Dear non-existent readers, I better start writing on this blog again to justify my annual subscription renewals. Even though I can’t count how many years it’ll be until I’m unabashed to actually include this on any public profile of mine, there’re recurring times I’m reminded of the purpose this blog serves: a canvas for me to dump streams of consciousness onto, regardless how it appears.
If you don’t know, I have enjoyed watching anime since middle school, whenever I get extended blocks of time. Unlike the impression of hentai otakus that may now rush your mind, I’ve never grown out of anime once I realized the power lies in the medium itself (and not how it assimilated into western culture). Animation provides a vaster Overton Window the animation medium exhibits to the world, across all walks of life, especially on topics society otherwise deems taboo or unimaginable. A great example is one I just finished: Shinsekai Yori (From The New World), which I’ll kick off this new Anime Review column of posts with. These reviews may contain mild spoilers from the exposition paragraphs, so non-existent readers please stop by your own gauging if you’d like to watch these shows.
Originally from a book, it’s a 24-episode adaption on a story told in first person 1000 years into the future with the premise that, in the 21st century, humans begin to develop psychokinetic (PK) powers that can actualize conscious intent into reality. As the condescending title suggests, the work is prophetic, but it’s told like a history lesson 1000 years in the future on the past 1000 years. For that structure, I found it both fantastical and realistic. The core premise sounds like a page out of science fiction, but it’s really a story on society and civilization, how familiar motivations led to unimaginable ends.
The closest comparison I’ve read is Brave New World, except BNW feels more regressive in its premise on how society that gets consumed by biotechnology gradually drifts into the bondage of pleasure. From The New World feels more critical as it features society immediately descend into wiping each other out with WMDs post-PK awakening, followed by a rewind into medieval-like Dark Ages of feudalistic rule. The small proportion of population that learned psychokinesis was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, as PK individuals can easily destroy entire societies, bypassing regime agendas. The world-scale destruction that society self-inflicts thereafter is not the consequence of PK individuals but the first decision made by the author inviting a more critical reception of humanity. That said, where it differs entirely from BNW is that the protagonist is a girl who lives inside the isolated agrarian utopia as opposed in BNW where John the Savage is one who was raised in the old ways. With two time-skips in the anime (three if you count the narration), we learn about the truth of its history alongside her, through both well-executed info-dump episodes and pivoting events in her upbringing. Overall, it’s a slow ramp up during the first 7 episodes before the first time skip, but smooth sailing after the controversial 8th episode. I highly recommend this anime if you enjoy the usual dystopian themes like gray morality, utilitarianism, eugenics, etc. but delivered in a prophetic way in first person from the future.
P.S. Also the ED is good before you even watch the anime.