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If I'm going to remember Shin Sekai Yori for something superficial, then it would be how it didn't have an OP for two episodes straight. At least it had a ED.
There's something that makes Shin Sekai Yori reminiscent of the Winter season's Another. A sinister feel exists and there is an ongoing mystery involving disappearing children but at the same time there is a strong slice-of-life element with a hint of romance in this episode. I don't reject the mixing of genres, but I'm wary whenever a series decides to mix up so many of them and it's my belief that this series isn't handling it all that well.
The clutter that is the mixture of all these different genres, makes it hard to see what type of this series Shin Sekai Yori will be and that's a little troubling. Not everything has to be revealed by the second episode but by adding romance and a more prominent slice-of-life plot to the story, it makes it harder to look at Shin Sekai Yori as a horror-mystery with a heavy science-fiction focus.
Even with its messiness, I will give the series respect for its narration style. The use of any narrative is either a hit or a miss depending on the individual and the style of the narrative can be a huge factor in deciding that, but Shin Sekai Yori makes use of 3 different narrative tools: flashbacks, voice-over and the stories told in each episode.
Each of these narrative techniques add a little flavour to the episodes in their own way, and in this episode there was a nice balance between the three. I've made my peace with the flashbacks as they are here to stay, though the second episode toned down their use drastically, and I've come to like the cautionary tales they read out loud in class. To be honest, the stories they read in class have more horror in them than the rest of the episode does.
So far the anime has been intriguing, and has delivered two solid episodes worthy of attention but I still rest a little uneasy. There is potential for something great and I do think we're building up to it but the continued slice-of-life road which this series is venturing down doesn't feel like the most exciting. At this point in time, Shin Sekai Yori doesn't feel like an award-winning science-fiction story, it feels like a horror story and eastern equivalent to films such as The Wicker Man.
I'm not fully convinced yet that the series is utilising its potential. I'm enjoying it, but deep down I want it to shock me and throw me off-balance.