I was thinking to myself before the final episode, “Yep, this is a solid 8/10”. After the episode: “Nothing less than a 9/10”.Shinsekai Yori’s ending was quite frankly, one of the best endings I’ve ever seen. Period.
As soon as the episode begins, things are just insane. Almost immediately, Kiroumaru is suddenly dead on the ground from the not-so fiend’s cantus attack. First reaction would be “Did he have a death wish?” but Shinsekai Yori is a series that doesn’t let things like that slide without a good explanation and boy it was a pretty damning explanation. Simply, if the death feedback doesn’t trigger if the fiend kills humans, then it must only work on the bakenezumi. At that point, I had to pause the episode and just say out loud “Oh my god.”. Of course, since Kiroumaru is a bakenezumi that would totally justify his heroic sacrifice to take out the fiend. But the main idea is that nobody – humans or the bakenezumi – is either good or evil. They all started off with good intentions, but circumstances outside of their control kept popping up. I’m not defending Squealer’s human genocide campaign as justifiable, but this was someone who desired change so strongly, he’d go to any lengths to achieve such change which is a stark contrast from the “old ways of thinking” that Kiroumaru believes in, even just before his death he begs Saki to save his queen which is something Squealer has already claimed to be in the way of his ideals. You know a series is good when neither side can be described as good or evil, such ambiguity is what makes me admire this series.
Now onto the ending, which admittingly was awesome if only because of the song playing during the last few minutes, Dvorak’s “From the New World”. Yes, this series is named after that piece of music and listening to it makes me realize how well a vocal-less song can effectively summarize this series into only a few minutes of very beautiful music. Many series crash and burn on the final episode, failing to either come up with a decent conclusion or try to rush and cram many events and make things only worse. Shinsekai yori does not suffer from either of those scenarios, which shows the care the anime staff took in keeping things moving along without cutting too much from the novel.
Continuing my praising, since it’s rare for me to praise anything nowadays: sound. The soundtrack is remarkably restrained, nothing over the top and distracting but not entirely forgettable either. For me, a great soundtrack contributes to the mood of the scene said music is playing and of course, Shinsekai Yori does this constantly well. Next is the lack of opening theme: again, this show really loves to do things differently: we expect, even assume, that every series will have an OP. It may be something minor, but I’d trade in 1:30 of J-pop for additional time on the episode if given the choice.
Now to stop the praising: the characters in this show are actually the weakest link, but because everything else this show does is so wonderful, it’s not really a major issue (indeed, my score is still a 90+ even with a low character score). I’d love to see more of Shun and especially poor Mamoru – his episode was good and I wish his character was expanded on a bit more. Saki herself tends to be a damsel in despair more often than not especially towards the end of the series, but it’s not like she had a white knight saving her so it’s not that big of a deal for me. I do wonder why the series had such a Saki x Maria angle, which the novel supposedly does not delve into and actually focuses on Saki x Satoru but again, in the grand scheme of things I’ll just let it go for later.
All in all, I have to say that Shinsekai Yori is truly one of the best series I’ve seen in a while.
Animation – 8/10: Very artistic, in a good way and a bad way as it can be very distracting.
Story – 14/15: Amazing ending. This show loves to do it’s own thing and it does it impeccably well.
Characters – 15/20: The weakest link of the series was a middling, if decent main cast (excluding Saki and Satoru). The show tended to highlight Maria more than Satoru, which didn’t irk me as much as it did others.
Sound – 9.5/10: The soundtrack is so damn restrained – nothing over the top (Hi, Tempest) but isn’t just an afterthought either. Wonderfully creates tension and even some foreshadowing. First ED is definitely one of my favorite ED themes, period. Voice acting is superb.
Enjoyment – 45/45: Shinsekai Yori is one of the best series I’ve seen in a long time. Even though the characterization may not be as good as other series I’ve rated as 8 and 9’s, this show really delivers in its execution and soundtrack and it’s willingness to “go there” (yaoi/yuri scenes, brutal tortures, etc.). Truly, a show that needs to be watched by anyone who calls themselves an anime fan.
Final Score – 91.5/100