「闇に燃えし篝火は」 (Yami ni Moeshi Kagaribi wa)
“The Bonfires in the Darkness”

I think I now understand what exactly draws me back to Shin Sekai Yori week after week, funnily enough one week before this whole series is gonna end: that factor of unpredictability in the show. Okay, no, it’s not the entire reason. But it is a pretty big one! This is a show that never feels particularly orchestrated, and like in real life when you get a bunch of characters all making their own decisions and pursuing their own agendas, nothing ever quite plays out as it was intended. It’s episodes like this that really bring that flavour out, where scenarios play out with an almost emergent nature: Yakomaru and his forces using the topography of the area to counter Saki and co.’s plans, the B tactic of using the mirror to confuse, Satoru’s attempt at a suicide attack, and then Saki stopping him by burning up their only weapon against the fiend, the one thing that sent them on this very quest to hell on earth. Now that, I didn’t see coming.

And, man, I said this a couple of times, but they did a really good job building up the threat of the “fiend”. Watching him in action was always a gripping affair as he strode around killing everything in sight, but when the two characters I’ve grown to connect with the most had to face him off within the claustrophobic tunnels, well then shit just gets real. It being the climax and all, the growing fatalism in the show got to me, and I was constantly on the edge of my seat wondering if it was time for Satoru to finally bite it. (Not so much for Saki because of her narrative plot armor.)

It being the second last episode and all it was also about time to finally tackle the existential difference between human and queerat head-on once and for all, which Kiromaru was surprisingly open about. Responding to Saki’s growing resignation about their doomed situation, he underlies that between the two species, humans had a weaker will and a greater tendency to give up when the situation turns south.

I admit that at first the larger subtext of this statement confused me. After all, hadn’t the humans’ desperate struggle for survival been a driving theme of the show up until now? That certainly didn’t seem like “giving up”. As he went on about the queerats always looking to survive, I wondered again: “Hadn’t the humans been doing this as well?”

I ended up taking that the concept of survival meant something quite difference to each species. True, the humans committed multiple taboos, killed children and brainwashed people all in an attempt to stay alive; extremes that that can’t quite be waived off as “giving up”. But it doesn’t feel that this perpetuation of life is quite the same thing as what Kiromaru mused on about the survival of his species. In the 500 years of the Dark Ages prior to the story’s setting, humanity didn’t choose to expand in the same manner as history and repopulate the planet, but kept itself in a restrained state of life. On the flipside, the queerats has been characterised by their growth, and their survival of the fittest mentality. Kiromaru, himself representative of the queerat species, was willing to sacrifice his troops in an attempt to find a WMD that can be used against the human species. Without humans murdering them on a whim, his species could ensure survival and prosperity.

Both sides sacrificed plenty in their struggle for survival, but the fundamental difference seems to boil down to a single point. Humans sacrificed in hopes that things remain constant, which more often than not seems to end up with diminishing returns. Queerats sacrifice in hopes that things would be better off. It’s no wonder Kiromaru thought of the humans as giving up, if it appeared they never wanted a better tomorrow. Honestly though, this is open to a lot of interpretation (as is every other philosophical point raised by the show) and I’m sur people have their own thoughts on the matter as well. Looking at you philosophy majors to impress with your big words.

Interestingly, this also ties back into what has always been said about Saki’s character: that for all her insecurities and flaws she was special in her strength to never give up, and that clicked with what Kiromaru said about “giving up”. Her actions in destroying the psychobuster to save Satoru was a discourse from the state of perpetuation humanity arrived at, and really highlighted this difference about her in a way the show hadn’t quite managed before. The bigger implication isn’t lost; if the fiend had died along with Satoru like that, humanity would’ve just return to as it always was. In acting on her fear of being alone, Saki made a personal gamble for a better tomorrow in her life. This really is the culmination of what has been an amazing character arc for the girl across this entire series, and I daresay at this point, she’s entered the ranks of best protagonists I’ve seen in an anime series. (Been a while since we saw this level of intimacy from them too. I really enjoyed the relationship they’ve built across the entire series, from two bickering friends enduring through tragedy and loss to end up as two people who now can’t live without each other.)

