Shin Sekai Yori – 08

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Well then – let the apoplexy begin.

If you’re going to do a timeskip, I guess you may as well go all-out and completely blow preconceptions out of the water as Shin Sekai Yori did.  Novel readers obviously had an idea of what was coming, and some of us who aren’t had heard bits and pieces, but it was still pretty striking.  What a difference two years makes – and it’s true, if you were going to pick a two-year age gap in the maturation of the human animal were you’d see the greatest difference physically and emotionally, 12 to 14 would probably be it.  That’s why Saki’s voice-over intro was so fitting.

I don’t need to read the various forums out there to know that the response to this episode is going to be filled with gay-bashing and righteous indignation about the turn of events in the first half of the episode, but given the way the story has been set up it really shouldn’t come as anything like a surprise.  Setting aside the truly spectacular levels of hypocrisy among anime fans when it comes to same-sex romance, I think it’s probably fair to say that the explicit nature of the contact between Shun (now played by Murase Ayumu) and Satoru (Kaji Yuuki) was somewhat more surprising than that between Maria and Saki – it was certainly more graphic.  But rather than shock or titillate I think it was intended to communicate that despite their very human emotions up to now, these kids are not living in a world similar to ours.  Whatever you may think of same-sex relationships, I think it’s safe to say kids aren’t nearly so open about them in middle-schools in the real world, generally speaking.

Remember the reference to bonobos, where sex is not primarily a reproductive activity (though it certainly is that too) but a social bonding exercise, and you have a pretty good sense of the way genetic engineering has reshaped the society in which these kids live.  I was struck by how their interactions seemed so very typical of middle schoolers – Saki’s casual cruelty towards Mamoru (Takagi Motoki, never one of my favorites) stands out as an example – yet how it felt subtly alien in so many ways, too.  For these five in particular, the really odd part is that they’re fully aware of what’s happening to them and why – yet the physical changes to their bodies are impossible to suppress.  Imagine taking puberty, which is normally a time of incredible hormonal turmoil to begin with, and adding in the foreign element of genetic manipulation to make the sex drive even stronger.  It’s hardly surprising to think that sexual relationships of all possible combinations would be openly practiced, but human beings are not bonobos – these kids still have the same emotional frailties we do, and the urge to pair-bond romantically goes beyond the purely erotic in them. 

Saki, Satoru, Shun, Maria and Mamoru have been living a lie since their return from the mountains, that much is certain.  Shun (who has the ugliest dog I’ve seen in many an anime season) seems to have taken it the hardest, but they’re all impacted in subtle ways.   Between the normal teenaged yearnings, the genetic engineering and the show they’re putting on for the adults it’s hard to just how much of the physical contact that’s occurring is borne out of true romantic attraction.  Shun seems quite casual about his relationship with Satoru, to the point where I’m not sure there was ever anything to it but the purely physical and an (ironic) desire to look normal.  Saki is clearly still very much in love with Shun, as witness her reaction to seeing he and Satoru tongue-kissing (I wondered for just a moment who she was jealous of, but it seems clear).  It was Maria she ran to and they seem to have a very strong relationship as well, but it’s hard to know if Saki’s feelings for Maria are as strong as they are for Shun.  Satoru appears simply to have the strongest sex drive of the bunch, and he does seem to prefer males at this point (Saki’s rejection having lasting effects, or just the gene splicing?) and then there’s poor Mamoru – the most “traditional” of the bunch.  He appears to just be a lovestruck boy mooning for Maria, with no interest in seeking salvation in the arms of another.  As always he seems to outsider in the group – Saki is especially mean to him though I don’t think it’s intentional, but Maria is more pitying than anything – and he just generally seems to be the fifth wheel.

All of that is preamble to Shun’s confrontation with Kaburagi, the strongest cantus user in the village, who pays a surprise visit to the classroom.  I keep going back to Shun’s tale of the boy who was too clever for his own good, as it seems to fit him like a glove.  He’s been living with the expectations that he would eventually take Kaburagi’s place, but he seems to have known for some time that the secret of what happened in the mountains is out, and something happens between he and Kaburagi (who one suspects was in the classroom to check up on Shun specifically) that sends the man storming from the room and gets the class dismissed for the day.  The end of Shun’s “project” of hatching the egg is gruesome and unsettling, and carries the whiff of symbolic significance to it as well.  His final meeting with Saki contains a warning to “watch out for the cats”, and a charm to help her do that, and the message that all of them are being watched all the time, and that their punishment wasn’t pardoned – only delayed.

