A millennium from now, in Japan, exists a utopia. The Protagonist, Saki Watanabe, lives in an idyllic village barred from the outside world. Her world is ruled by the people who possess the "gods' power" of psychokinesis. After finally obtaining her own powers, Saki enters the Zenjin Academy to train along with five other children: Satoru Asahina, Maria Akizuki, Mamoru Itou, Shun Aonuma, and Reiko Amano.Not all is as it seems, however. In this utopian village, strange rumors about a monstrous cat that abducts children circulate, and students are said to disappear from the academy. The world and its history are much darker than they appear and humanity is on the verge of collapse.From the New World (新世界より Shin Sekai Yori) is a Japanese science fiction novel by Yūsuke Kishi. It was adapted into a 25-episode anime television series by A-1 Pictures and began airing in September 2012. The anime has been picked up for streaming and home video release in North America by Sentai Filmworks, and it's available on Crunchyroll as well. There is also an ongoing manga adaptation that began serialisation in Kodansha's "Bessatsu Shounen Magazine" in May 2012 and is now licensed by Vertical, which differs considerably from both the anime and the original novel in plot and characterization.It is unknown if/when the original novel will be translated.You can find the Characters Page for the show here.
The book/anime provides examples of:
Adults Are Useless: Subverted. It's set up to look like the kids are on their own against uncaring/evil elders. Turns out the adults really are doing their best for them under the horrible circumstances.
Adult Fear: Saki's mother experiences this in particular. After all she lost one child already.
Mamoru's father is clearly worried sick when Mamoru disappears from home without a trace.
After the End: Takes place in the distant future, after a long decline of humankind.
And I Must Scream: Squealer/Yakomaru's punishment for his deeds, until Saki decides to put him out of his misery.
And Man Grew Proud: Juryoku is not the power of the gods. It's inherent in every human. Also, Akki and Gouma aren't monsters of legend. Gouma are people who lose control of their Juryoku, while Akki are people with Juryoku whose Power Limiter doesn't work.
Anyone Can Die: Oh my, yes. Not even those belonging to Group One are safe from being offed at anytime.
The third story arc takes this trope to a whole new level. Important characters such as Maria, Mamoru, and Tomiko all kick the bucket. And that's before getting into the complete destruction of Kamisu 66...
Appeal to Force: The Library has a lot of protocols in place to control its use. It is also smart enough to know that bypassing said protocols is preferable to being psychically torn apart by Saki and friends.
Bait and Switch: The boy who becomes a gouma in episode 2 looks a lot like Satoru.. but it turns out Shun is the one who becomes one.
Babies Ever After: One of the final scenes shows Satoru embracing a pregnant Saki 10 years after the end of the war.
Bee People: Like naked mole rats, the Bakenezumi have a single, large queen that handles all the breeding in the nest and acts as its leader.
Beware the Superman: This is largely the justification for the pseudo-religious social engineering in Kamisu 66. Throughout the story's history, the PK-based societies have used their powers to wipe out and enslave people who lacked power. They are considered so dangerous that, after the fall of the slave empires & raider groups, the remaining PK group decided to genetically alter themselves to make killing humans impossible.
Bittersweet Ending: Squealer is defeated, order is restored, Saki and Satoru start a family and are trying to change things for the better. However, there is still the constant threat of Akki and Gouma, as well as the grim implications of Satoru raising fujoneko. To make matters worse, many, many bakenezumi colonies have apparently been destroyed, with some being spared (including the Giant Hornets) only due to Saki's intervention. Furthermore, Squealer's motivations, as well as his trial, leave the audience wondering just who the villain really was. Still, Saki and Satoru are hopeful for the future.
Breather Episode: Largely averted. While it could be said that events themselves move slowly, especially in the beginning, despite there being so much going on all the timenote from the children fearing the Nekodamashi, learning the grim truth about the past and present, and meeting the Monster Rats—because of the constant deluge of Break the Cutie in the midst of these events, and because of a large part of the series overall focuses on the children's perception of the world shattering (i.e. the first two arcs), there's nary a moment truly given to the audience to breathe up to the point. In comparison, it's as Saki grows older that we're treated to Breather Moments, a particularly apparent one being Saki's flashback to her childhood with Maria in episode 16. These moments are usually harshly utilized to instigate sudden Mood Whiplash, though, like during the festival two episodes, and another Time Skip, later.
