1000 years before the start of the series, the first people with psychokinesis appeared, leading to, well, a lot of death and destruction (obviously). We arrive at the present, where people with psychokinetic abilities (called ‘Cantus’) are all that remain.
From the New World is about a group of friends in an academy for psychics in Kamisu 66th Ward, one of but a few towns in this future civilisation. The story mostly focuses on Saki, a normal school girl (as normal as someone can be in this society, with all the powers and stuff), and her encounters with things (being extra vague to avoid spoilers).
I loved the art of the anime. It was vivid with a punchy palette and had some absolutely beautiful backgrounds. The setting gave the artist the ability to draw beautiful backgrounds from bamboo forests to snowy hills. The designs for characters were on the simple side with little facial detail, but the outfits were particularly well done. On the other hand, the designs for the strange creatures of this world were well made with a good amount of detail. This is especially impressive given the fact that it is a novel adaptation: a challenge when compared to adapting manga or light novels where visual designs already exist. Though there were a few problems, such as artstyle inconsistencies in a few episodes, where you can obviously see something is different. Also, the animation wasn’t really what I’d call great.
The voice acting was on point as always, and the music was good too. The ‘going home’ music, taken from the second movement of Symphony No. 9 in E minor "From the New World" by Dvořák, was an amazing choice. Even the ‘OP’ (although there is no OP sequence in the typical anime sense) and ED were nice.
Not many characters were developed enough in the series, but those who were, were done right. Saki starts off as just another lead in a ‘school life’ anime, but she quickly grows into someone who could question the system and think for herself. I would have loved to see other students grow, but it was as if the only people who could get screen time were whoever was close to Saki at that time.
The world is really fleshed out. There is enough backstory provided to understand what happened to the old world. Everything I had any questions about was explained in an acceptable way (maybe because, I don’t hate info-dumping). All plot points got the progression they needed, and each line carries meaning. The time skips were well used (except the second one; that was a bit off, for me). The powers are well-designed with well-thought-out limits and make reasonable sense. Makes you think: in a world where everyone is special, are you really special?
The society depicted in the anime is in a way a reflection of Japanese society, where rules are really important and anyone who breaks them is cast off from society. In Japan, anyone who has ever been to jail is shunned, even if falsely accused. The anime escalates this to a dystopian level, where the rule-abiding ‘lawful’ people seem to not even know what happens to people who break the rules.
The series also capitalizes on the sense of unease it provides. This is especially true of the second half, where it sort of transitions into a horror anime. It’s not a ‘jumpscare’ kind of horror, but rather the tense, atmospheric kind where you are constantly in a state of fear.
Beneath the surface, the series touches on some subtle things. For instance, in one story arc that occurs between episodes 8 and 11, people who are coming to terms with a terminal disease their loved one has (or had) can strongly relate to Saki. The desire to help, the pain of being pushed away, and the despair of being powerless is well depicted.
Another aspect that comes to mind is how the series makes us realise the horrors of our subconscious. The things we repress, and the stuff that makes us scared, of the world and of ourselves.
The series shows how fragile human society is. We pride ourselves on being the ‘top dog’ of the environment. We take what we want and change what we can. And sometimes we even make stuff worse for ourselves and our loved ones, maybe unwillingly. But when the balance of power shifts, most of us will be just lambs to the slaughter.
Some points that the series raises are downright creepy when you think about them more. One thing that makes me really nervous is the fact that the series shows us that relationships are a direct result of memories (both ours and others’), and that altering memories can alter the relationships we have.
The series is a reminder of how protected and sheltered we are as children to the harsh realities of the world. A reminder that legally correct and morally correct are two different things. A reminder to treasure our loved ones, because we can lose them in an instant. A reminder that the system may not always be right, and it needs people to question it and bring reforms.
The background and colours are brilliant, but the faces look very plain and simple, and the animation is not really great.
The voice acting is good and the background tracks are chosen well.
Good characters and a few of them are developed well in a complex, multidimensional way. But more of them could have used such development.
The best part of this anime by far. Loved it.
A point for great worldbuilding.
A point for mentioning Bacillus anthracis.