So much has happened that it’s had to believe we’re only a third of the way through Shin Sekai Yori, yet it also feels as if we’ve barely scratched the surface of this story for all that we’ve seen.  With Shun being sent to “rehabilitation” – a process from which I’m assuming he’s not expected to return – the story takes on an even deeper and more personal sense of danger and foreboding than it has up to now (don’t forget Saki’s ominous narration about Maria a few episodes back).    We’re seeing some definite lapses in animation pretty early in the series – though interspersed with some quite lavish and beautiful moments – and a series that takes as many chances as this one does is going to make mistakes.   On balance, though, this is the Fall series that’s captured my imagination and my emotions like none other, and the one I most look forward to every week.

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  1. l

    It's repulsive, that's all there is to it.

    But there is no way I'm gonna drop this just because of what happened, the story/world/characters etc is absolutely amazing. Great post Enzo.

  2. I certainly won't censor your opinion, though I feel compelled to state my disagreement. I happen to prefer girls myself, but people are who they are and what they do privately is their business. As for seeing it depicted in anime, the angst it causes viewers who slaver over anything yuri entertains me to an extent that far outweighs any other considerations.

  3. T

    Glad to see I'm not the only one who finds it amusing.

  4. A

    I thought the gay stuff was disgusting but thankfully it was brief. Good episode otherwise.

  5. K

    "… response to this episode is going to be filled with gay-bashing and righteous indignation about the turn of events in the first half of the episode… Setting aside the truly spectacular levels of hypocrisy among anime fans when it comes to same-sex romance…"

    Enzo, you're generalizing fans a bit. I defended homosexuality being depicted in anime if it was done in sincere way and not exploitative last week here, but you gotta admit, that graphic tongue kissing thing was a bit exploitative and aimed to shock viewers. I can't really defend having that stuck in SSY as it probably wasn't necessary to tell the narrative.

    When was the last time a critically acclaimed commercial visual medium about sexuality, be it straight or gay, had a really graphic and blatant tongue, spit swiping kissing? I can't recall such. Passionate kissing? Yes. Tongue spit swapping? No. In visual medium, not everything has to be shown or explained to tell the narrative, otherwise, all sex scene would be like amateur porn with real penetration and all.

    I know, I know that tongue kissing is not a sin and it's natural human behavior, but you can't be surprised this sort of hold-nothing depiction is often met with repulsion and disgust and not all that reaction is due to homophobic bias (however I'm not naive, so I'm sure the majority were due to that, though). I don't think there would be many people who would be straight-faced when looking a real-life couple, be it hetro or homo, engaging the tongue swiping kissing in front of them. If they stare in fascination, they actually would look creepy instead, LOL!

    Anyway my point is that the backlash is more due to the graphic nature of the kiss than the same-sex relationship (would there be still backlashes without that kissing scene? You bet, but perhaps not as vile as with it. And for the record, had Maria and Saki done that graphic kissing instead, I'd still think it would be exploitative and not necessary).

  6. T

    I do sort of agree about the graphic-ness of the tongue-kissing scene, but I'll also point out that Saki ends up being the observer in that scene, and it's very upsetting to her, so if the kissing is shocking and graphic then that simply helps to reinforce Saki's point of view. So there could be an intentional contrast between the way that scene was shot and the way the Saki/Maria scene was shot, and given how well this series has done thus far, I'm inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt.

    I could simply be making excuses for it, though. I do tend to do that with shows that I like a lot.

  7. e

    @The Kenosha Kid: that was my take on the different level of 'graphicness' among the two scenes as well. It was from Saki's POV and given how Shun was part of it it really struck her.