City in a Bottle: Saki's town is enclosed by a barrier that is supposed to prevent demons and monsters from finding them, and children are forbidden from wandering outside the barrier without an adult.
Crapsaccharine World: The setting of the story. Within the village's barrier, life is seemingly idyllic, peaceful, and filled with natural beauty. But many horrors lurk outside the barrier and the underbelly of the Zenjin Academy and the village itself is... shady to say the least.
It's later revealed that the world as it was before the era the story takes place in was a lot worse to live in.
Curb-Stomp War: Kiromaru and the Giant Hornets might have won the battle Saki witnessed in Episode 17, but ultimately Yakomaru's armies make quick work of the Giant Hornet colony due to their "secret weapon"...
And in Episode 21, Shisei gets utterly destroyed by Yakomaru's Akki. No thanks to Shisei's subconscious PK leakage, the Akki quickly uses it to his advantage and eventually snaps his opponent in two.
Days of Future Past: Not in the modern world, but before then, the Slave Dynasties were basically Heian-era Japan with Ax-Crazy psychokinetic rulers.
Death of the Hypotenuse: Hoo boy. First, Shun ends his relationship with Satoru, then dies before he can either rekindle it or start a relationship with Saki, who he admits he's always loved. Saki reciprocates Shun's feelings, but is best friends with and engaged in a relationship with Maria who eventually picks Mamoru over Saki, though she is still deeply in love with the latter...and then Maria and Mamoru die, clearing the way permanently for Satoru and Saki.
Episode 5 is made of this and QUALITY. In a Fridge Brilliance, it's because the world as familiar to the kids are crumbling upon the revelation of its true, disturbing nature.
The opening sequence of episode 6 where a human boy inexplicably turns into a False Minoshiro also counts.
The Nightmare Sequence from episode 16 features some truly hideous hybrid monsters from the dark depths of human subconscious, animated in a most terrifying art style.
Doomed Hometown: The combination of Yakomaru's overwhelming army and his Akki allowed him to sack Kamisu 66 in Episode 20.
Doorstopper: The original novel is about 1,000 pages in total. Because of its sheer length, it is split into more than one book (two or three volumes, depending on which edition you're looking at).
Earn Your Happy Ending: Saki and Satoru end up marrying and having a family. Saki ensured that more than just the Giant Hornets were spared after the bakenezumi were eliminated and knows enough to try to change things for the better. However, a lot of people died in order for them to reach this point.
Everybody's Dead, Dave: With the exception of Satoru, Saki, and Inui, every remotely significant human character from Kamisu 66 has been brutally killed by Episode 21. Tokyo dumps another round of this trope on the party, killing Inui, Kiromaru, and Maria's semi-Akki daughter; Saki eventually performs a Mercy Kill on Yakomaru. Saki and Satoru are the only named characters who survive the whole bloodbath of a story.
Everyone Is a Super: Deconstructed. In a world where every human has the power of Juryoku, extreme measures have been taken to hold some semblance of civilization together.
Everyone Is Bi: According to the library, sexual acts are used as stress relief and deepening of intimacy. The original example were bonobo chimpanzees. It's a society that depends on Distracted by the Sexy to continue existing.
However, there are also very strict social rules regarding sex: heterosexual sex is all but forbidden until early adulthood. As such, homosexual relationships are the norm for children until they are adolescents. They can still have romantic feelings for members of the opposite sex, though.
The Extremist Was Right: The tyrannical nature of society is based on one question: What do we do to keep another Akki or Gouma from manifesting? The answer is necessarily horrifying.
Failsafe Failure: Death Feedback is intended to keep humans from killing each other, but all it seems to serve is to prevent humans from being able to defend themselves against Fiends.
Family-Unfriendly Aesop: In-universe, the textbooks that the students read in the Zenjin Academy teach their aesops through very dark and depressing means, usually ending in the horrible death of the main character and sacrificing oneself for the greater good.
Fantastic Racism: The humans hold the Bakenezumi in extremely low regard, refusing to believe that they are of equal intelligence. The moment they get more advanced weaponry, brainwashed with propaganda involving Messiahs sent from the heaven, and a Akki on their side they decide to Kill All Humans.
