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Shin Sekai Yori Review

April 27, 2013 By: Nopy Category: Anime

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Shin Sekai Yori is a 25-episode series produced by A-1 Pictures and released by Aniplex. Shin Sekai Yori had by far the most intriguing storyline of any anime I’ve seen recently, but it lacked in other areas, which prevented the series from becoming a masterpiece. I’m going to do this review a bit differently and look at the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good

I can’t imagine anyone watching Shin Sekai Yori and not agree that the story was the best part of the anime. Based on a novel by the same title written by Yusuke Kishi, it is set a thousand years in the future. The human population has been devastated by war between normal humans and humans with telekinetic powers. Civilization has now degraded to small towns and villages resembling ancient Japan. The education system is designed to raise children to use their powers appropriately and Shin Sekai Yori tells the story of one of those children, Saki Watanabe.

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The delivery of the story was done extremely well. Everything about the world is seen and told through Saki, allowing the viewer to discover the world as she discovers it. Not only that, but it also conveys the shock that she experiences throughout her life as she discovers the truth behind her society. Throughout the series you’re left wondering “what are they hiding?” and whenever Saki makes a discovery or revelation, you’re filled with mixed feelings of logically knowing that some action was the right thing to do, but at the same time morally wrong.

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The story covers aspects that many anime can only dream of touching on. I’ve already written a post detailing the ethics of eugenic practice, but Shin Sekai Yori also enlightens viewers to issues surrounding security vs. freedom, sex and relationships, equality, democracy, and class warfare. Saki’s observations are thought-provoking and bring out discussion amongst the intellectuals in the audience. Almost every episode leaves you on the edge of your seat wanting more, not to see a big fight, but to learn more about the foundations of Saki’s society. If I had to compare Shin Sekai Yori to classic literature, I’d say it’s the 1984 of modern anime.

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The Bad

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In the past I would’ve said that a good story can carry any anime regardless of any other aspects of it; Shin Sekai Yori proved me wrong. The beginning of the series was so slow and seemingly pointless that I ended up dropping it after a few episodes. It wasn’t until news of the revelations in the 4th episode spread across the internet that I decided to pick up the series again. After completing the series, I now realize how important the first episodes were to establishing the foundations of the world, but it was just delivered is such  a way that it didn’t captivate the audience.

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The animation was upsetting to say the least. Disregarding changing animation styles, the quality just didn’t compliment the story at all. The series relies heavily on terrorizing the audience with the truth, but also had many opportunities to do the same with violence. Sadly, the animation was at a similar level as mass-produced episodes from series such as Bleach. Much of the time when something violent was happening, the camera was off in the distance so you really don’t see much beyond some figure being torn apart and even when it was closer, it didn’t feel very terrifying.

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The Ugly

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People tend to hold themselves in high regard in terms of morality and ethics; few would say that they are racist or consider themselves superior to others. Watching Shin Sekai Yori is like the process of polishing a dull mirror, seeing your reflection and realizing how ugly of a person you really are. It lures viewers into empathizing with a character or group while at the same time entices viewers to antagonize another character or group. Once you have fully committed to one side and agree with its ideals, Shin Sekai Yori flips everything around and suddenly reveals how terrible of a person you are for judging the characters like you did.

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The beauty of these flips is that they are perfectly set up so you are never surprised that they happened, but you are shocked that you didn’t see the truth before. There are characters described as monsters in Shin Sekai Yori, but really, the only monster here is you, the viewer.

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Conclusion

Shin Sekai Yori has a very strong, captivating story once you get past the first few episodes. It could’ve done better with the delivery and atmosphere, but the message it gives still comes across strong: don’t judge others based on your own prejudices and instead learn to understand their circumstances. I know this series isn’t for everyone, but I still highly recommend Shin Sekai Yori.

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P.S. Even if you don’t watch Shin Sekai Yori, at least listen to the first ending song, it’s one of my favourites.

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9 Comments to “Shin Sekai Yori Review”


  1. Ah, I was waiting for your review of this!

    I agree with you on most points. I did find that the story dragged a bit in places–for me, it was whenever the focus was on the Bakenezumi. I didn’t mind so much that most of the violence was off-screen though. This series seems more like it was meant to be philosophical, not some kind of gore fest.

    I’d also like to add that the last few episodes felt almost a bit rushed with how sluggish the beginning is. So the pacing for this series isn’t perfect. But nonetheless I still really enjoyed this show.
    Ari recently posted..Hataraku Maou-sama/The Devil is a Part-Timer! Episode 3 and 4

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    • I didn’t like some of the Bakenezumi episodes either, but with the last revelation it finally made sense why so much time was spent on them. As for gore, they didn’t have to put it in, but I think a little visual shock would’ve supplemented the series. Of course, they can do it in other ways too, much like how Mami in PMMM died; there was absolutely no blood, but they still made it terrifying.

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  2. That is a great thought provoking anime with subtle horror elements. The story was full of scary scenes of terror that put, me on the edge of what I can deal with. I liked the horror nevertheless, with relying more on psychological fear than gore.

    I liked the Shinto elements in the story and the peaceful life in the villages with the lovely architecture.

    The last revelation was excellent, in showing who was the real agressor all the time. To be honest I found the Bakenezumi so disguisting that I couldn’t like them even after this.

    The animation quality was a bit different overall, bleached colors and flat shapes gave it an old picture book look. But I got used to it.

    btw Saki was cute ^^
    Wieselhead recently posted..New Preorders part 19

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    • I liked the horror too, but I think a little visual horror helps too.

      The whole traditional Japan setting was wonderful indeed. It does away with having a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo and it’s far easier to understand. I also love how they used folktales and myths to protect themselves and by the end of the story you know what purpose each story had.

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  3. It was a good series even if, like you said, the pacing was all over the place during the middle of the series. Maybe it was dragged a bit too much…
    feal87 recently posted..Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko – Azusa! Tsukiko has a secret!

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    • When you’re watching, the pacing doesn’t feel right, but by the end you realize why they did things the way they did. It certainly could’ve been done better though.

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  4. As far as I am concerned, the “Masterpiece Anime” does not exist. I have yet to see one. Hell, my definition of a perfect anime recently was Mouretsu Pirates and that was mainly because it had everything I like about anime in it. Nothing was missing from that show.

    Anyway, this show is getting praised like Shangri-la (Not the anime), so I guess I’ll HAVE to pick it up when I have the time…which should hopefully be in two weeks. Besides, minor yuri characters.
    Overlord-G recently posted..Yuyushiki Episode 5: Yuru Yuri Two and a Half?

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    • I watched Mouretsu Pirates because it was directed by Tatsuo Sato. It had the believable science aspect and quirky but logical characters that I like in anime, but something just didn’t feel right to me.

      If you do pick up Shin Sekai Yori, make sure to have a lot of time set aside for it, I think it’s best to watch it all at once.

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  5. Maybe because i have watch anime since forever

    I found this series perfect por this time of my life! For me the “poor animation” was a plus, cause i did transport me into a weird feeling of time contradiction, just like a time paradox ( steins gate)

    I was one those viewers that did love the series at once! Love at first sight i can say..

    Its a series that satisficies someone who is looking for a real sensitive but hard core shit story! Real stuff, something that makes you analyze, think, create.

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