I quite like dystopian fiction. Sometimes it is interesting to just watch and take the vision of the future in. I love the stories that give the dystopian situation and a bit of explanation, about how things got the way they are now. Of course most stories have to do that. Maybe not so much in explaining, but more so in making the person think about the situation. In the following post I’ll take a look at two anime shows that are set in a dystopian society with the hope that you’ll check them out later! (They are called “Shinsekai Yori” and “Psycho-Pass”)
Sometimes that dystopian situation ain’t so bad at all. Take “Brave New World” for example. From our, free, perspective the whole deal sounds horrible, but if you were one of those workers you wouldn’t care. You wouldn’t know anything else and you’d be really happy with yourself. You wouldn’t have any other needs then to work. From our perspective it sucks quite a bit. I don’t think they care or even know how to care though. I bet there are a lot of really happy people working in those factories!
It isn’t so much about people being happy. I like to try to understand why things got the way they are now.
I spend the better part of today watching anime, two shows in particular. One is called Shinsekai Yori and the other “Psycho-Pass”. Both are really good shows and they both take place in a dystopian future of this world. I’d say that the setting is definitely one of the stronger points in the series. I like the characters and the story itself, but the setting is not only a huge part of the story, but also very interesting on its own.
The setting or the background is a conflict on its own that interferes and influences the characters.
Let me describe both worlds really quick!
“Shinsekai Yori” takes place in a future world where telepathic powers started to emerge. They changed the society dramatically as the people who were able to use such powers quickly took out almost everyone who wasn’t able to use those powers. There was a bit of a war there and the people who are able to utilize those powers live in small colonies around Japan. I don’t know much about the rest of the world in that story.
They call their power “Cantus”. To be able to control that power in humans, because obviously it is quite a dangerous thing, they genetically engineered the newer generations in various ways. One is that they suffer internal wounds when using their powers on another human being. They are psychologically and genetically engineered to not be able to harm humans. The other has something to do with Bonobos and their sexual behaviors. It makes for quite interesting situations as the characters find to each other in sexual ways when they are in distress.
We have a society then in which humans are granted their human rights as soon as they are 17 years old, which makes it possible to dispose of them if they are younger and seem to pose a threat to the rest of society. Yes, most are conditioned to not be able to harm other people, but there are chances of breaking that wall and the so called fiends are a immense danger to everyone else as they are not able to fight back due to their conditions.
Another danger is the fact that some people leak “Cantus” into the world. That is the easy way of explaining it. The “Cantus” then works like radiation and can cause mutations and death around the person who can not freely control his or her power. Those people also disappear very quickly.
After a child disappears the memories of them are purged from the minds of their fellow students through intensive hypnosis.
So we have a world in which you get your human rights at the age of 17 and are at the mercy of some committee before that. We also have a society that has gone back to the middle ages in some respects of technology but is able to do many a thing through their mental powers.
“Psycho-Pass” introduced a system of the same name. Through Technology they have been able to analyze the soul of a person and thus judge if they are going to be a criminal or not. Their crime efficiency in measured and judged. There is also a system in place that tells people what they are best made out to be. There is no free will in there anymore as people are urged to do what they supposedly were born to do. If they act against that their “Psycho-Pass” could get clouded which would result in exclusion from society.
We have two very different situations here. If plausible or not they are both dystopian if only because the free will of the people is of small importance in both societies. Both sacrifice that over security and survival of the human race. It is a fascinating premise. In Shinseki Yori little children are killed because the possibility is there for them to become the killers of thousands of fellow humans. Psycho-Pass will point a gun at you and a system will judge if you are to be killed or only to be stunned based on your thoughts and your soul. Both systems split the society in two bases. One will be happy, because they live safe and sound. The other will be miserable, be it because their friends disappear and they don’t know why or because they are stuck in a situation that wasn’t their choice. They are trying to do what they think is right, cross a line and end up on the wrong side of the law.
It is weird because the reasoning in both situations is understandable. We all want to survive and we all want to find the things we should are made to do in life. In some way at least. And less crime is a good thing right? The prize is important and I guess we are fortunate to be able to see those things from our particular perspective.
I hope I made a bit of point here. I also hope you’ll check out those two shows and try to not only enjoy their stories but also think about them a bit. They are great show deserving more than a thought for pretty faces and big eyes!
Shinsekai Yori airs on Crunchyroll while Psycho-Pass airs at funimation.com. Both are available through paid subscriptions or other means. I recommend UTW for Shinsekai Yori.