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Shin Sekai Yori and the Broken Dream of Perfection

Is there a difference between utopia and dystopia? The two concepts have gained tremendous popularity over the past century as a key thematic element in the both written and filmed mediums. However, both models seem to be much closer connected than one would initially think. On one hand, utopia requires a significant amount of sacrifice on both the humane and societal fronts in order to retain an apparent form of cohesion. While on the other hand, dystopias a noted for the lack of humanity and freedoms in order to keep society in line. We must ask ourselves, do the ends justify the means, or they even matter at all when we differentiate the two?

In Shin Sekai Yori we are presented with the community of Kamisu 66 which may at first seem to be the idyllic version of a utopia, but the sacrifices required to retain the community’s cohesion strips us of any such notions. A culture of fear, restricted access to knowledge and brutal slavery all tarnish the notions that Kamisu 66 is the utopia that it first appears to be. Instead, we witness that the sacrifices required to keep the appearances of a utopian dream far outweigh the ends of such a vision.

In the end, the case of Shin Sekai Yori demonstrates that the line between utopia and dystopia is blurred to the point where to differentiate the two becomes a matter of perspective. And that ultimately, the utopian dream is simply unachievable due to simple human nature and all the needs it entails.

  • An interesting read. I must confess, I often think that whether a world is dystopian or utopian depends on the perspective of the characters. For the oppressed, dystopia fits, but if there are ruling classes, they may view it as utopian from their position. – mattdoylemedia 8 years ago
  • Do you mean "the utopian dream is simply unachievable" as something that is impossible to create a unanimous consensus on from all possible perspectives? – ZeroReq011 8 years ago
  • In a nutshell, yes. I simply attempt to argue that the means by which a theoretical utopia are achieved work against the ends of the project. Or in other words, the sacrifices required to achieve a form of social/economic/cultural cohesion that we would label utopia are actually counterproductive towards the intended goals. With this being the case, what necessarily differentiates a utopia from a dystopia? Not much, it really comes down to which side of the fence you find yourself. – CheesyJ 8 years ago

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