What They Say:
Born into a world a thousand years in our future, Saki and her friends Satoru, Maria, Mamoru and Shun have lived their entire lives in what seems to be a perfect utopia. Not only is their small, idyllic community overflowing with clean rushing water and abundant green foliage, but almost all technology has been rendered irrelevant by the magical power of “Juryoku,” the psychic ability to materialize anything one desires. But when Saki discovers a long-lost artifact from the past, the facade of their world is shattered and the cracks that split the foundation of their reality threaten to swallow them whole!
Faced with a bloody secret history of how their world really came to be and thrust into a nightmarish new paradigm, Saki and her companions are confronted with dangers they never knew existed and a series of choices that may change the fate of every intelligent creature on the planet – human and otherwise!
The audio presentation for this release comes with the original Japanese language in stereo as well as a new English language adaptation, both of which are encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is one that is very dialogue driven with what it does, but it also has some really good action moments along the way and a very well orchestrated mix when it comes to the incidental sounds and the other manipulations that come into play. The dialogue side is what drives it and it plays very well here with what it does as there are a good mix of characters involved throughout and placement is handled well. The action scenes, both in the past and present, provide a good design to it but it never feels overblown or too much for what it does. Add in some of the sound effects used with the telekinesis and the Monster Rats and you get something that keeps it moving well and feeling like a pretty richly lived in world. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2012 and 2013, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. This set has the first thirteen episodes of the series spread across two discs with nine on the first and four on the second. Animated by A-1 Pictures, we get a very earthy design to the series with a whole lot of really good detail to it that makes it feel fully realized. With a kind of throwback to the past in the future feeling to it, there’s a lot of naturalism to it with what it does but it’s balanced a touch with some really interesting bits of technology that comes into play. The transfer takes this distinctive but not overdone show and makes it come alive with great colors, solid backgrounds and the fluid animation feel very well done. It’s not the flashiest show out there but it’s done with such attention to detail and world building that it comes through perfectly in the presentation here, and that makes it easier to be drawn into this world.
The packaging for this release gives us a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the two discs against the interior walls. The front cover artwork goes for a somewhat traditional approach here but it’s very eye-catching as we get the main cast of characters – along with a couple of Monster Rats in the background – that has them standing along a mirrored lake so we get lots of blue sky and clouds to it. The characters, viewed at an angle, have a mostly upbeat look to them and that gives it a kind of hope that works nicely with what’s here since it’s good to see them all happy. The back cover works a bit of a darker angle to it with the background and we get a few shots from the show that also play to this darker nature. THe middle section has the premise that’s gone into a good bit of detail but we also get a nice piece of illustration artwork along the left that’s quite nice. The episode count and extras are all laid out cleraly and we get a good breakdown of production credits and technical information through the bottom section of the series. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
While the cover art went with the more predictable image, I really wanted them to use the illustration pieces they had originally solicited. Thankfully, those pieces show up here as the menu artwork and that gives it a great presence. With some beautiful designs and colors to it and a soft approach that has it feeling very rich in texture, the menus come alive here as we get a look at various characters across both volumes. That takes up the majority of the screen and even the logo over the empty part is done light enough that it doesn’t stand out much. The right side gives us the navigation itself which is done in a subdued but appealing way with some nice framing to it and a black background that breaks down the episode titles in purple while the numbers are done with black and white. The navigation is a breeze and easy to move around in and everything accesses correctly and quickly.
The extras for this release are a bit minimal but expected as we get the clean closing sequence and the inclusion of the original Japanese episode promos.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the 2009 novel Shin Sekai Yori by Yusuke Kishi, From the New World is a twenty-five episode series that came out in 2012 and was animated by A-1 Pictures. This set, which brings us the first thirteen episodes, introduces us to one of the more layered and intriguing worlds out there. One of the things that makes novel to anime adaptations so interesting is that some of them really go big in building something intricate and interesting with the pages they have, taking the time to go into the details and nuts and bolts of a world. That won’t always get fully translated of course, but those elements are things that fans of the original work want to see brought over and they often play a more direct role in the story itself. With this series, we get things that are familiar but with little twists and quirks that gives it a new life. And like a novel, the more we watch, the more that’s revealed and the more we understand of the characters because they have so much going on.