  8. E

    This ep was unsettling for me. Probably because things took a fan-servicy quality @ certain points and that made me cringe in the worst way. And no NOT because of the same-sex couplings. ALL the relationships just came across as really disturbing in context and that would have remained true even if they were hetero. It was almost like gratification trumped friendship in every case. Aside from Saki these kids don't talk about their problems or sort them out or even try to support each other, when something goes wrong they just have sex.

    I'm not saying sex is an alien concept to 14 year old kids, we all know it's not. But when you consider they're being (genetically) forced – regardless of what their hearts might want – to seek sex just to deal with their overwhelming fear of being MURDERED, in addition to all the normal anxieties that come with adolescence – Not to mention all of this is happening under the watchful eyes of a bunch of really twisted adults …

    IDK … somehow that makes the entire thing gross.

    I'm sure the homophobic faction will take this and run for miles with it, which honestly seems kind of strange to me … considering the HUGE followings for yuri & yaoi out there. But in any case I for one am not bothered by the same-sex couples BUT still really disliked this episode.

  9. It's funny because I felt the same way you did, that all the relationships were "off" and unsettling. But I loved the ep for the same reasons you disliked it, because I think it was all intentional. These kids are like real kids we know, with similar emotions, but it's like Satoru's mirror – it's distorted just enough to be really creepy. They're the victims of social engineering by genetic manipulation and I feel for them – puberty is hard enough.

    That's why I mentioned how "normal" Mamoru seems – just a boy with a crush, and no indication that other compulsions are driving him. As always, the odd boy out.

  10. T

    I wonder to what degree the "off"-ness comes from the sort of environment the kids are in, and to what degree it comes from being 14 years old. Probably a bit of both, really—I seem to remember seeing a number of relationships back in middle and high school that looked like the kids involved where just trying too hard, but what do I know?

    As for Saki's feelings towards both Shun and Maria, my response, as always, is an overly simplistic "why not both?"

    Side note about the episode itself: the storytelling and atmosphere and world-building in this show blew me away right from the beginning, but I wasn't too keen on what seemed like overly flat characters. And now I realized, all of a sudden, that I do like these characters quite a bit and was surprised to see them change so much (and so little at the same time). This show snuck up on me.

  11. t

    Repulsive? Really?

    I thought it was really well handled, fit in the context of the story and was designed as yet another surprise to destabilise the viewer.

    Shun seemed to be one of the main cast, but if we never see him again it just goes to show you cannot use conventional labels anywhere near this show.

    This episode was completely different, but still just as great as it always has been. I still miss the historical flashbacks though!

  12. A

    It certainly was disturbing, but I find myself strangely attracted to what it is trying to portray. Weird would not be the right word to describe this episode, more of being exclusively niche, I would say. Something that you would find either interesting or put off by it altogether.

  13. U

    There is a sense of fatalism running through the whole series. I don't foresee good things happening for the main cast.

  14. P

    I get that feeling very poignantly every time I watch the ED. The symbolism is well-done, but it isn't subtle.

  15. A

    Did anyone else see Saki crying when she was talking to Mamoru?

  16. G
  17. x

    It's important to note that there were no signs of different gender couples.

    I think they are bound by some sort of rule to prevent teenage breeding.

  18. Shun and Saki seem to have some interest in each other, and there were no signs that it couldn't theoretically have happened. But it's an interesting theory.

  19. K

    I read somewhere that according to the novel, same sex relationship not only are accepted, but also encouraged, supposedly to avoid early pregnancy. However, I´d swear to have seen a couple of heterosexuals around school, that kind of relationships might engage themselves in non-penetrative sex, though…

  20. B

    So the big question of the day I guess is will we ever see Shun again. My take on the situation was the he was using his cantus to engage in genetic manipulation of whatever was supposed to be in that egg. I'm not a novel reader so I only know what's been shown in the anime but my GUESS is that this kind of thing is a big no-no in their world. This seems like Shun living up to the story of the boy who was too clever for his own good. He was so clever he figured out how to manipulate genetics, so confident he could get away with it, and now he's going to "rehabilitation", which I take as an excuse for the adults to disappear him. Will they kill him or will he be banished and the other kids will eventually leave and meet him again? Could go either way I reckon.

