From the New World Collection 1 Review

Anime

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From the New World Collection 1
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Publisher: Sentai Filmworks
Format: DVD, Blu-ray (Reviewed)
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Price: $69.98 – Available Here

Overview
The world of anime is full of series that take place in a post-apocalyptic or dystopian setting where things have either gone incredibly wrong or the world has progressed towards an unsettling future. Rarely is anything as good as it seems and even the most picturesque worlds have their flaws. With From the New World being set in a utopian-like setting, how will things unfold now that Collection 1 has been released?

Story
In a modern looking setting, a number of people are violently murdered out of nowhere by a mysterious with the only signs pointing towards a boy in each area. After this bloody scene From the New World jumps a thousand years into the future where a young girl named Saki Watanabe is undergoing a ritual now that a ‘spirit’ has blessed her with powers and once this ritual is completed Saki is now able to join a number of her old friends in a new school since she was the last of the group to awaken to her powers, a thought that appeared to have frightened her parents a great deal.

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At her new school, Saki is able to learn to control her telekinetic powers through various school activities alongside her friends Satoru, Maria, Shun, Mamoru, and Reiko. Now re-united with her friends, they talk about how it seems that those who are not gifted with powers appear to vanish. As they continue to learn their powers, they are put through a number of simple sounding tests but Reiko never seems to be able to complete anything. Oddly enough, she soon disappears which becomes a trend with those who cannot adhere to the rules of the school but what makes things even stranger is that her disappearance is barely even noticed by the rest of the class.

With dark rumors and many things off about the village and how the adults act, Saki and her friends are sent outside the village on a field trip but since they’ve always felt cooped up, Satoru wants to go farther than they have ever been before. After talking about mysterious creatures that explode when threatened and seeing strange Monster Rats earlier, the appearance of a glowing talking creature is only the beginning as the dark secrets of the idyllic world these kids live in are revealed.

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From the New World is a bit of a mess when it comes to pacing and is a big fan of using massive infodumps that can span anywhere from half an episode to an entire episode which means that it is essential that the viewer pays attention. The aforementioned talking creature called a ‘False Minoshiro’ reveals that over the course of a millennium people have learned to control their telekinetic powers and goes into detail about how the world has changed since the rise of telekinetic abilities up until a few hundred years before the series takes place.

Since the first few episodes of the series referenced times in the past, this explanation is helpful and it also explains exactly what is happening in the village and details what these children’s childhood horror stories were all about. With empires rising and falling and humanity breaking into certain groups over the years, the explanation lays the groundwork for everything in the series and adds some much needed depth and explanation to the already extensive world building that has been put into From the New World.

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We learn the truth behind mythological stories told to the children about Karmic Demons and Ogres as well as why they have come to act a certain way, but after this occurs the show takes a change of pace that puts these kids’ lives in danger as they get caught up in a war between two Monster Rat nests, with one side asking Saki and Satoru, who are seen as gods thanks to their powers, to help them fight off their foes.

This makes for a rather interesting departure for the previously slow world building and explanation that the series focused on previously before and also calls back to why Saki and the rest act like they do with Saki trying to resist a situation thanks to her new knowledge. However after a time skip this deep knowledge of what happened to the world to create the situation that they are in now does little to change how they act at school, though the reason for this is explained and again falls into the falsities that rule the current society, and begin entering relationships matching what the Minishiro had said they would based on genetic manipulation and conditioning, only helping to prove what it had said to the viewer.

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Even after this time jump, the group continues to learn more about their powers but it grows ever clearer that there is something nefarious going on. Thanks to the rather poor pacing that forces the series into many instances of forcing information into the viewer’s mind, it is hard to stop watching this series as every episode reveals something mysterious and at the same time terrifying that this well established world sucks the viewer right into it.

Visuals
Considering the setting of From the New World a large portion of the series takes place in either lush looking forests or snowy environments which are all gorgeously portrayed. The character designs are a bit unique looking but at the same time are rather plain and many times throughout the series the quality of the character designs takes a disappointing dip with odd looking limbs. It can be said however that the designs of the various creatures that appear in the release are superb looking, with the Monster Rats and interesting looking Trickster Cats being designed nicely.

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There are also a few instances where it seems that some episodes are handled by an entirely different studio, episode 10 being the primary example of this. The new design taken for this episode is a bit off at first but it catches on quickly considering how dark the episode is and the events that take place in said episode.

Audio
With From the New World Collection 1 viewers have the choice of either the original Japanese voice track or Sentai’s English dub and for the most part the English dub is perfectly serviceable as the actors are a nice fit for their characters, although Monica Rial’s portrayal of the older Maria sounds a bit too shrill at times, and even the voice work of the Monster Rats is handled surprisingly well for this release.

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The background music throughout the show is used well and the series forgoes any opening theme to instead lead in with a dramatic short instrumental over the opening segment. As for the ending theme, we have the theme fitting “Wareta Ringo” by Risa Taneda, the Japanese voice actress for Saki.

Extras
As far as bonus features are concerned; From the New World Collection 1 only comes with the bare minimum. There are a few Japanese promotional videos, a clean version of the ending theme, and trailers for other Sentai Filmworks releases.

Overall
It is easy to see that From the New World was adapted from an actual novel instead of any other type of material thanks to how densely packed the details in this series are. Although it suffers from pacing problems, numerous issues are brought to the forefront in From the New World Collection 1 as we learn how humanity has reached this point and how dark the world is despite it being clear that we are only breaking the surface in this first half. With mysteries abound and the dark side of their society taking notice of the group, From the New World is an interesting and complex series that will be hard to put down.

8-5-capsules-out-of-10
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.

As a big fan of anime and games I'll be quick to cover anything that happens to be of interest.
  • Nintendo Fan 4 Lif3

    I’ll check this out-once I’m all caught up with Fairy Tail, an epic anime that continues to surpass my wildest expectations.

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