Every couple of years you come across an anime series that ticks all the boxes; moving story, real dilemmas, fantastic yet believable, beautiful animation, well-developed characters, emotive soundtrack. ‘From the New World’, a new release from MVM Entertainment, is that series for me. I’ve watched my fair share of anime over what must be the last decade, so I’m fairly confident I can identify between a very good and masterful series. ‘From the New World’ just blows everything else I’ve seen out of the water (rivalling my much-loved ‘Kids on the Slope’ and ‘Full Metal Alchemist’).
‘From the New World’ is set in Japan a thousand years in the future and is a perfect blend of fantasy, slice-of-life and drama. People live in small, seemingly idyllic villages, and have developed telekinetic powers, rendering technology irrelevant. But not everything is as perfect as it seems. Children who lag behind in school mysteriously vanish and are forgotten by their peers, people are forbidden to venture beyond the barriers erected around their village, tales of monster cats and ogres terrify children and adults alike, and no one really seems to know how their idyllic society came into being. Five school children; Saki, Shun, Satoru, Maria and Mamoru capture a fabled ‘false minoshiro’ on a camping trip and learn the bloody history of their world and are drawn deep into a world of subterfuge, secrecy and unimaginable horror.
This series has the most fleshed-out and mature story I have ever come across, which probably isn’t surprising as it’s based on a famous Japanese novel of the same name. The novel was written by Yusuke Kishi in 2008 and won the Nihon SF Taisho Award but sadly doesn’t seem to have been translated into English. Fortunately, I think its anime adaption is flawless and can’t imagine anybody not enjoying it. I can’t reveal too much about the series without taking away a lot of the delight of you (the watcher) discovering things for yourself but I can at least pick out a few of my favourite things about ‘From the New World’.
There are so many layers to the story and there is no shortage of twists and turns. One of the biggest reveals comes right in the last five minutes of the series, which really throws you and makes you question so much of the world. Children obviously play a very important part of the story, particularly how they are treated by the adult world. While our main characters start off as innocent twelve-year olds, we see them mature to fourteen years to their mid-twenties, which impacts their relationships with each other and the seemingly perfect world around them. Each character is fleshed out very well and unique and, while there are comedic moments, this is by no means a simplistic “high school romance” series. Some of the children are weaker and more selfish but this is what made them feel so real to me, and is the reason you’ll become so attached to them all.
This brings me right onto my next favourite thing about the series; the world itself. It does have a Orwellian feel to it in that, while everything seems perfect on the surface, there are far darker forces at work beneath it. Having the main characters progress through this world from children to adults makes this even more effective. Then there are the legends of ogres and demons, who have supposedly not been seen for centuries but are a constant invisible threat, as well as mysterious creatures such as the ‘false minoshiro’ that should not have evolved in the short space of a thousand years. Finally, the monster rats, genetically-engineered creatures that serve humanity play an increasingly important role in the story’s progression. I became so invested in the entire world, which is as well-developed and clearly-thought out as fantasy masterpieces like ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Name of the Wind’. Still, ‘From the New World’ is just rooted enough in the real world to be believable and feel that it’s not entirely on a different planet.
I’m warning you now, this show will probably make you cry but it’s worth it. ‘From the New World’ has immediately climbed to the top of my ‘favourite shows ever’ list and I urge you all to watch it for yourselves. It’s available from MVM Entertainment in two parts, twenty five episodes in all, and is well worth the money. Definitely one for the birthday/Christmas/impulse buy list!
Score: a massive 10/10!