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Shin Sekai Yori – 15

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「残像」 (Zanzo)
“Afterimage”

Oh boy, those queerats. Shin Sekai Yori had gone to great lengths to establish the species with their own lore, and it was clear as day the story was setting up them up to be an integral part of the upcoming plot developments. It’s like reading a fantasy epic with this broadly encompassing exploration of Shin Sekai Yori’s inhabitants, and how brilliantly they’ve done so up until this point; clever misdirection and foreshadowing have painted these creatures with an unsettling ambiguity, which this episode and all its connotations seem to bring front and center.

Recall the last time we saw the Robber Fly colony: Living in burrows with neanderthal-levels of civilization, and with a hive structure society in place. How the two years have changed them into something barely recognizable. They’ve now taken to living above ground in huts, achieved an industrial level of technology with their factories and concrete buildings, even created a constitution to govern their society in place of their previously primitive hive order. We’re talking a jump in civilization that took us human millenniums to achieve, thought to be fair we’ve already seen plenty evidence of technological disparity all across Shin Sekai Yori’s world. But it’s the fascinating journey of how the queerats arrived at this in the two years that Shin Sekai Yori brings out the subtexts and implicit details by the truckload.

Namikawa Daisuke’s chilling performance as Squealer – the standout of this episode – is our guide through the formation of this new queerat society. Take the slimy politician trope, give it molerat skin and you’ll get Squealer, now going by Yakomaru, who’s quite possibly the definitive example of human twistedness in this show. What we saw before of the queerat only hinted at his true nature, and what a performance it was when he freely manipulated Saki and Satoru into participating in the fight with the Goat Moth colony, all while glowing with an excitable malice. And it’s not that his arguments aren’t without their ringings of truth to them, which only makes it all the most provocative, and subsequently unsettling. If anything, it’s largely because the queerats pattern themselves so closely after human society that it’s hard not to see it as a reflection of our species. I’d point to the historical similarities of their take on a revolution against the establishment, which if I’m guessing right will also boil down to the poetic hypocrisy of a brave new constitution. But I’ll leave it to you better-read individuals to figure out which historical events Shin Sekai Yori parallels the most. Squealer’s stance comes off as far too self-serving, too self-congratulatory about the successful progression of their society, making his claims of a democracy something I find can only be taken at face value, especially given the militant display of force when confronting the Goat Moth colony. And the colonies that supposedly “merged” with their new union? I find it unlikely every single one came of their own volition.

Then there’s that striking statement of the episode – “Should not all intelligent individuals be given equal rights?” – one of the most significant moral conundrums Shin Sekai Yori has continuously been pressing. With the PK society, the priority of survival led to the exclusivity of rights through brainwashing in an effort to weed out dissenters and potential wreakers of society. There we saw the symptoms of paranoia and absurdity of the ethics involved, and asked if survival should come such a cost to human values. With the queerats, this feels like a statement against the natural status quo that had formed between the queerats and humans. The subtext about differing values and rights between separate intelligent species recalled to me the Planet of the Apes franchise– and what similarities there were, where Saki and Satoru’s conversation showed us that from a human perspective these queerats were also likened to mere beasts, a lower lifeforms. Squealer himself remarked the queerats were second in intelligence to the humans. But where they were content to simply serve the humans as a lower lifeform, it is clear they’re beginning to see themselves on par with the humans, the evidence in their development of a civilization that too closely mirrors us. I’d note that the queerats are even starting to act far too human with them practising the same hypocrisies regarding rights, stripping away the queen’s mind and reducing her to little more than a queerat manufactory. Mamoru’s vocal worries is a foreboding notion about where thing might be headed should the makeup of both civilization eventually reach a headway.

How this came about brings us to Saki’s suspicions of a False Minoshiro’s involvement and the one thing it represents which threatens the status quo the most: Knowledge. This was a running theme in the first half of the show, where in the exploration of the PK society’s higher order and their attempts to preserve the PK population, the show mused briefly upon the power of knowledge and shepherding the unaware civilians for the greater good of society. No matter how twisted the means taken were, like the disposals and brainwashing. And now with the queerats having been empowered by the knowledge from the false minoshiro, the value of knowledge has been taken to a whole other level with an entire species – civilization now – at stake.

