Shin Sekai Yori – 23
「少年の顔」 (Shounen no Kao)
“The Face of the Boy”
Tokyo is supposedly hell on earth in Shin Sekai Yori. But honestly, asides from being a very pretty looking wasteland, this statement hardly connected with me until I saw what Tokyo had to offer in the depths of its caverns. As the characters move deeper in, we get that oh-so-effective transition into bizzaro-world, where tiger slugs and giant glowing tapeworms reside, and where a swarm of bloodsucking mites rules at the top of the food chain. Death lurks in every corner of this cave, and as Inui came to learn, the characters only need just slip up once to meet their sudden end.
Again, the atmosphere being set up here is second to none. This really is one of those show where the art is truly free to explore in really creative ways, where we get creatures like the aforementioned tiger slugs and giant sea worms with oni mask faces. It really helps make a post-apocalyptic Tokyo feel as alien as it rightly should be. And somehow, the writing manages to account for these details with the cantus leakage bit. There really is some cosmic irony at work here when we learn Tokyo is only hell on earth because the humans believed it so, and changed the ecology in that manner. A throwback to the explanation regarding cantus leakage that happened nearly an entire cour ago, and it was so simple, so well-tied to the lore and themes, that I have to marvel at the deceptively simple genius of it all.
Thank god the show didn’t beat around the bush on the Kiromaru issue. It’s obvious he had an agenda in following them to Tokyo, and Satoru’s warning in the preview seems to suggest as much, but we can only speculate as to what. I’m guessing the queerats have another objective in Tokyo beside the psychobuster and “fiend” situation. We see how Kiromaru splits the group into two, letting Saki and Inui take the false minoshiro and then letting them walk into a death trap. I’m thinking the psychobuster wasn’t his objective all along, or otherwise Saki wouldn’t have gotten it with all the scheming. I’m starting to wonder if Kiromaru’s former expedition and his goal this time around again, is another prize waiting amidst the ruins of Tokyo. Of course, while the theory that Kiromaru is working with Squealer is still in the running, I just can’t buy the idea of a possible allegiance between the two queerats.
Brought up last episode, this episode also confirmed the “fiend” to not be one at all. I’m really looking forward to hearing the story behind this of how exactly Squealer managed to raise a psychic without the death feedback, and the almost inevitable moral conundrum that’ll result from using the Psychobuster Saki obtained on this “fiend”.
The big moment of the episode was undoubtedly Shun’s reappearance. Gotta admit, it was pretty obvious we would see the guy at least one more time before the series reached it end. And what a scene it was, A1 certainly didn’t disappoint with the moment where Saki finally remembers his name and chased his phantom down amidst the ruin of Tokyo. I definitely got the chills as the music built towards the climatic reveal. So who is this, really? A metaphorical phantom of Saki’s regained memories, or the actual person himself? Or, in Shin Sekai Yori fashion, some psychic afterimage imprinted into Saki’s mind? Whatever this Shun turns out to be, it’s definitely exciting to hear what he has to say next episode.