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From the New World

Saki and Soratou

Following the outbreak of uncontrollable psychokinetic powers that nearly destroyed the world, a secluded set of villages are recovering from the devastation by separating children from the rest of the world and teaching them to control their fledgling powers. When their powers manifest, they go through a trial to test their ability to use the powers referred to as 'Cantus'. If the child succeeds in passing the trial, they are reunited with friends and family who went before them in a special school designed to train them in how to use their cantus. On the surface, the village appears to be a normal, every day community, with people living out their ordinary lives with the assistance of their cantus, but in the background lies a mystery hidden behind lies and deceit, not the least being; what happens to the children who don't pass the trial, or the ones whose power never manifests?

Queerat LeaderMany rumours and tales surround the secrets of the villages - secrets that only the adults seem to know and are deliberately keeping hidden from the children. These rumours set our protagonist, Saki, and her classmates on an adventure with the sole purpose of discovering the truth behind the rumours. What they uncover will be far beyond what they ever expected.

I have one word that sums up this anime, and that is: strange.

Saki and Soratou with friendly queeratFrom the New World is a dark anime reminiscent of M Knight Shyamalan's The Village, driven by the series of clues that lead us through a deep and complicated mystery that keeps us wondering just what is going on until the very end. Half the reason for this is the random, completely implausible, and disjointed plot arcs that tend to make very little sense in the overall scope of the story.

Queerats negotiating terms of surrenderWe are first introduced to a worker race of ratmen who assist the adults of the village in menial duties, foraging and dealing with complicated matters discretely when the limitations of the adult's cantus doesn't permit - like the suspected murdering of innocent people. One limitation of the cantus is that they cannot use it to harm other humans. The first quarter of the show throws Saki and her friends right into the middle of a battle between queerat tribes for no apparent reason other than to show us a bit of the world outside their village.

One very strange creature
During their adventure that sees them caught up in the queerat war, they find one of the many creatures that the tales speak of, which appears to be some I-Don't-Know-What-Like glowing creature. The tales say that whoever sees one of them dies, but then, the question is raised; then how did the tale come to exist? Using their cantus to capture the creature, it is discovered they aren't just any normal animal, but some sort of cybernetic animal that acts as a computer AI  to access a library containing forbidden histories of the world. Not only is the creature one of the strangest things I've ever seen in anime, it's physical design is completely illogical when taking into consideration its intended purpose.

Amazing artwork of a imaginary house
Having learnt what they shouldn't have, the next major complaint I have with the show is when the children are taken captive by a mysterious man who has cantus powers far superior to their own. He seals away their powers, preventing them from using their cantus permanently. The only way to get their cantus back is to return to the village and recover their diaries, which have recordings of the process they went through in the trials when their powers first manifested. But by the time they return to the village to recover these diaries, Saki's older, narrators voice tells us their powers came back on their own, as if that part of the plot element was completely brushed aside. If their powers came back without the diaries, then why mention them in the first place? This is only but one of the illogical plot developments in this series.

Saki caught in the mind world of a karma demon
Following this narration scene that dismisses their sealed powers as nothing important, the story skips forward two years, totally dismissing the fact that they were scared out of their wits with what the adults of the village would do to them knowing they had discovered part of the forbidden knowledge; which ended up being nothing at all. No, in fact, the village council wants to reward Saki, who is constantly going out of her way to uncover truths and pry into things she shouldn't by making her the next in line to take over the head position of the village council. Why they would ever want such a rebellious child who is determined to destroy everything the village has worked towards I can't possibly understand.

The next strange plot development I can't understand in the show is after they have skipped forward two years and it shows the relationships Saki and her friends have developed. At the beginning of the show, we are given the hint that Saki is secretly in love with her male friend Shin, but come this stage in the story, it is revealed her other male friend, Setarou is actually gay, and in a relationship with Shin. I was completely surprised by this unexpected development which seems to serve no other purpose than being a complete shock tactics twist with the purpose of causing controversy, which becomes even worse when it is also revealed that Saki herself has formed a lesbian relationship with her friend, Maria.

These relationships appear to last only a matter of a couple of episodes before they are nearly forgotten about and Maria starts encouraging Saki to pursue a relationship with a newly introduced character even though they are supposed to be together. Scenes involving them walking through the school show practically every single student involved in some form of relationship with another student, over half of them being same-sex, which can only lead me to suspect there is some strange genetic bonding and manipulation of feelings going on behind the scenes. On several occasions it is referred to as animalistic relationships and compared to monkeys. I can only suspect this is some sort of political statement made by the writer to support such relationships and was completely unnecessary for the story - hence how easily they where thrown away. Either way, I found these developments hard to deal with because they destroy any potential romance story that could have developed as the episodes progressed. Honestly, before I found out that Setarou was gay, I was suspecting him and Saki might at one point end up falling in love, based on the way the first part of the story was going. No way that is going to happen now.

There are many other strange twists that seem to have no apparent reason, from killing off characters unexpectedly and then forgetting about them shortly after, to having characters running for their lives out of no fault of their own when they'd spent years prior in what appeared to be complete safety.

The whole team together

To add salt to the wound, I am at a complete loss at the writers need to make the queerat races so childishly annoying in the way they act and talk. Their incomprehensible nattering continues to grate on my nerves.

Unfortunately for the writers, it is safe to say this anime is one that deserves to be passed by and forgotten about. The only reason that kept me watching as far as I did, was the intrigue of the mystery that, even though I know the answer to, continues to interest me enough to wonder what they are going to do about it. But seriously, this anime barely makes any sense at all and I'm afraid I have to rate it as one of the weakest anime I've watched this season.