Shit just got real bro.
Whoa, whoa, whoa there! What marvelous two episodes to catch up to. I have been singing the praises of this anime since episode one but the last two episodes have really left me mindblown. From knowing the realities behind PKs (people with Psychokinesis power), to normal humans’ survival and development, followed by a full onslaught of action and chase… In short, if you are not watching this series, I suggest you catch up fast because this here, my readers, is one of Fall’s best. On a side note, sorry for the late review and I’ll try my best to get the next one out quickly!
// Bloody History – Let me start up with quick facts on PKs. They were first identified by an Azerbaijanian researcher Imran Ismailov in 2011. Though, soon discord broke out when these special people started to abuse their abilities, causing the collapse of ancient society as we know it (most probably our current timeline). Case in point: Boy A from Japan who raped and killed many women. The strife between humans and PK began the Dark Age (when PKs only constituted 0.3% of population), which lasted 500 years. During the dark ages, the world was divided into four groups: Slave empires ruled by PKs, Hunters/Gatherers (without PK), Bandits (with PK), and Scientists (with PK who recorded everything).
The flashbacks we have been seeing at the beginning of every episode are all of Cherry Blossom Empire (as highlighted previously), one of the 4 slave empires in Japan (out of 19 in the entire world), with 94 generations of emperors; most of whom were accustomed to being killed by the next successor for crown. The Dark Age ended with the assassination of Emperor of Light and the scientists intervened at an opportune time for general order throughout. Scientists became the world saviours; however, they also recognized PKs harmful effects on society so they edited the human genome (this is not easy as it seems and must have caused at least few generations worth of trial), to minimize violence against humans by adding personal restraint (as in wolves) and death feedback (natural suicide caused by organs shutting down if human killing is attempted). They further topped all of this with education, psychological conditioning and hypnosis to filter out the bad eggs. The current timeline of Shinsekai has 2% PKs constituting world population.
// Extent of PK Powers – I’m sure everyone got pissed off with Rijin butting in and sealing kids’ mantra after he interrupted the robot’s information dump but again wasn’t it more of hypnosis? I don’t think group A has lost their powers altogether, which would be just going too far (could be part of their conditioning to control them?). Though, nobody was expecting a full onslaught by foreign Bakenezumi with disregard to PK users; though, as Satoru theorized, it must be the first time they witnessed PK users and their power. My sympathies are with the priest for at least trying his best to keep the kids from harm’s way. I have to add that his PK powers were nothing but kakkoi. From earth parting to fire, levitation and killing at will… I mean, you name it and he got it. However mindfuck that stupid blowdog’s appearance was, at least it saved group A temporarily from getting found by the adults. Though, I’m not sure if it’s any good at this point seeing the dangers the kids are facing. They should realize that they can use their PK again as the priest who put the restraint on them is no more.
// SS Syndrome – Here you go, I made my own Triple S: Super Saviour Syndrome suffered by Scientists (in response to Fox in the henhouse and Hashimoto Applebaum syndrome). Surely, they were the saviours but was it as convenient for them to intervene after a successful assassination? I think they had a hand in the fall of slave empires. Let me remind you that one of the trio, part of infiltration to kill the King of Light was wearing techy night-goggles and Saki’s father still uses the same Cherry Blossom symbol stationary. Either scientists had spies inside the slave empire or their association went deeper after the Dark Ages because for a successful society that they envisaged required more experiments people to perfect. Even the town numbering, Kamisu 66, for example seems like an experimental unit, similar to labeling localized Bakenezumi foreheads. Though, everything comes with a price and even if they succeeded, many species reared their heads to delude them further. Why they abandoned updating their records is something to ponder over but everything points to one thing: their society exists as if to prevent the appearance of Fiends and Karma demons. We have a clue about their appearance but all facts are still not straight for a good speculation theory.
// It’s Wild Out There – So many new species… I have already talked about this before but it seems whatever stories we have heard till now from fiend’s lore to Haythatcher, Minoshiro and Blowdogs, one after the other are turning true. Now I believe there are Nekodamashi and many types of Bakenezumi as well. From what we witnessed with Squealer and his colony ruled by a queen (cousin/imouto of Jabba the Hutt?), it seems theirs is run by humans as Saki’s father enlightened before. However, it’s more of I-brand-you (on their forehead), and then you are my slave waiting for my calling. I am still wondering if the adults are aware of the wild Bakenezumi but I don’t think they would fight to free their local colonies like the kids did rescuing one drowning Bakenezumi previously. For the wild ones, their cause of invasion must be increasing their nest land. They are literal predators like bandits/pirates; also, intelligent enough to do recon and strategize for the win. I’ll let them surprise me but hopefully, the small ones have some strategy for their own. Squealer for one seems to be colony’s translator rather than fighter; the reason he can speak PK language. I’m just glad he’s safe but for how long? We shall see as this series hasn’t shirked away from death till now.
