Shin Sekai Yori – 06

[UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_06.40_[2012.11.03_21.12.59] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_08.42_[2012.11.03_21.15.13] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_18.13_[2012.11.03_21.25.06]

The last two episodes of Shin Sekai Yori have had a “which one isn’t like all the rest?” feel to them.

Someone (forgive me, I can’t recall who) suggested that the change in art style courtesy of the idiosyncratic Yamauchi Shigeasu last week was intentional, to make the near-sex scene between Saki and Satoru less shocking than it would have been with the normal cute character designs.  I can’t vouch for whether that’s true or not, but I can say that I fell in with the camp who generally liked the change in style (though not necessarily wished it would continue) – the more mature character designs and paranoid camera work suited the freak-out mood of the ep very well, and I like to see studios willing to take chances like that.

This week the series returns to it’s more familiar look, with relative unknown Kurosawa Mamoru in the director’s chair, and we have an episode that gives the very familiar feeling of having lasted about five minutes instead of 22 – a peculiar quality that attests to the superb pacing and arresting nature of Shin Sekai Yori, and one that I’ve never experienced this intently in any other series.  But it was an odd episode nonetheless.  For about the first five minutes, my feeling was “My God, this show is getting even more trippy and I didn’t think that was even possible.”  But after that it felt – at least to me – like the most conventional anime episode in the first six.  The background music had more of a modern feel, and the narrative structure was more linear and driven by pure action.

As for the trippy part, presumably we can lay some of that at the feet of the poisoned gas that leaked in through the collapsed cave and caused Saki to have some very strange visions – either that, or she’s one hell of a dreamer.  Freudians and Jungians can make what they will of Shun appearing from the ground like a Queerat soldier – I don’t know whether the obvious anatomical anomaly was supposed to be significant or was just odd censoring – and then turning into a Minashiro.  But the materially significant part was her memory of a typical boy-girl incident in class, where she dared Satoru to “show her his if she showed him hers” – mantra, that is.  The hallucinations apparently clued Saki into the fact that Rijin’s theft of their cantus was a hallucinatory exercise itself, and with Satoru’s mantra (short) having been stored in her subconscious she was able to replicate the ritual where the children receive their mantra from the Buddhist monks, and restore his.  Of course having had her own mantra purged and not being able to see her own piece of paper in her vision, she still doesn’t remember her own – but one cantus is surely better than none.

Or is it?  That brings us to what I think is the most important element of the episode.  If last week’s ep revealed the influence of the genetic engineering and the “Bonobo Effect”, this week brought us a taste of what happens when PKs overcome their programming and get a taste of violence.  Without suspecting it would come home to roost quite so quickly, I said this of Saki overcoming her Bonobo programming last week:

In this instance it may seem like a good thing (though perhaps not to poor frustrated Satoru) but given what we know about what the human race has done over the last thousand years and are still capable of, perhaps it’s not such a good thing after all.

Satoru was always a brash little boy but I never saw him as truly violent or mean-spirited – just a typical genki kid with too much energy and a streak of braggadocio.  In short, I think what happened this week wasn’t some character flaw in Satoru – any one of the children would have reacted to the taste of blood the way he did.  And there’s no question that the feeling of power he got from killing all those Ground Spiders have him a major rush (who knows, maybe sexual frustration made it even worse).  So was giving a cantus to a PK with no choice but to use it in self-defense really a good idea?  Though, to be fair, it’s not as though Saki had much of a choice either.

That’s the essence of the matter for me – the pure thrill a PK gets from slaughtering Muggles is exactly what those scientists spent all those centuries trying to bury so deep that it would never again see the light of day, and now that it has I’m not sure the genie can be put back in the bottle.  I still don’t know exactly what Queerats are – though I’m certain their connection to humans is very direct – but I don’t think it matters much to the PK doing the killing.  There’s no denying that the Ground Spiders are very good at killing themselves – hiding in impossible places to launch ambushes, employing frog poison on their arrows and oddly cyberpunk technology to pump poison gas, possibly even shapeshifting (and they appear to have cave trolls).  The Robber Fly group doesn’t stand much of a chance, and the effort of keeping himself and Saki alive seems to have worn Satoru down to the point where even his bloodlust can’t keep up.  Of the others there’s no hard news, just an ominous “Thank goodness” from Saki when Satoru suggests that they likely escaped.