Foregone Conclusion: From the narration of older Saki we know that she will survive to adulthood, but also that something terrible will happen with Maria.
Since an older Saki is narrating the events of the anime, she drops some hints about what will happen in the future, such as her musing that countless people could have been saved if Maria had never been born.
Shun was the one who read about the Gouma early in the series. Guess who got turned into one, in the end?
For that matter, Maria was the one who read about Akki. She is directly involved in the rise of an Akki-like threat to the human population. Brr.
As if the above wasn't bad enough, Episode 15 aired. We learn that, after Squealer overthrew the queen, he lobotomized her and kept her solely for breeding offspring. This is incredibly terrifying, especially if you keep Tomiko's warnings and Saki's fears in mind.
And ten times more terrifying because of the implication that this is highly likely to have been Maria and Mamoru's fate as well.
Gender Flip: Maria's and Mamoru's child was a boy in the original novels. The anime adaptation, however, turned the character in question into a girl, as revealed in the series finale.
Genre Blind: The human leadership don't seem to realize that the Bakenezumi being led by Squealer are someday going to revolt against them, given how they've ousted their Queens and are quickly developing into an advanced, democratized industrial society. Only Saki, Satoru, and Tomiko seem to have an inkling of what might happen.
The audience is also spared the undoubtedly gruesome image of the doctor's head being blown off by K after the man injects the little demon with enough poison to kill him.
Grey and Gray Morality: Yakomaru's Rebellion. On one hand, it is clear that the humans view the Bakenezumi as barely sapient lifeforms who cannot possibly compare to them, presenting themselves as gods to the Bakenezumi. They are also completely willing to exterminate entire colonies that are perceived as hostile (or in any way a threat), many of which have thousandsnote Collectively, Yakomaru's colony and its allies have a population in the hundreds of thousands. This was to be destroyed. of individuals, as little more than pests. On the other hand, it's clear that Yakomaru has been planning this for years, and his motivations are questionable at best. He is also outright genocidal towards humanity, and he has no problem sending his men to die in more than one Suicide Attack. He has also slaughtered other colonies that do not ally with him.
Heroic BSOD: When Saki and co. find out the bloody history of their world in Episode 4 from the Minoshiro-modoki, they do not take it well. Especially Mamoru.
Heroic RROD: When Satoru has completely overstrained his power fighting the Earth Spider Clan, and finally contains a pair of Balloon Dog explosions, he collapses in exhaustion. Given that he's just spent two episodes fighting a war single-handedly, it's understandable.
Saki's parents burn all of the books containing classified information so that Yakomaru can't use them, despite knowing Yakomaru's forces will find them because of the smoke.
Kiroumaru lets himself be killed by Yakomaru's Akki in order to trigger her Death Feedback.
Hoist by His Own Petard: The Board of Education orders Mamoru's death for rather flimsy reasons, which causes him to run away with Maria. This leads to Maria giving birth to a child. After presumably killing them both, Squealer then raises that child to be a weapon against humanity, making a revolt possible. This rebellion gets Hiromi (the head of the Board of Education) killed.
Inverted when you consider the anime is Lighter and Softer than the original novel, which depicted sex scenes fairly graphically. There's mention of oral sex between two boys and Saki mentions that at the age of 12 she already had experience sexually pleasuring other girls (in a scene where she's trying to figure out how to pleasure Satoru, no less). That being said, it's not done for the sake of fanservice, and is described in an almost clinical manner.
Humans Are Bastards: The major theme of the story. Humans are presented as an extremely violent species, often using oppression and cruelty to get there way, or for no reason at all. They're even worse with PK, if only due to how easy Power makes everything. As such, Kamisu 66 is centered around controlling their violent impulses, as human nature alone can destroy the world again.
In the novel it's very heavily implied that the two creatures mankind is most afraid of, Akki and Gouma, are the result of a kind of genetic/evolutionary backlash against suppressing violent instincts - the emergence of Akki and Gouma turns out to be tied to traumatic events their parents experienced, by the way of unconscious, minor power leakage that influences genetics.
Hypocrite: Monster Rats took the baby Monster Rats of defeated colonies to be slaves after they defeat rival colones in battle. Not only do they not stop doing this, they then start raising human children as their Akki units. Yet preaching that they deserve equality.
