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Shin Sekai Yori – 11

「冬の遠雷」 (Fuyu no Enrai)
“Winter’s Thunder”

It’s not a particularly standout episode of Shin Sekai Yori after the last two’s double dose of awesome, but this will go down as the episode that gave me confidence the team knows exactly what they’re doing. If you’re no stranger to my thoughts on the series thus far you’ll know I’ve been harping on the memory issue of the kids. One moment we’ll have the kids questioning the strange happenings and disappearances around them, but the next there’s barely any acknowledgement of these events. The question’s been hanging on my mind, me deliberating if it was poor adaption on the part of the production team or if the story was being deliberately ambiguous on this point. It might have taken the death of a key character for it to happen, but I’ve finally got my answer. And it thankfully was the more preferable one.

A re-watch of the previous episodes might be in order to understand the execution, but suffice to say, this episode shows that the memory manipulation has been an ongoing process for the kids. Like that scene with the adults on their return from the camping trip making some proper sense now. And no time is wasted going into this; the episode opens with our kids in group one suddenly having new member Ryou take Shun’s place, who’ve somehow been there in their group all this while. Any memory of the events from the previous two episodes or of Shun has been wiped from the minds of the kids. Still, it doesn’t take long for Saki to know that something is amiss. Chalk it up to her strong feelings for Shun, but her uncanny perception (with some prodding from her subconscious in a dream) soon picks up the inconsistencies and she dig up an old mirror with her sister’s name hidden on it. Some clever questioning later and she is convinced Ryou wasn’t the person she knew, so she forms a duty pair with Satoru, who seems as keen as her on finding out the truth behind their missing memories.

I’m not exactly sure how the duty pair system works. I assume the dominance of homosexual relationships a couple of episodes back was a school-enforced rule preventing boy-girl relationship, and the same-sex pairings was an advocated alternative of an outlet for the bonobos conditioning. With the duty pairs mostly being formed of boy-girls couples, it seems that where feelings are concerned relationships are far more normative than we might’ve thought, with a couple of exceptions like Satoru, who is shown to have had honest feelings for Shun. It’s interesting to learn here about Maria’s popularity with the boys, along with a semi-confirmation of her feelings through the reciprocation of Mamoru’s love by forming a pair with him, and her protective nature of the boy seen in the later part of the episode.

I think this here is where we see the first real cracks of the group. As the kids follow the trail of Boy X (Shun) based on their vague memories, they come upon an increasingly unnatural world the same way they did before, going from an abandoned village up north to massive fractures in the earth, before reaching a lake that I’m pretty sure was the crater of Pinewood Village we saw in episode 09. And they start digging deeper into their memories, recalling to some extent of the sixth member who disappeared first, Reiko. But Mamoru doesn’t want to group to dig any further out of fear and completely breaks down. It’s a very interesting observation that Maria makes about his character: He needs to be able to trust the people he knows, but above that, he needs to also be able to trust this world. Quite the telling statement for where we might be headed to with this, when we consider the fact that their village-nay, their entire reality is built upon machinations and lies, but it’s not hard to sympathize with him. Would you rather live in blissful ignorance or reach out to the hard, cold truth that wouldn’t make you any better off? It’s a theme reiterated across many works, and I wonder how Shin Sekai Yori plans on executing it. But yes, first real cracks. Maria hasn’t shined like this as a character until now; her protective actions concerning Mamoru and her warning to Saki that the rest of the group didn’t have the mental fortitude to deal with the betrayal of their reality were both brilliant insights to her characterization. It feels like the show has drawn what’s perhaps the first clear line between the group’s relationship, with Maria seeming like she’s determined to protect Mamoru and his perceived reality at any cost, contrary to Saki and Satoru’s determination to pursue the ominous truth. Further fuel for the foreboding narration back in early episodes which warned of the disaster Maria will bring, and continues to support the notion that this’ll end anything but well for the characters.

