First Impressions: Shinsekai Yori

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Note: In an attempt to avoid spoiling myself, I was told to not read any kind of “premise” summary for this show, so I’m not including one here, since I have nothing to go on other than my own incoherent thoughts.

Rating: 3/5

Impressions:

Shinsekai Yori is one of those shows that I’ve seen a lot of praise for over the years but has some how been on my Plan to Watch list since it ended in 2013. I never really found the time or desire to get round to watching it, and back when the show first began airing in 2012, I didn’t think much of it at all. It didn’t seem all that interesting judging from the promotional posters and screencaps of the series I’d seen and the shows premise didn’t seem like something I’d enjoy all that much.

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But over the years, as the praise became more prominent and the show garnered a larger fanbase, I became rather intrigued in Shinsekai Yori. Was it perhaps a hidden gem that I mistakenly skipped over back when it first aired? It certainly seemed that way with all positivity that started to emerge soon after the series ended.

Despite my renewed interest in the show however, I never committed to actually watching it until now, 4 years after the show ended. In fact, had I not included it in my Readers Recommendation series for this blog and had you guys not voted for it in the poll, it would most likely still be sitting on my Plan to Watch list.

And in a way, I’m glad that it’s not sitting there idly on my Plan to Watch list. At the time of this post, I’m two episodes into the series, and while I don’t currently think it’s anything particularly spectacular so far, it’s by no means bad. It’s actually pretty good and I’m invested enough to see where things are going to go.

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Before I really get started here, I guess I should probably confess that this isn’t the first time I’ve actually tried to watch Shinsekai Yori. I actually did try to watch in the Summer of 2016, but due to lethargy I passed out within the first minute of the first episode. I later woke up at around 2 am, with the episode finished and I had to get up for work in 4 hours, so I shut it off and went back to sleep. Then I just kind of forgot about it. Until now…

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My cat was sleeping beside me when I woke up…

Anyway… Let’s get back on topic!

At the moment, I’m currently on the fence about this one. As I said above, it’s not bad. In fact, it’s actually quite good. The show has some pretty unique and interesting ideas thrown into a world that is both mysterious and intriguing. I’m honestly really captivated by the setting due to how much it stands out from other shows with a similar focus. As opposed to being set in a science fiction or contemporary setting, Shinsekai Yori takes place in what seems to be a remote, independent village. The village has its own customs and its own unique way of doing things and I’m intrigued to know how it all came to be and why it’s so darn remote.

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Beyond the setting, the actual plot itself is pretty average. It’s not bad, but at the moment it’s not particularly interesting either. While the setting has me completely enthralled, I’m not too sure what the point nor significance of anything is. The show seems to be focusing on these kids and the development of their psychic powers, and I’m definitely interested to find out the why. There also appears to be some kind of dark conspiracy with those in charge of the society, where it appears that children who have no talent for psychic powers go missing. I’m assuming they get killed or turned into those cat monsters that keep getting brought up. That’s just my theory though.

This all brings me to my biggest concern with the shows narrative: I believe I can already tell where this is going. I have a feeling this is going to turn into one of those dystopia shows with a corrupt government and will revolve around the main character, or the whole main group of kids, rising against the inhumane regime and trying to make a difference, all the while uncovering the mysteries surrounding the missing kids and the origins of their current society and how it came to be. And while I’m a firm believer that execution, not uniqueness, is where everything counts, if it does turn out to be one of these dystopian stories, I’ll likely be a little underwhelmed. People have been singing praises about this shows uniqueness and its supposedly smart writing and unexpected twists, and if the show is to head in this rather predictable and typical direction, I don’t think it’ll stand out as much as I’d hoped, aside from its setting.

However, that’s all just completely based on my own assumptions. I genuinely haven’t the slightest idea where this is all headed or what the main focus is going to be, since I’ve not had anything spoiled for me in the slightest.

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But beyond this concern, there’s also another issue that I consider very major: the pacing. While I enjoyed these first two episodes, the pacing was horrendously slow to the point that I could summarise everything that happened in about two sentences. I understand that some shows can be slow burners, and that Shinsekai Yori is indeed a very slow burner, but it did a lot to kill my enthusiasm when an entire episode had gone by and not much of anything had happened. I’ve always been a firm believer that a show should get to the point and establish its primary focus within the first episode, but by the end of Shinsekai Yori’s first episode, it didn’t feel that much of anything had been established at all, aside from a few interesting ideas and some exploration into the setting and its characters.