One might think that coexistent would be the natural answer to this conundrum, but will the PK society readily accept an upheaval of the status quo they had relied upon for centuries? There’s also the ambition of queerats – embodied by squealer – to consider, alongside the imposing threat to the queerats humans present, one that Mamoru casually mentions: That even two humans could completely destroy a colony. And for the queerats who are growing evermore humanlike, I wonder how much of the same paranoia was inherited? If so, it might not be all that far-fetched to think that they might turn against their gods. Let’s also assume for a moment that Squealer really did obtain a false minoshiro, which would then recount the downfall of the Cherry Blossom Empire and the empowering knowledge that for all their limitless power, yes, their gods are as exposed to mortality as they are.

Meanwhile, Maria and Mamoru’s situation isn’t looking any brighter. With no trails left in their wake and only a message of “ half the world away” left behind, it’s almost certain Saki won’t be finding them before her deadline, making them free game for everyone, including (as I’m coming to suspect) squealer and the queerats.

 

Preview

Shin Sekai Yori   15   Preview 01 Shin Sekai Yori   15   Preview 02 Shin Sekai Yori   15   Preview 03
January 12, 2013 at 9:32 pm
45 comments »
  • January 12, 2013 at 9:47 pmSilverpenny

    As more secrets are revealed, and the PK society starts to unravel, I wonder when it will all come crashing down, and how hard it will be.

  • January 12, 2013 at 9:52 pmAnnon

    My Goodness. The directing and screen play of this episode was absolutely phenomenal. Had me on the edge my seat the entire time.

  • January 12, 2013 at 9:54 pmJustin

    They’re taking over.

  • January 12, 2013 at 9:55 pmc2710

    I sense a great disturbance in the Force.

    Could Yakomaru be the very Sith Lord that we’ve been searching for?

  • January 12, 2013 at 10:18 pmfragb85

    Squealer went from a cowardly yes-man with an ugly but somewhat adorable mannerism, to the creepiest character in the show. He’s apparently getting more ambitious now lobotomizing their queen and clearly manipulating the kids to help his goals. Even Saki and Satoru can clearly tell they’re being manipulated.

    The implications are frightening, especially with Satoru’s theory that they got their hands on human knowledge. With that much technology and numbers they could very well spark a revolution against humans.

    • January 13, 2013 at 6:56 pmBelka

      I agree with you, but they can revel against humans but they will just be destroyed in the process. If Satoru and Saki can make a whole Queerat colony surrender imagine what can the other more experienced and older Cantus users can do.

  • January 12, 2013 at 10:38 pmqwert

    You have to laugh when Saki starts going on about how it’s only natural for a mother to sacrifice themselves for their child considering their own society pretty much does the exact opposite.

    • January 13, 2013 at 8:43 amSekai

      It annoyed me that they were acting shocked when many, if not most, humans would also hurt their mother in order to escape death.

      • January 13, 2013 at 8:51 ambarano

        Not these humans. They’re conditioned against in-species aggression since the moment they were born, they can’t imagine something so horrible as harming another human for any reason. Aggression in itself is alien to them, and they find the thought of it shocking. Remember how uneasy Saki was when she saw Satoru getting a bit too excited about mowing down queerats, she saw it as something alien and frightening.

  • January 12, 2013 at 10:39 pmend3rr

    Dun Dun Duunnnnnn

  • January 12, 2013 at 10:39 pmFarHorizon

    I was hoping they’d catch up to Maria this episode, but I should have known they’d draw that out some more for optimum effect. The Queerats surprised me again with their sudden advances – there are so many ways they could go forward with this! I’m not sure if they are going to be the new antagonist once the main characters grow up/come to power, a tertiary threat or maybe even key to starting a different civilization.

    Squeeler stole the show this episode with his machiavellian plotting. I’m betting that as soon as “the gods” turn their back, the goat colony is forced into the new Queerat coalition.

    • January 18, 2013 at 11:22 pmLoliHat

      There were already signs of advancement. Remember those pipes and the technology that seemed connected with it. What happens with the queerats is probably going to be more central to the story than the kids themselves.

  • January 12, 2013 at 10:51 pmEmD

    Satoru sees right through you, Squealer. After all, he’s the master of Bullshit. Just ask Ryo as soon as he’s done counting snowflakes.

    • January 12, 2013 at 10:53 pmEmD

      also, Asobi, you made a mistake.

