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Shin Sekai Yori – 08 »« Shin Sekai Yori – 06

Shin Sekai Yori – 07

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「夏闇」 (Natsu Yami)
“Summer Darkness”

While I’ve been greatly engaged by Shin Sekai Yori’s narrative over the last few weeks, I don’t think I’ve been this engaged by it emotionally until now. It wasn’t until that brief moment of respite when the kids finally reunited that it hit me just how well the show gripped me with its tense atmosphere in this latest few episodes. And the intensity never really lets up here, throwing Saki and Satoru into the midst of a harrowed retreat from the Ground Spider armies, then a triple-cross betrayal from Squealer (who I’ll get to in a bit) and finally into the arms of a queerat army that might very well kill them after saving them. So much of the show has been fraught with tension that when Saki and Satoru finally reunited with the rest of the gang, the sense of relief really connected with me. And the moment when they learned their juryokus could be returned was a small moment of triumph in a show where the emotion rarely appears, and the jubilation of the kids was infectious. It’s a moment where I realised just how well Shin Sekai Yori had me immersed, when I could feel that same uplifting joy they did. (However short-lived it was.)

On the narrative side, the twisting motives of the queerats were the main draw of this episode. Squealer and the Robber Fly queerats have already been painted in ambiguous light before, and his triple-crossing behavior comes as little surprise, especially when it’s later shown that his desire might’ve been the larvae and captives of the defeated Ground Spider tribe taken as slaves. Why he continued to follow Saki and Satoru after accomplishing this objective is unclear, but his stalking presence takes on an unnerving quality here, especially after seeing his nature in the episode. We’re also introduced to the Giant Hornet tribe, said to be the largest tribe and the most loyal to humans in the region, as well as its commander Kiromaru. (Hirata Hiroaki) They are purported to be the lapdogs of the Ethics Committee, and it’s inferred that they were ordered to hunt down the kids. Kiromaru finds them using his scouts and instead of killing them, tows them back to the safety of their village region – which according to him is reason enough to have him executed, possibly for defying the order – but it’s not made clear why he took such a risk. Perhaps it was out of nobility, which seems to be the kind of characterization Kiromaru is gunning for, or perhaps even gratitude, specifically to Satoru for shielding Kiromaru against the Ground Spider commander’s suicidal blowdog attack. (Again, I’m thrilled by how creative and visceral these attacks are carried out.) But one thing’s for sure: This won’t be the last we’ll see of the Queerats and their ambiguous motives.

As the first act winds down, I feel now’s a good time for a small retrospective, in anticipation of where the show will be taking us next. These first seven episodes did a remarkable job in establishing a solid foundation for Shin Sekai Yori’s story to take off. If there’s one thing I’m really loving about the show up until this point, it’s about how much time and effort went building its world, from the history and the lore to the minute details of the PK society. Hell, it isn’t that far of a stretch to say that the world is more central a character than the main cast. The cinematography and script has been brilliant in this regard, introducing us to the intriguing premise of a cryptic prologue and cloistered village, before going on to tease and unravel details in equal amounts every episode, making every morsel of world-building and exposition something to anticipate and savor. With every new bit of information, the narrative is framed in a slightly different light, and I’m loving how the show constantly keeps me on my toes in this regard.

On hindsight however, the constant teasing has definitely led to some very haphazard foreshadowing. Among these was one that caught my attention especially after watching episode 7, where Saki and Satoru had a sudden realization about the missing children. The show barely acknowledges nor connects the details in previous episodes, such as of the 2 close classmates disappearing, or when Saki brought up a similar question about her elementary classmates and was met with shifty glances from Satoru. Then there’s also the issue of the death feedback on why Rijin was affected by attacking the Queerats but not Satoru. (It might’ve been the False Minshiro’s effect, but again the show’s ambiguous on this point.) The thing is that with its consistent and (largely) watertight direction Shin Sekai Yori has made it seem that everything was planned from the get-go. I’d like to think that’s the case especially since this is adapted from a novel – which by convention are typically well-structured stories – but this is where the second act must step up and show me that there’s coherence to this setup I’ve seen, if it’s not revealing the entire plan already.