On the opposite side, the humans act outraged that Monster Rats killed their friends and family. Yet they have absolutely no qualm to eradicate entire Monster Rat colonies at the slightest hints of threat, and execute freely Monster Rats for trivial "insults".
Interrupted Intimacy: In episode 5, Saki and Satoru end up engaging in sexual foreplay after getting captured. Upon remembering that humans in their time have been genetically conditioned to use sex as a stress response like Bonobos do, Saki puts it to a halt, resolving that "we're not monkeys".
Kids Are Cruel: Downplayed. Children with Power are responsible for many of the atrocities that occurred when PK first appeared, and even Group One can be callous towards others, such as threatening to rip the False Minoshiro apart or almost leaving a drowning Bakenezumi.
Kill 'em All: In the end of the series, Satoru and Saki are the only named characters to avert a brutal demise.
Killed Off for Real: As of Episode 25, Shun, his pet dog Subaru, Rijin, Maria, Mamoru, Hino, Hiromi, Fujita, Reiko, Shisei, Niimi, Saki's parents, Kiromaru, Squealer/Yakomaru, Tomiko, and Inui are all dead.
Subverted It's heavily implied that the Education Committee would have killed Saki, if not for Tomiko's intervention.
Limited Wardrobe: Spectacularly averted, with a whole wardrobe of beautifully detailed outfits for each character.
Love Dodecahedron: Mamoru has a crush on Maria who likes Saki, who loves Shun but dates Maria; meanwhile, Shun reciprocates Saki's love but is going out with Satoru, who also loves Shun. Collapses when Shun dies in the second arc; Maria and Mamoru run off into the wilderness while Satoru and Saki end up marrying by the end of the series.
Not to mention how Saki remarks in the novel that despite her longstanding crush on Shun, her strong bond with Satoru makes him the person that she is most comfortable to be with. And when she sees Shun and Satoru together, she isn't sure of whom she is actually jealous of.
More Than Mind Control: The people of Kamisu 66 are subtly brainwashed since childhood by the Board of Education and the Ethics Committee to ensure the stability of their society and prevent lethal breakouts of uncontrolled psychic power. The average member of the society would be paralyzed with fear by the very idea of crossing the Sacred Barrier without permission, for example.
Mundane Utility: People mostly use their PK abilities for extremely simple tasks, such as picking weeds or writing on a blackboard. Pretty simple stuff for a Power that has the potential to destroy continents.
Nightmare Sequence: Saki sees a nightmare in episode 16, featuring a disturbing sequence of bizzare monstrosities and a boy wit pointy ears who tells her to let Maria die.
No Heterosexual Sex Allowed: It appears that while heterosexual crushes are perfectly commonplace, teenagers are expected not to act on them, and teens who don't take a same-sex partner are seen as strange. Only after a ceremonial pairing for schoolwork they are allowed to pursue a heterosexual relationship, and most of the homosexual ones are apparently quickly dropped.
In the novel Saki does explain that intimate homosexual relationships are encouraged in adolescents, with only platonic relationships being approved for those of the opposite sex until certain age. Heterosexual sexual intercourse between adolescents, if discovered, would warrant expulsion of the individuals. It makes sense when you consider their society is one that promotes using sex as a form of stress relief even among children and also is highly regulatory of said children; it wouldn't be prudent for 12 year old kids to already be having kids themselves.
Actually to be really specific, contact between people of different sex is still permitted. The only thing that's truly forbidden is penetrative intercourse between a boy and a girl.
Not So Different: The current society is not so different from the previous slave empires. The current society mutated humans without Juryoku into bakenezumi so they can easily control them without suffering from Death Feedback.
Off Model: For episode 5 the producers brought in Shigeyasu Yamauchi (Casshern Sins) as a guest director and allow him to do everything his way. This included a radical reinterpretation of the character designs.
Passing the Torch: After receiving serious injuries from the bakenezumi attack, Tomiko realizes that she's not going to last long against Yakomaru, let alone his Akki. Because of this, she gives her position to Saki in Episode 20.
Path of Inspiration: The Buddhism that teaches the characters their mantras and control of their powers actually includes hypnosis and mantras that are used to seal people's powers where necessary.
