Anime Review 5 & Part of Halloween Week🎃
I finally finished it! This review has been a long time coming but truthfully it was for Halloween Week from the start. From The New World originally aired in 2012 and was produced by A-1 Pictures. The anime is 25 episodes long and takes around 10 hours to complete. Billed as a horror show that is greatly underrated, does From The New World (an obvious reference to Antonin Dvorak’s symphony of the same name) hold up to all the hype?
The characters in From The New World has an interesting set of characters. I wouldn’t consider any of them wholly unique in concept but are by no means generic. There are two types of characters in this show, humans and monster rats. Humans are pretty straight forward, while monster rats are more-or-less a labor force for the humans. Of the humans, there is: Saki, Satoru, Maria, Shun, and Mamoru for the main cast. Obviously there are several more human characters but these ones drive a majority of the story.
For the monster rats, there are really only two important characters. Kiroumaru and Squealer. Each has recurring roles throughout the series and impact the story in a variety of ways. There is a lot more that could be said for characters but, as I’ll explain in the story section, this is really all you need.
For this anime the less you know coming in the better. The story is very tightly written and knowing too much of the pieces coming in could completely ruin the experience. That being said, there are a few key points of note that are worth discussing here.
Set “1,000 years in the future,” From The New World is not dissimilar to a slightly less modern rural setting. The key difference being that humans have “power” or psychic abilities such as telekinesis. Beyond that, the setting feels realistic and only just slightly behind what I would consider modern for a small rural area.
Much of the town is fueled by custom, tradition, and legend. This makes sense considering it’s setting and adds a lot to the horror tone. On that note, the show is pitched as a horror show. While having horror elements, it is not purely a horror anime. From The New World relies on more psychological horror and the horror of human nature, rather than jump scares or other more common tactics. More on this in a minute.
The show is divided up into three main acts: act 1 takes place when the main cast are still younger kids, act 2 during their teenage years, and act 3 during their adult years. Much of act 1 is spent setting up the show and may feel slow to viewers. However, these episodes are essential for the story and setup all of the payoff for the series.
Act 2 is where the show really picks or steam and keeps interest more easily. While I didn’t find the first act slow, I discovered many did. The series really opens up at episode 10, which is an incredible episode both visually and narratively. If you weren’t too into the show before this point, I highly encourage going at least this far before completely giving up (but by then you may as well watch the whole show).
During this act, in episode 8, a lot of people stopped watching the show. Why? Yaoi. Wait! Don’t freak out. While this episode was slightly uncomfortable, it’s necessary. Additionally, after this episode these elements are not really present in the show. There are some important callbacks to this general time period, but the show doesn’t shove the homosexual elements in your face again.
Lastly, in act 3 everything comes to a satisfying conclusion. This isn’t to say that it answers all the questions the viewer may have, but it makes its point and it makes it very well. Having a background in the themes and concepts presented in the anime, I enjoyed where the show went and its messages. In fact, I could write a whole academic paper about this show and what it does particularly well from a sociological and philosophical standpoint.
With this in mind, I don’t think there is anything more that really needs to be said. The story is well executed and paced well, though some may find it slow to start. If you stick with it, you will walk away with an excellent story. This is unsurprising as this is a novel adaptation, and though I haven’t read the source material, I feel confident in saying it was likely well adapted.
Animation & Sound
The animation quality is fantastic. A-1 Pictures often handles their animation work very well and this is no exception. There are times throughout the show where the animation appears to drop some, however, these instances were often stylistic choices or representative of what was going on. Overall, the quality sat comfortably at above average with moments of superb animation sprinkled throughout.
From The New World also features a unique art style. Now, this is not true of all aspects, but in general, the animation feels very folksy. It enhanced the setting as well as the horror elements. Unfortunately, there is just no real way to demonstrate this in a written format. If you want to know what I mean, check out the first couple of episodes.
As for the sound, From The New World does some unique things I’ve not really seen. The biggest of these being that there is no opening. The show only uses an opening theme for one episode, which is actually the show’s second ending theme “Yuki ni Saku Hana.” Both endings were well done visually and musically. I’d post a video for them both, however, I am unable to do so.
The background music for From The New World largely comes from the aforementioned Antonin Dvorak’s symphony. Particularly the use of the track “Ienikaeru” which gives the show an unsettling vibe in its atmosphere. It is later used in the show when some more horrific scenes occur and it was a nice touch that didn’t feel troupe-like in the way that these sort of songs often do. Unlike the previous songs, I can post this one, though out of context it’s not nearly as effective but it’s still a nice piece.
Don’t own the video or anything like that. Rights to the original owners etc…
This brings us to the voice acting. Let’s get one thing straight, it’s well done in both Japanese and English (spooky, I watched some in both). It’s great in that respect, however there are some just bizarre script moments in both versions. Somebody will clearly be talking or saying something and either nothing comes out or what’s beings said doesn’t match at all. This was really weird, I have no clue why it was done but I checked and it was in both languages that way. It didn’t happen often, thankfully, but it sure was distracting when it did. So some warning there, but otherwise no problems.
This anime was fantastic. I can completely understand why people say From The New World is underrated. Having heard of it by chance off handedly by somebody who had read the novel, the show really impressed. Whoever that random person was that recommended this to me, good on you! Since then, I’ve seen the show on a couple of lists on Youtube, but even then not a lot of people seem to know about it. Unsurprisingly, this is one that I think is worth watching.
Score & Extra Info
Seeing that this show had some top-notch writing, I give From The New World a score of 10/10 with a seal of excellence, an honor for shows that are truly outstanding and deserve to seen. Some may find this show to be a bit of a slow burn, but it truly is an excellent series deserving of your time. However, I would NOT recommend this to somebody newer to anime. This is especially true for younger viewers. Not because of the imagery or anything like that, but to best understand the themes and ideas present in the show, you should have some experience under your belt.
With that in mind, you don’t need to have studied any topics intensely at a university to understand the plot or follow it. It’s just to say, that having some life experience and exposure to some other anime before hand will enhance the viewing experience. If you are looking for a unique show this Halloween this may just be the one for you!
From The New World can be purchased currently on DVD for about $80 for both part 1 and 2 at Rigtstuf. However, if you can wait for 2/2/16 the whole series will be sold as one set by SENTAI for $47.99. The series is also available on Blu-ray but for a bit extra. If you can get it cheaply do so now, otherwise I’d just wait for the cheaper set to come out.
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