There’s also been quite a bit of discussion on the cinematography and scripting of the show as well. There are plenty of praises for the atmospheric and creative presentation on display here, but I’ve also seen criticisms of poor pacing, awkward scene transitions, and of a generally disjointed story in the latest few episodes. Yet personally speaking, I’m not seeing these faults to a great degree. Putting aside the controversial stylistic changes of episode 05, some of these complains only became apparent to me in a few moments of the latest episodes. Pacing is something I felt the show’s been excellent at, with me being completely immersed in every episode from start to finish. And while the transitions in the last few episodes – and especially episode 07 – have been excessive, there are only a few moment where there was any awkwardness about them, such as with the trippy dream sequence last episode, or the snapshot reunion of the kids. Otherwise, the cinematography generally gives me the impression of a smart, snappy production that keeps the audience immerse. I’m no cinematography expert, but I’ve little complain about the way the show’s being presented so far.

If you’ve been following the news on this show for a while now, the timejump next episode shouldn’t come as much of a surprise at this point. It does leave us again with the interesting question of where this episode’s cliffhanger – where the kids arrive back to a group of grim adults – will led to if the kids are still alive and well. It’s clear that the adults and Ethics Committee know about their doings to some degree, and actions will clearly be taken. But in any case, a timejump would bring a new level of maturity to the group of kids, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the dynamics of the group as well as the characterizations are going to change.

 

Preview

Shin Sekai Yori   07   Preview 01 Shin Sekai Yori   07   Preview 02 Shin Sekai Yori   07   Preview 03
November 11, 2012 at 10:50 pm
34 comments »
  • November 11, 2012 at 11:04 pmBakabaka93

    I loved this episode! The whole ambiguous behaviour of Squealer really had me on the edge of my seat. Every time he led them somewhere I thought he was trying to get them killed, i.e. leading the two “with the shortcut”.

    I didn’t expect the time-jump at all… it seems like all the kids are alive and well.

  • November 11, 2012 at 11:16 pmJustin

    This show feels like Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica… because it makes me suffer by making me wait a week for the next episode to come out :( Anyways, I know I might be late on this, but is anyone interested in who Saki is holding hands with when she wakes up from her dream (or nightmare) in the ED? I’m sure it’s either Shun or even Satoru.

    • November 12, 2012 at 9:17 amAki-Chan

      I’m convinced that it is Shun’s hand. If you look at what happens when “dream ” Saki is sitting and watching the lights and fireworks (or whatever they are) 3 figures breifly appear.One has red hair like Maria’s , the second has curly hair like Mamoru , and the other had spiky out hair like Satoru.None of them looked like Shun , that is why I think it is his hand she is holding.

  • November 11, 2012 at 11:35 pmSheapy

    The BL is about to come for those who aren’t willing to stomach that stuff

    • November 12, 2012 at 12:48 amdeathtogenericshows

      Stop saying BL, you~~. Sure, BL/Yaoi is about homosexuality, but always is ONLY a blatantly shameless device (in Japanese anime) to make £££, NEVER about sincere depiction of human sexuality (homosexuality). It never, ever is. There is a reason why it is called a trope, my friend, a rather dreadful one if I may add. Homosexuality doesn’t equal BL, while BL is always about the former.

      I’m sure SSY won’t stoop down to that mud. If anything, it probably will be about homosexuality, hinted or not. NOT BL. That’d be fine by me (now if Shun/Satoru thing does turn out to be totally unnecessary & exploitative and therefore indeed the dreadful BL trope, I shall humbly take back this post, though).

    • November 13, 2012 at 1:21 pmhoiut

      I didn’t get that impression at all! Silly me. Here I thought they were actually tussling, with Satoru trying to overpower/bully Shun. Not sexually. Heck, I even went as far as to assume Satoru was picking a fight with Shun out of jealousy for being Saki’s love interest.

      It had always struck me that Satoru liked Saki while Saki liked Shun — I thought maybe Satoru finally realized the object of his (and Saki’s) feelings and took action against his “love rival.”

