It's been years since an anime series affected me on such a huge emotional level like From the New World did. Bokurano (the anime, not the manga) was the last, and it probably left bigger and deeper emotional scars than From the New World, but the universe created and the characters involved in FtNW resounded more within me.
Let me make this clear from the beginning, this anime is NOT for anybody wanting a quick, fluffy, silly, unimportant time-waster. From the New World is deep. It asks tons of questions about what civilization is, what is needed to maintain it, and are the sacrifices that are necessary worth the peace? And in the end it offers very little in way of direct answers. And it's beautiful for it. It's been days since I finished this series up, and I still can't get it out of my mind. I find myself trying to think of what I would have done differently in the main characters' stead, and if I could live my life in their village if I was born 1,000 years into the future. I'm telling you, it'll mess with your melon.
Okay, so we start off with a bunch of quick clips of the modern world and a bunch of kids killing people horrifically with telekinetic powers (mostly making people explode from the inside out). Then we find ourselves in a strange, idyllic setting with a bunch of young children (Saki, Satorou, Shun, Maria, and their friends) playing around in a perfect countryside and going to school with all their friends... A school where they're taught to use and control their (possibly) terrifying telekinetic abilities (what they refer to as their "Canti").
The kids are made to participate in several activities featuring tests like one group having to move a clay ball from one side of a playing field to the other, and another group of opposing kids trying to stop the ball via their Canti and teamwork. A few children show aggressive behavior during these exercises and soon disappear from the class — none of the remaining kids seem to remember them after a few days.
Then, when Saki and her friends are 12, we follow them as they go on a school-sanctioned camping trip by themselves and stumble into some information that changes their perception of the world, and then they accidentally fall face first into the middle of one of the most horrific and demonic plots of vengeance I've ever seen played out in a story featuring mainly children.
The rest of the story is an amazing set-up for this betrayal, but I really can't say anything more without ruining the fantastic turns and characterizations that make the whole thing possible. So, if you want to go into this thing with the mysteries and story treats being surprising, STOP RIGHT THERE, and skip the spoilers section below. I advise that you do so.
So on their camping trip, Saki and her amigos come across this strange-as-shit-looking "living library" creature, and they force it to tell them more about their world and its past. They quickly wish that they hadn't. It turns out that they live in Japan more than 1,000 years into our future. Every human now has super telekinetic powers that pretty much makes them gods, but they're all peaceful and hippie-like now due to generations of DNA-altering and mental conditioning that makes them very ill if they ever even THINK to use their powers against another human being, and they're basically forced to be chill, ever obedient little puppies.
This sounds horrible and worthy of rebellion, but we soon find out that the people in charge had good reasons to enforce this Mao-like docility. It seems that there was a long period of history from when people with the ability to use Canti first appeared (around the beginning of the 21st Century) to right before the physical and mental experiments were put into effect when telekinetic mutants used their powers to subjugate the masses and cruelly and violently murder anybody who went against their whims. The only way that the human race could survive was to push past any ethics questions and physically and mentally bind people from using their powah to hurt any other human. For that purpose they created the "monster rats," also known as the "Queerats."
The Queerats are mostly 3-feet tall, ugly-as-all-fuck creatures that appear to be bipedal, genetically-altered, naked mole rats. The humans of the story allow the Queerats to run around, start wars with other Queerat clans, and pretty much live on their own in the wilds between human settlements, but when the sniveling little fleshbags are called to duty to do something for the "human gods" they must obey. One of their duties is to kill humans that show signs of madness and viciousness, since the Canti-using humans cannot. See, if a human starts to lose control of his power, he goes a bit mad, and the blocks put in place to keep him mellow and submissive get left by the wayside... And he starts to make his fellow humans go *BOOM!* This is very bad because the non-crazy humans cannot use their powers against him, and one "fiend" (as the crazies are known as) can wipe out an entire town, if not civilization, if they're not stopped by some miracle. It's like everybody in this world is a walking, talking atom bomb. Just one going nutso would be enough to end everything.