      “and what a performance it was when he freely manipulated Saki and Mamoru into participating in the fight with the Goat Moth colony”

      I think you meant Saki and Satoru

      • January 13, 2013 at 6:14 amAsobi

        D’oh, nice catch! Thanks, I’ve made the changes.

  • January 12, 2013 at 10:54 pmTre

    “With no trails left in their wake and only a message of “ half the world away” left behind, it’s almost certain Saki won’t be finding them before her deadline, making them free game for everyone, including (as I’m coming to suspect) squealer and the queerats.”

    That’s assuming they all have jurisdiction outside the Japanese peninsula. If Maria has good sense, and given her great flying abilities , she and Mamoru literally tried going “half the world away” to another continent. Which would be interesting, since I’m sure we’re all dying to see what the world is like in other places.

    Also, I’d like to make a comment not entirely related to this episode, but something I hope gets mentioned at some point. Tomiko said that the only two things society really has to fear are Fiends and Karma Demons.

    So Fiends are humans who have gone insane and start killing people randomly, but are still able to control their powers. Karma Demons are humans who are fully sane, but start killing people because they have no control over their powers.

    The irony here is that, even though these two things are considered a major problem in the current society, I’m sure they weren’t such a big problem in the preceding societies, like the Slave Empires. Back then, the biggest threat to society was something that no longer exists in this current time: fully sane humans with full control of their powers who are capable of killing people. If a human turned into a Fiend or Karma Demon, all you had to do was get rid of them with someone else’s power. Their completely sane but utterly evil rulers were more of a problem.

    The “scientists” that started the current society eliminated the ability to kill, getting rid of one problem, but making the other problems far bigger as a result. Humans can no longer directly protect themselves against other humans. It’s also likely that they can’t even restrain another human with their PK/Cantus without getting that death feedback. The founders of this society probably jumped into this a little too quickly without thinking of the consequences (well, just like the original humans with their experiments to make PK come about).

    Of course, Tomiko likely realizes all this, but made the conscious decision to try to keep society in it’s current status quo. The one major problem here though is that this society is really stagnant. It doesn’t seem like there were any major advances in the society in the few centuries since its foundation.

    The main difference between the Shin Sekai Yori society and our own is that there aren’t any scientific advancements being done to try and fix their problems. The solutions are just small, temporary patches and nothing really permanent. The biggest mistake made at some point in the past was to give up major technological and scientific advances, something that was likely done because they thought that PK can do most of what they needed machines to do.

    If they did keep advancing science, there would be an active search for understanding the reasons behind the diseases and attempt to cure it (and there would already be cures if the old society had never crumbled; this is past the year 3000 AD, after all). If I were to guess an end to all this, it’s that Saki is the one who ultimately addresses these problems.

    I’m also curious as to something mentioned back at the end of episode 2 by the narrator (which is an adult version of Saki, I believe). The line was: “I think if Maria had never been born unto this world, then untold numbers could have been spared”. It doesn’t look like all this will end very well.

    • January 13, 2013 at 8:42 amSekai

      “just like the original humans with their experiments”

      I don’t remember any mention of experiments to cause PK?

      • January 13, 2013 at 5:07 pmTre

        The fake minoshiro/digital library mentioned it back in episode 4. It mentioned that an Azerbaijani scientist conducted experiments to get humans to develop PK.

  • January 12, 2013 at 11:19 pmend3rr

    Maria and the Mamoru running away from the village reminds me of “Anthem” by Ayn Rand.

  • January 12, 2013 at 11:24 pmCybersteel

    This is to be expected as the Queer Rats were once humans too. No matter what time or millennia, what form they evolve to, humans will always revert to the same basic shape, the fundamental humans.

    • January 13, 2013 at 6:36 amAsobi

      Are you talking about the presumption that the queerats originated from the non-PK hunters?

      Funnily enough, I’m less inclined to believe its the truth now; or at least, not the entirety of it. Partly because the more we learn about them, the more they distinct I find them as a species.

      And partly due to these two explanations that have been very helpful in understanding some of the mechanics of the Shin Sekai Yori world.

      Cantus/Juryoku: http://notredrevie.ws/2012/12/02/shinsekai-yori-cantus/
      Queerats: http://notredrevie.ws/2012/11/20/shinsekai-yori-the-queerats/

      But with Shin Sekai Yori you can never guess what’s coming next. They might be saving such a twist for its endgame.

