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Shin Sekai Yori – 14

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「雪華」 (Yuki Hana)
“Snowflakes”

Seems like the New Year’s break hasn’t dulled Shin Sekai Yori a single bit. This was as enthralling an episode as we’ve come to expect of the show, a strong game-changing start (but then again, which episode hasn’t pulled some table-turning surprise on us?) to what’s going to be a promising second half.

Contrary to what I’d expected, we don’t linger long in the mountain contemplating Mamoru’s actions. Instead, Satoru heads back to the village to make an excuse for their absence, and a worried Saki follows after him, where upon returning she’s asked to stand trial for her disappearance, leading to one of the more interesting scenes the show’s put out, a psychological battle between the Board of Education and Saki. Shin Sekai Yori never hands out the answers on a platter, but it somehow manages to always drop choice bits of foreshadowing and details which expand its ongoing narrative, just as it did with our first contact with the Board of Education here, and I laud the show for this. We’ve heard so much about these people, formed our own theories and mental images of them, and our first proper look at them was an eye-opener in so many ways. I couldn’t help but think back to what Tomiko said about the paranoia and zeal of the Board as they pressed Saki for her testimony, while our main girl skilfully doles out half-truths.

The show is never one to tell the story in straight manner as well, though I really enjoyed how effectively they interspersed flashbacks of Mamoru and Maria’s decision to tough it out in wilderness midway through the trial. I can’t be sure, but I bet this wasn’t how it played out in the novels. Adapting this a story as complex and detailed as this can’t be an easy job, but the way they’re doing it here, with much of the prelude being interpreted through the ongoing trial, was pretty effective at giving me a solid picture of the plot, and really entertaining in its execution.

I’ve gotta say it again here; I just love how much respect this show pays to every detail and the circumstances of the story. Such as with Tomiko calling the Board out on their paranoia with the very same logical conclusions one would come to, that their meddling has worsened the situation with Mamoru. Or how using some pretty grounded bioscience as a basis, we learn about Tomiko’s ability to regenerate telomeres and stay immortal. Or even the conspicuous allusions to how every human being is now akin to a nuclear weapon that must be closely supervised, and it’s likely this mindset was the foundation upon which society was built upon.

It’s also in this way Shin Sekai Yori takes presumed tropes and address them with a directness I rarely see, however unassuming these points might appear to be. Honestly it’s gratifying for a work to show this much self-awareness to answer for its circumstances. Why is it this particular group of children that keeps getting into trouble? Well, main characters, right? But additionally, group 1 was spared the brainwashing meant for the village’s inhabitants and kept their free will as part of an experiment, a plot detail that would no doubt play strongly into upcoming developments. Why has Tomiko taken Saki under her wings? Well, those leadership qualities and mental fortitude might’ve made Tomiko see a kindred spirit in Saki. But here’s an extra reason that gives an extra angle to these assumptions, where Saki is revealed to potentially hold the same power of immortality that Tomiko possesses. It’s because of these all these details that I find Shin Sekai Yori’s world one that’s stunningly realised, which gives its ongoing narrative some true heft.

There’s just so much to consider about with all the information Shin Sekai Yori has given access to this episode that I can scarcely hope to satisfactorily expand on each raised point. Maria and Mamoru fleeing with their free will intact would make them unsupervised PKers with the freedom and ability to procreate. If anything, two potential nukes in the wild would already set off the alarm bells of the Board nevermind the greater implications, which might explain their impatience during the trial. Their haste in disposing of Mamoru might’ve stemmed from their unease about the unpredictability of his free will, considering how disagreeable they appeared to be about the experiment. But the interesting bit is that though she might be protecting Saki and co., Tomiko doesn’t seem to have any reservations about the Board’s methods, if we consider her words to them about doing a proper job of Mamoru’s disposal. And let’s not forget she was most likely part of the group that ordered the children’s assassinations in the wake of the fiend disaster.

Which brings us to the intriguing point about her age. With two and a half centuries of history and wisdom backing her up, I now see why she’s deemed the most influential person in their society. And her age would mean she’s seen her fair share of disasters and tragedies, hence that unflinching attitude concerning the questionable means the village has taken to survive. But since she can theoretically live forever, why then seek a successor in Saki? Sure, Tomiko did remark that she wouldn’t presume to live forever, and she’s not entirely free of mortality either, seeing as how her powers can only extend her lifespan. It wouldn’t be surprising to have Saki as a backup. But like the reveal of her telomeres replication power here, I get the feeling that there’s still more behind Tomiko’s reasons for guarding Saki, perhaps one that’s related to the group 1 experiment.