So Saki and her pals find this out, get horrified, then they get caught talking to this living library by an adult. As they're being marched back to their homes in disgrace though, a rouge army of Queerats attacks them all and kills the human adult, causing the kids to scatter like kittens. Through misfortune and fear, Saki and Satorou find themselves caught up in the battle between two Queerat colonies, having to use their powers to save their new rodenty friend Squealer, a most repugnant-looking fucker who treats the kids like minor deities.
Jesus, this explanation is kind of getting out of hand, so I'll just sum up the rest pretty quickly here. The kids find that they have a new understanding of the Queerats, but as they grow up they also find that they have a new fear of their own human society when one of their own is taken from them after he showed signs of becoming a full-blown fiend. Then another friend seems to be targeted too.
Things start to go down hill faster than a stupid college kid who talked his friends into rolling the giant tire he was in down a steep slope for Saki and her dwindling gang as they try to either run away from the adults, or change things from the inside. Many acts of betrayal then come into play, leaving the entire population of the world in danger of being annihilated.
In the end, after everything happens, we're not even sure if what was done was the right thing. There are so many shades of grey in From the New World that it doesn't answer many of the ethical questions it asks in any definitive way. I seriously cannot imagine what I would do if I were forced into any of these situations that Saki and her friends found themselves in the middle of. Yes, there are ways to answer if something is right or wrong with the way the laws (and genetics) are written in this story, but even if something is "wrong," it is the only way to ensure the survival of humanity. The "right" thing to do would have ended civilization several hundred years before Saki even came along. Like I said before, this series is NOT for people who only like to watch ninjas or pirates punch each other endlessly in battles between obviously good guys fighting unredeemably bad foes. Shades of grey, wherever I go... The more I find out, the less that I know.
Other than that, the style of the character designs and the animation quality are pretty damn unique in From the New World. It took me a while to actually appreciate them, but a few episodes in I began to really like it. It's not your typical anime character art, and the colors are unsual, but pretty throughout the whole thing. Oh, and the music is phenomenal! I'm not talking the ending theme songs (which are only alright), but the mood music and the background sounds... They really help to set the tone of everything. Very haunting.
And that's that.
Wasn't the point of this whole show the main point of The Incredibles? "And if EVERYBODY has special powers, then NOBODY will be special!"
Well, except for the naked mole rat people and the mass genocide going on inside of it, and the telekinetic shenanigans that prevail throughout the whole thing... And those freaky murder tigers. And the child killings. And did I mention all the murder? I think I did, but there it is again. Well, other than that it was just like The Incredibles.
Do you know how long I've been trying to create my own army of rodent men, only to fail time and time again because I chose the wrong vermin to splice together with human children, and each batch ate each other before I could give them their marching orders? The answer is 23 years and 113 attempts. Then the Rossman showed me this New World Tomorrow People show, or whatever it may be called. That's when I knew that I was going about it all wrong with sewer rats, field mice, ferrets, and even bunnies... The answer was of course the average naked mole rat! That's when I hit paydirt.
So, the naked mole rat was verily tailor made to be DNA-spliced together with a human baby. They even take to age-acceleration extremely well. After only 7 days I had at my disposal 50 naked mole rat men and women! It was my plan to then have the hairless freaks mate and create an army of hundreds within a few months, each female able to birth litters of up to two dozen monstrosities at once... but the problem with this unholy amalgamation is that both sexes found the other repugnant... Except for the two homosexual males who apparently did not care what the other's faces looked like as long as there was furless naked mole rat-human hiney to plunder. Wow! They're still going at it as I write this. It's fascinating, actually. I plan to sell the video I'm making to Vivid Entertainment for their Pervert division in order to fund my next project: a radioactive, man-eating pig. I got that idea from my colleague in arms, Algernop Krieger. That man has an imagination on him, let me tell you!