Perfect Pacifist People: Subverted. The humans initially appear this way, but they are only like this due to extensive genetic and social conditioning. They cannot attack somebody without their own Power attacking their own bodies, for example. This pacifism also does not apply at all to the Bakenezumi, who the humans regard as mere animals that can be exterminated in the hundreds of thousands.
Person of Mass Destruction: Every human being in the world! An elaborate system of control is in place to keep people from destroying the society by accident or on a whim. Renegades who fail to follow the social norms are treated with the same degree of seriousness as armed nuclear weapons, and for a good reason.
Power Incontinence/Superpower Meltdown: Gouma are the sufferers of a mental disorder that makes them unable to properly control their power and begin to subconsciously warp everything around them, with devastating effects. Their abilities grow even stronger over time and cause even more damage. Shun develops the condition and accidentally kills his parents, destroys his village, twists the landscape and eventually secludes himself in an alternate world to record what happened to him. Eventually he dies due to an especially powerful power outburst.
Power Limiter: the human DNA has been modified to include barriers on attacking and killing other humans. The society is so devoid of aggression that the kids are completely baffled at any mention or display of it.
Properly Paranoid: The reason why the committee gets rid of some children to avoid them becoming Gouma or Akki. Indeed, Yakomaru's war against humans was only possible thanks to Mamoru and Maria defying the committee.
Zigzagged in Episode 7. Satoru realizes that General Kiroumaru might receive orders from the Ethics Committee to disappear him and Saki, prompting him to make a break for it in the middle of the night. He's right...except that Kiroumaru has no intention of following their orders, and helps them return to civilization.
Pull the Thread: When giving someone as smart as Saki Fake Memories, it's a good idea to make sure that the new memories are airtight. Otherwise, her subconscious will give her a hint, and she'll start digging until everything unravels completely.
Rat Men: The Bakenezumi are rat-faced humanoids, implied to have been altered or subconsciously evolved from normal humans using the psychokinetic powers common in the setting.
Reality Warper: Juryoku can do just about anything. In the hands of a Gouma, it does do just about anything; transforming bodies into crystals, mutating people and creatures, and transmuting poisons into harmless chemicals are some of the tamer manifestations of Power Incontinence.
Red Herring: Given what happened to Shun after he read about the Gouma, you would assume that Maria, having read about the Akki, would eventually turn into one. She is revealed to be dead in Episode 18.
She did, however, give birth to a son (a daughter in the anime) who would become an Akki. Saki was right: if Maria hadn't been born, she wouldn't have been the mother of the apocalypse.
Replacement Love Interest Ryou is suddenly a member of Group 1 and Saki's (and Satoru's former) Love Interest an episode after Shun dies, literally replacing Shun in everyone's mind. Except not really. Shun has been erased, with Ryou retconned into his former position, but neither Saki nor Satoru are actually interested in Ryou like they were with Shun.
In the novel, when Saki and Satoru end up making love after failing to retrieve Maria and Mamoru after they ran away from the village, Saki makes the realization that Satoru is actually thinking of Shun while doing it, and that she's thinking the same as well. Talk about simultaneously unsettling and depressing.
The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: During the Time Skip the Bakenezumi start getting ideas about democratic process instead tyranny of the Queens and proto-nation states that extend beyond the limits of individual nests. They seek to accomplish this by lobotomizing the Queens, effectively reducing them into mindless birthing machines, and violently persecuting the nests that refuse to go along.
Smug Super: Defied in the most disturbing way. The moment a child with PK shows even the slightest hint of smugness, he or she is dealt with. Permanently. One example is when a student cheats at a telekinetic game by pushing the ball when players are only allowed to push clay wedges around its base.
Space Amish: Though not in space, the people of Kamisu 66 follow a simple lifestyle and although they have plenty of understanding of modern technology, including the ability to generate electricity with waterwheels, they actively avoid the use of technological contraptions in favour of their innate PK powers. Flashbacks imply that they used to be more lenient with technology but changed their minds about it for some reason.
Take Over the World: Yakomaru's ultimate goal, as revealed in episode 21, is nothing less than to turn all human infants he captures into Akki, and use them to wipe out all humans from the face of the Earth.
Things That Go Bump in the Night: Nekodamashi are allegedly mythical monsters that steal away children who don't develop their Juryoku. It is an urban legend among children, and their existence is usually denied by the adults. However, there are numerous hints that there is some truth to the stories. Indeed, Saki's mother knows them to actually exist, calling them Fujoneko.
