From the New World

Tagged: TV

Japanese animated tv series (2012-2013). Also known as Shinsekai Yori. Based on the novel by Yusuke Kishi. A-1 Pictures. Directed by Masashi Ishihama. Written by Masashi Sogo. Voice cast includes Aya Endo, Kana Hanazawa, Yui Horie, Hiroaki Hirata, Yūki Kaji, Haruka Kudō, Ayumu Murase, Daisuke Namikawa, Yoshiko Sakakibara, Motoki Takagi, Risa Taneda, Mai Tōdō, Kanako Tōjō. Twenty-five 23 minute episodes. Colour

Saki Watanabe (Taneda/Endo) and her five friends are Group 1, part of their village school. Like everyone else they possess Telekinetic powers. Villages are ruled by Committees for Ethics and Education, whose greatest fears are Ogres (people who cannot control their violent impulses) and Karmic Demons (people whose powers subconsciously leak out, mutating animals and their surroundings).

One night, Reiko Amano (Horie) of Group 1 disappears, forgotten by the others. Later, on a camping trip, the remaining members capture and quiz a False Minoshiro, an AI in glowing animal form. It is a Library whose answers deliver a Conceptual Breakthrough: the history hidden from children. A thousand years ago, in 2011, 4% of the population developed telekinetic powers: War followed, and then a Dark Age with Slave Dynasties. Subsequently one faction reshaped North East Asia: education and training created a society of telekinetic humans modelled on that of the Bonobo (see Cultural Engineering), with Genetic Engineering causing a fatal trauma should someone kill another person (the "Death of Shame"). Problematic children are eliminated by trained large cats, with Memory Edits imposed on their friends. Returning home, the group is attacked by a rogue Monster Rat colony but saved by another colony, one of whom, Squealer aka Yakomaru (Namikawa), can speak their language. Monster Rats, who worship humans as gods and perform their menial tasks, are believed to be genetically modified Naked Mole Rats.

Group 1 is further reduced: Shun Aonuma (Tōdō/Murase) becomes a Karmic Demon and allows the mutating earth to swallow him; Maria Akizuki (Hanazawa) and Mamoru Itō (Kudō/Takagi) flee when Mamoru learns he is targeted by the Education Committee. Now only Saki and Satoru Asahina (Tōjō/Kaji) remain. Meanwhile, Yakomaru’s colony becomes an empire, absorbing other colonies. The Committees decide to wipe them out, but the rats attack the village first, and apparently have an Ogre: the daughter of Maria and Mamoru, raised by Yakomaru, who spreads destruction whilst the rats steal children.

Saki, Satoru and a loyal rat, Kiroumaru (Hirata), journey into a hellish Underground Tokyo to find a Weapon, pursued by the Ogre and Yakomaru. Saki realizes they face not an Ogre, but a normal telekinetic human who identifies as a Monster Rat, meaning that murdering people does not fatally traumatize them. So Kiroumaru dresses as a human: when he is killed the reveal that he was a rat does trigger the Death of Shame. Yakomaru is now defeated and imprisoned. Saki asks him to apologize for all the human deaths he caused; he says he will, if she apologizes for all the Monster Rats humans have killed "without feeling the slightest prick to your conscience".

Later, Saki and Satoru research the Monster Rats and learn what Yakomaru had previously discovered: they are descended from the non-telekinetic chattels (see Slavery) of the Slave Dynasties, with some Naked Mole Rat genes added to give them an inhuman appearance, allowing telekinetic humans to kill them without suffering the Death of Shame.

From the New World is an excellent Anime, intelligent, complex and often visually impressive, about an apparent Pastoral Utopia that is gradually revealed to be rooted in evil, and a Monster Rat society that recalls the darkness of humanity’s past. [SP]

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