    As for the rampant homosexuality, it doesn't bother me. But the kissing scenes themselves did. Obviously the Shun and Satoru one was the worst offender here simply for being the most graphic, but in both cases it felt like pandering disguised as world building. This show is better than that so hopefully they'll keep graphic stuff implied from now on.

  21. I'm pretty confident we'll see Shun again. At the very least they wouldn't have likely gotten such a name seiyuu for one episode, and I don't see him giving up that easily.

    Sometimes stories intentionally shock you to serve the story. I feel that's what happened here.

  22. B

    I just think people making out graphically is gross no matter what genders are involved lol. Get a room!

  23. K

    I wanted to seriously discuss this but everything's been said pretty much. For this reason, I'll just express my surprise at no one mentioning Saki's apparent "motorboating" of Maria.

  24. A

    That's hot because they're both girls. But the scene between Shun and Satoru is disgusting because they're both guys.

    …is what the cynic in me says, but I think there's also the fact that the Shun/Satoru scene came first and their kissing was more graphic.

  25. K

    Well, I wasn't really commenting on it being "hot." They're still kids after all (or I just view them as older kids anyway). I was just shocked at how far they seemed to be taking it. I guess that was the point though. The scene with Shun and Satoru had a bit of a shock moment too since there seemed to be so much focus on…their tongues lol.

    Clearly the viewer was meant to be surprised by the shift in this episode. That was apparent during that first walk down the school hallway when EVERYONE was paired up in obvious fashion (except poor Mamoru that is).

    Going back to Shun, the story he read in one of the prior episodes mentioned the clever child getting rid of himself before he became a danger to everyone else (or something like that), right? It was pretty obvious Shun was trying to distance himself from everyone. At first I just figured he was depressed (said he was sick, but not in body), but I wonder what his motivation was. I wonder if he was just tired of maintaining the lie or if he was losing control a bit (or something else?)

  26. A

    May as well provide my two cents. First, excellent job Enzo. A reviewer should always keep an open mind, even if the topic is uncomfortable to them. So far only commentors have negative reactions and biased opinions. Second, while I might not exactly be on the same-sex train, that in no means is reason to just stop watching this show. People are entitled to their own opinions and I respect that. I don't mind if people want to be in a relationship with a person of the same gender and I don't care if people don't want that to be the case. The big difference is how you go about it. There is no excuse to be hateful about the issue and hurt people who support it. Calling it disgusting is not the way to go. Sex betwen opposite genders can be seen as disgusting too you know. To paraphase something I heard, while we can't not live life by not hurting others, there are intensities to that hurt and people on the extreme side of the spectrum are called idiots, plain and simple. Third, and the most sadly ironic thing is, that if it were played for laughs (like it is most of the times in anime) people would still watch, but if it were played seriously people start running for hills.

  27. r

    I can't rule out the possibility that Shun really is suffering from a curable sickness, a sickness of the soul/mind rather than a sickness of the body. The syndrome mentioned by the false minoshiro comes to mind. The evil leer on Shun's face as Kaburagi leaves seemed foreign to the placid personality we've seen up til now, but it also seemed to be very temporary, as he was back to normal (though "tired") a few minutes later. Also, if he really thought that the elders were about to "disappear" him rather than attempt to cure him, wouldn't he grab a survival kit and head off into the unknown rather than meekly retire to solitary confinement? I'm guessing his normal self recognizes the sickness and wants to be cured.

    And what the heck were those orbiting marbles for?

  28. K

    Ah, I forgot about those orb things he was spinning around. I was thinking that one possible reason that Shun was distancing himself from everyone was that he was losing control of his powers a bit (like maybe they were manifesting when he didn't want them too). He could have been giving himself something to focus on by floating those things around. It would explain why he'd have to be separated from everyone.

    That said there's no direct evidence of that, so who knows. Maybe we'll find out in a future episode.

  29. h

    Can someone remind me of what this "Saki’s ominous narration about Maria a few episodes back" was? I forgot.