And so we arrive at our last cliffhanger for the series. With the psychobuster destroyed and the mirror plan to confuse seemingly having no effect other than riling the fiend up, according to “Shun” the onus has fallen onto Kiromaru as the key to resolving the situation. This is the moment I’ve been waiting the whole series for; to see through their actions what kind of answer Saki, as the story’s representative of humanity, will finally arrive at. Will the half-dead but undying status quo be maintained, or can Man change, and if so in what manner?

And once again, man, I’m really gonna miss the weekly dose of Shin Sekai Yori.




    1. I was so relieved to see him still alive after this episode. My heart was about to burst, I can’t take this. On another note, cannot wait to see what Saki has planned for this fiend who isn’t really a fiend.

  1. Yeah, I am really going to miss watching this show as well.

    It has been an awesome journey, I can’t wait for next week when we find out what Saki’s plan is to deal with the fiend.

  2. One thing we know for sure, Saki will survive.
    Maybe she and Satoru will adopt the “fiend”? Uhh, guess not?

    Anything can happen, seriously, I wouldn’t be surpised if aliens showed up in the final ep. I just hope it won’t leave us with a cliffhanger or “movie coming soon, because 25 eps just aren’t enough”.

    Kill Yakomaru! He’s quite right though, humans never learn anything. After ep 16 I was like “war coming soon” and here we are. Predictable, but enjoyable.

    Maria and Mamoru’s kid kinda looks like Taiga. Hehe.

  3. The “fiend” has to kill a queerrat. That was what Shun was telling Saki.
    I still got chills when Satoru saw the “fiend” you could feel the pure fear and tension in that moment. It is like seeing literally seeing death walking towards you.
    I’m gonna miss this show too. From The New World is just so full of actual human reactions and emotions.
    And I think that that this episode also shows one of the major differences between humans and queerats. Humans are selfish. Saki didn’t want to be the sole survivor of Group 1. She has lost everyone except Satoru. I don’t think that her character, despite being told that she is “strong”, survive the loss of everyone she has loved. I really liked the scene where she stopped Satoru from possibly killing himself. It was unexpected, but expected.

    1. That’s what I was thinking, but then it occurred to me…didn’t the “fiend” destroy Kiroumaru’s forces? Or did he simply disarm them so that the others could be the ones to finish them off?

  4. Kiromaru didn’t want the weapon for his species as a whole, but for his colony. Much like human nations of the past the Queerats warred with each other and only cared about their equivalent of a nation. That’s why they have no problem taking the children of fellow colonies and raising them for the sole purpose of slaves. If he wanted just the survival of the species he wouldn’t be helping Saki and Satoru against Squealer, the one whose empire wiped out all of his men.

  5. This has to be one of the most gripping shows ive seen in ages, im on the edge of my seat throughout every episode!

    I totally didnt expect Saki to ignite the psychobuster to save Satoru, though it made sense why she did it. She didnt want the the only person left in her life to die. And she couldnt just pull him back like every other action movie because then she might have gotten anthraxxed too.

    I have some questions about some previous episodes that are still confusing me though(maybe novel readers can help):

    1. When Shun was hatching the egg ,what was the massive demon eye that we saw, it surely seemed significant then?

    2. Why did the copycat attack Saki when she was off to save Shun? If the granny knew she was special why did she send the cat after her?

    3. How did Saki and Mamoru defeat their respective copycats anyway,whats up with the chanting and twisting the cat like a wet towel?

    4. Why did the Karma demon Shun have to wear that strange mask? (Similar to the mask that was overlayed over Shuns face when we first meet him in episode 1, which i think made them stop talking about the missing kids).

    I still love this show but i feel those stuff would have been explained, or maybe i just missed something. Thanks in advance for the help 🙂

    1. I think I’ll tackle your questions, even though I’ve never read the novels (I really hope they release english translations soon).

      1) I believe it was significant only in that he had accidentally mutated the chicken that was supposed to hatch out of the egg with his subconscious Cantus leakage.

