Analyzing From The New World
From the New World takes place in a rich and deep world. Parts of this world are still shrouded in mystery, but as the episodes go by the series slowly unravels its secrets. Thankfully we have now reached a point in the story in which we can finally start piece together what we have seen and understand a considerable part of the bigger picture. Here’s an in-depth analysis of some key elements shown in the first 9 episodes of From the New World. (warning: some early episodes’ spoilers up ahead).
The “Going Home” Song and the Series Name
Each evening as the sun is about to set a melody is played in the village using an old gramophone and the towns’ community speakers. This melody is referred by the people as the Going Home melody and signifies that the day is about to end and they must return to their houses. The melody played is in fact the second movement (Largo) of Symphony No. 9 in E Minor From the New World, which was composed in 1893 by the Czech composer Antonín Dvorák. The name of the series – From the New World – is a reference to this symphony. In Japan Symphony No. 9, with a Japanese chorus, is traditionally performed throughout the country during the New Year’s celebrations.
Symphony No. 9 in E Minor From the New World By Antonín Dvorák (the second movement starts around 12:58 minutes mark).
The second movement of The New World with vocals by Ayahi Takagaki.
Genetic Engineering and the Bonobo Society
As the false minoshiro explains to the children during the 4th episode scientists have genetically altered the human genomes in order to reduce violence and other stressful behavior in society. The genetic alterations were made in part to give human society the benefits found in Bonobo society. Bonobos are a type of great apes that can vent anger and anxiety through sexual behavior. This behavior is not restricted to interactions with the opposite sex and can also include sexually stimulating skinship that does not lead to sexual intercourse. The children in The New World exhibit bonobo-like tendencies in several episodes. In episode 5, when Satoru and Saki are captured by the Queerats, their instincts lead them to try and relief their anxiety using sexual behavior despite their young age of 12. Later on when the children move to their adolescences stage this sexual behavior is magnified. However, unlike the bonobo society, human society includes the notions of shame and intimacy. Perhaps because of that some of the children find it easier to cling to their close same-sex friend and are naturally attracted to them. Saki for example is shown rubbing Maria’s breasts despite being consciously in love with Shun and harboring no romantic feelings for Maria. This strongly suggests that some (if not most) of the genetically altered children go through a false-homoerotic period that fades away as they reach adulthood.
Another interesting detail about the Bonobos is that they tend to split into small groups during the day but will come back to sleep together at night. It might be the case that the genetically altered humans in The New World are naturally attracted back to their villages and towns come night. The Going Home melody might only be a musical signal that overlaps with an inherent natural instinct all humans in The New World now have.
Similar to the humans the Queerats seem to be a genetically engineered species. Their ability to speak makes it highly possible that the Queerats are in fact of human origin. They might be the result of failed experiments conducted on humans, or the offsprings of humans who were inflicted with some type of mutating decease. The Queerats don’t seem to have any biological mechanism to prevent them from harming humans but nonetheless worship the humans as gods due to the humans’ inherent psychic powers (Cantus) which they themselves lack.
In episode 7 Satoru suspects the Ethics Committee might command the Queerats to kill him and Saki because of what the two of them had seen. However Satoru’s suspicion goes against the Queerats’ common logic. The tamed Queerats perceive all humans as gods on an equal basis and strongly believe they cannot physically be killed. The fear from the humans’ godly powers is what keeps them subjected to the humans. If the Queerats were to realize that the humans are not gods nothing will restrain them from rebelling against the humans. The Ethic Committee is well aware of that fact and thus use deformed cats to hunt “problematic humans” instead.