Twelve Days of Anime Part 10: Surprised by Horror

Saki attacked by an Impure Cat in Shinseaki Yori, Shin Sekai Yori, From the New WorldShinsekai Yori is probably the best show I saw in 2013 that was also produced in 2013 (the best anime I saw this year period was Turn A Gundam).  Since I like it so much, I have tried to recommend it to other fans who missed it.  Most of the time my elevator pitch for an anime will include the genres to which it belongs.  One day I was thinking about this sort of thing, and it hit me that I hardly ever, if ever at all, classify an anime by one genre alone.  For the sake of the blog I may do that, but when I’m talking to friends I tend to  describe an anime’s genre classification the way I might describe a meal: one main dish plus three sides.  I do think that most anime do belong to a “main” genre which dictates their structural blueprints (even the subversive shows, because their blueprints work off of those of the genre they are subverting), but there are also elements of other genres present within the show.

I would describe Shinsekai Yori as a dystopian supernatural fantasy which is very political and also contains strong horror elements.  Those last three words are ones I never thought I would write about an anime.  Most of the horror I’ve observed in the medium is an exercise in “HEY LOOK AT THIS!  LOOK AT THIS GROSS THING!  LOOK!  LOOK, ISN’T IT GROSS?!”  However, Shinsekai Yori is remarkably effective in delivering non-cheap horror by way of an ever-present sense of dread.  From very early on, the viewer is aware of dark secrets lurking beneath the surface of everything.  As Saki and the others slowly worked out the mysteries of their society and marched closer to the ugly truth, I simultaneously wanted and did not want them to continue.  Part of me wanted to know, but part of me was also disturbed by each revelation and just wanted those kids to stop meddling.

For me, this was a totally unique experience in the anime medium, so not only is Shinseaki Yori my favorite new show of 2013, it is also my favorite horror anime period.

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Twelve Days of Anime Part 10: Surprised by Horror

2 thoughts on “Twelve Days of Anime Part 10: Surprised by Horror

  1. I couldn’t disagree more. It was the most ham handed, poorly written, cheaply animated show of the year. Second only to Coppelion in how bad it was. At one point in the show I could believe it wasn’t a high school student’s production. Perhaps I’ll do a counter review over on Japancast.net

  2. Wow, that is pretty harsh. Are we talking about the same show? From the New World? I mean, I’ve heard some folks weren’t as high on it as me, but this s the first assessment of this kind that I have heard about SSY. Not that the majority is always right.

    I won’t fight you over the animation because I’m not so good at discerning the mediocre from the OK (I think we can all tell that Violinist of Hamelin had really poor animation and Redline has really great animation), but I have to disagree about the writing. I thought the world building and some of the character writing were fantastic. Though I love dystopian fiction and therefore may be a bit biased, I certainly don’t think the writing was what you could call poor.

    Now I’m curious: what show would you class as your best of the year?

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