This may sound like a damning statement, and I’ll admit it’s partly intended as one, but From the New World (or Shinsekai Yori if we feel like being weeaboo) reminded me an awful lot of Another anime whose name I can’t remember. What was it called…horror anime, PA Works…oh whatever, I’ll just give it Another name instead.
Shinsekai Yori has that same slow start where something horrible is clearly up, but what exactly this horrible thing is hasn’t been revealed yet. We know that this dreadful thing is going to happen though because they keep playing eerie music over shots of characters staring frightfully at not much at all. It’s not as obnoxious about it as Another anime might be, where the music goes all “oooh scaarrry~” when a character does nothing more than simply shut a door, but they still play eerie music over almost everything that happens in the episode. What ever happened to contrast? I don’t necessarily think that Higurashi is the greatest example of a horror story, but at least it understood that you needed some contrast so the eerie parts actually appear eerie. Then you can actually start building tension.
The animation is fantastic. I feel I may have been a bit hasty in my complaints about A-1 in my season preview where I said all their anime look the same. From the New World shows they’re really starting to give each anime their own distinctive style. OK they’re not quite at Madhouse levels or anything, but credit where credit is due. I’m less confident about the directing though. The fuzzy camera at the start of the episode made my eyes hurt, to the point that I started to genuinely worry about whether my eyesight had suddenly gone to shit. That may have been the point I guess. More worryingly, the twists of the episode where there should have been tension were played poorly. Particularly the twist at the end of the episode where the girl disappeared. Instead of having the lead character start asking everyone where the girl went and they all look at her blankly as the slow realisation sets in, they just have some stupid narration saying “AND THEN SHE DISAPPEARED FOREVER”.
I feel like I’m being overly harsh, but at the same time I can’t really say anything positive about this first episode either. Simply saying “it looked nice” is doubly damning when I remember that’s how I ended most of my Guilty Crown posts. I’m sort of interested in the world they inhabit, although they haven’t done a good job of making it compelling so far. In the current day, everyone suddenly exploded and then whoosh it’s 1000 years in the future and now there’s psychic powers.
I know with these sorts of slow-burn horror stories, you’re supposed to give it time to build up the scenario and the tension. Patience is something I’ve never been particularly good at though, especially when there’s nothing else to hold my attention in the meantime. No interesting characters, no humour, no interesting setting, pretty animation. Maybe this will be a Shiki where people suddenly start going nuts for it about halfway through. Maybe it will be like Another and everyone starts laughing at it halfway through. From what I’ve been hearing about the source material, it may end up being the latter.