      But man-on-man “Bonobo” gene activation? Sheesh, that was the furthest thing from my mind (although it probably shouldn’t have been).

  • November 12, 2012 at 12:02 amEmD

    Satoru’s a badass as always. LOLSHUN

    and look at the preview! Is that some Shun/Satoru Bonobo I see?

    Sorry Saki, you just can’t compete with Yuuki Kaji.

    • November 12, 2012 at 12:25 amHakumeiJin

      Kaji Yuuki strikes again not even the males can stop themselves this time. SatoruxShun… this might work.

  • November 12, 2012 at 12:33 amdeathtogenericshows

    BTW, why is that thing called “blowdog? Clearly it’s rats, not dogs. I’ve been curious since a couple of episode back. Look at that pic. They’re giant rats, the teeth and rat hair and all, so blowrat, not blowdog. Just saying.

    Was the original japanese also “blowdog” or is this the work of subtitle translator?

    • November 12, 2012 at 6:46 amSteelman

      Well the kids clearly call them fusen inu … so balloon dog.

  • November 12, 2012 at 12:57 amfragb85

    The scene transitions were weird this episode. Most notably the river scene, where the kids were crying in fear for their lives, and in the next scene they’re smiling and thankful for Kiromaru helping them. I suppose they were trying to end the arc ASAP for the time-skip.

    Squealer is probably the most interesting character now, he’s a coward but doesn’t seem to be malice driven. Kiromaru is pretty badass and noble for a rat-person. Judging from the promotional material, we haven’t seen the last of them.

    Of course the kids go back home and pretend nothing has happened, but now they have full knowledge that their world is more than they thought. I wonder how they are going to deal with it.

    • November 12, 2012 at 2:26 amMike

      Agree.

      Like Asobi mentioned in the post, for the most part the transition isn’t so bad where it starts to significantly detract from the show, which remains very engrossing. However, for me personally, it has become quite noticeable in the last couple episodes, enough to make me feel like something’s off.

    • November 12, 2012 at 5:44 amSmith

      The transition scenes may have been bad but its the animation that’s taken a nose dive this episode. To be fair, it was pretty shocking at certain scenes, like at the campfire where Shun’s head was out of the frame…probably a ploy to not waste animation on his mouth moving.
      There were so many close ups and side shorts of the children’s faces.

      Also somehow The Giant Hornet clan beat three thousand Ground Spiders with 3 boat load of solders……how?

    • November 12, 2012 at 8:36 amoyoge

      It seems the anime is rushed because it tries to keep pace with the flow of the novel and still tries to cram itself into 24(?) episodes. And it seems they don’t have enough money to make justifiable episodes. In the novel, this and the previous episodes have delved more into the wars between the rats and their strategy and tactics along with the battle depictions (Kiroumaru brought an army, not three boatful of soldiers). Those are important because they are there not only to entertain readers but also to kind of give an analogy to ancient human society like Greek city-states.

    • November 13, 2012 at 1:15 pmAsobi

      Interesting that you should mention the river boat scene, because that was the one I kept thinking about when writing the post. Among the excess of transitions here I honestly felt was this was one of the smarter parts of the episode, where they very nicely pulled a surprise heel face turn after making me believe the kids’ fate was sealed. Though I can imagine people were put off by the sudden jump, but it worked brilliantly for me.

  • November 12, 2012 at 1:34 aml3reezer

    Squealer for scariest character of 2012…

    • November 12, 2012 at 4:26 amalde

      Four legs good, two legs better!

  • November 12, 2012 at 2:36 amMuizz D

    Finally! Time Skip!

  • November 12, 2012 at 8:12 amruirui

    how did kiromaru receive the instructions to execute the children? i mean, rijin died, i dont think he had the chance to tell anyone

    • November 12, 2012 at 8:39 amoyoge

      It’s explained that they use carrier pigeons and bats.

  • November 12, 2012 at 8:45 amdestinyflower

    http://randomc.net/image/Shin%20Sekai%20Yori/Shin%20Sekai%20Yori%20-%2007%20-%20Large%20Preview%2002.jpg

    Is that Shun? I didn’t even recognize that it was him, but he looks very cool..

