It always seems like a fresh experience every time I go into a Shin Sekai Yori episode. Maybe it’s because we’re barely a quarter into the show and there’s still that shiny coat of paint, but I’m continuously fascinated by the amount of content brought to the table every week. In contrast to its disquieting beginnings this is Shin Sekai Yori at its most action-packed yet, a thoroughly enjoyable romp packed with some real visual treats in the PK powers, while still delivering the same enthralling narrative, albeit with the first few noticeable stumbles here.
Guilty as charged is the fantastically trippy scene that opened the episode up, of a naked Shun bursting from the ground and Minoshiros creeping up to a confused Saki. I’d like to think that the production has been pretty water-tight up until now in its narrative and direction, but I’m not entirely sure what I’m supposed to be taking from this scene. Is it a hallucination brought forth by her stress, or an effect of the poisonous gas? Right now, I’m inclined to believe it was a waking dream where Saki evaluated the disparate events of the last few episodes subconsciously, eventually giving her the idea of a hypnosis-induced reboot of Satoru’s juryoku. But it remains a disparate scene with no real narrative connotation, one that strikes me more as “style over substance”. (Well, asides from the implications of her dreaming about Shun naked. No surprises who she wants to “Bonobo” with!)
I know, I know, I’m making a pretty big hoo-hah for only two minutes of the episode, because asides from this incongruent scene it’s business as usual for Shin Sekai Yori. Continuing from last episode, the focus here remains squarely on Saki and Satoru, both who see a number of affirmations and turns to their respective characterizations. We’ve seen Saki time and again display an uncanny perception to the events that occur; she’s the one coming up with unorthodox but highly effective solutions to their problems, and through her brainstorms we’re seeing how individual plot points are connected. This episode brought that intellectual capability to the forefront, where in a particularly clever move she used the mantra she sneakily learned from Satoru – Again, that uncanny resourcefulness on display here – to re-hypnotize his juryoku back. And for most of the episode, she’s the guiding hand to Satoru’s PK sword, directing his attacks and playing the role of strategist as they move on to the offensive against the Ground Spider queerats. Now how’s that for a capable protagonist? She’s really coming into her own in this series, and that’s something I can appreciate.
On the flipside, to see Satoru’s character take a 180 after regaining his PK brings something new for us to consider. We know from last episode that when the situation turns grim, he can become surprisingly level-headed and resourceful, but with his PK restored he only moves further away from that typical bratty front. There’s a clear bloodlust present throughout the episode as he hunts down the Queerats with his overpowering PK while dispelling Saki’s attempts to dissuade him from his spree. It’s an intriguing shift in character, and I can only wonder if he’s on some PK-fueled power trip – like that moment of catharsis you get murdering thousands of innocents in GTA…what? I’m sane! – or if this is some sort of genetic disorder (like the Fiends and Demons) that’s associated with the PK abilities. Regardless, the intended parallels of his rampage to the PKers of times past are obvious, seeing as how Satoru stepped beyond the act of self-defence to actively wage war on the Ground Spiders. The morality of the need to inhibit PK powers is again brought into question, especially since we see Satoru undergoing such a drastic change in personality this quickly.
Speaking of which, I really liked how the fights with the Ground Spiders played out here. There’s a lot of creativity in how the PK abilities are utilized: there’s of course the standard psychic powers like the deflection of projectiles and rocks, but then we get to see some really creative stuff like the bombardment of flaming trees and the zombie-like manipulation of the dead queerats. Equally entertaining to watch were the varied ambushes Ground Spiders prepared and the wildly distinct monsters carrying them out, from this tree bark creature to the frogs and moles. How did the Ground Spider tribe manage to control these disparate species? There’s plenty of questions raised about their army and tactics, not forgetting the fact that they also possess those gas pumps that seem far beyond the technological levels of the tribes. Plus, what of the Robber Fly’s true motive? While appearing subservient to the duo, Saki soon picks up that there’s something off about their actions the way they’re being led into ambush after ambush. The Ground Spiders remain the immediate concern and I’m pretty sure they still want them gone, but there are hints being dropped that Squealer and the Robber Fly tribe might have further goals.
It’s an engrossing episode the way Shin Sekai Yori has been every week, but before I end off there are a couple of nagging inconsistencies to be mentioned. For one, why was it that Saki couldn’t tell her mantra to Satoru to regain her PK? And secondly, why wasn’t there a death feedback for Satoru’s killing spree? After revisiting episode 4, it struck me during Rijin’s act of sealing the kids’ juryoku that his words also imply their mantras were removed, probably sealed from their memories. And it’s possible that the increasing exhaustion of Satoru could’ve been the death feedback instead of the overexertion it seemed to be. If so, the script definitely could’ve expanded on this more clearly, as these were questions I felt could’ve been answered pretty easily within the episode. Still, it’s a good showing from Shin Sekai Yori again, and I’m looking forward to the hook the next episode brings.
- Apologies for the later than usual post as I was out of town over the weekends. (For the amazing Distant Worlds concert.)
Also, no episode preview with the early broadcast this week. I’ll check again during the standard broadcast and if the preview’s there I’ll update this post accordingly.Updated with preview from standard broadcast.
Full-length images: 25