「 審判の刻」 (Shinpan no Toki)
“The Hour of Reckoning”
This week’s Subarashiki Kono Sekai teeters towards the finale as Konishi’s battle ends up bridging the gap between Neku and Beat’s current ordeal and the end-game. But as friends reunite, they are given a far more nefarious obstacle as Kitajini knows how to take full advantage of the game while it’s going haywire.
The first part of the episode was a decent way to wrap up Konishi’s arc considering that there was a small bit of story left before they reached the end of the game. There is somewhat of an issue the anime has with not making its boss battles as grand but compared to the first boss during Shiki’s week, it isn’t too much of a letdown. The character models staying consistent really helps the anime excel, especially since it translates as well as it did for the anime.
The second half of the episode was effective in being the main area where Neku’s growth is put to the test. With Shiki and Rhyme back, he’s able to let his guard down more easily as he can finally tell Shiki how important she was in shifting his worldview towards a more compassionate, altruistic route. While the Neku of the past would have thought nothing of Beat’s emotions as he’s left to wonder what his and Rhyme’s entry fees might be, the Neku of the present is concerned for his well-being and wants to assure him that humoring Konishi’s last attempt to get under his skin will only shake him up.
Kitajini’s emergence also lends itself to counteracting how Neku matured throughout the story. Kitajini’s motivation for being a malevolent force in Shibuya is his personal desire for humanity to surpass its own ego, but much of this is through the egotistic idea of distrusting an individual’s autonomy.
With their own personal motives that make them self-absorbed and only focused on goals that will benefit them at the end of the day, the humanity that Kitajini knows best are the shallow and careless people that would hypothetically wind up in purgatory once everything is said and done. As the game master of purgatory, it only makes sense for Kitajini to want to unite everyone with brainwashing pins designed to embrace conformity.
It’s definitely prime fodder for a game that embraces the youth culture of Shibuya (Much like Jet Set Radio) because Neku ends up being representative of the younger generation who uses their life experiences as a way to learn from the past to influence the future. By confronting his insecurities and his habit of suppressing his emotions from the same people Kitajini resents, it forces Neku to learn from his ignorance and embrace the parts of himself that can understand and empathize with others’ personal experiences.
In the process, his motivation to prevent Shibuya from adhering to Kitajini’s version of paradise ends up being to allow Shibuya’s locals to express themselves as much as they can so that the predominant culture ends up being a variety of unique ideas that can continue to not only be shared but inspire others to counter said ideas with completely new ones.
Rather than the toxic individuality of sticking to your own road that Neku used to embrace or the mindless hivemind Kitajini aspires towards, Neku’s current fight is to preserve Shibuya’s melting pot of different unique voices that allow influencers to share their ideas with others to see if they take off or influence others to also become influencers and create a diaspora of fresh, innovative ideas.