    • November 12, 2012 at 2:23 pml3reezer

      It is quite the surprise since his hair seems naturally straight-flat pre-time-skip.

  • November 12, 2012 at 9:15 amqwert

    I’m wondering if why the kids have been kept alive ultimately is because in knowing what they know the adults/ethics committee have had to realize that after failing to kill them they’re the best candidates to continue on the project.

    You need people that know the history and consequences behind how and why their society is structured as it is and perhaps the next conflict they will have to deal with is the realization that if they don’t change their society they’ll be the ones lying to and killing off the next generation.

  • November 12, 2012 at 9:45 ammac65

    I wonder if Kiromaru backed down because (based on Squealer’s intel?) that at least two of the children sill had their power?

    So it may have been “I ain’t messin’ with these dudes” vs. “I, being noble, blah, blah, refulse to take the life of a child.”

    Dunno. Be interesting with the time skip.

    • November 13, 2012 at 1:20 pmAsobi

      Seems possible, but I personally doubt that given how there was a large period where the kids were knocked out (helpless). And he had an entire army to back him up. Again, I inclined to believe this goes back to nobility and gratitude, or maybe even a show of his own individuality (going against the orders). We’ll see!

  • November 12, 2012 at 9:59 amAki-Chan

    I’m so glad that the 5 of them are reunited!!!!
    Can’t wait for the next episode , looks like it will be really interesting , especially wiv the timeskip.

  • November 12, 2012 at 7:39 pmTigerXDragon

    I actually think that Satoru was experiencing death feedback. After using his cantus so many times it looks like it was much more than fatigue that he was dealing with. I am not sure why it would be less intense than the feedback in Raijin but from my perspective the effects that were being shown by Satoru were both fatigue and a death feedback.

    • November 13, 2012 at 7:40 amZannafar

      I don’t think that’s the case at all.
      In case of Rijin, Saki explained that the death feedback got worse because Rijin killed the Queerats in the distance where they look vaguely human.
      When Satoru killed them, he either was near them, thus clearly recognizing their non-human features, or killed them without seeing them (e.g. when he threw the burning trees at them).
      I think Satoru just suffered from a combination of not enough sleep and the fatigue from overusing his cantus.

  • November 12, 2012 at 10:34 pmDark

    Kiromaru obviously didn’t tell the adults the whole story. That’s why Saki and the others can go back to the village without worry.

    • November 13, 2012 at 1:27 pmAsobi

      My gut feeling was that the kids’ own conclusions that they were safe was far too premature, because there were any number of ways the adults would’ve come to know of their doings, and the narration at the end strongly hinted that they did.

  • November 13, 2012 at 5:58 amd-LaN

    Kiromaru head looks like a wolf IMO. And honestly, Squeeler unique patterned eye sometimes looks scary to me… So there the possibility tht the higher up get those Queerat to do the dirty jobs eh…..

    Saki and co managed to get away from suspicion… But its seems like the adults won’t let them off easy judging from the preview. Also, I wonder how does their life changes after knowing those terrible secrets… Can’t wait for next episode >.< And wow, Shun and Satoru bishieness just went up a notch… Long haired Saki look OK too.

    A bit off topic, but there quite an info on the creatures of SSY in its chinese wikipedia page. The details are in the spoiler.

    Show Spoiler ▼

  • November 15, 2012 at 5:28 amjhpace1

    A good episode. Of course the other children didn’t experience any troubles at all, just meeting Saki and Satoru on the riverbank. From the speculation above with pigeon and bat messages, the adults may have an inkling what happened, but I bet the False Minoshiro part was kept out of it. Just having the children leave the river and venture out on their own would be “bad” enough.

    I’d like to see the children growing up with the False Minoshiro knowledge and try to infiltrate the inner circle(s) of the village, to find out the truth behind the missing children and the limits of their own powers. Who is the final kingpin of the conspiracy of the village?

  • November 18, 2012 at 10:43 amShiroaki

    You do know the time jumps approximately only 2 years of their current age right?

  • November 19, 2012 at 1:14 amChipp12

    I guess this anime was dropped by Asobi after the 8th episode :D