Welp, getting back into episodic blogging. It aint gonna be easy- it’s been like, what? Almost two months? That seems practically an age ago! But at least this show, unlike Binbougami-ga, ought to give me plenty to say that isn’t “Momiji’s wearing a wig, lmao!” or me trying to carry out some kind of bullshit analysis on a character falling down a cliff! However, whilst the first episode of Shin Sekai Yori did have some interesting aspects for me to talk about, overall it failed to deliver. But before I lay into it a little, here’s what I did like about the episode:
I thought the first few minutes of the episode, where we were shown a psychic begin to wreak havoc with his powers in the present day world, were particularly impressive. It felt very classic horror movie, reminiscent of those that play cheerful, upbeat or relaxing music- in this case, Dvorak’s symphony no.9 (second movement)- whilst showing scenes of absolute carnage in order to make the murder seem that much more horrific through the power of juxtaposition. I can’t think of any movie examples at the moment, but watch TF2’s Meet the Pyro and you’ll see what I mean! There was even some blurred, wobbly camera-action, as seen in some of the best horror flicks, to create feelings of unease at what was happening- these kind of shots make it much easier to imagine you’re viewing the massacre through the eyes of those witnessing it, which, in turn, enables you to channel some of their fear. This fear was further magnetised by the fact mostly everyone’s faces were obstructed- the unknown is always a source of tension! Anyway, in case you couldn’t tell from my rambling, I was very excited about all this, ‘Wow,’ I thought, ‘this show really knows what it’s doing when it comes to creating tension!’, which, unfortunately, only made the rest of the episode that bit more disappointing in contrast…
The rest of the episode was set 1,000 years into the future, therefore, imagine my disappointment when most of the episode was spent focusing on our cast of characters attending school! You would’ve thought 1,000 years into the future they would have created some sort of chip that you could just plonk inside of your head and through it download all the information you would ever need in minutes, rendering school obsolete, but nooo… I was dying to see how much the world had changed, but instead all I got was a bunch of kids drawing pictures and making card towers, things I often see the kids of today do (albeit without having to resort to using telekinesis), the biggest indicator of change being a couple of mutant cows. What else bothered me were the kids themselves in that not one stood out to me as a character. Perhaps it was because they were so much younger than me (I’m guessing at about 12 here), meaning I didn’t feel any kind of affinity with them, or because they all adhered to classic ‘kiddy’ archetypes- the mothering one, the scaredy cat, the bratty show-off, etc.- making them all feel a little shallow…? I mean, just a day on from watching the episode, I can’t remember a single one of their names, so clearly no impact whatsoever has been made! To be honest, I thought Saki’s (I had to look up her name) parents were, by far, the most interesting characters: they displayed the largest breadth and depth of emotion of all the characters so far and have a tragic backstory that links in to their desire to see Saki’s telekinetic skills develop to boot, so it’s a shame her parents are probably not all that important in the grand scheme of things! But I’m sure that as the show progresses, chucking the children knee-high in crap (the suggestion that some kind of malevolent spirit/their small community does away with anyone who’s not gifted enough in telekinesis has grave implications, does it not?) they will develop and become somewhat more memorable.
So even though the first episode wasn’t as explosive as I’d hoped it’d be, I think it’s really just a matter of giving it some time to allow events to unfold. In a few episodes I’m sure many of the above criticisms will no longer apply- we’ll have a far more interesting setting which the kids will have to adapt to and develop as young people in order to survive in, a lá Lord of the Flies or Infinite Ryvius, if the synopsis of the show is anything to go by. I must try to remember that the building of tension is a slow, but ultimately gratifying process and that this episode was slow as it was just beginning to undergo this process with the suggestion that telekinesis is a highly dangerous ability and that something is amiss in Saki’s community. The trouble is, I watch too many horror movies/play too many survival horror games that, in an attempt to not lose their audience to boredom, bring out the big guns straight away, it’s made me terribly impatient… You know what I mean?