Being an anime fan at the moment is fun. The Autumn season has really upped the ante, with two series in Shin Sekai Yori (From the New World) and Psycho-Pass proving fascinating in different ways.
I’ve already written about Shin Sekai Yori. It’s a series that stole my heart almost as soon as it appeared, through its dark narrative and shifting visuals. A few years ago, I wrote a couple of emotive posts about Casshern Sins: the director of that series, Shigeyasu Yamauchi, has a very distinctive and surreal style, and he’s now directing episodes (5 & 10) of Shin Sekai Yori. While many may have been disappointed by his efforts, personally, I love them.
Yamauchi’s presence best emphasises what’s so exciting about Shin Sekai Yori: be it a huge twist in the story, or a strange piece of animation, I never know what’s coming next, but can rely on it being good. It’s a rare sense of confidence one only discovers in the very best of anime.
The other series I mentioned above was, of course, Psycho-Pass. This was something of a slow starter. The first anime to be written by Gen Urobuchi post Madoka, expectations were always going to be stupidly high, but after its first episode rode out something of a collective back-slash, it’s become an ever-dependable watch. A rare thing indeed: a serious, adult, disturbing science-fiction story with top-tier TV animation. It’s the spiritual successor to Stand Alone Complex, and given how many people (and count me amongst them!) would love a third season of that, we’re honestly getting it already with Psycho-Pass.
This post is itself is being written before the afterimage of episode 9 fades, in which we meet a (murderous) man on the brink of immortality and contemplating what it means to be human in a world dominated by technology: he’s 90% cybernetic, only his brain remains of his old, flesh body. Later on in the same episode, we meet a retired crime lecturer who quit his old job because his classes were deemed too dangerous for his students’ state of mind: Psycho-Pass is set within a world where even the thought of violence could condemn one to execution.
It’s a series with a cold, calculating, almost metallic, style, the polar opposite to Shin Sekai Yori’s desperate appeal to the heart, yet they complement each other beautifully. I’m hard pressed to choose a favourite between them, but what I can say, though, is that alongside Hyouka, they represent the very best of anime in 2012. I hope you’re watching them, too.