The real twist of the episode is when we learn Satoru’s grandmother, Asahina Tomiko, (Sakakibara Yoshiko) is the head of the Ethics Committee that’s been working their machinations in the background of the show all this while. I don’t think there’s any reason to believe otherwise of Satoru’s loyalties; the Ethics Committee seems secretive enough that they’ll conceal their involvement from anyone, let alone kids. But it certainly puts an interesting spin on how his character might proceed from here if a relative is part of this secret group. There’s plenty of speculation to be had by the end of this cliffhanger. Have they bordered on the truth far too many times that they’re finally being dealt with? The preview seems to suggest Tomiko need the kids help in some sort of dangerous plan, but could this actually be the delayed punishment Shun was talking about? As usual, it’s an excruciating wait for the next episode.


My apologies for the lateness of this post. I’ve been cracking on with two semester-end reports since the weekend for Monday/Tuesday deadlines with barely any room to catch my breath. This’ll teach me to manage my schedule better next time. I hope.



December 12, 2012 at 5:32 am
  • December 12, 2012 at 6:00 amStyxounette

    “I assume the dominance of homosexual relationships a couple of episodes back was a school-enforced rule preventing boy-girl relationship, and the same-sex pairings was an advocated alternative of an outlet for the bonobos conditioning”
    Seriously I merely viewed it as if every pair of bestfriends ended up going out together. And that since only few people have an opposite sex best friend the class ended up being crowded with same sex relationships. What would be the point of preventing same sex relationship ? How would the school and the system benefit from it ? Unless they don’t have contraception anymore… Which would be pretty plausible actually.

    • December 12, 2012 at 6:02 amStyxounette

      “the point of preventing opposite* sex relationship” my bad

    • December 12, 2012 at 9:27 amArntor

      People don’t always use contraception, even when they should. Children born from such unions would pose a problem for the society as they would have parents that were condionted for their society. But more importantly, the brain is still developing at that stage, untill about you’re 23 years old I believe. By using artificial relations and thus bonds (with other people), it might be easier to control the future adult population as would have a decreased loyalty to one other.
      Lots of speculation from my side though

  • December 12, 2012 at 6:12 ammac65

    I agree. The memory twist was something I wasn’t expecting. It does answer some questions too.

    Still want to see where this all ends…

  • December 12, 2012 at 6:17 amNic

    I wonder how the Ethics Committee got the tip that they were up to no good once again. Could it be that Ryou or Mamoru said something to the wrong person and thus caused this sudden interrogation for the other 3?

  • December 12, 2012 at 6:32 amAnanas

    That was the most solid episode so far.

  • December 12, 2012 at 6:42 amfragb85

    Dammit Satoru, don’t hug the girls when they’re making out they might feel your rising boner!

    So the lingering question of why the missing children are forgotten has been answered, there is literally some influence that messes with their memories. I feel sorry for Ryou, I wonder if he knows which life is real anymore. It makes sense that Saki and Satoru are less suspect to forgetting Shun since they were the closest one to him. Mamoru on the other hand can’t handle the truth and easily panics. Makes me wonder if he snitched on the other three.

    My prediction next episode: The Ethics Committee want Saki to join their circle. Like Maria said, Saki is strong considering she how she easily copes knowledge of memory loss and how she wants to discover the truth. She would be ideal for the role, but I doubt Saki would accept that.

    • December 12, 2012 at 7:15 amGeal

      Trust me, the girls would love that. They do dig that sort of things, you see. Ladies, back me up!

  • December 12, 2012 at 8:17 amSingerOfW

    An interesting little detail: Yuuki Kaji is listed as voicing X in the ED. Not Shun, X.

    • December 12, 2012 at 8:19 amSingerOfW

      By which I mean Murase Ayumu. Wish there was an Edit option here.

    • December 12, 2012 at 9:20 amEmD

      Satoru is the boy that has replaced Shun in Satoru’s memories? Which means…this entire adventure is a fictional tale by Satoru’s subconsciousness as he watches Shun and Saki hook up?

      What a twist!

      • December 12, 2012 at 9:48 amRyuuzaki21

        err wait! what? really? why i dont get this after watching the episode.

  • December 12, 2012 at 8:22 amYalvyn

    Dat kiss.