With Shin Sekai Yokai continuously doling out the half-truths, it still feels like there’s so much kept from us; The Board hasn’t exactly been forthcoming about their motivations for disposal, especially concerning those with weak PKs, and now it seems the ambiguous queerats are coming into play. But true to the show, like Maria and Mamoru’s disappearance, things probably aren’t going to pan out in a straightforward manner.

 

Preview

Shin Sekai Yori   14   Preview 01 Shin Sekai Yori   14   Preview 02 Shin Sekai Yori   14   Preview 03
January 7, 2013 at 9:24 pm
41 comments »
  • January 7, 2013 at 9:30 pmDerprito

    getting interesting

  • January 7, 2013 at 9:33 pmwhee

    tomiko so badass :v

  • January 7, 2013 at 9:37 pmJustin

    I remember learning Telomeres in Bio I… *Mind has been blown* She’s so old… but she doesn’t look that old. I have a feeling that Tomiko has death flags around her… and Saki will succeed her. Then something happens with Maria that causes the death of many people. My prediction for the climax in the future episodes

  • January 7, 2013 at 9:47 pmGracie

    Telomere repair isn’t actually enough to keep someone living for that long–there are a ton of other biochemical factors that would still end up killing you. But hey, that’s just my medical side talking…this was still a great episode! I especially appreciated how Maria basically gave up everything (including Saki) to be with Mamoru. I love those two together, and hope they end up surviving the series (although something tells me they probably won’t).

    Great review, and can’t wait until the next episode!

    • January 7, 2013 at 11:05 pmc2710

      The ED and the fiend’s story, if they’re of any indication, dictates that Maria would be done in soon and Mamoru would follow suit.

      It pains my heart to see the lily flower power die off just like that

      • January 8, 2013 at 3:15 pmSolara

        If it makes you feel better, Maria is going after a very sensitive guy. P:

    • January 9, 2013 at 9:32 pmos

      so what are the other biochemical factors?
      can you name a few?

  • January 7, 2013 at 9:50 pmfragb85

    Best part was when Saki called out the Board on the their BS. Then followed by Tomiko’s intervention, where the board effectively s*** their pants. Can’t blame them, because apparently the old woman keeps three killer kitties on her backyard.

    Its great to finally have an explanation on why Group 1 keeps crossing the Sacred Barrier likes its nothing. Apparently they are not conditioned to fear it as an experiment. Unfortunately the experiment isn’t really going well, since only two of the five kids are still safe and there’s still the foreshadowing that Maria will do something terrible.

    Tomiko’s plan to groom Saki as a successor seems to imply that she wants to step down from her position. Considering she’s had over 200 years of handling and witnessing the killing of many children, I can imagine she’s getting weary of it.

    • January 8, 2013 at 3:30 amYuu

      Actually that’s the Education Board’s Backyard, I think they were expecting to put Saki while “awaiting Judgement”…

    • January 8, 2013 at 6:01 amjhpace1

      Makes you wonder why they didn’t send a neutral adult along with Saki and Satoru. Of course, there are not many adults the children would accept as “neutral” at this point.

  • January 7, 2013 at 10:07 pmqwert

    I’m glad there’s finally an explanation on how they can always just waltz past the holy barriers without any conditioning kicking in. That part always bugged me.

  • January 7, 2013 at 10:15 pmFrog

    They should call this “1984 The Anime”.

    Like Big Brother, SSY’s Board of Education suppresses the truth and free thought for the sake of a thin illusion of peace. But Saki is told the truth because, in Tomiko’s words: “A leader needs to accept both the good and the bad, and have enough faith to be willing to get their hands dirty.” This sounds like something right out of Machiavelli’s notorious handbook for rulers, ‘The Prince’.

    The politics in the world of SSY is not so different from ours. That’s what makes it so frightening.

    • June 16, 2013 at 9:38 amkumakaori

      WELP. Looks like I have a book i need to re-read now. … After I finish off episodes 15 through 25 ^^…

  • January 7, 2013 at 10:17 pmlol

    Squealer has such a ‘come hither’ look in the preview.

  • January 7, 2013 at 10:52 pmFuu

    No mention of the cats creepily sitting behind Tomiko?! That was an intense scene. Tomiko nonchalantly saying they have not been given orders, so Saki is fine was creepy. I have a feeling they are going to stretch the next few episodes out and go more into the history of the world now.
    We are due for a time skip again soon. But this is 24 episodes I think

  • January 7, 2013 at 11:40 pmEmD

    Looks like Tomiko’s experiment didn’t go so well, did it?