On balance I still don’t think Shin Sekai Yori has had an off week yet – though the last two have certainly been quite different than the ones that came before.  In many ways this series is reminding me more and more of Noein, both because of it’s experimentation with visual styles and it’s focus on a group of pre-teen children dealing with apocalyptic concerns at the same time as pubertal relationship complications – but also because the tone of the show can change quite radically from week to week.  I do like Shin Sekai Yori better when it’s in the more exotic and unconventional mode it was in for the first five episodes, but even though this week’s effort was more of a conventional action episode I think it proved the series could pull that off extremely well.

[UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_02.04_[2012.11.03_21.08.23] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_02.38_[2012.11.03_21.08.57] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_03.13_[2012.11.03_21.09.32]
[UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_03.49_[2012.11.03_21.10.08] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_05.27_[2012.11.03_21.11.45] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_06.11_[2012.11.03_21.12.30]
[UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_08.33_[2012.11.03_21.15.04] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_09.03_[2012.11.03_21.15.34] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_09.21_[2012.11.03_21.15.52]
[UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_09.39_[2012.11.03_21.16.10] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_10.23_[2012.11.03_21.16.54] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_11.07_[2012.11.03_21.17.38]
[UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_11.53_[2012.11.03_21.18.24] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_13.06_[2012.11.03_21.19.59] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_13.10_[2012.11.03_21.19.41]
[UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_14.13_[2012.11.03_21.21.06] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_15.36_[2012.11.03_21.22.29] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_16.17_[2012.11.03_21.23.09]
[UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_19.39_[2012.11.03_21.26.32] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_20.23_[2012.11.03_21.27.16] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_20.45_[2012.11.03_21.27.38]


  1. e

    Trippy sequence + Shun guest appereance ftw. About the triggering factors for said trip, I think it could be some gas leak, lack of oxygen after the roof crumbled on our duo, (day?)dream or a combination of all three. Satoru himself didn't seem exactly 'awake' to me just before Saki tried the unlocking ritual.
    'In short, I think what happened this week wasn't some character flaw in Satoru – any one of the children would have reacted to the taste of blood the way he did'. Are you totally sure about the latter half of your sentence here? I'll keep some reservations about this untill and unless I see it happening.
    Anyway… next episode can't come too soon.

  2. e

    P.S.: I guess this week we have our answer to Satoru's observation at there being so many toads around.
    P.P.S.: about the visuals-fit-sex-scene bit, the commentors were dragon, witchuntress and me.

  3. But who explicitly suggested that the change was made specifically to make the characters more mature to avoid controversy? I'm pretty sure someone did.

  4. e

    Of course someone did. Basically same people as above, although tigerxdragon wasn't too pleased about it and his/her notation was more incidental.
    I remembered it quite well in contrast to the general non positive reactions about the episode, especially as seen on ASuki.
    Anyway, quotes as proof last week LiA comments XD:

    '(…)The (almost) sex scene lost a little of its punch because the new designs made me forget they were 12.'

    'it matched the confusion and both emotional and personal growth of the characters. When it's confusing it's because is meant to be. I think we were supposed to feel as disoriented as the characters were, being thrown in a dangerous unexpected situation with an unknown outcome, emotions spiking. Ditto on the expressionist colour palette.
    The amount of close-ups also was especially effective. It was really as if you were inside the characters, seeing through their eyes or at most distant from a over-the-shoulder camera lens. The extreme intimate close-ups of Saki and Shun embracing as they run and fell were already preparing us for the tree scene imho for instance no less than the minoshiro's revelations had.'

    'I think they made the children look.older for that scene. Their slightly mature appearance was meant to make that scene less disturbing; I think—considering their ages and their original child appearance.'

    me (reply to witchhuntress):
    'It was part of my 'style matching content' perception of the episode as well. You're not alone.'


  5. e

    In a nutshell: preparing us for the scene /matching content/ making it easy to swallow/avoiding controversy. Both implicitely and explicitely.
    Personally, I didnt dwell too much on it in my comments also because elsewhere people were focusing on the 'sex! show more sex!' way too much compared to the overall picture imho. Ahah.

  6. a

    I said:

    "Can't imagine that sexual exchange being handed quite as well in the normal directing style."

    So a couple of us embraced the change. Diversify the bitch!