      • January 13, 2013 at 6:43 amCybersteel

        I’m more inclined to believe that the collective Cantus of the PK society somehow mutated the non-PK humans to become the Queer Rats. Like a leak of nuclear waste from a nuclear power plant.

    • January 16, 2013 at 1:37 pmGermanguy

      Well, it is the “subconscious” of Humans that “flow out” of the Village and affect the Flora and Fauna. Remember the “Dog” from Saki’s died friend? You should look when he Explain why he became a “Karma Demon”

  • January 13, 2013 at 12:12 amBNV

    Holy… I haven’t watched the episode yet, but your writing is saying alot… how brutal and tense this episode was.

  • January 13, 2013 at 12:15 amEntrav

    I never trusted Squealer in the first place. This episode is indeed tense. How far will things go?

  • January 13, 2013 at 12:21 amTheTLman

    When I see this anime, I can’t help but think of the video game Fallout 3. They both share sort of the same vein.

  • January 13, 2013 at 12:30 amR

    I was unfortunately spoiled about the upcoming ‘twist’, so all I can say is this episode was difficult to watch. Squealer was untrustworthy the first time around, but even more so now with all of the advancements his colony has made. It’s terribly ironic that the bakenezumi are more human-like in their horrible treatment to one another.

  • January 13, 2013 at 1:16 amMi-chan

    I can’t trust Satori -_-” nd I don’t like that old code of ethics lady, something is up with her since she doesn’t in the slightest worry over sentimental things, which means she’ll do as she pleases. I’ve only watched the anime recently (yesterday really) so I am still upset about poor Reiko that was gone so early and Shin.. Maybe he should make a comebaxk :(….

    Nevertheless, the past two episodes were filled with suspense that it hurts me to think what might happen to Mamoro and Maria, I’m scared -.-” nd then the cnstant worry factor that Satori might become a fiend.

    :skshkeufkfbxhsks *rage*

    Thanks for the review, m

    • January 13, 2013 at 7:03 amk

      you got most of the character names wrong in your comment…

      • January 13, 2013 at 12:15 pmMi-Chan

        I was typing on my phone :D fat fingers lol x.x” I’m not good with char names anyway lol I was thinking if Satori the sand guy is chasing me from Naruto -.-”..

  • January 13, 2013 at 1:32 amploon

    I remember at the end of the second or third episode Saki mentions that if it weren’t for Maria, lots of lives would have been spared. Seems like a lot of queer rats are about to die trying to kill her and Mamoru.. or they do kill Mamoru and she goes on a rampage. She might even turn into a fiend.

  • January 13, 2013 at 2:42 amAki-Chan

    “Half the world Away”
    For some reason , out of all the things that sent a shiver through me while watching this episode ( which is pretty much everything , especially Squealer) , this was the thing that affected me the most.
    ~Uguuu~ I’m all tense now , wanting to know what Maria and Mamoru’s fate will be . And even what will become of Saki and Satoru. Because Saki looked slightly unhinged in parts of this episode (Which isn’t too suprising , considering …, but still)

  • January 13, 2013 at 3:00 amSora

    Very interesting. Squealer transformation from a cowardly slave to a Machiavellian politician.

  • January 13, 2013 at 8:22 amPoiira

    Did anybody else notice the rainbow interference that occurred when Satoru blocked that bamboo arrow? It was mentioned back in episode 2 during the competition that if two canti by chance went up against each other that a rainbow interference pattern would occur. Which makes me think that maybe Mamoru and Maria are actually hiding somewhere inside the Goat Moth stronghold?

    • January 13, 2013 at 9:00 ambarano

      More likely it was Satoru and Saki pulling up a shield at the same time.

  • January 13, 2013 at 12:52 pmHunterWulf

    Impressive episodes, i never felt comfortable towards Squealer, but i didn’t expect he would go this far in such short time, lobotomizing his queen and arranging a revolution against her then uniting all the other colonies under a form of democracy, not to mention use of factories and concrete that even humans don’t use anymore .. heck i wouldn’t be surprised that much if next time we see Squealer he would be wielding a primitive machine gun, riding a make-shift tank and threatening to blow up human settlements with home-made nukes XD

  • January 13, 2013 at 2:38 pmAel

    Mamoru and Maria’s fates seems dimer and dimer.
    But Squealer steals the show, for sure. And i did have the same uncomfortable impressions than Satoru about him ! Though Squealer made me think less about Machiavel and more about Nietzsche. In his quest to self-conservation, he demonstrates the will to power in spades.