    She chose 6 kids to have freedom of thought, and let’s see what happened:

    Reiko – Died almost immediately due to her weak Cantus and the Board’s paranoia
    Shu – Turned into a Karma Demon
    Mamoru – was too weak of mind to handle the truth of the world
    Maria – chose to leave society to be with Mamoru

    so that leaves our two MCs, Saki and Satoru. Now we know why they got that whole queerat arc to themselves. They’re the successes of Tomiko’s experiment.

    Unless, of course, the show is just looking to kill everyone but Saki and Satoru is about to get mauled by a queerat since he appears to be accusing them of rebellion in the preview.

    • January 8, 2013 at 5:57 amjhpace1

      Makes you wonder just how many children make it to adulthood, thirty percent, from observation of Group 1′s generation? That’s a serious culling rate.

    • January 8, 2013 at 11:48 amGermanguy

      I think Satoru will be a “hard” to handle. Just see how much “Joy” he got in the past Episodes, where he “slain” the rats. He is a Possible “candidate” for a Fiend, for me. When Saki is not more around to keep him in check…

      • January 8, 2013 at 11:49 amGermanguy

        and Shu.. Dunno, looks like he “dissolved” as his Powers “run amok” (Nature take me back)

      • January 8, 2013 at 11:52 amGermanguy

        Mmm,my Guts will be this: Saki will be the Anchor for remaining “group 1″

  • January 8, 2013 at 2:32 amend3rr

    If this show doesn’t get most under appreciated show for this season, idk anymore. I’m really loving this show in that it stands out to most of the moe-ish shows that are coming out as of late. It’s interesting, its very suspenseful, and its still full of mystery and it just keeps me going week after week. I love the art direction and there so many questions about specific characters that I want to find answers to.

  • January 8, 2013 at 3:23 amFrog

    http://randomc.net/image/Shin%20Sekai%20Yori/Shin%20Sekai%20Yori%20-%2014%20-%20Large%2020.jpg

    Just me or does this guy look like a bloodthirsty Oreki? Oh dear.

  • January 8, 2013 at 5:55 amjhpace1

    Mind-blowing episode. Good quality animation. Lots of revelations. Notice the self-sanctimonious attitude of the Board of Education: “You’re keeping an entire village in fear!” Because of four children. Don’t they have watchmen, or guards who can use their PK against threats?

    But Tomiko told Saki why everyone’s afraid: even if Mamoru and Maria escape, there’s no guarantee they won’t come back as Karma Demons or Fiends. And what about their children, if they have them in the wilderness? It’s the unknown the Board of Education is scared to death of – loss of control. Tomiko also hinted how Cantus/PK is effortless energy, with no limits to a user. That’s what makes PK humans so dangerous.

    I really don’t like the indications of the next episode in the preview, that the queer-rats may be trying to form their own civilization to rebuff the humans. The humans have been using the queer-rats to do their dirty work (infrastructure as well as murders) for generations, and letting the slaves know the ‘gods’ can be harmed is always dangerous.

  • January 8, 2013 at 8:22 amMagoiichi

    HOLY SHIT THE RETURN OF SQUEELER! SHIT JUST GOT REAL!

    • January 9, 2013 at 11:47 amHunterWulf

      And donning black samurai armor of all things, that guy is surely up to some “conquest” XD

  • January 8, 2013 at 9:45 amAki-Chan

    If i had been drinking something while watching this episode , I would have choked when Tomiko said that she was 267 years old.She doesn’t look that old!!!!!!!!
    And that was interesting , about team 1 being a free-will experiment. It hasn’t gone very well. Shun became a karma demon , Reiko was weak , they think Mamoru is a potential fiend (cos of his weak personality)and Maria is willing to give everything up for him.
    And on a more random note , does anyone know when the full version of the ending song is comign out…i.e a version that isn’t just the TV size version on a loop?

  • January 8, 2013 at 11:12 amSekai

    A really solid episode; had me at the edge of my seat with just dialogue! I get the feeling that Mamoru will die soon, causing Maria to go on a rampage against the village…

    By the way, is Nekomonogatari Black going to be reviewed soon?

    • January 8, 2013 at 3:13 pmSolara

      I actually wanna know if anyone is reviewing Nekomonogatari Black. I know Nisemonogatari was, and Nekomonogatari Black is already 4 episodes in. Unless I miss something, please clarify anyone.

      • January 8, 2013 at 10:45 pmSekai

        Nekomonogatari Black is actually just one episode, that was released in four parts by a certain group for convenience.

  • January 8, 2013 at 11:57 amNierTevra

    never thought i’d say this but i would totally tap that…she doesn’t even look 67…maybe mid 40-ish if you ask me…

    • January 9, 2013 at 11:43 amYuu

      If not for all those wrinkles and gray hair I would have said she was/is 30 at most…

  • January 8, 2013 at 1:36 pmAra Ara

    It is interesting to note how Tomiko is in some ways imitating the queen-queerrat. As far as we know, no one else has managed the immortality trick. Unless Tomiko is being referred to as Satoru’s “grandmother” as a way of calling the Matriarch of Satoru’s family, then she’s been having kids into her centuries. If this is so, this can be part of the reason of her immense power in the village, she’s everyone’s grandmother.