  30. K

    Older Saki was mentioning how Maria was sickly as a child or something like that. She then mentioned how so many lives would have been saved if only she had died then. (Sorry, I'm going on memory)

  31. l

    Interesting to see how their society allows them to let off their sexual stress from the hormones by allowing same sex relationships at their age. This may be programming, via ingraining into genes and behaviour seen in their older peers and inculcated. It could also be from being advised against male-female relationships due to the risk of teen pregnancy. The permissiveness that has been developed allows a safe outlet. It also allows for the teens to explore relationships which are more sexual and occasionally romantic in nature.

    In the context of this show, the kiss between Satoru and Shun can be seen as a way to show how sexual the relationships are, short of showing actual sex scenes. They also gave equal or probably more time to Saki and Maria when Saki needed to express her sexual frustration from her longing for Shun and seeing the amorous action between Shun and Satoru.

    I am often bemused about the hate and disgust a number of people have when seeing guys kiss on screen but are unperturbed and even celebratory when two girls kiss. While we are discussing that the society shown in the show is one where a culture of permissiveness is allowed for same sex relationships, the reaction I see from the feelings of disgust and hate also show our own society mores, and cultural (including religious) programming through the years.

    Take a step back and think about it. The ancient Greeks allowed same sex relationships but couched in a mentor-student/apprentice relationship. How do you think this cultural programming die out or get overwritten? My guess is that the puritanical teachings of the Christian religion, which forbade same sex relationships, 'overwrote" it when the religion was adopted by the Greeks. Over the many years in Europe, the teachings of the Christian religion constantly "programmed" and reinforced in its believers/adherents to think of it as sin and this became society's morals. Thus, aren't all of us carrying our respective culture's programming? Bringing it all back, aren't some of our disgust in seeing two guys kiss a part of this?

    Enough about the background. More interested in the story's real meat, so to speak, of the group's story. The leaders may have let them off to observe them. My feel is because of Shun. They already know how powerful he could potentially become and did not want to lose one of his talents and potential. They delayed any punishment in favour of monitoring. From this constant monitoring, Shun may have started to crack under the pressure and thus leading to the current situation. I'm extremely curious as to where they are going to take us. I'm totally hooked by Shin Sekai Yori.

    If I have any peeve, it's about the art and animation of this episode. The character art is not my cup of tea. The animation is mostly below average. It's like they wanted to get this episode, which shows the same sex relationships, out of the way as soon as possible and spend as little money here as they can get away with.

  32. B

    Pretty sure you're talking about the Romans rather than the Greeks. Both cultures did allow same sex relationships, as you mentioned (I don't know enough about ancient Greece to comment but I know in Rome it was only considered shameful if you were the submissive partner) but Christianity and the outlawing of homosexuality that came with it both started and came to dominating power in Rome, not Greece. Greece eventually adopted it too but Rome was by far first (hence why we have the Roman Catholic church instead of the Greek Catholic church).

  33. S

    The 'Greek Catholic' is actually the Greek Orthodox church. There was a split fairly early on between Rome and Greece

  34. B

    Well like I say there's no denying that it caught on early in Greece as well. I mean, Greece was part of the Roman empire after all. I just mean to clarify that the Ancient Greece that people think of when they think of Ancient Greece was gone by the time Christianity rolled around, absorbed by the Roman Empire. So saying that the Greek tradition of homosexuality was in part wiped out by Christianity is mostly false as the Greek traditions were already Roman traditions instead by that time.

  35. l

    Beckett, I am talking about the Greeks as an example. The Romans can be used too. As Scruffy mentioned, there is the Greek Orthodox Church. That church if I recall came from the Orthodox Church of Constantinople (now Istanbul).

  36. f

    My two cents: I thought it was a great episode, possibly my favorite one so far. The sense of uneasiness about the society that I felt was missing during the queerat arc is now back, and I think the show is much better for it. Shun's statement at the end that the kids' prior transgressions have not gone unnoticed, and will be punished in due time, was expected but still gratifying to hear, as it would have been hard to believe that they'd go scot-free from their little adventure.

    I know I'm in the minority here, but I really enjoyed the fact that all the relationships are homosexual. I believe the graphic nature of the interactions between Shun and Satoru, and between Saki and Maria, was necessary to show that the relationships were truly sexual in nature, and not just the types of teenage same-sex crushes that are common in Japan. In fact, the graphic interactions suggested to me that the relationships really aren't much more than that on an emotional level, and this was further solidified by Satoru's quickly moving on to another boyfriend after Shun dumped him.

