH SHE'S BISEXUAL” but she really isn't. It's like the author was doing that stupid thing were the think lesbianism is just a stage in life, it's pretty stupid. And don't get me started about the ending. Jesus christ, people were always telling me “THE ANIME IS DARK”, not really, especially considering the cop out ending. You know what's dark? Hellsing. Berserk. Puella Madoka Magica.

    A good bisexual character is Rin from Mnemosyne. The girl from Pyscho Pass. Red Saber from Fate/Extra. Alexander the Great from Fate Zero. Revolver Ocelot from Metal Gear Solid. Not this.

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  8. Hanayamata's not bad looking or anything, but not all porn is good, so it would be that kinda porn to me.

    There's a simple explanation for all of that… it's all Mamoru's fault! He's an annoying little weakling, and Maria felt like she couldn't abandon him. If he had a backbone, maybe things would've played out a little differently for everyone.

    The problem is that, Saki x Maria included, almost all of these characters are in their mid-teens. They're still kids who are figuring out who they are and what they want in life, so I don't really look at it that way. I don't really understand the appeal of always featuring characters that young in the first place. For me, I'd much rather have a 22 year old main character than a 15 year old.

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  9. Besides Yuri, I prefer my protagonists males in there late forties-mid fifties. Cant' stand young girls and boys. There always whining and going on about stupid stuff like justice.

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      • It’s really hard to find a series where the two girls stay together at the end. I don’t know if it has to do with Japanese culture or not?, but usually or one gets killed, abandon the other or choose to be with a GUY! and marries him 😦
        I like those anime where the lesbian relationship is not the main focus, that has a strong plot and story, but usually those or had “a bad ending” or a neutral open ending… only few made the list.

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      • I guess that’s my problem too.. I’m a idealist, not a realistic person, and usually that’s how the real world goes… 😦

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      • I’ve been wanting to try to write a Let’s Talk About post about that very topic, but something else always comes up that needs to be done first, so I haven’t yet had the time to do it. Hopefully I can get around to it in the near future, because we do see it far too often in anime.

        But it’s not just in anime, though. Western TV is guilty of the exact same thing (at least when it comes to the characters dying off), so it’s pretty widespread and seemingly not just a cultural thing.

        You’d think that things would be different in 2016, but sadly, it doesn’t seem like that’s the case~

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        • Sad.. but true 😦
          From my list of favorite animes, which the yuri relationship is not the main theme, the survivors for me are: Love Live! Sunshine!!, Hibike! Euphonium (I hope that Reina and Kumiko choose each other, and become more than friends, instead choosing Taki Sensei or Tsukamoto ¬¬), Kiniro Mosaic, Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya, Yuri Kuma Arashi, Canaan, Amanchu, Himouto! Umaru-chan, and on TOP of course Yuru Yuri.

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