      2) It wasn’t Tomiko that was in charge of the cats. It was the Board of Education that did it all by themselves. Tomiko was head of the Board of Ethics I believe it was called, a separate branch of the government.

      3) The cats were initially meant to kill off those with weak or no Cantus. It is plausible that they aren’t strong enough to defeat someone who has a well developed Cantus.

      4) Someone mentioned this in a comment from Episode 10

      “Notice how Shun couldn’t stand to have anyone look at his face, not even himself, so he made a full-face mask? In Shin Sekai Yori, we have now seen masks as an indication of how powerful the person is. The more powerful, the less identity.”

    1. The death feedback is triggered when someone tried to kill a member of their own species. If the fiend-who-is-not-actually-a-fiend believes that it’s a queerat then there’s a possibility that it would trigger the death feedback.

      1. It’s completely illogical. If the child believes it’s a queerat and that triggers the feedback, then the feedback is psychological. Even if it was genetic, it’s still influenced by the child since the he has to perceive the queerats as his own species for the built in feedback to kick in. How did the queerats know this? It also means that anyone can work around the feedback by mentally training to view themselves as not human if the feedback is indeed built into them genetically. If it’s just psychological training, then again how did the queerats know how to train the child and any person can just undo the training.

    2. Humans are pre-disposed to not kill their own kind & it is fairly difficult to overcome. For example in WW 2, it is estimated that only 15-20% of soldiers fired their weapons with intent to kill the enemy: http://www.military-sf.com/Killing.htm

      Thus, there is already an ingrained abhorence of killing to work with. One just needs to modify & make this more pronounced.

      Is it possible? We have no idea .. but this makes it seem believable enough for a work of fiction.

  6. Saki, why?! I’m glad that Satoru is alive, but if she didn’t have a back-up plan neither of them would have stayed alive much longer after that. Couldn’t she have used her cantus to blow the anthrax away from Saotru and sweep it over the fiend?

  7. Very good point on the significance of Saki’s snap decision to burn the psycho-anthrax. Arguably it gives new meaning to what Tomiko might have been trying to achieve with her experiment in the first place.

    On a more narrative and less Doylian level, however, Kiroumaru’s statement is a stark illustration of the state of humanity in this story – where even the subordinate race, who should by all rights have a limited understanding of the inner workings of humanity and who rightly regard humans with a mixture of fear and awe, can observe the pattern of constant compromise and needless sacrifice with which humans regulate themselves. It spells out, too, quite simply why Kiroumaru felt the need to search for WMDs in the first place – because from that observation, he doubtlessly concluded that there was an yawning chasm between the bakenezumi way of life and the human way of life, a gap unbridgeable with the difference in power and irreconcilable in the status quo. If humans can’t even have faith in themselves, how can anyone have faith in them?

  8. Why didn’t Satorou just created a mirror to protect himself from the virus?
    Saki’s eyes in some shots were weird.
    How is Dream-Shuun or Hallucinating-Saki so sure The Child is not a fiend? It just feels to me a little plot-devicy.

    1. Totally agree. I know she’s supposed to be strong, and maybe in the back of her mind she was hoping for a better plan to save both Satoru and humanity but that isn’t the impression I got in that scene. It seemed to me she was overrun by her selfish desire to save her friend at the expense of humanity, and only afterwards thought of a possible way to have both.

      I may be alone on this one but however I look at it its the humans who are ‘bad guys’ in this scenario. They saw the queerats as lesser creatures, as dumb as a beast with neither intelligence nor morals. They saw no issues with eradicating entire colonies and using them as slaves at their will. If I was in the position of the queerats, I would like to think I would be part of the revolution too.

      Still though, what an awesome show! Can’t wait for the last episode.

      1. I was thinking that there is the key in the larger subtext. Her acting on emotions and her own moral compass, however selfish the reason, was atypical of humans’ tendency to only try and achieve a losing compromise.