    It seems to me that the genetic programming in these future-humans makes it easier for them to form same-sex relationships for whatever reason, at least while they are teenagers. Case in point: the only apparent opposite-sex romantic feelings currently present in the characters are Saki's and Mamoru's crushes toward Shun and Maria, respectively, which are unrequited. It must have been much easier for Saki to get together with Maria than with Shun, and Mamoru is obviously having no luck with his heterosexual yearnings. I'm guessing, however, that they (and the other young people) will eventually grow out of this primarily-homosexual phase, because, well, we've seen that Saki has a heterosexual pair of parents.

    I'll add that I'm definitely warming up to the characters. Up until now I've felt that the characters could have been swapped out for anyone else with the same effect, but I think with this episode they're really starting to come into their own.

  37. E

    This episode is certainly longer than 5 minutes.

    I think leongsh have stated most of the things I want to say. With the uproar about the scenes in the first half of the episode, I think the Foreign viewers might not see the translated version of the original work. It was certainly shocking or disturbing (or exploitative to some extent) but let's take note that we are viewing that scene in the eyes of Saki, we're just mirroring what she felt. (Though, it is more on her feelings for Shun.) Some novel readers have said that the school is encouraging this kind of relationships to avoid pregnancy; hence, the lack of opposite-sex relationships.

    Now onto the real plot, we have a story of a boy who went outside of the village and was chased by a monster, nekodamashi, a boy who is to good for himself, and Saki's ominous statement about Maria. I'll take that the incident with the queerats refers to the first story so now we'll have one that includes the nekodamashi. We can say that the monster is the queerats but it is also probable that the monster, in the story, might be the higher-ups in the village. In a symbolic sense, the kids weren't able to return to the same village they knew. About the other foreshadowings, I can't help but to think that some of the members of the gang might die.

    This episode is really handled poorly in terms of introducing a timeskip. I hope the future timeskips (the story spans about 14 years IIRC) won't be like this.

  38. B

    SSY went to a new level with this episode. The homosexual relations were very appropriate. It'd be great if some of them did end up preferring same-sex instead of going back to 'normal' for the fans.

  39. a

    Reminded me a little of Simoun, which is criminally underrated.

  40. B

    *rolls eyes*. i can't believe what a big deal people are making of the kiss and the same sex relationships. what century are we in again?

    did it throw me off, yes. i get that because it was pretty much out of the blue, but come on, I think we're old enough to be mature about this and be past all the 'disgusting this and that' talk that's going on here.

    I hope Shun comes back though. you see this glimpse of something between him and Saki and then suddenly he has to go. I wasn't sure who she was into too, by the way! But I'm vouching for her and Shun. I think they'd make a pretty good couple. Personally, I think Maria likes her a whole lot more. Maria just seems like a convenient way to distract herself really.

  41. A

    What bothers me about the relationships in this episode is that, judging by the ED and Shun's previous interactions with Saki, their relationship seems to be more of an "ideal," "natural" love that isn't effected by their distorted upbringing and society. Conversely, the homosexual relationships here are definitely being cast as the result of the kids' genetic conditioning, thus making them unnerving and "unnatural." I hope that there's a genuine example of a gay/lesbian pair in the future.

  42. L

    "Mamoru (Takagi Motoki, never one of my favorites)"

    How is this relevant to the episode being discussed?

    Poor old Mamoru. I think he is the most neglected yet perceptive of the group dynamcis.

  43. How is it relevant? The fact that Motoki is in the episode prominently?

  44. B

    dudes watching anime laying around drinkin' beeru after watching the latest seiyuu atrocity

  45. A

    This is getting old. "oh noes. Enzo you anime basher, stoopid hater. Don't talk about relevant stuff that 's hurting my feels" If you wanted to read somethign objective, go read the manuscript or wikipedia.

    Of course it's relevant. And I don't see anyone complain when you see the reviewer praising or swooning for a certain Seiyuu mid review.