    But, what bothers me the most is what Saki said about Squealer trying to lobotomize an human. Squealer said the procedure wasn’t very well executed for the Queen. Me thinks they are trying to perfect it. Squealer already manipulate Saki and Satoru as weapons against the Goat Moth Colony ! Next logical step for the squeerats seems to have a lobotomized human weapon at hands. The colony with a god at their disposal would be unstoppable !

    And even humans would be defensless against such a thing. If Squealer has access to ancient knowledge such as the false library one, he would know one day about the death feedback…

    Whatever the way, i think squeerats will one day rebel against theirs ‘gods’.

  • January 13, 2013 at 5:39 pmjhpace1

    Good episode. In their quest to find Maria and Mamoru, Saki and Satoru come across Squealer. Now Squealer/Yakomaru is the leader of 18,000 queer-rats, and quite the formidable ally. But for how long? I couldn’t help notice how Squealer/Yakomaru smiled while bowing when Satoru defended them from the Goat Moth’s arrows. It’s always nice to have a trump card in your pocket when visiting prospective new draftees of your budding empire.

    I think Saki and Satoru are not going to be able to find Maria and Mamoru in time. Given Squealer/Yakomaru’s new village, the children have bigger problems to report to the humans: the queer-rats are consolidating themselves into a civilization, not separate hives.

    Makes you wonder just who is doing what back at the village, doesn’t it? Supposedly the human villages have communication between each village and queer-rat slaves to track down Maria and Mamoru when needed. The truth is, I don’t think the humans control the countryside as much as they think.

    • January 15, 2013 at 10:57 amGermanguy

      Perhaps we get some “Apes arise and slave the Humans!”.. Strange, what kind of Film it remember me :)

  • January 15, 2013 at 10:55 amGermanguy

    Well, Squeeler knows or learned from their last “Visit”. if you “Worn out” the Gods, they can Die… Perhaps he is planning something. Or He has someone now as Hostage and forced an “God” to help them with knowledge

    or, he just capture some God and not Killed him, as he would “ordered”

  • January 16, 2013 at 7:20 amWhite

    Saki said maybe they are able to subdue humans and use their powers just like the queen. But what if they used the humans for reproduction instead since male queerats aren’t reported as being sterile (but women are sterile) what if this is what they are foreshadowing.

  • January 16, 2013 at 7:35 amSingerOfW

    It’s worth noting that Squealer is now called Yakomaru in the ED credits, just like Shun was called Boy X after his death. This attention to details makes me love SSY even more.

    Did anyone else think that Saki and Satoru seemed to be way too surprised about the shield that deflected the arrows? Especially after Squealer praised them for putting it up? Someone mentioned the rainbow, which makes me believe that they were protected by both Maria and Mamoru, who were somewhere where they could see the danger Saki and Satoru were in. There’s also Squonk’s words, which didn’t sound that convincing to me.

    • January 16, 2013 at 9:43 amAki-Chan

      I don’t remember Satoru being suprised , but Saki definetly was.Which does make it possible Maria and Mamoru are somewhere nearby.

    • January 16, 2013 at 1:32 pmGermanguy

      No. Not Surprised. That was a “self-defense” of them.

  • January 16, 2013 at 9:35 pmFarHorizon

    We’ve all been assuming that Maria and/or Mamoru will go karma demon or fiend. But what if they team up with some of the rapidly advancing Queerats and start their own fiefdom instead? Can you imagine what the established “gods” would think of that & the conflict it might start?

    The Queerats could kill for Maria & Mamoru without death feedback & this type of situation could last far longer than the fiend scenario. Maria & Mamoru probably wouldn’t be aggressive at first … but surely would defend themselves if pushed & we’ve seen how manipulative the Queerats can be. Plus there are tons of hints of impending trouble between Humans and Queerats, so why not link it to the missing pair?

    A prolonged conflict like that could be far far worse than the destruction caused by fiends/demons. Particularly if the Queerats really do have one of those libraries with data on more advanced weapons. PK/Cantus is insanely powerful, but thousands of suicidal bombers/snipers would take its toll & the Queerats seem to reproduce far more efficiently than the humans.

    Of course the best part of this possibility, is that the Board of Education would have created it themselves out of paranoia. Whereas if Maria/Mamoru go fiend/demon, it somewhat justifies their actions.