About Shinsekai yori (From the New World)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Sep, 2012 – Mar, 2013
After a surprising and sudden outbreak of psychic powers in a small part of the human population, the world turned into a horribly violent wasteland. After 100 years, the psychic humans have been able to create a somewhat stable society, isolated from everyone else in the world, and forcing their citizens to follow very strict rules. However, not everything is peaceful as Saki Watanabe discovers when she turns 12 and awakens her own powers. Sure, she gets to go to study at the Sage Academy with her friends, but then she discovers terrible rumors about those who aren’t able to make their powers work, and the abduction of others by the creatures known as Tainted Cats.
Liked Shinsekai Yori? Watch Houseki no Kuni (Land of the Lustrous)!
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct, 2017 – Dec, 2017
In the world of Houseki no Kuni, there are no humans. Instead, humanoid gems called the Lustrous live in it. Everyone has a specific purpose in life, with different skills and characteristics due to their own nature, and in general live in peace as they all are immortal, so any conflict can be solved with time. Not only that, but if they get broken for any reason, their own nature allows them to heal quickly. Phosophopylite, or Phos, for short, has been assigned to create a natural history of their world, despite their wishes to become a warrior and help battle the lustrous’ only enemy: The Lunarians; heavenly creatures who often kidnap gems to destroy them and turn them into jewelry.
Three Major Similarities Between Shinsekai Yori and Houseki no Kuni
1. There’s a dark truth behind the abductions.
As Saki starts studying in the Sage Academy, there’s nothing she fears more than being taken by the Tainted Cats. And there’s a good reason for that: the Tainted Cats are fast, cruel killers that leave absolute no evidence of the bodies of those who are taken. It’s not until much, much later, that she figures out the truth is even worse: The Tainted Cats are not acting randomly, and there’s a reason why the children taken are the ones who have failed to keep their powers under control. Once Saki finds that out, everything we knew about the story changes completely.
In Houseki no Kuni, the Lustrous are really kidnapped and turned into jewelry to decorate the Moon where the Lunarians live, which is pretty horrifying on it’s own. But it takes a more horrifying turn when Phos discovers the reason why the Lunarians are doing this: It’s not greed, nor vanity. It is all part of a very old grudge between Lunarians and the leader of the Lustrous, Adamant, and once Phos finds the truth, we, as watchers, may find ourselves siding with the Lunarians on this particular event.
2. There’s a dark secret behind everything
As Saki painfully discovers, nothing in her idyllic life is quite that happy. It’s not only that in her school you can get killed by not being good enough: at some point she even finds out that everyone in town is being slowly brainwashed to keep the peace by assuring that no one will rebel because, say, the government decided to kill their child and make them forget about them. But the worst part is that some people could say that the government is right, especially as we find out how Saki’s world came to be, and what happened when an out of control psychic decided that they could kill everyone. At least until we find out the truth behind the antagonist’s hate towards humans.
Phos, just like Saki, has a very naïve outlook on life at the beginning of the story. And then they start realizing that things aren’t as simple as thinking that Lunarians are evil and Gems are good. One may think Phos has less justification as Saki for being surprised, since she’s 12 and Phos is 300 at their respective beginnings, but Phos never had a reason to question what was going on. But once they start questioning the Adamant Sensei’s rules and regulations, and start putting two and two together regarding the Lunarians, the Lustrous and the other race they share a planet with, the Admirabillis, things get more complicated. It is also then when we find out that their world is Earth, in the future after an apocalypse, and that Adamant’s actions have been causing the war between Lunarians and Lustrous for almost 10,000 years. To Phos’ horror, that’s not the worst thing they discover during the story.
3. Gender and sexuality are discussed, but not the focus of the story
One of the most refreshing things in Shinsekai Yori is that despite the problems that their society has, and the tight control that the government has on its subjects, sexuality has become far more open than it is in our times. Bisexuality is the norm, and we find out in a very casual way, when Saki dates her friend Mary, and her friends Shun and Satoru dated each other. Much later, after Shun is no longer in the picture, Saki and Satoru marry each other.
The Lustrous, on the other hand, have no gender. They are very androgynous in looks, and have romantic relationships, but gender doesn’t enter the picture at all. This not exclusive to then, the Lunarians don’t have genders either even if some of them look more male than female, and the Admirabillis have genders –which is explained when we find out the connection between the three races. What is refreshing is that in both stories,this is part of the story, but not the absolute focus of it.