  7. A

    anyhow huge problem is kinda looming…when will saki get hers back? and will satoru keep his bloodlust? if he is it could be problematic

  8. S

    Another interesting episode- I still prefer the consistency they had in the first five,especially with what I find to be odd personality shifts in Satoru these last two episodes (I'm not sold on the the idea it can be explained away as purely a rush) However I do see where you're coming from because when Satoru made 'bullets' from that rock and lifted those trees I sure as hell got a rush 😛 also when they mentioned shape-changing I spent the rest of the episode convinced that those were not the real robber fly queer rats…

  9. S

    Saki should know her "mantra". I found it weird that she didn't try to get back her Cantus in the same way.
    I feel that this was one of the weakest episodes so far. I don't care much for the rat wars, and Satoru's bloodlust was painful to watch. Also they didn't explain what was the thing that Satoru poked with the spear last episode.

  10. Saki didn't know her mantra because Rijin removed it from her memory via hypnosis. She knew Satoru's because Rijin didn't remove it, as she wasn't supposed to know it in the first place. She remembered it because it was there all along, but she hasn't found a way to undo what Rijin did to her.

  11. e

    @Son Gohan: ninjaed by Enzo on the mantra bit.
    About the 'thing', it also leaked some kind of white-ish sticky fluid. Something organic seems likely. I was thinking bug's eggs clusters (as in… this world's analogous of LOTR Shelob given the range of creatures seemigly roaming around) or luminescent fungi/moss.

    Saki's mantra: there are different scenarios that could happen to unlock it. Among the external help ones there is still the possibility of photographic memory on Satoru's part, provided he didn't cheat about not being able to read Saki's mantra and/or retrieve it – similarly to what Saki had done with his – . It might be a stretch but the flashback scene could work in this case too.

  12. L

    @ Son Gohan: I Didn't enjoy this episode much either. I totally get you on the "Rat Wars" lol.

  13. J

    Well, whereas some thought of these past two weeks as 'interesting' changes, I didn't really like them that much. I won't go into last week, I feel like I said what I had to say back then, but this week…Something felt really off, plot-wise.

    We knew Saki was (arguably) the weakest PK user, but seeing Satoru lift trees from the roots, while burning them, creating typhoons, and other impressive feats, seemed way too much for a kid his age. And as for the Ground Spiders…Just wth? They have machines to create poison gas, yet they still use sticks and stones to attack people? Doesn't anybody feel something's way off there? Oh, they can also shapeshift. It's ridiculous!

    In all fairness, this confusion could be intentional from the writers, but having two straight weeks like this, without even any hints of explanations at all, seems cheap as a writer.

    I was willing to skip some actions and events in this story and let them move on – mainly because the premise was so good. But when you get to the point where almost all events seem out of place, then how much are you really enjoying said story? I'm in that situation where you *want* to like a story, but you feel the story isn't making it easy for you.

  14. L

    Agreed on all counts.

  15. A

    In my opinion, I believe that a tall tale sign of of good story-telling is when the viewer is not spoon-fed every single plot point and allowed to speculate so that there's a sense of intrigue. Not everything needs to be explained at the moment because then the sense of intrigue and mystery gets killed immediately and that affects the overall atmosphere of the world the story tries to create.

    In the case of Satoru, i dont believe that the story is shifting facets of his personality for the convenience of the story. I see people stating that its wierd for Satoru to seem really smart and resourceful all of a sudden; but in truth, we didnt know that much about Satoru to begin with aside from his bickering with Saki. Careful attention to earlier eps have actually hinted that Satoru has a great deal of attention to detail. These last two eps have shown us that Satoru is actually a hell of a lot smarter than we assumed and that has nothing to do with convenient story telling; its called character development. It did so by showing us how he thinks an acts in intense situatons. I rather perfer that than being told that Satoru is smart or being shown in some cliche way that he is brilliant. This way is a much better impression of him.

