Shin Sekai Yori: Episode 1 [First Impressions]

“Let us burn the last of your worldly passions to ash.” -Mushin

{Alright kids, you ready to kick off the Fall ’12 season? Hold on to your hats and let’s go!}

Summary: 1,000 years in the future, our world as we know it has changed drastically. The story opens with Saki Watanabe (one of a group of five friends who are introduced as the protagonists) whose “Cursed Power” has finally awakened, marking her passage into adulthood. After undergoing a mysterious ritual, she is moved into a new school class, where we’re introduced properly to the rest of the cast. The rest of the episode focuses on how the children train their psychic power, doing a variety of activities from building card houses to painting. On the surface, this new world seems charming and peaceful, right down to the soothing music played to call everyone home at the end of the day, but all is not what it seems as children disappear and evil shadow cats roam the night.

Tenderfoot’s First Impressions: Oooooooh boy! This is one of about 5 shows that I was really looking forward to starting this season, and this episode didn’t disappoint. I found that it did a solid job of laying the groundwork for what I hope will be a good series. Now, I haven’t read the book or seen any of the manga adaption, so this is all based solely on the episode without knowing too much about what’s going to happen (I’ve done a good job of restraining myself from looking up spoilers and such just so I could watch this with a clean slate). The opening was good, definitely NOT what I was expecting. Hearing that part of The New World Symphony play while people are being…squished? Exploded? Let’s go with killed in a gruesome manor, was pretty shocking. I have a twisted mind, so that opening right there hooked me in pretty good.

Then we had the ritual at the temple with Saki and the priests. I watched two different translations of that scene, and I still don’t know what exactly was going on. They asked her to use her powers, then they got rid of them, and then gave them back to her is what I think it boiled down too? It looked great, and since this is the first episode I’m more than willing to put up with a little confusion. I found the set up of their society to be interesting and a mish-mash of a lot of little things I’ve seen/read/watched before. The border rope, different school classes based on abilities and not age, psychic powers, etc. are all common ideas but I like how they were combined here. It reminds me of The Giver or any other book/movie/tv show with small, secluded towns, but with a dark undertone.

Speaking of dark, I like that this show looks superficially very cutesy (omg, they have huge eyes) but it also introduces this underlying idea that when kid’s “cursed powers” don’t awaken, or when they fail to keep up in class, they’re killed off or vanish in some way. The idea of weeding out the weak like that is just about as dark as you can get, and I like it. I’m really interested in how that will be handled or explained in the future. Are they straight up murdered by the adults? Does the Faze Cat eat them? Do they send them out past the border to be eaten by evil spirits? Annnyway, I think that’s enough morbidity for now, so let’s just move right along. 

Our heroes (from left to right, guy standing and crying girl not included): Satoru, Saki, Maria, Shun, and Mamrou.

With just one episode to go on, so far the characters are alright? None of them seem particularly ground-breaking: You have your loud-mouthed out-going boy (Satoru Asahina), the bossy girl (Maria Akiduki), the super-shy guy (Mamrou Ito, whose hair I’m in love with), the main middle-of-the-road girl (Saki Watanabe), and the really smart boy-wonder (Shun Aonuma). The character designs are really, really…cute. Giant round eyes, round heads, cute little kid voices. One of the things I do know, and here’s a possible SPOILER alert for those of you who’d like to avoid it, is that in the book there are two time jumps, so the characters start off at 12, then they’re 14, and then 26. I’ve got my fingers crossed that the show follows that as well *END SPOILER*.

SO SO SO COOL! and also scary.

The animation generally is great. Some very nicely detailed backgrounds, good color usage, the characters have a nice flow to them when they’re moving. I was drooling over how FREAKIN’ AWESOME that scene looked where they were telling the story of the Akki and the Boy. I loved how that looked, sort of like a moving ink painting. Ahhhhh, so pretty! I hope they use that again. How did you guys like it? Loved it? Hated it with the fire of a thousand suns? Not enough cute/too much cute? Tell me what you think! Next episode looks like it’ll be more school stuff, and also maybe dealing with the disappearance of Reiko, the girl who wasn’t doing to well in any of the classes. I’m looking forward to it!

Final Thought: The book and the show both take their name from Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No.9 in E minor, which is often called The New World Symphony. It’s probably one of my favorite pieces of classical music and you can hear part of it being used during the show! They use a part of the second movement as the piece that plays at the beginning and also as the warning tone for the people of the town to go home at night. If you feel inclined to listen to it in it’s entirety (it’s a great, really, you should give it a listen even if you don’t really care for classical music) I can highly recommend the Deutsche Grammophon recording of the Wiener Philharmonic with Herbert von Karjan conducting. If the show is half as good and exciting as the symphony, I’ll be one happy camper.

Possibility of Blogging: Oh hell yeah! 

Possibility of Watching: Unless it becomes a steaming pile of fan service poop sprinkled with weird animal sex, I’ll go with yes.  

Tenderfoot

Just another anime nerd with above average taste.

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2 Responses

  1. Eva says:

    First FALL 2012 show I watch this season, and i was already freaking out 3 minutes into the episode. SO CREEPY!!! ITS FREAKING ME OUT, IM TERRIFIED, THE MUSIC AND PEOPLE BLOWING UP- JUST HOLY SHIT.
    Holy shit intense stuff. Got my interest, so looking forward to what it has in store for us in the future =w=

  2. MarigoldRan says:

    Reminds me of Shiki or Higurashi. Especially Higurashi, with the cutesy girls.

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