  9. Huh. Last week, when the show’s main theme kicked in (you know, the one with the choral vocals), it actually had the lyrics, so I thought it was to stay like that for the last few episodes. But it was the same version we’ve heard for the whole fiend arc this week. I guess Shun’s comeback was that important for the narrative.

  10. This war is over. Saki won with the help of Shun’s hint. The secret to beating the “Fiend” is by imagining both yourself and the fiend as querats. I wish that Shun is more than just a spiritual guide but hey, you take what you get.


  11. I’m going to miss Shin Sekai Yori too, it’s quite possibly the most unique and creative show of it’s season. It’s been a very surreal and tense journey.

    Though I can’t wait to see how the fiend is dealt with, I honestly just want to see Yakumaru explode in a horrific fashion.

    I’m quite happy Saki saved Satoru, I doubt Saki could bear the thought of possibly living in a world where all her childhood friends are dead. The only world she’ll accept is one where Satoru made it out with her. I hope this gamble pays off for her and that her other plan will finally wrap up this journey.

  12. Well, i know a very good Example for the “Boy?Girl?” that think he/she is a Queerrat.

    Tarzan, from the Jungle.

    And… The point with that Queerrats has nor Mirrors dont work really right. What if he/she saw his Mirror on Water? Is nearly the same. He just dont saw other Humans. Perhaps the Queerrats stolen he/she a baby from his/her Parents. Well. i dont need to explain further, we know what happed with them.. What? Hint. Look ate The Preview for Last Episode…

      1. But, if the succeed to “calm” the wannabe Fiend. the Queerrats will lose their “prophet” aka Weapon of Mass Destruction. And then their are again “Helpless” against the Gods

        Without the Prophet, they only can go onto surprise attacks like they done in the Village

  13. Dude, I don’t care what anyone says, that Fiend makes a great trap, I wouldn’t put it pass them if they actually consider it to be a girl instead of a boy. Which reminds me, how do they know for a fact it’s a male? One thing is that it is Maria’s child, another is its gender. What proof do they have, or is it that only boys can turn into fiends? Did I miss this somewhere? Nevermind the fact that they now think it’s not a fiend, they did the second everything started.

      1. Seriously! I can’t get over how beautiful that child is.

        Now just imagine if Maria found out about Tomiko’s powers and tried to use her own to Saki… How beautiful would s/he be?

      2. o_o Elaborated. What magical powers do you speak of?
        The power to revolutionized the world!

        Are you implying that Tomiko has the power to create offsprings and Maria could use that to make a sexy baby with Saki!?
        -Mind exploded-

      3. @Solara:
        Tomiko’s ability to manipulate her telomeres. I like to think if Maria knew something like that was possible, then maybe she wouldn’t have said she can’t have kids with Saki. 😉

      4. A lovely thought indeed. When Maria said that my heart sank a little. I’m sure she regrets having kids now. Dojins artists, make this happen now! They are the unsung heroes I say!

  14. If you have never seen a mirror, you are not likely to recognize the reflection as your own the first time you see it. Take cats for example, they either ignore mirrors completely, or they try to look behind the mirror. I could buy it if the ‘fiend’ attacked the reflection and collapsed the cave, for example. But the way they presented it is rather ridiculous…

    1. Well, the Kid got confused. You notice it, because he/she dont kill on sight. If he/she was the Old one, both where long gone in his/her eyesight. But he was confused. At last not all “Human” instincts was not pollute with Queerrats Mind play

  15. Well perhaps we get to know the Secret behind the Queerats gain that much “Wisdom” of Humans.

    Building stronger Houses, Weapons, Armors and all. I still think, some Human that got exiled or something, help them out with Wisdom. These “Minoshiros” have a self defense, you know. But perhaps that dont work on Queerrats. But they dont tell anything to anyone…

    Still guessing in the Dark….

  16. “Humans sacrificed in hopes that things remain constant, which more often than not seems to end up with diminishing returns.”

    As I’ve mentioned before, that’s the basic gist of this entire series, which was quite evident early on for those who paid careful attention.

