From the New World Volume 2

With Saki’s memories of Shun fading, she and Satoru find themselves in a race to find Maria and Mamoru before the Committee condemns them to destruction. But the clock is turning against them in more ways than one, as the smouldering conflicts between the rat colonies threaten to erupt into open warfare. As pivotal pieces in a deadly endgame designed to wipe an entire species from the face of the planet, it’s not going to be enough for Saki and Satoru to merely survive. To lead the best laid plans of both rats and men astray, they’ll have to uncover the final secrets to two hidden worlds and turn them against their makers.

The first three episodes of Part 2 are the strongest of the series; the pace slows down to a bearable speed, and since the plot at that point has a clear focus on what it’s doing, they’re the easiest to watch without continuously scratching your head. It also allows for some of the earlier revelations to finally sink in and the characters for minor development, both of which had no time to do so previously. The latter half of the episodes on Disc 2 also manage to build tension effectively to a satisfying conclusion, using a lot of the pieces it gently put into place in previous episodes to form a hard hitting and well devised ending.

On the other hand it’s a still a testing watch as there’s huge potential here for a fantastic and deep story; the themes of evolution, importance of one’s history and free thought are brilliantly woven together. Saki’s overall arc could have been a true highlight in anime history, and perhaps this story worked better in the original novel, however in the anime it’s buried under terrible pacing, lack of character development and bad storytelling.

Despite the first few episodes of Part 2 giving the illusion that it’s finally done with racing ahead, it’s blasted back to a breakneck speed in Episode 17 where it skips to twelve years later, incredibly jarring against the foreboding dark tone the previous episode ended on. It’s in Episode 17 that the real backbone of the plot starts to unravel and those who managed to pay close attention can click all the pieces together as the mutant rats’ origins begin to unfold and Saki’s world unravels. But if you haven’t grasped all of the previous hints then a lot of the latter half will be even more confusing than before, with the story speed refusing any pauses to catch up. What’s worse is that the threads it had been weaving at that point were so harshly placed before and just as quickly ignored due to its haste, and yet the series just expects you to remember each and every one like they were important. If they were so significant then why did the series felt the need to clearly ignore them before? The most unforgivable is Saki’s and Maria’s relationship, episode 16 tries so hard to tug on the heart strings that their relationship was so deep and meaningful with sorrowful music playing over a montage, but nothing in the previous episodes gave hints at such depths outside of exposition dialogue and the meaningless sex scene in Part 1.   

Then there’s (presumably) future Saki’s narration; this was present in the first half of the story but it’s noticeably badly placed in the second half. In the first few episodes the narration is mute, but then randomly appears again in episode 16. The narration’s purpose bounces from explaining away the sudden jumps in logic, scene or glossing over gaping plot holes, to continuously hinting at something bigger to come, as if to say; “Please keep watching, something amazing will happen soon! We promise you’ll like it!”

The last point of contention is the magic and world building; it continues to be extremely under used and barely explained. The show constantly throws random powers and objects at the viewer to simply be used in that scene or moment to move the plot forward with no build up at all and only to get completely forgotten about in the next. For example in Episode 20 we’re introduced to mutant fish; giant whale-size creatures that spray black mist that’s able to create huge explosions. It’s used to build drama for that scene and split the characters up; the creatures never appear again or were discussed prior to that scene. Next episode we’re suddenly transported underwater with a submarine, again never mentioned before (in fact they make it clear previously that any mode of transportation outside of walking or using canoes to travel up streams is unheard of) and also made redundant a few episodes later when two characters walk underwater using magic to create an air bubble around their heads. Maybe the submarines are only available in certain towns, maybe certain magic users can create such air bubbles. The point to be made is that because none of it is properly explained it creates mind melts where you just can’t understand why some characters fear crossing a river in one episode when they seem to have powers of gods the next. Inconsistency causes the most plot holes in this series, despite the possibly to fix them.

DVD extras include a clean closing for the new closing song (which thankfully is updated and used in the DVD menus for this set), Japanese promos and various promos for MVM properties.

The faults of the many sadly outweigh the few good elements of From the New World. A large chunk of confusion built up in the first half of the series is admittedly answered in Part 2 but with unrelatable characters and scenarios for the majority of time with little to no explanation for half of their actions creates a very exasperating and distant experience. For those who are willing to be patient and forgiving of its faults may find more to love in this series than I did but for me it was 24 episodes worth of wasted potential. 

5 / 10

darkstorm

By day, I work in the television industry. By night, I'm a writer for Anime UK News. Twitter: @lilithdarkstorm

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