It's one of the methods the scientists use to prevent those with PK from destroying society.
Time Skip: The story follows Saki and the others during three timeskips.
Titled After the Song: The anime shares its English name with Dvořák's Symphony No. 9. This could be passed off as coincidence if not for the frequent use of the "Goin' Home" theme from the symphony's 2nd Movement ("Largo") throughout the show.
Title-Only Opening: A rare anime example of this. Even so, quite a few of the opening title cards are creative and set the right tone for their respective episodes.
Tomato Surprise: In the final episode, Saki and Satoru learn that the bakenezumi were actually descended from humans who were forcefully mutated.
Twitchy Eye: In the anime everyone in the group, Ryou included, develops this after Shun's death. Whenever they bring up topics relating to their recently falsified memories, their right eyes begin to twitch.
Uncanny Valley: In-universe: Satoru thinks that the Bakenezumi are becoming too human for comfort in Episode 15.
Unlimited Wardrobe: One of the very interesting things about Shinsekai Yori is that the characters' clothing change frequently, unlike most anime. Their hairstyles also alternate.
Un-Person: Society seems to be structured so that people who "disappear" are forgotten and never spoken of. More specifically, people who disappear under the rules of the Ethics Committee get erased from the memories of people around them, including Reiko, Saki's older sister and Shun.
Unreliable Narrator: In the novel, Saki warns the reader early on that she could be one of these; although she tries to tell her story as truthfully as she can, she admits that some facts may still be distorted as a result of her own unconscious self-justification, and also because the memory-altering she experienced throughout her life means she can't be sure if what she remembers is accurate or not (she brings up that she and Satoru have conflicting memories on certain events).
The Unreveal: In the anime: where the mutants, used by Earth Spider colony and later Yakomaru's forces come from. In the last episode, there are some taxidermied specimens on display in the museum commemorating the bakenezumi-human war, but the viewers are never shown any information about them.
In the novel it's explained that they're created by the queens applying modifications to their offspring while they are inside her body. (The queen of the Earth Spider colony was a mutant herself.) At the end Saki theorizes that this may be evidence for them having low-level Power.
Used To Be More Social: Shun distances himself from his closest friends and even moves out of his hometown because he's turning into a Karma Demon.
Weirdness Censor: Saki and her class don't seem to be too concerned that several students have gone missing and never returned. It turns out that the adults are intentionally altering the children's memories of students who have been removed in order to phase them out of any past recollections and to quell any ensuing panic that may occur if one's classmates disappeared.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Ethics & Education Committees, which will use any means necessary to prevent the creation of Fiends and Karma Demons, even if it means covertly "removing" any child that shows even the slightest hint of instability.
Wham Line: After telling her mother about seeing a Nekodamashi, Saki overhears her parents. She catches her mother saying: "I don't want to lose any more children!"
This exchange between Tomiko and Saki in Episode 14:
Tomiko: What age do I look like to you?
Saki: (beat) About 67.
Tomiko: That's an amusing guess. You got the last two digits right. I'm 267 years old.
As if Episode 18 wasn't whammy enough, Maria appears. After more or less recapping her reasons for leaving Kamisu 66, she drops this bomb:
Maria: I loved Saki. But I couldn't leave Mamoru and I could no longer live in that town anyway. And well, we can't have kids since we're both girls.
What Happened to the Mouse?: We never learn what happened to those two women who stayed behind in the hospital when an Akki was pursuing Saki and Satoru's Dwindling Party. They were planning to send someone from the town to fetch them, but things got had gotten a little out of hand by the time they got back, so the issue never really came up.
After Saki and Satoru give the Akki the slip, they notice the Akki going in another direction, which, with Saki visualizing the hospital entrance and making a half-second face of realization, implies that the Akki went back to kill them.
What Measure Is a Non-Human?: This is one of the themes of the show. For example, Kamisu 66 only gives full human rights to indviduals who are over 17 years old, while children under it can be disposed for any reason. The Akki and Gouma are perceived as inhuman monsters in spite of their very human origins. And the Bakenezumi are classified as animals in spite of their human-like intelligence and industrialised society because they don't have any psychic powers.
And they are in fact genetically engineered humans