Speaking of the characters, I’m also not quite sure what to make of them so far. They haven’t really done much to grab my attention and aside from Saki and Satoru I can’t remember their names, although I’ll admit that’s partly because I’m terrible at remembering character names to begin with. It’s early days however, so the characters definitely have room to grow and there’s plenty of time for me to get emotionally attached. I sincerely hope I do.

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In terms of visuals, Shinsekai Yori is fairly mixed as well. While the general aesthetic isn’t particularly something I’d consider top tier, the setting itself is beautifully composed. The backgrounds look gorgeous, and are the best looking part of the show. The character designs are pretty average, it’s your standard A-1 Pictures fare where every guy has Kirito’s face and every girl has Asuna’s face. However, there is a little more uniqueness this time around too, which can be mostly attributed to the darker and duller colour palette used, which is a nice change from the usual vibrant colour scheme that A-1 Pictures typically use. There haven’t been any moments with standout animation as of yet, but given the events that have happened so far and the types of scenes I’ve currently seen, the series has done pretty good job so far and I have no doubts we’ll be seeing some really nice stuff down the line when things pick up a little bit more.

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Oh, and that opening is pretty good. Kind of eerie. I dig it. The ending is also pretty funky.

I know it seems like I’m being really negative here, but I’ve honestly had a pretty good time with the series so far. It’s off to a slow start and I’m not as invested as I’d like to be, but I won’t deny that I’m at least interested in seeing where this whole thing is going and I am enjoying it. Quite a bit.

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I don’t think the series is going to end up becoming a favourite or anything, but I have no doubts that by the end I’ll have at least had fun and at the end of the day, that’s what counts.

However, with 4 years worth of insane levels of praise and acclaim, Shinsekai Yori has a lot to prove, and so far I’m not as impressed as I’d hoped. That being said, it’s early days and the show has plenty of space to spread its wings and soar to what could potentially be very high heights.

I’m looking forward to eventually getting to the end. Stay tuned for my final thoughts of the show in the Readers Recommendation series.

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17 thoughts on “First Impressions: Shinsekai Yori

    1. I hope it eventually clicks for me in a very positive way. I really want to get on board with everyone this time (it seems I rarely do!)

      That being said, it is still quite good and I’m enjoying it, so that counts for something! 😛

      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I had similar issues with the first couple of episodes of this when I watched it, and quit it twice before I finally watched it through. So worth it. While, yes, there’s definitely some elements of general dystopianess ahead, it really is quite a unique story (even if most of the elements have been seen elsewhere before). That said, it isn’t a series I choose to rewatch very often. It’s one I watch when I’m in the mood to pull things apart and really think about how it is working rather than something I watch for pure enjoyment. As a story there’s definitely some things that go a bit wrong with the delivery. Still, beautiful, occasionally surprising, and emotionally moving. Stick with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m definitely hoping that by the end I feel the same. So far, it definitely seems like the pay off at the end will be worth the wait, so here’s hoping.

      It definitely seems like an “in the mood” kind of series, which is likely why I’ve held off on watching it for so long. But sometimes, when you’re in the mood those kinds of shows are really great.

      Looking forward to getting to the end of it. Thanks for reading and for your thoughts on the show!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Shinsekai Yori still has quite a few tricks up its sleeve by merely episode 2. Sh*t will start happening real fast and before you know it, you’ll be the one to feel like a slow burner, not the show. So many radical atrocities take place that even now I’m still quite shocked. Enjoy what time you have left before Shinsekai starts tumbling down insane lane! Looking forward to a series review!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Pretty much this 😆 The first episode or so focuses on setting up the spectacle of the show, the atmosphere of isolation and the eeriness of something sinister but undefined going on. Like you said, Takuto, it gets very overwhelming all at once, but hopefully not in what you’d consider a bad way.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I watched it for the first time last Summer and didn’t think much of the first couple episodes either. The pacing was definitely one of the biggest issues I had with it. I wasn’t fond of the directing, either. Although some of the cuts and shots were interesting and unique, I almost felt like the story and characters didn’t deserve its ambitious presentation. In fact, I was planning on dropping it on the third episode, but the events of that episode just barely kept me interested enough to want to see what would happen next.

    It took me a while to become invested in the show (and by a while, I mean about two-thirds of it), but when it finally hooked me, there was no going back. In the end, I’d say it was a very worthwhile watch. Definitely not a favorite of mine (I think I gave it an 8/10), but I think you’ll find you enjoy it more and more the farther you get into it.

    Like

  4. Shows are primarily driven by either characters or plot, but this show is driven by world/atmosphere. If you find anything questionable, just know that everything the show does, it’s done for the name of science-fiction.

    Like

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