    Society simply gave up on progress. That’s the biggest difference between the society Saki lives in and the one that existed before the rise of Cantus. The very fact that they chose to kill children out of fear of an existential threat and passed it off as a permanent solution is evidence enough.

    The real solution would have been to continuously research Cantus and the way it works until the syndromes behind Fiends and Karma Demons could be cured. But that isn’t possible with this society, since their goal is to keep everything as constant as possible, so they can pretend like they’re living in some fake utopia.

    Advancement in technology was forsaken, to completely absurd extremes, which Saki herself notices when she realizes that more humans could have saved themselves if they had electricity or more advanced communications and traveling methods.

    And adding death feedback to the human genome, without researching it’s usefulness in stopping Fiends from appearing, was by far their stupidest move, since it removed a human’s ability to kill another, thereby leaving them as defenseless targets if and when a person turned into a Fiend.

    They became a textbook example of societal ignorance. Hopefully, given that Saki herself has noticed this, tries to take over and brings in progress to society.

  17. We’re all missing the biggest event of this episode: The death of the false minoshiro.

    Gotta say, I almost ditched this show at episode 4 or so. The heck was I thinking?

    Enker Blues
  18. Well, for Starters to turn the “fiend” into Human. They should give this Kid a name. So he raise from “Fiend/Insect” Status to “Human” 🙂 *insider*

    important is, has he/she some lost memories of his/her Parents? That would make it easier

  19. How could a useless character like Saki become the leader of the new generation ?

    Satoru is the real badass in this show. He’s strong willed, he has a great Cantus, he’s smart, while Saki is unable to protect herself, always in shock… Last episode, she was watching for the big submarine beast to get her, powerless and unable to move as the other character got killed in the process of saving her. Great resistance to stress ? You’re kiddin, right ?!
    And now she wiped out their only chance to save themselves on a whim ? That was the FIRST TIME that she decided something on her own… and that was completely foolish. She spent the whole show relying on others.

    Honestly, she should sacrifice herself so that Satoru would lead the way ! He would be a much more fitted leader.

    1. Satoru definitely has the traits and capabilities to be a great leader, but at the same time, I still have to say Saki was still the right choice to be the leader of the new generation — even despite my belief that it probably would have been better to let the psychobuster do its work.

      And that’s because while the traits Satoru possesses are fitting, they’re also limiting in the context that he doesn’t seem to have that much flexibility in terms of thinking outside the box. He has this firm belief in logic and chance, which while great for maintaining the status quo, isn’t something that could ever result in any kind of improvement for the people he’d lead — many of whom would undoubtedly feel discontent with such a leader in front. In ways, his conviction in justice is arguably too strong, to the point where there is no gray area to him. He’d get you results, but the question is what you’d lose in the process.

      What Saki brings on the other hand, is a kind of vision. She sees options and hope where others don’t, which brings about a large number of possibilities as a result. Some of them are likely to lead to more negatives than what Satoru’s lead would result in, but some of them are likely to also result in bigger gains than Satoru could ever hope to attain. In addition, the fact that she’s not overwhelmingly powerful actually makes her a better leader, because it shows she’s human — that she has flaws like everyone else — and it’s something that’s arguably more important because it makes people more likely to trust her — a trust that people know she will reciprocate and build off of. In addition, she’d be less likely to abuse the position as well.

      Ultimately, the basic thing for me is that sometimes it’s just not about being physically powerful. It’s the intangibles you bring to the table. And for Saki, her ability to maintain her vision and flexibility in the face of hardship, is what her (and likely her village’s) saving grace will be. Many others clearly would’ve been biased or extreme toward one side (especially Satoru), but Saki manages to maintain her neutral nature, which in turn brings a hope of things such as re-established amicable relations with the Queerrats for one, and is probably the reason Kiroumaru didn’t end up turning on them when they actually found the psychobuster — because she’s not completely biased against exospecies despite having every reason to be. Put Satoru in the leadership role though, and you’d likely see the scenario develop much, much differently.

