A slightly chilly wind has scattered most yellowing leaves from trees, and little ghouls are going door to door panhandling yet again. That’s right, it’s Halloween, and what better way to celebrate it than with a five day old Shinsekai Yori post about how a change in animation changed the aesthetics for the better? On the positive side, we finally have a coherent plot that isn’t adhering to a formula of (Insert Bratty/Incompetent Child here) Disappearing From Village With Nobody Caring. While I think we can all get behind shows that make annoying child characters disappear regularly, Shinsekai is one that has higher goals in mind. Gone are the days of blurrycam and entire episodes dedicated to exposition; the era of mole rat tribal conflict and expository glowing gelatin goat horse things now reigns supreme, and will not tolerate anything as silly as giant cats snatching children.
I don’t know if I’ve just been selectively blind up until this point or something, but the style seems to have morphed in this episode from A-1 “we know how to make this look good but not distinctive” brooding unease to a slight resemblance to Casshern Sins with more of a budget. The oppressive, dark environments are replaced with something a bit more fitting for a forest that hasn’t felt the touch of man in a long time, rather than the heavy saturation of the village. Wild, untamed, with subtle hints of bloom washing out the colors creates something that feels more like a fanciful dream than a realistic nightmare. Surprisingly enough, the change works in its favor. Unlike the stifling confines of A-1 unease, Sort of Casshern Sins lets the world breathe, crafting a setting that’s more mysterious and unknown than outwardly terrifying; it mirrors the mix of terror and wonder that the kids have when being chased by mole rat people through dense forests, and in a sense their own turbulent emotions.
What solidifies this slight shift of art style is a slow second half in a darkened cave, where light shows in visible gradients on and around the characters, creating a stylized, appealing look that makes for a less creepy, but no less dangerous environment for Saki and her friends to traverse. It sacrifices one kind of atmosphere for another, and the end result is engaging at the very least—something I can’t say for many shows.
Unfortunately, the content itself is relatively dry as far as potential objects for analysis goes, when compared to the effect achieved with a difference in animation. Yes, it’s kind of neat that bonobo monkeys are upheld as the peak of conflict revolution that mankind should reach for, but past Saki and her guy friend pawing at each other in a bed of suspended leaves for a few minutes, nothing’s really come of it yet. That’s another time when the new direction in animation sets the mood better than anything that doesn’t look stylishly washed out.
I’ve seen some bitching about the animation, but this post shouldn’t hide my thoughts on the matter one bit. It’s a change, but it’s one that ultimately fits the mood better as the show strays from its classic horror roots. Apparently it’s going to be a bit of an animation showcase from here on out, so I’m eager to see what other directions it goes in with the aesthetics. Thankfully, a show as reliant on eye candy as this leaves me with tons of specifics to write about each week, something that I’m 100% in favor of. So dammit folks, give slightly offbeat animation a chance this Halloween.