    As of his bloodlust, it has been hinted that the PK users generally went out of control upon using their abilities. Y else were we introduced to this cantus users using their powers in a controlled environment, doing this as mediocre as levitating cards. Saki and Satoru are no longer in a controlled environment and so their minds are free to go loose.

    oh and is it trust me or does Saki seem supernaturally analytical? does she have some sort of ability to see really far or anticipate movement and analyze her surroundings in a matter of seconds/

  16. A

    sorry for the typos, i meant:
    *these cantus users*
    *doing things as mediocre*
    *oh and is it just me*
    *matter of seconds*

  17. l


    In my opinion, I believe that a tall (sic – 'tell') tale sign of of good story-telling is when the viewer is not spoon-fed every single plot point and allowed to speculate so that there's a sense of intrigue. Not everything needs to be explained at the moment because then the sense of intrigue and mystery gets killed immediately and that affects the overall atmosphere of the world the story tries to create.

    So far, the show has been leaving hints in each episode for further development later. This episode is no different.

    Before it was voiced out in the show, it became obvious that the queerats were leading both Satoru and Saki towards the army with all the ambushes in place. Thereby using them as weapons. The queerats have some guile that can be seen through but Satoru wanted to satisfy his rush of blood and ego-stroking. Saki who is still without her Cantus has not much choice but to follow.

    Waiting for the part where they get back to their community to see how they cope after what they have been through. Also curious about the other 3 and their stories.

  18. A shame you didn't identify yourself, Anon, because that was a very good comment. I agree – the hints have been there about Satoru (and Shun, though time will tell if my hunches are right) and I definitely think PK users have a predisposition for bloodlust once they get a taste of power. I also think being put in a life-threatening position is a kind of trigger that amplifies their power level, and that's why Satoru was able to do so much more than he did before.

    If you know the expression "A rat is never more dangerous than when it's cornered" I think you can apply it to PKs. I think their whole society was designed to never make them feel cornered, because of what its founders knew would happen if they were.

  19. A

    Exactly, that expression couldn't be anymore accurate in explaining Satoru's boost in power and aggression; and for all we know, who knows if his display of cantus was a boost in power, he could have been capable of this all along. It has been hinted that Shun and Satoru are top of their class but we've never got to see what they could really do. We dont really know how dangerous these kids can really be and that sense of potential danger has been one of the reasons ive been so invested into this show. The fact that the kids were so facilitated amplified my unnerving feeling of their potential danger even more.

    On a side note it was clear that Satoru wasn't even aware of his change in personality and that Saki's comment about him being not being "the Satoru that she knows" stabbed him in the heart a little. It goes to show that with all the bickering that they do, Saki and Satoru have a deep friendship, especially considering they were ok to show each other's mantra's to each other.

  20. S

    All this talk about how great a series this is is making me anxious. Truly great series are impossible to anticipate and I fear that they will do something as unexpected as killing Satoru.

    Saki however is the story's eyes and ears and killing her would be equivalent of ending the story, or rather: the story ends when Saki dies. So I don't fear that yet, and I don't think that aspect of predictability makes the story less enjoyable.

  21. e

    @Stöt: my gut (call it female intuition for all it's worth) is telling me Satoru lives. It's Shun I'm rather worried about…
    Going by the ED final frames I'm in the 'story ends, Saki is still alive' camp btw. And I have a hunch about the person holding her hand in those frames, but we'll see how and who that turns out.
    Predictability anyway is not a problem in my book. Rather, execution can make or break a story. So far SSY is still going strong and I think it won't leave us down.

  22. e

    *let us down

  23. L

    Nice ep, once again.

    Regarding the visuals, I'm okay with the change they had, but can't help thinking they'd give off an impression of inconsistency once the seires has ended end we look back at it as a whole.

    Personally, I think a less "traditional" art style would have suited this series better, given the content on offer. Maybe not quite left-field like Kemonozume or Studio 4°C offerings, but something in between those and this. Although I suppose you could defend the current style by saying it makes all their acts a bit more shocking (seeing as they look younger like this), but if that was the purpose, you'd have to question the style in the previous ep all over again.

    Basically, I like change, but it has to be continuous and consistent, not some one-off "Hey kids, Dave Sim guests this week" kind of change, which just seems jarring when you look at the thing as a whole.

  24. B

    This episode was solid. I don't think it was brilliant like most of the previous episodes, but it still, as Enzo said, made 20 minutes feel like 5. That said episodes like this were almost inevitable in the series so I'm not complaining, the fact that it could do an almost that is almost straight up actuion so well speaks volumes. I don't enjoy the action quite as much as the world building but both are needed in some respects so I can accept it. And they still managed to drop in some tantalizing hints about the world while doing the action, so kudos to them for that. 9/10.

Leave a Comment