// Saki’s Grainy Past – Do we really know everything about Saki? We have been finding out a lot about the history of the Shinsekai world but what about our main heroine whose grown up version narrates this story? I was especially interested in her mantra ritual and the further titbit we got in episode four, where Mushin (the head priest) was squealing for her to stop and she having an epileptic seizure from death feedback. That literally did look quite dangerous. Was it part of her conditioning or Mushin was actually trying to stop her from killing him or something? The expression Saki wore, while the robot was prattling on about education and conditioning was filled with guilt and shame. What is her deal? Her being the last person to arrive at school proves the fact that she has hidden potential of whatever that is feared by the scientists (an urge to kill?). I also, think all of this could be part of an added hypnosis and conditioning to prepare her not to sway from the ideal position but the continuous disruption and new information will definitely make her walk the path, where she was never supposed to go.
// Out of Fire and Into the Pan – Episode five is literally a big highlight for Shinsekai and I hope we are mindblown each episode just like this. Yes, someone special had a hand in this and even when I don’t doubt the previous staff’s capability, A-1 keep this dude involved till the end! Applaud goes to Shigeyasu Yamauchi, whose biggest project was Casshern Sins and as Natasha reminded me on twitter, he directed Mawaru Penguindrum’s 18th episode with the same pizzazz. Loved the clarity on characters and even when character designs didn’t change, just the way they are presented made them look different, especially the close ups, emphasis on eyes and opposing angles were.
I swear the guys looked bishiers and even their voice-work seemed more mature. In a difficult situation all of them became highly alert and rather than joking around (like the beginning of their Summer trip), their survival instinct kicked in with quick decisions and action. A job well done overall, from panic-stricken moments to mellow ones that made episode five amazing. The whole scene in the nest between Saki and Satoru was quite sexy without emphasis on the act rather their reaction. I don’t know about next episode being done by Yamauchi or not but I would miss this treatment.
// The RUSH – Have you heard that people get married more during war time? Well, it’s true (my parents are a ripe example), because you don’t know if you’ll survive it or not so you end up trying to make the best of whatever you have and quick. The whole Satoru saving Saki had the same effect and bonus points because he has been her childhood friend and always liked her. Is this betrayal of Shun by Saki, you say? I don’t think it’s so cut and dried right now. Because even if Saki likes Shun, Satoru saved her life and they are in a die-next-minute situation. Feeling heightened emotion with adrenaline of so much action is human nature. Even when Saki has not shown any outwardly official acceptance of Shun, I was amazed on her caving so quickly. Maybe she did it to thank Satoru? Also, like Saki, I don’t think human emotions can be categorized like in monkeys. Everyone has urges but we have the ability to suppress them seeing situation. Whatever though, kudos to him for taking his sweet time to put his moves on her. I was impressed with his intelligence and how he kept on smiling even during danger. I thought of him as comic relief for the group but he has shown his worth and will be a worthy opponent to Shun. Though, he does genuinely like Saki so I’m not sure who I’ll be supporting later. The ED doesn’t show who holds Saki’s hand so suspense continues on!
HO SHIT. Is all I had in my mind after watching these two episodes. Forget about a mild supernatural-mystery, we have some serious stuff brewing here with a rich world setting and lots of terms to throw around. I’m not even going into religious connotations and societal themes that Shinsekai has explored. I will stick to speculation and impressions like above.
The ending was abrupt as usual and damn, I can’t wait to find out what Satoru speared. Was it the dead body of Squealer’s queen perhaps? The wild Bakenezumi seem to be trained warriors so even if they are not very intelligent, their fighting skills make up for it. Will Saki and Satoru get involved in this war? If you ask me, spreading out was not a very good idea as I don’t believe in divide and conquer but as the narration is from Saki’s point of view, at least she survived. The preview doesn’t show the remaining three so for now, let’s do with finding out more about Satoru. After his current antics I’m definitely more than interested as he’s not the only one who has broken a rule and listened to the word of the devil.
Just a titbit over seiyuu before I end this long review: being two cour, we would definitely be seeing Group A grow up because they have two sets of seiyuu on record. So, readers, having fun watching this and what are your theories about the stuff that has gone down?
Kids gone wild with Bakenezumi. Oh my word, what more action is awaiting us?