Ok, I’m all caught up now. This is the show I’ve been waiting for since Penguindrum.
Building a World
This show knows how to make a world and immerse you in it. Consider just the ball game in the first half of the second episode. A few points to consider:
- This game looks amazingly fun.
- Look at how much detail and thought they put into it. There are many different strategies, and many different types of pieces to play with.
- See how they present the game. There’s the bare minimum of explaining, and then they just jump right in and play. They assume the audience can figure it out.
- The children genuinely care about this game. The audience (or at least me) is thinking, “who cares, it’s just a game.” But this is their life.
- Only later do we find out the true motivation behind this game. While the game appears at first to be a fun diversion from the mysteries going on in the background, it is in fact a centerpiece to the mystery, hiding in plain sight.
What a great way to immerse the viewers in the world.
In the fourth episode, the library tells the children the history of the world. This is a bibliophile’s dream come true: the libraries are fighting a battle to have the world remember their own history.
The part here I found most interesting is not the information itself, but the children’s reaction to the information. Shows like Shin Sekai Yori are, when it comes down to it, an exercise in information control. It’s all about what the audience knows, and what the audience doesn’t know. Half the fun is guessing what’s going on. So it’s important that the show remembers what the characters themselves know. Their reactions to the information are just as important as the information itself.
Their reactions here were perhaps a bit over the top (I wasn’t expecting them to start screaming), but it does show how ingrained their education from school has been. They did not know any of this, and what’s more, once they hear it, they wish they hadn’t. Once they know the history of their village, their lives will never be the same again.
Similarly, the creepiest moment of the third episode also comes from the characters’ reactions to new information. They learn that the boy who cheated in the game has disappeared, and they simply don’t care. Now that’s creepy.
Let me get this straight. They get to skip a week of school to go, by themselves, on a canoeing and camping trip up the river. I am so jealous. Aside from the likelihood of being disappeared, this sounds like an amazing school.
The animation is gorgeous. There’s such a wide variety of styles too, which is impressive. Also, it’s an excellent soundtrack.
The scene with the night rowing was beautiful. I’m a sucker for scenes with stars.
And that hand-touch— wonderful. Just the right mix of hesitation and confidence. They’ve devoted a total of two minutes to it, and we already have such great potential for romance.
I’ll speculate and say that the great slave empires still exist. They’re living in one. These “rats” are actually humans, as evidenced by the averse reaction the monk shows to their deaths. Perhaps the people with powers were genetically modified to not see them as humans. The ones who attacked the monks are freedom fighters, trying to throw off the yoke of their oppression. Every society is built on the backs and sweat of the poor… yet only fantasy anime are able to acknowledge it.