Liked Shinsekai Yori? Watch Kujira no Kora wa Sajou ni Utau (Children of the Whales)!
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct, 2017 – Dec, 2017
Chakuro is only 14 years old, but he is the archivist of the Mud Whale, an ever-moving island that keeps sailing in an apparently endless sea of sand. He’s one of the “marked” ones, and has powers that, unfortunately, are very difficult for him to contain, so he tries to focus and just give in to his other compulsion: writing everything he sees. He also knows that, as a marked one, he will live a short life, but he doesn’t mind. For a long time, the Mud Whale’s inhabitants thought they were alone in the world, until the day that Chakuro finds a drifting island almost as big as Mud Whale, and a mysterious girl that will make him question everything he knows.
Three Major Similarities Between Shinsekai Yori and Children of the Whales
1. There are powers after the apocalypse, but they’re more of a curse than a blessing.
One of the main driving forces in the plot of Shinsekai Yori is that some humans got powers and caused the Apocalypse. These powers are also the reason why the people of Kamisu 66 live in some isolation, and why children are studying at the Sage Academy: to make sure that no one loses control, or worse, falls prey to their subconscious violent urges and becomes an Akki. These powers are somewhat vaguely described, but are mostly telekinetic. We never find out what caused humanity to suddenly have powers, but as the story advances, we realize that those powers are a heavy burden, and have caused humans to do some terrible things in the hopes of stopping even more terrible things from happening.
Most of the people in the Mud Whale are marked ones, people able to use telekinesis, or, as they call it, Thymia. This power allows them to move objects, but not other people. Not only that, but it takes a lot of energy from each user, to the point that none of the Marked ones live past their 30th birthday. Not only that, but it’s hard to control; to the point that whenever Chakuro uses his thymia, he is more prone to destroying things than to control them in some useful form. Later we find out that one of the many reasons why the Mud Whale people are so different is because they didn’t want to lose their emotions, and this is probably tied to why their Marked ones are far more powerful than those from outside the Island.
2. You can’t trust authority.
One of Saki’s biggest shocks is when she discovers the truth behind the Tainted Cat’s abductions because she realizes that it means that the Council of Ethics, which is supposed to protect people, is actually sending them to kill young people. Of course, there’s a good reason for that, as they can’t risk an Akki’s awakening, and they can’t kill another human being without risking Death Feedback. This also makes her very distrustful, with reason, of the council, as she realizes that nothing they tell her is a complete truth, and that her whole society is built on lies.
Chakuro faces a similar dilemma when the Allied Empire attacks and he realizes that the Council of Elders’ plan to avoid being enslaved is to sink the whole island because it’s better to be dead than to submit to the Empire. On the other hand, the Empire’s inhabitants don’t have it better as their own government has convinced them to sacrifice their emotions to creatures called Nous, in order to use said creatures to move in the Sea of Sand. While things seem to get better once a new Mayor is put in power for Chaukro and the people in the Mud Whale, the allied Empire still has many secrets.
3. Utopia comes with a high price tag.
Despite the horrible things that happen to Saki and her friends, one can’t deny that the life in Kamisu 66 is pretty close to perfect. While the Tainted Cats’ attacks are terrifying, they’re also rare enough that they have become an urban legend; there’s no poverty, no homeless people. There’s also no civil unrest, and people are happy. Unfortunately, said society only came about 100 years after most of the population of the world was decimated by out of control children with psychokinesis, and some really gruesome genetic experiments done to make sure that the whole “man shall not kill man” that was imposed after the original massacre would only count if you thought the other looked human enough.
The origins of the Mud Whale’s society are equally horrifying. Yes, people lived in peace, even if most of them had very short lives, before the Allied Empire arrived. Everyone had a purpose, and the Council of Elders seemed benign. But that all comes crashing down when you find out that the reason why they are living separated from the world is because they didn’t want to sacrifice their emotions to the Nous, who move the sand ships and give humans the ability to use Thymia. Since the Mud Whale can move through the sea of sand, and its inhabitants can use Thymia, you realize that, of course, their particular Nous must be feeding off of something else. Once you, and Chakuro, make the leap in logic that is required to figure out what the Nous is eating, the happiness they have in the island doesn’t seem like a good exchange.