    • December 12, 2012 at 9:48 amRyuuzaki21

      Dat tongue.

    • December 12, 2012 at 10:04 pmSortedevaras

      “I just remembered this dude I was totally in love with is dead, my sister was murdered and my memory is being rewritten by the adults I should trust. . . yuri make out time!” O_o

      • December 13, 2012 at 9:26 pmFutilitarian

        That’s the “Society of Love” conditioning at work. When tension and anxiety rise, instead of escalating into violence, our heroes get horny.

  • December 12, 2012 at 9:59 amyumeruhime

    nice take on maria. i have always taken her as a motherly figure, she’s got that protective nature to her.
    i was thinking that the adults just went along with the hormone system of adolescents. once they reach a suitable age, they allow normal sexual relations(?) it’s kind of like my(and probably most of our) school systems. in my school, we are grouped according to gender for PE… stuff like that.
    what really creeped me out was how easily they made the transition from yuri/yaoi to the boy-girl relationship. after all the kissing and touching? do they even differentiate gender?

    • December 18, 2012 at 1:42 pmMorricane

      You’re meaning sex, not gender, I presume?

  • December 12, 2012 at 10:35 amGiNoCo

    So the little voices in my head telling me to Yaoi my friends betray me a few years later and became straight. Further more the voices now tell me that the friend I tongued was in reality an imaginary friend and the strange guy standing in front of me is my real lover. However since I came of age is my duty to pair now for activities that most probably will lead to marriage said new partner. To produce new Pk’ers Reaching freedom to pass the little voices onto them so they don’t go stray…. No wonder Shun subconsious went berserk. Even me watching from outside, is getting me dizzy! I hope they reveal how the brain wash work. At night while sleeping? The best ending for me will be Maria and Saki blowing up the whole village to hell. In retrospect will really like to listen to the “reasoning” of the brain tampering. Then blow them up. By the way I’m not typing this I’m being forced by the little voices in my head… Yes really they made me do it!

  • December 12, 2012 at 12:18 pmchad

    “Would you rather live in blissful ignorance or reach out to the hard, cold truth that wouldn’t make you any better off?” – the matrix, anyone?
    I think Satouro’s aunts is going to betray the council, just a gut feeling.

  • December 12, 2012 at 12:35 pmKF

    Mysterious Grandma: There is no escape. Don’t make me destroy you…
    Mysterious Grandma: Saki, you do not yet realize your importance. You have only begun to discover your power. Join me, and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy.
    Saki: I’ll never join you!
    Mysterious Grandma: If you only knew the power of the Dark Side. Shun never told you what happened to your sister.
    Saki: He told me enough! He told me YOU killed him!
    Mysterious Grandma: No… I AM your sister.
    Saki: No. No. That’s not true. That’s impossible!
    Mysterious Grandma: Search your feelings, you KNOW it to be true!


    • December 12, 2012 at 3:11 pmjoshspeagle

      In a village far, far away…

    • December 12, 2012 at 4:18 pmSnooSnoo

      Ugh… I dunno where it went wrong but in the original the word that is emphasized is “I” not “AM”

    • December 12, 2012 at 7:26 pmc2710

      Good one. Never saw that coming.

    • December 13, 2012 at 9:38 pmFutilitarian

      I think KF’s nailed it. Grandma’s appearance is being deliberately withheld for a reveal (the new character in the preview does not look very grandmotherly to me!) We got a speech that Saki is stronger than the rest and can tolerate suffering. She’s being groomed as the next “Ethics Committee” (which we have never ever actually seen) leader, the one person who suffers the truth so that humanity can continue without self-destructing.

  • December 12, 2012 at 3:08 pmunknown2

    That grandma better not act like Tamaki’s granny in Hiiro no kakera.

    I bet this where Satoru starts liking girls LOL

  • December 12, 2012 at 3:42 pmEliteF22

    • December 12, 2012 at 7:13 pmsmokey

      Good catch! are you talking about the issue with her leg blocking the corner of the desk, when it should be behind the desk…lol u should change your name to eagle eyes…hehe

  • December 12, 2012 at 4:14 pmSnooSnoo

    “Would you rather live in blissful ignorance or reach out to the hard, cold truth that wouldn’t make you any better off?”

