The first new show out of the gate for the Fall 2012 anime season is A-1 Pictures Shinsekai Yori (English title: From the New World). Set a millenium from current times, in this episode the series starts off following Saki Watanabe as she is ‘graduating’ from the primary school she’s been in after she is found by (or to have) a “Spirit of Blessing”, which seems to be a telekinetic power.
The show gives off an intriguing vibe. Not amazingly dark and scary, but it’s certainly not a lighthearted show. There are ‘demons’ and ‘fiends’ around, kept at bay by a spiritual barrier. And while Saki has found her Spirit of Blessing, there is a dark other type of spirit running around (called CopyCats by the kids in the version I saw) representing tainted cats, which are harbingers of doom for children, and hints at making them disappear. And indeed, one of the children in the starring group, the far less ‘talented’ Reiko, is said to have ‘disappeared’ from the school at the end of the episode.
The show makes me ask a lot of questions in the good way. While there are a lot of things unexplained right away, they are things that are hinted at, and draw you into this world of the future. The show’s initial open is a very brief sequence of some children in what look to be times analogous to ours exhibiting the power to, well, splatter people. Shocking and quick, it hints at a huge conflict in the world’s past, leading to the non-technological world we see for the remainder of the show.
So what causes these telekinetic powers? What is the purpose of the ‘Cleansing’ ceremony that we see Saki go through, where her spirit is put into a paper doll and then burned? My initial guess is that they are the same powers that the people in the ‘modern’ time had, and these uncontrollable or overly raw powers are stripped away, allowing their replacement by a more controllable “Cantus”. So are the Demons the people who don’t get this ritual? Or are they people who can’t manage to exorcise their raw Cantus? I can’t wait to find out.
Nothing bad to see in this show yet.
There’s an ugly undercurrent of disappearing children. Indeed, Saki overhears her parents talking about the “other” children they’ve lost. Are these siblings that Saki doesn’t even know? Where did Reiko go? What are the secrets of this world? And what will happen to the other children in the Harmony School, as we are told that Saki is the last child from their class to be going to Sage Academy? I’m sure we’ll find out, but it just adds to the sense of darkness this show exudes.