    – Stöt

  46. L

    It seems pointless to interrupt a review with links to a seiyuu/VA database for the express purposes of approving or disapproving of specific seiyuu. It doesn't add anything constructive or helpful to the discussion of the quality of the episode content itself.

    -Lotor IV

  47. B

    Enzo and co. have been defeated.

  48. p

    I actually liked this episode!It was pretty interesting seeing them in these sort of relationships.I wasn't shocked or anything,I was just really curious on why their society wants them to be that way.Only boy x boy and girl x girl.Now I'm even more curious on why they delayed their punishment for 2 whole years!

    If people wanna see something disturbing and shocking,they should watch the newest ep from psycho pass.THAT is messed up.

  49. H

    I thought the episode was a great exploration of what a society that doesn't have the same hangups about sexual interaction as most human ones. They may have other hangups, and other boundaries to keep inside of and check, but they're certainly not the same ones. Given the inculcation of intimate contact, it's not a surprise how cuddly they all are. It's almost more symbolic that Mamoru doesn't find someone to cuddle with and take advantage of that avenue to reduce stress and find comfort. Does he have less stress? Does he like the feeling of discomfort? Is he *that* committed to Maria? It's possible that as mentioned, early relationships are encouraged to be same-sex, but then later pairs will be opposite sex, and perhaps Mamoru wants to stay at that first place in line for Maria as they get to that point.

    If Shun is suffering from one of the syndromes mentioned by the library, most likely the Karma Demon one, then I think his supposition that their punishment was "only" delayed should be taken with a grain of salt. This society has no problem with disappearing kids, getting rid of anyone that doesn't fit in. If the adults thought they were a threat from their return, they would have gotten rid of them immediately. Instead, I think that it's more that they figured they'd give them another chance, see if they showed lasting effects from their encounter with the library. Then, when later Shun starts to show signs of problems, they *do* act. If the other children step out of line, they'll act. But I think they have been at least given a pass on their previous transgression. Shun isn't being 'rehabilitated' now because of just that incident, but what he's done more recently. Will the others encounter similar problems? Or what will they do in response to Shun's removal.

    And also, why is Shun taken for rehabilitation, when I'm supposing that most of the other children who disappeared were just outright killed? Is this special treatment based on his Cantus strength?

  50. e

    @Highway: 'when I'm supposing that most of the other children who disappeared were just outright killed? Is this special treatment based on his Cantus strength?
    I'm guessing the same as you here. Unlike the other disappeared children his Cantus power and potential is considered just too above average. He has been considered a leader for years among the children and groomed by the adults to be a model and leading figure in their society.
    I'd think said adults would try something before letting all of that going to waste, also because his fall – he the model student, the star child, the successor – by the very status and 'value' of the subject involved would be a failure in their system. I believe this would be also harder than usual to sweep under the rug, and/because it is bound to trigger some drastic changes among the other four protagonists, who are being already kept under observation themselves.
    Disappearances so far have been shown to happen one at a time too… taking out five people at once could cause too many rumours and 'ripples' I think. If something bad and final happens to Shun – and my gut bad feelings with this episode have turned into 99% certainty – I think at least someone in his circle of friends will rebel or flee. Or both. 'Run and hide the hell out rather than wait for them to catch you at their leisure', sort of. If so, I'm betting on Maria. And Mamoru in such case will go with her. Because that's his karma and his name ('protector') poor boy.

  51. It's also very possible that they said, "If we play our cards wrong, this boy could waste us when we're trying to waste him – we better be very careful how we go about eliminating him."

  52. e

    @Enzo: that as well.

  53. e

    Good post. And the best approach imho to the possibly contriversial sequences, that is: balanced. It's so relaxing to read this. Sense & sensibility. Bingo.
    I haven't dared perusing on certain forums and sites but going by previous uproars examples for much less (No.6 anyone? ) and a history of regrettably diffused double standards attitude can't say I'd be surprised.
    Anyway, the content in the first half posed no troubles to me – love and sex are a very… fluid thing and very dependent on historical and cultural conditioning per se outside of fiction already – , as I've seen discussed by other posters in detail, and here it was all working in a previously well established context and society workings.
    The whole world in SSY is a mixture of the familiar and the alien/different/strange ( in a nutshell: unheimlich ) , down to the clothes – this episode gets my thumb up for these as well: their casual clothes and accessories conveyed the age skip, the characters' differences from one another, the mix of our contemporary cuts and retro-futuristic touch. They also looked frankly good per se, Maria's and Shun's outfits especially (I'd actually like to wear them XD). Great design work here – .

