This R-Rated Science Fiction & Horror Anime Is Perfect for Fans of Psycho-Pass

In an idyllic sunset scene, children play capture the flag, arguing about whether it should be a tie or a surrender as the opening notes of Dvorak's "New World Symphony" play in the distance to summon them home. They shout their goodbyes and wave as they disappear in various directions, mere silhouettes against the rolling landscape. By the end of the episode, one of their friends will be dead -- and none of the others will realize it.

Mixing myth with mystery, sci-fi and history, From the New World is a stellar work of science fiction and horror, gradually unraveling the secrets of its world with a mounting terror for both the protagonists and audience. However, due to the show starting with child characters and having a more whimsical -- though gorgeous -- animation style, it is often overlooked as a dystopia but is the perfect anime for fans who enjoyed Psycho-Pass, Wonder Egg Priority or Serial Experiments Lain.

From the New World

From the New World's premise is simple. In 2011, individuals began to develop telekinetic powers, which were used not for bending spoons but for breaking into apartments for a murder spree -- or taking revenge on coworkers by making them explode. Though only 0.03% of humans developed these powers, with no way to stop them, the world's population was reduced to 2% of what it was. A whole era passed with endless bloodshed until, a thousand years after the first case of telekinesis, a small group of people established villages where their powers could be controlled and allow residents to live peacefully -- at a cost.

Saki Watanabe's village is a perfect place to grow up, though the world is not without its dangers. Ogres and karmic demons exist outside the protective barriers while the Trickster Cat is known to snatch children from their beds, though her parents say that's a myth. She has five (no, four) good friends, but their sense of security is shattered when the group comes across a sentient library known as a 'minoshiro.'

The minoshiro reveals the origin of their power, shocking them with the fact that a human could kill another human. The concept is completely alien to them, demonstrating just how deeply this society has managed to infiltrate and change human nature. Just as shockingly, the villages rely on grooming in schools as well as genetic manipulation to prevent people from using their power on each other. This is done by creating a guilt syndrome that will kill someone they recognize as also human by shutting down internal functions until they, too, die for their sin.

Inspired by bonobo apes, a species with a tendency for physical affection, great compassion was also programmed into this new society. People will seek out sexual relations instead of lashing out in anger, and tend to use touch as a way of physically reassuring someone. It's a simple concept that can become rather sickening considering there is no constriction to age difference -- and that sexual contact may never have been sought out otherwise, such as when Saki and her friend begin to act intimately when in a dangerous situation at the age of 12.

From the New World

However, the most terrifying truth in From the New World is that Saki and her friends go through their childhoods forgetting the ones who disappear around them -- because they are culled in an attempt to prevent ogres and karmic demons from existing. These creatures are not monsters of folktales, but people who were corrupted by their power and unable to be stopped. In the newfound attempt to prevent them from being created, this perfect society is willing to sacrifice any child it sees as the slightest threat.

Whether a child is too powerful and likely to grow proud, or too weak and likely to grow jealous, their lives are forfeit for the greater good. So to Saki, it is her society that threatens her life more than any ogre. How she and her friends will be shaped by this knowledge and what more they learn about the world around them will determine which of them, if any, will survive.

From the New World clips along at a fast pace, always keeping the story charging forward and full of new developments, perfect for a binge watch over the holiday for anyone looking for something a little darker and thought-provoking. Its story is a perfect example of psychic powers used in unsuspecting and clever ways instead of powering through obstacles. The plot twists keep coming as viewers wonder how many more of those six children are going to suddenly disappear -- and which of them may become the monsters they've been running from.

From the New World can be streamed on Crunchyroll.

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