  • January 8, 2013 at 1:38 pmHighway

    I think you’ve got the sequence for Tomiko’s interest in Saki maybe a little reversed. The primary thing that Tomiko would be looking for, above all else, would be the psychological fortitude to hold up when things around you are going bad, to stay the person you have been. In their previous conversation, that’s what Tomiko stressed, that Saki recovered from their trip experience quickly and had no lasting change in personality. After that, then the next important ability would be the ability to be an ethical strong leader. Only after all that would the ability to regenerate herself become important, and I didn’t get the impression that it was believed Saki would have any particular aptitude for that, just that it was similar to what she’d already been tasked on – repairing the jar, which she felt at the time was uninteresting compared to Shun’s accelerated life development or Maria’s levitation. It just turns out that that was a particular task picked for her as a stepping stone for later.

    As for Tomiko picking Saki now as a future leader, who knows how long she’s been searching for a successor? She could have been investigating new births for 100 years or more, hoping to see if someone will show what she feels are the important qualities. Maybe there have even been people she’s ‘apprenticed’ but they either didn’t have the demeanor, didn’t have the ability to learn how to repair their cells, or were otherwise unsuitable. Maybe there haven’t been any, which is what led Tomiko to propose her experiment on Group 1. And she probably thinks that apprenticing another leader like herself is a long game, after all, it took Tomiko nearly 100 years to gain the experienc, influence, and respect needed to attain her current position.

    And given the severe amount of culling of children this society has, 2 out of 6 is probably not a disappointing number for success (assuming that Satoru and Saki both become leaders in the future, and both Maria and Mamoru die somehow) for such an experiment. Shun’s demise can only be deemed an unfortunate accident, as it likely would have happened whether he was in Group 1′s experiment or not. Reiko’s as well, although thinking back on it that rather surprises me that someone would graduate to Sage Academy yet then immediately be culled for lack of PK strength. And I’m not yet convinced that either Maria or Mamoru will actually become a Fiend. Meet their demise some other way, but I think it would be an interesting twist at this point if they showed that their society is good at preventing Fiends by not having one actually appear.

    • January 8, 2013 at 7:26 pmoyoge

      The problem with Reiko is probably not the lack of the power, but her ability to control it.

      • January 9, 2013 at 7:06 ambear

        I agree. The problem is that the power seems to be there in each person. It’s their ability to use it and control it that is the problem. If it did not manifest itself through the subconscious then there would be no Karma Demons. Fiends are another issue since that seems to be directly connected to mental instability.

        Has there been any mention of non-PK users among the villagers?

      • January 9, 2013 at 7:52 amoyoge

        As far as I remember, no mention of adult non-PK users. One reason why there is none is they don’t have the death feedback when they try to harm other humans. (The feedback system is based on PK.)
        Another reason I can think of is probably related to a spoiler.

  • January 8, 2013 at 5:19 pmEntrav

    Damn, Tomiko is really stirring things up. They were scared as hell when Tomiko came in and started convincing them. She’s calm and collected so it’s hard to argue with her without sounding unreasonable.

    • January 8, 2013 at 5:56 pmHighway

      She’s also right, so it’s really hard to argue with her.

  • January 12, 2013 at 1:42 pmMi-Chan

    I’ve watched all 15 episodes in one go….. ok……. this anime….. I hate this type of anime….. because it kind of pulled me to watch each episode.

    My head hurts and I’m starting to feel their fear on my skin, gosh.. how many of them are disspearing, when will their memories come back, and why is Saki starting to think like the old lady, she hadn’t even told her friends any of the stories. *hits head with the wall* I think I know why but, but…. I….

    I think the reason why all their experiement will be a fail is because they messed up with the kid’s head so much -.-’ I can’t wait, great show, it makes me mad to watch it because I am so worried about how it’ll end. I was really drowned in tears over Shin, and Reiko that they brushed so easily. Now they don’t even remember their best friend or their memories. Adults are…..

    Thanks for the review :D always helpful to let some steam out, cheers

    • January 12, 2013 at 1:59 pmMi-Chan

      also I’m starting to doubt Satori, he’s doing something -.-”

  • February 9, 2013 at 5:34 ammuttiman

    *And I’m not yet convinced that either Maria or Mamoru will actually become a Fiend*
    well after episode 19 u have to agree, u was wrong