Anime Spotlight - From the New Worldby Justin Sevakis,
Interview with Author Yūsuke Kishi
Yūsuke Kishi is an author who has written many masterpieces such as Dark Home, Locked Room, Evil Scriptures, and the Japan Science Fiction Award winning novel, From the New World. Today we're here to ask Mr. Kishi about his hopes for the upcoming anime, and about how he went about writing From the New World, a masterpiece that took over 30 years of planning.
Could you please tell us what made you decide to write this book?
I first had the idea for it over 30 years ago when I'd just entered university. It came to me after I read the book, On Aggression, published in 1970 by Australian ethologist Roland Lorenz. In his book he wrote that because humans were weak creatures to begin with, the checks against intraspecies aggression were also very weak. I took my idea from that description, and spent the next 30 years refining into this novel.
What were your reasons for setting the story 1,000 years in the future?
I was considering many time periods as possibilities, but 1,000 years in the future was the only compromise I could reach. One of my main reasons is that I wanted to depict plants and animals which had undergone an irregular evolution. To do that, 1,000 years honestly isn't enough time. It would take ten or a hundred thousand years for that, and I wanted to place it in that future, but if I did so, then elements of the story, such as the ruins of modern civilization, would not be around anymore. I researched many things, like the longevity of concrete, and 1,000 years was about the only point where they might all come together, so that's the time period I set it in.
You could have chosen to set it in a parallel world, but why didn't you?
A parallel world setting is used often in movies, novels, and other media, and I agree that it is an effective measure, but I did not want to do that for this work. I wanted the setting for this story to be a world continued and derived from our modern society, and I wanted readers to believe so as well. The novel is written as a memorandum Saki leaves for her descendants to read 1,000 years later, but at the same time it is also a message to us, her ancestors. That's how I wanted to construct the story.
What feelings do you have towards the animation of your work?
I believe that animation is likely the best way to visually depict this story. Animation is a medium that holds unlimited possibilities. Though we can use modern techniques to create many kinds of images with live photography, the viewer is always bothered by the gap between what is and isn't real. The biggest problem is when you watch a film and suddenly think, “This is special effects.” But in animation, there is no such divide.
Plus, I also think that animation is better suited to the depiction of cruelty and combat scenes. In animation it's less jarring to depict a gruesome scene shortly after making the audience laugh, than it is in live photography. And even if you depict a scene with blood spraying everywhere, it doesn't seem as grotesque or gruesome as it would in live photography.
What are your hopes for the animation of From the New World?
I hope that they take great care in depicting the “karma” that every man possesses, something I wanted to depict most in my novel. And how they try to overcome those hardships and fetters. I hope they do a good job depicting that. But after looking over the script, I don't think I have anything to worry about. I can tell they wrote it with that aspect well in mind. In fact, I don't know if I could've put it all together as well, had I written the script myself. In other respects, I leave the presentation of the animation to them. I have high hopes that their creativity will drive them to add new things not in the novel.
Any message for our audience?
I've placed the setting of this story 1,000 years in the future of our modern society, so I would like them to imagine what it would be like if they were born in this age, if they were Saki, or Satoru, as they watch this animation. If they can place themselves in the protagonists' positions as they enjoy this work, then I think it will be a wonderful visual experience.
What are some highlights in the animation, From the New World?
It depicts a world that, in some sense, is a utopia. However… (Snip)…and I hope people can enjoy their conflict and their dangerous adventure.
Stand against the false gods!
A grand tale across three volumes, of the fate of mankind after obtaining “God's Power”! An extraordinary work of entertainment, forging a new world for cinema!
The original work is a lengthy novel written by Yūsuke Kishi, and winner of the Japanese Science Fiction Award. While the award winning, critically acclaimed, and highly praised work published in 2008 gathered attention, it was claimed to be impossible to adapt to cinema due to its one-of-kind, grand story depicting a world brimming with imagination and overwhelming breadth. Yet now, four years after its publication, thanks to TV Asahi and the tag team between world renowned animation studio, A-1 Pictures and the new ace of the next Anime Generation, Director Masashi Ishihama, this work has finally been animated! The setting is the future, the protagonists, 5 young boys and girls. Their story starts when these 12 year olds begin school to learn “magic”, the power of telekinesis. Together, the five of them learn about mankind's bloodstained history, and begin their heroic, life-threatening adventure. When they finally reach 14, the spring of their youth, they find even harsher trails and shocking, heart-wrenching events lying in store for them. Then, on their 26th summer, an unexpected, unprecedented tragedy strikes mankind…?!
Humanity, with “magic”, the power of the gods, rat-beasts, a new species with the intelligence of man, and other monsters who've undergone a twisted evolution—as these forces and their plots begin to clash in this unpredictable story, the tale of our protagonists spreads across three eras and books. Yet beneath this thrilling adventure lie deep themes about the driving forces in life.
Here is the birth of an extraordinary piece of entertainment, unlike any before-a new world, a new age in animation.
VA: Risa Taneda
Saki is a new student at the magic school, “Saint Academy”. Once she joins Saint Academy, she hangs out with Satoru, Maria, and Shun, her friends from Wakien Elementary School, as well as Mamoru, her new classmate. While she's not shy, she is sensitive and delicate. Both of her parents hold important offices in the city, her father serving as Mayor, and her mother as head librarian.
VA: Kanako Tōjō
Satoru has been friends with Saki since they were little. He has an outspoken personality, and is unafraid to speak bluntly. He often argues with Saki. While he doesn't mean ill by it, he tends to exaggerate things when he talks, so often people mistake him for boasting when he's trying to be serious.
VA: Kana Hanazawa
Maria is Saki's best friend and a beautiful girl with pale, white skin and blazing red hair. She's very strong willed, and commands the weak, quiet Mamoru, but in times of need she devotes herself to protecting him. On the other hand, she does show a girlish fear of scary stories too.
After joining Saint Academy and being put in the same class as Saki, he follows them around. He's a very shy boy, and rarely voices his own thoughts and opinions. Meanwhile, he feels very comfortable with the relationship between him and Marina, who leads him around.
VA: Mai Todo
Another one of Saki's childhood friends. Shun is very clever, with a strong intellectual curiosity and mature manner. His marks in magic are excellent at Saint Academy, and many have high hopes for his future. Despite his position, he is never boastful, and he's also kind and friendly to everyone. Both his friends and teachers trust him well.
Squealer is an emissary from Shioya-abu Colony, a group of rat-beasts obedient to humans. Naturally, he understands human speech, but he's also eloquent and a quick thinker. He protects Saki and the others when they get caught up in a conflict between rat-beasts outside the town, but he's also calculating, and it's hard to know what he's thinking.
- Saki Watanabe
- Risa Taneda
- Satoru Asahina
- Kanako Tōjō
- Marina Akiduki
- Kana Hanazawa
- Mamoru Ito
- Haruka Kudō
- Shun Aonuma
- Mai Todo
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