Shin Sekai Yori – 18
「紅い花」 (Akai Hana)
Wow, talk about an explosive episode. I didn’t think the developments would move ahead that quickly as they did with the sudden resolution of the queerat conflict and the subsequent invasion, but the show’s making it increasingly clear they don’t plan on dragging the mystery out any much longer, even if we’ve barely settled into this latest arc. Then again, considering we’ve just about 6 more episodes till the end of this series (doesn’t feel like it. At all.) it’s just about the right time for the story to escalate to its climax, and a war between humans and queerats, possibly against fiend-turned Maria or Mamoru as well, seems like the perfect setup for a provocative conclusion, in the way Shin Sekai Yori has always been.
The episode itself goes out of its away to make it damn clear the queerats’ militeristic actions have been something long in planning, although I doubt it’s a suspicion that escaped most. As was the suspicion that Maria and Mamoru are somehow implicated in the giant hornet’s sudden and disturbingly efficient annihilation. While Tomiko shoots down the very theory raised by Kaburagi, the explanations are all the more reason for suspicion. Yakomaru’s faked remains of the two escapees are far too perfect, something which seems to bother Saki as well. Human shaped and sized bones are somehow reasonable, but to the extent of perfect dental records and DNA matching? It’s easy to certify that somehow, Yakomaru has somehow gained control over of the two humans and incorporated them into his plans. Or if not, it’s equally frightening a thought as to how he came into possession of this information on humans. Conspicuously, Kiromaru has been noted to be missing as well, and I’m fully expecting his return would provide some of the answers on the exact plans of Yakomaru’s.
The queerats invasion itself was a tense, exciting affair, if a little bereave of anything much to expand upon. Those were some really creative and visually entertaining tactics that they employed, especially the suicide bombers’ attack, which featured some of that awesome, stylized action that we saw in the early episodes. Perhaps the most curious thing that can be speculated upon is the reason for the attack itself; no doubt there’s a greater plan in mind with this attack, whether it’s for testing the waters, a pre-emptive strike against the humans before their colonies were to be attacked, or riling up the humans, but there’s far too little of that to go on at the moment. Not to mention this attack practically raised the defcon level of the village to 1 and encouraged an offensive, so how would provoking his enemies figure into Yakomaru’s dastardly schemes? It’ll certainly be an eye opener when we finally learn the extents of his plots, as the queerats’ secret machinations have been building up to be hugely ambitious since the early parts of the show.
But perhaps the most interesting thing I found of the invasion was the human reaction itself to the queerat attack. I figured the human perspective of queerats were that of a lower lifeform, but I don’t think there’s any way to discount the sense of disregard during the attack, or at least during its start. Hino Koufuu’s (Taniyama Kishou) clowning around despite the deaths around him was most representative of this, but Kaburagi’s calm, stoic handling of the situation, and his order that no one interferes just implies how small a threat the attack was to them. And it almost felt like they were taking their time to toy around with the queerats by turning back the gas and guns on them. It wasn’t until Koufuu’s underestimation getting the better of him with a sneak attack, at which point a >raging, double-iris Kaburagi (was he mutated by karma demons?) completely destroys the entire attacking force in a moment. Watching this display reminded me of the flashback shorts from the early episodes, where overpowering psychics completely disregarded and toyed with the non-psychics in their empires. And it seems to parallel the relationship between humans and queerats. We might have come to sympathise with humanity in their struggle for survival, but really, how much has humanity changed in their nature over all that time?
It’s isn’t really much of a complaint though, but I just couldn’t make any sense of that scene when those light beams expelled from a dying Koufuu and an ethereal woman – my guess is an adult Maria – took shape. Another one of those surrealistic, forboding hallucinations, like many of Saki’s dream sequences? Nor can I make any sense of that last scene with Maria restating her love for Saki. Perhaps it’s the show going out of its way to hint at Maria’s almost certified involvement, and her motives probably even has something to do with her love. I admit I have a soft spot for these kind of scenes, as they contribute immensely to that foreboding atmosphere, and are typically pretty creative in their depiction. But honestly, both felt rather out of place with the sequence of events here.