Taking place a thousand years from now, we’re introduced to a very different world than one might expect. The Japan that we’re shown is one that is broken up into a few different areas that all have a very naturalistic utopian kind of view of how to operate. The populations aren’t huge, there’s a calmness about things and there’s nothing that you would identify as technology among them. It’s essentially a push back to agrarian days but with a lot of modern knowledge and understanding as importance is placed upon being civilized and working as a part of a society. The place we’re introduced to as the main focus is that of the 66th Kamisu district. It’s here that we meet six kids in what you’d basically call elementary school with Saki, Satoru, Maria, Mamoru, Shun, and Reiko. It’s here that we grasp how people have evolved over this millennium as they have telekinetic powers of varying scales and are being taught how to use them. And within this training, we also see the kinds of morals that they’re taught, the functioning and importance of a group and other key aspects to living in this world.
Through the kids we learn and understand this world with all of its quirks, mostly because there’s the youthful innocence in not understanding how it works. As it progresses, time goes on and the kids become older and start to realize that things are not what they seem. Dark secrets abound in every corner and there are intriguing reasons for all of it as it goes on. With the initial focus on the groups that form, their use of their powers and the competitive nature of it, we start to see how those that don’t do well end up disappearing. And some of them end up disappearing from their minds to the point where they can’t remember them at all and struggle to place events that happened without them. But what causes the real issue for this group is that when they’re outside of the village on one of the canoe trips that they’re made to take to learn how to survive in the wild, they end up coming across a library computer in cute animal form that reveals the true nature of the world to them. And that ends up placing them in danger because the world that exists now can’t have people knowing the truth.
And it is a fascinating story, one that’s told in a number of ways across the season here. The show actually opens showing us a bit of what happened in the present day with a group of telekinetics who caused a lot of trouble and we later get a much better look at the fall of the world and the chaos that ensued as more powered people began to show up. That does give us the foundation we need to understand things, but what I liked is that across many of the episodes, we get these fables and morality tales told about events within those thousand years as societies underwent drastic changes with who was in control. With some of those with powers ruling ruthlessly, the introduction of more powered Ogres along the way that were uncontrollable and others that fell into the label of a Karmic Demon that could reshape reality. It’s all laid out in such tantalizing tidbits, showing us places and power structures that could support their own works, that you really want to know more. But you also realize how it created the world that the kids live in today and that there are very distinct reasons that it’s taken such a dark turn as it has for those that live within it, whether they realize it or not.
While we follow this group of kids, it’s largely focused on the character of Saki and then on Satoru as a secondary. With them, they provide the grasping at knowledge and need to know because they don’t stay within the barriers and they experience more of the world than the rest. This takes them to some intriguing places, especially with one of the odder parts of the show with the little pig-like creatures known as Monster Rats. They operate outside of the barriers but have an understand of language and do seem to interact with people at times. We see a few at the outskirts of the village but we also get introduced to the start of the larger picture with them through Saki and Satoru as while on the run they end up falling in with one of those from the Robbery Fly colony and seeing some of the wars that break out between the Monster Rats. They get some neat exposure here to how they operate, but the real story for them is yet to come. But through Saki and Satoru, we get to understand a lot about them and begin to figure out how they truly fit within this world a thousand years from now.
While we usually see a lot of light novels adapted into anime form that fit that term well in that they’re lightweights, From the New World is not a light work. It’s a dense piece that deals with a lot of issues of society, sociology, psychology, politics and the dark side of doing what’s right to protect the population at large. And questioning whether it should be. Evolution, advancement, fall and decay and the quest for knowledge that excites some and frightens others. There’s so much in this series that it really is the type that requires that episode by episode breakdown to talk about what’s going on, the larger themes in context to the moments and the unfolding of the real storyline that builds across it. This series captivated me when I watched it in weekly form and there was so much going on that it was surprising. In this form, with a great high definition transfer and a very well done dub from what I listened of it, we get to see these threads pulled together more clearly and in just as engaging a way. This is one of those shows that fits in the must-see list, especially when people say there’s nothing good out there that deals with real issues. Very highly recommended.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Japanese Promos, Clean Closing
Content Grade: A+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: April 15th, 2014
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.