    The moment I read this, Persona 4′s Reach out for the Truth started playing in my head. XD

  • December 12, 2012 at 6:34 pmEntrav

    Something only Saki can do eh? Interesting episode as usual with lots of tension.

  • December 12, 2012 at 6:53 pmKaka

    The anime has been very faithful in adapting the novel. Although some things were skipped (such as Show Spoiler ▼

    ,)every major thing you need to known is shown. For the memory-erasing thing, the novel has been rather ambiguous about it too.

  • December 13, 2012 at 4:38 pmjhpace1

    Much better animation this time. I especially liked the “fuzziness” of the memory, including blurring the person’s face.

    Is this it? Do the children get invited by the hidden enforcers, or memory wiped again? And we see just how effective the memory wiping is, to a degree I had not thought possible. Wouldn’t you have to be a neurosurgeon to alter memories like that?

    Is everyone from Pinewood Village dead? There were no survivors? Hard to explain the destruction of an entire village to the other seven villages.

    Satoru’s grandmother, Asahina Tomiko, looked really young in the ending/preview. Unless I am not right about the person? Or maybe Cantus can be used to retard the aging process? We’re all making the assumption that marriage and children are highly regulated in the village, to the point that children are not allowed to fall in love with each other until a certain (mandatory?) age. Whereas today you might have 18-year-olds marrying, the village looks like it has delayed it to 25 or so.

    Mamoru is the ideal villager: willingly blind to anything that doesn’t make sense to his brainwashed mind. Imagine going through life like that. Almost like that ST:TNG episode where Dr. Crusher got shoved into an alternate bubble world onboard the Enterprise and people kept disappearing until she was the only one left.

    • December 14, 2012 at 7:29 pmAxel

      Well we’re taking about a society that has supernatural powers, so I hardly think neurosurgery is the only way to alter memories in such a universe. Remember what Shun said, the Cursed Power does the instant will of the user, conscious and/or subconscious. Altering memories is probably easy to perform with it, particularly on children whose brains are still only developing. Continuing in that vein, keeping the destruction or explaining the destruction of a whole village to the other villages would be easy as well. Either they have altered their memories as well or they twisted the story into something readily believable for them. They’ve been doing this for generations, I’m sure something like this has happened before, otherwise it would not have been documented. So they’ve probably got a well established way of concealing it and making sure people are so conditioned from birth to not question it. (which we clearly see with the kids, they’re being conditioned)

      • December 15, 2012 at 5:07 amjhpace1

        But does the destruction of another village show an overall decrease in people at the community, or will the population recover? What’s the trend? What are the scientists aiming for? Survival, or growth? Or has their original goal(s) been discarded?

  • December 14, 2012 at 4:50 pmAnomalous

    … THAT woman is old enough to be a grandmother? Wha… But… Wait… HUH!?

  • December 16, 2012 at 4:38 am/人◕ ‿‿ ◕人\

    Hmm.. you know Mamoru mentioned that they were ‘violating the Code of Ethics’? What code could he possibly be referring to? That they shouldn’t be poking their noses into things? But if they the adults had made sure to conceal the truth to the extent that barely anyone notices anything is off, why would there be a need to have this code? On the contrary, doesn’t it instead bring about doubts as to the purpose for such a code, which would consequently lead to them suspecting a tempering of one’s own memories?

    • December 16, 2012 at 4:40 am/人◕ ‿‿ ◕人\

      sorry, double post by accident.

  • December 16, 2012 at 4:39 am/人◕ ‿‿ ◕人\

    Hmm.. you know Mamoru mentioned that they were ‘violating the Code of Ethics’? What code could he possibly be referring to? That they shouldn’t be poking their noses into things? But if the adults had made sure to conceal the truth to the extent that barely anyone notices anything wrong, why would there be a need for the code? On the contrary, doesn’t it instead bring about doubts as to the purpose for such a code, which would consequently lead to them suspecting a tempering of one’s own memories?