Shin Sekai Yori – 22
As much as it feel the show still has so much story in it left to tell, we’re definitely at the climax here. All the principles are assembled in a fittingly desolate Wasteland Tokyo for a final showdown, and on the line is a prize that’s perhaps the greatest irony the story has cooked up so far. Yet such an outcome could not be any truer to what Shin Sekai Yori has been: utterly uncompromising in its karmic irony and the cruelty that underlies our instinctive desire for survival.
I will first admit, I was fairly surprised when Saki got handed a False Minoshiro just like that, and then I started beating myself up over my obliviousness when it hit me Saki’s mom had been head librarian all this while. D’oh. Boy I wish my library had a couple of these bad boys. Energy-efficient, high memory capacity, playback features, and a GPS. And if those specs weren’t enough, it also makes for one hell of an adorable paper weight. But enough envying the things I can’t get, and let’s press on. Saki’s mom hands to her the “so secret we don’t even know there’s a secret” knowledge of the last WMD from the old civilizations, a bacteria weapon based on Anthrax and developed to specifically target psychics, with a boatload of accompanying scientific terms all flying over my head to emphasize that, yep, this thing is gonna kill, and kill good. (Oh don’t look away, I bet you microbiologists were beside yourselves with glee at this point.)
Now, this strikes me as a really interesting bit to speculate over. Why did squealer, for all his cunningness and stratagems, choose the roundabout way of raising a fiend army to destroy all humans when there was a perfect be-all-that-ends-all weapon? I scarcely believe he didn’t know about the WMD beforehand. After all, why personally pursue Saki’s group with the fiend in tow if he didn’t? The most logical speculation perhaps is that he knew of the weapon’s existence but not its location beforehand, hence the elaborate smoke and mirrors that was the invasion of the village.
Or perhaps it’s the presence of the wildcard Kiromaru, whose motives are every bit as ambiguous as we had expected them to be. (Not to mention, the guy smirks in every other scene. Red herring or not, they didn’t have to make it look that obvious.) It’s hard to discount the possibility that Kiromaru might actually be in leagues with our scheming antagonist, despite his feudal-appropriate sense of loyalty and nobility. There were many gaps in his story, such as the extremely convenient way he eluded the fiend, and we all know how coincidences aren’t what they seem in this show. And at the same time, I just can’t see him sharing the same ideological perspective as Squealer; those two were meant to be standing at opposite ends of the spectrum, and with that I cannot buy that he would sacrifice his entire colony for any kind personal gain. So where does that leave him? Kiromaru didn’t voluntarily go to Tokyo with Saki and co. purely out of nobility, and I’m suspecting there’s something in it for him, probably revenge against Squealer, waiting at the end of this path.
And then the irony piles on top of irony; Saki wonders if the fiend really is a fiend at all. Truthfully, I haven’t thought of that particular point (or more like I haven’t had time to settle down and think between episodes. You know how final year dissertations go.) but now that it has been brought up, it’s certainly something I wonder why I didn’t think about earlier. I was purely thinking in terms that no death feedback = fiends, but that simply makes them uninhibited psychics. What then becomes the definitive trait of the fiend? The irrationality and insanity? Because from what we see in this episode, these are questionable aspects of the “fiend”, who displays a certain level of awareness and intelligence. I’m half inclined to believe he had been screeching in the queerat language, (Inui’s demonstrated that, yes, the fiend responds passively to the queerat cries) and as we’ve seen in previous episodes, he follows their beckoning with little question. If there is any truth to this, you wouldn’t have much trouble imagining the utter irony of the situation; the characters had convinced themselves that regression into a fiend state was an irreversible process, and much like putting a rabid animal to sleep, they were convinced it was for the good of both fiend and human they be killed. But if that wasn’t the case, this would be a human child freed of the human’s impositions, but similarly brainwashed the values and mentality of the queerats, and thus most likely ignorant of his own actions. How can those delusional principles even apply in the same way?
In fact, it seems the show has been building towards this particular point, with the characters continuously reiterating the point Saki’s “strength” of will; first with Maria, then with Tomiko, and now again with Saki’s mom in that farewell letter, that Saki has the fortitude to endure whatever hell she is put through. And perhaps that might be what the show might come down to; would she have the strength of will to cut down a child who was as much a victim of the world as she was, and to carry that burden for the rest of her (immortal) life, in order to survive?
Fantastic art is fantastic, pretty wasteland Tokyo is pretty, awesome submarine sequence is awesome, and sweet, sweet irony all around. Had to get that in somewhere before I wrapped this post up, but like every other episode in the adult arc, it delivers in amazing ways. We’re pretty much moving at a breakneck speed now, so much so the show even has to rely on a montage, but otherwise I find little to complain about the hasty pacing; or at least it doesn’t feel like I’m missing anything essential that I couldn’t already figure out. There’s almost no reason at this point for me to doubt Shin Sekai Yori will deliver a satisfying and spectacularly tragic end.
Zephyr’s post is already up, and this was here last week as well, but for anyone who missed it, here it is again: Interested in the Shin Sekai Yori novels? I recently found there’s a movement calling for Vertical Inc. to TL and publish an English Localized Version of the novels. They’ve responded but need the interest, and want to know if they’ll be able to sell at least 4.5k copies in the US, UK and Canada. I know we’ll all like to see this happen, so what can we do? Just like/repost this tumblr article or bug the editor-in-chief with your emails to show your interest! Spread the word! Vertical also published another translated work by Shin Sekai Yori author Yusuke Kishi called The Crimson Labyrinth, so checking this out would be another way of showing support! - Check out Zephyr’s post for more info!