    Mamoru is the odd boy out both by attitude and circumstances. He's the observer and sees the patterns but unfortunately he's not able to influence them. Seeing both your groups of friends and your The One drift away must suck royally. I wonder how much he's coping with the frustration. He looks the most stable of the group atm but I have to question how much of his behaviour is just his nature and how much is a mask.

    Something must have happened between Kaburagi and Shun for sure: unless it's a issue in my video when the former went close to Shun in the classroom the space warped for an instant. Then Shun had the crazy perturbed face and the teacher rushed to end the lesson. At the time I thought that face meant 'I'm screwed. We're screwed. They know.'
    His dialogue at the end with Saki makes me think this interpretation could be a least partially true. Furthermore he might have been starting to crack since before the minoshiro incident: too smart for his own good, coupled with too much pressure and too many expectations.

  54. Let's not get so specific with the spoilers, thanks.

  55. S

    I didn't feel this episode was as great as the others. I was a little bit disappointed that Saki was still in love with Shun. (I guess she could see Momoka's actions as a mirror of her own feelings, and was annoyed by it, and therefore extra cruel)

    But mostly because I felt detached from them again. The two year timeskip destroyed the connection I had with them and now I have to get to know them again. damnit.

    Also, I thought that Dog looked alot like Squeeler. and the BL part is of course a non-issue.

  56. U

    We saw the cautionary tales (the boy who goes outside the "safe zone" and ends up self-destructing to stop the demon; the solitary boy who turns into a demon and then drowns himself), and these kids are programmed by these tales to put the safety of OTHERS before self, so go kill yourself before you kill others. That's what they are taught.

    Shun has not only left the safe zone (he was one of the ones making the decision to go, when others demurred), he's also the one now separating himself. Wanting to "be alone' He's essentially become both of the heroes of the cautionary tales.

    Will he end up suiciding or self-sacrificing? Or will her be something breaking with traditional tales?

    This is a pretty damn interesting anime, which does give foreshadowings, but then surprises the heck here and there with the unexpected: Satoru regaining power, the helf from the hornet's nest commander, the delay of punishment. Things happen that are unexpected, so while we've seen the trajectory always end badly–in the stories, for the kids who disappear–and Saki talks about all the deaths that will come via Maria (how, we dunno). It's grim. But if we can expect the unexpected, then it's not hopeless. The "new world" may be a whole new world.

    As far as the gay thing: it was already hinted at previously, and I do think its purpose is to show that 1. these kids are under severe stress 2. they are genetically messed with 3. they are pawns.

    Saki didn't want to be a money. Saki and Shun had a crush on each other at 12. Now, at 14, they aren't allowed to feel that way. They have to act in the prescribed manner…

    Very interested in what happens with Mamoru. Is he gonna blow from dissatisfaction? Is his ability to hold off on couplings and have his pure lil crush a sign he's different, very different?

    Didn't read the novel(s?), but sure would like to in order to find out what happens next.

  57. U

    Oh, one of the commenters mentioned the moment when the Shisei appoached Shun. Yes, there was some radiant of energy or something. To me, it looked like Shun repelled him. Pushed him off. I don't know if I'm reading that right. If that is the case, it would mean he's at least as powerful as the master.

    At one point, I wondered if the "less than" kids who disappeared were actually changed into something that could serve as slaves (like the rat creatures). Mutated in some way. But I didn't really see any indication of that in their battles in the northlands. I think it would be way creepier if it turned out they were USED in some way, not just killed.

    Saki, like Shun, already knows kids are disposed of, and Shun mentions as much at the end of this episode. Her mother having "lost" so many kids…well. Saki mentioned she and Maria were both premature babies. Saki's a late-bloomer. Will that all be significant? Is Saki's mentioning being last of some import…since she's narrating. Will she only be the survivor of the five?

    Ah, fun to see what unfolds…

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