I wonder how many people saw the above gif and decided to watch Shinsekai Yori because of it supposed yaoi themes. After marathoning 11 episodes in roughly one day, I can safely say this: Just because Shinsekai Yori contain scenes like these:
Doesn’t mean that this is a yaoi or yuri anime. (In fact, the yaoi scenes between Shun and Satoru last barely 5 minutes and it only appears within one episode; Episode 8 to be exact.) This is because the main focus of the anime isn’t characterisation: it’s the utopia/dystopia theme that is similarly executed by No.6. The characterisation is particularly paltry and 2 dimensional: there is rarely any characterisation growth at all, the fast forward of 4 years into the future gave them entirely different characterisations without the viewer having any particular insight to why or how they changed the way they are. However, what is particularly convenient about this lack of characterisation is this: from a metanarrative perspective, the 2-dimensionality is fundamentally part of the storyline as well. All the hypnotism and memory erasing motifs are a more prominent plotline which justifies their lack of character growth. (One can’t develop as a person if you keep forgetting what person you are or used to be.) I rarely get contented with superficial personalities running the whole show but this time, the lack of characterisation is premised and required for the plot structure to work so I’ll let this one go.
Utopia/Dystopia Setting: You’ll Never Look at a Bonobo the Same Way Again.
In university, I was reprimanded by my professor for cramping too many major ideas within a 10 page, double spaced essay. Any one of these ideas, he said, who have been sufficient but by cramping in 3 major themes within an essay ended up with me not doing any justice to any of them. This analogy can be said for Shinsekai Yori: it has many ambitious themes, all of which failed to have sufficient airtime to flesh it out in its full glory. Remember the story of the molerats, their oppression and tribal communities and distrustful nature, only to be discarded by the 8th episode? Or the Huxleyian utopic control of sex and hypnotism to reduce crowd aggression and antagonistic behaviour, raised only to trigger certain fanservice moments? Or what about the themes of ethics and morality, which at the end of the day, is only an ideological system perpetuated by the people in power in order to regulate and control society as a whole? Or the psychoanalytic discourse on the subconscious and how one’s capabilities may exceed his or her own control? ANY one of these ideas will make for a brilliant 24 episode arc anime but at this moment, the pacing is too rushed for any form of elaboration or thematic developments to occur.
I will continue watching the show because the premises are at the least, interesting and there are certain moments that definitely do carry and define the anime emotionally and thematically. Too bad there arnt more of those scenes. But let’s stop calling this a yaoi anime: homosexuality is not a prevalent theme and homosexual relationships are not the main, nor the secondary focus of the anime at all.
Rating: 7/10 (Promising, I expect more to come.)