      And yes, you can look at how many other characters were killed in the process of saving her as a negative thing, but at the same time, you have to consider that the people who sacrificed their lives for her chose to do so — because they believed in her, trusted her, and trusted in Tomiko’s choice. Through the series, you haven’t seen an instance of anyone ever feeling the same or doing feeling something similar for Satoru, which is why Saki ends up being the better choice in my opinion. Again, it’s nice to have a strong leader, but what’s strength without the trust?

      In that context, Satoru notably ends up being an ideal second-in-command kind of candidate actually, as he’d be the ideal person you’d want fighting by your side in terms of strength and morals.

      1. I couldnt have said it any better myself; Satoru does make a better second-in-command. Saki has the moral compass to be a benevolent leader and change the status quo of the human race. That’s not to say that Satoru does not have excellent morals, but for this society to change, i think they need someone who is strong-willed and willing to take alternatives even in the most dire of situations. Since Satoru’s thinking is so logic-based and based solely on rationality, he doesn’t quite fit the bill. In regards to Saki destroying the psychobuster, it seems to me that people are overlooking the fact that her action was (an in the moment-type thing) based on a surge of pure love for a companion that she could not do without. Satoru has always been there for her and without her realizing, she has grown to fall in love with him to the point that she would rather die than live in a world without him.

        Unfortunately the anime has done such a SHITTY job illustrating the growing feelings Saki has been developing for Satoru that the scene didnt really have the impact it should; i think it would have helped change a lot of viewer’s opinion about Saki’s decision and better understand why she did what she did, even though she put the human race at risk.Due to the lack of emotional development between Saki and Satoru prior to that scene, if anything does happen between them in the final episode, it would seem out of left field and lose the impact it should have had; and if nothing happens between them then uhm….i wouldnt even know what to say. To me, Shin Sekai Yori has been more about the characters surviving the hellish reality of their world than the plot so it has been very disappointing seeing how distant our duo has been this past arc, truly disappointing.

    2. Or to be easy, you can just say the story is about the development of Saki to become the leader of the new generation. No leader can become a true leader when they never dealt this kind of experience. For me, Satoru is more suitable to become the General of the society but not the leader. Try to imagine a leader who could just use the so-called “psychobuster” in some sort of suicide case. What will happen when another “war” happens in the future?

      Anyway, I felt they cut Shun from the anime too early, I really miss him a lot. All the death are really disappointing but I guess it is all for a good plot. 🙁

    3. It wasn’t a bit confusing in the anime why Saki just burned away the very thing they went to Tokyo for. Saki wasn’t just worried about Satoru being infected – she was also worried that since Satoru was intending to harm another human being, the death feedback might kick in.

      The last episode showed exactly this problem. Even though Saki did not directly harm someone, she intended to harm another person. Her death feedback kicked in because of that.

  20. Nice End for this Series. I wished they have more Time with “her”. And at the End, we got the Truth out…

    Nice End, but a Sad end, with Hope of a better Future. The Last Screen say it all

  21. Best Sci-fi/Fantasy of the season. Psycho-PASS is also good. But the message of Shinsekai Yori is deeper. Both shows have similar storylines– human societies had evolved to conceal their dirty pasts on how to oppress people to gain power. In Psycho, it was the omnipotent computer system Sibyl that controlled the fate of every citizen. In Shinsekai, it was “ethnic” cleansing via genetic engineering. At the end, the status quo prevailed. The heroines from both shows had no choice but to comply and help conceal the secrets. I gave Shinsekai an edge because the “bad guy” in that story was harder to identify. “Humans” were the oppressors and victims at the same time. It is human nature to eliminate potential “threats” by oppression. But oppression is an unsustainable, self-defeating strategy in the sense that it will only keep on creating new enemies until the oppressors are eventually outnumbered and outmaneuvered. Power sharing is easier said than done. Perhaps equal respect can be achieved only when the oppressor is less powerful. Shinsekai plays on the Baconian maxim that “knowledge is power” by burning down the library at the very end of the story. Maybe it was a hint that, by removing a bit of knowledge (and, hence, their power) from the humans, they may be able to move closer to equality with the queerats. I am glad we have such a high-quality show during a lack-luster season.


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