Shin Sekai Yori 04-05

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?

Preview:

Kids gone wild with Bakenezumi. Oh my word, what more action is awaiting us?

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16 Responses to “Shin Sekai Yori 04-05”

  1. Highway says:

    Hmm, you’re probably right. I had blogged that I thought it was a lake, or some other body of water, but body of the queen is probably a better guess (and much more likely to allow them to survive than if the tunnels were subsequently flooded). Seems a rather odd place to have another tunnel, with that thin of a ceiling, tho, plus you’d kind of expect the fluid to be blood, not something slimy, so maybe it is water.

    I have to believe Saki is right when she says that their PK power is not gone, it’s still there. We don’t know what physically allows the PK powers (oh please, not midichlorians or other symbiotes), but Rijin didn’t physically do anything to them, just (I hypothesize) post-hypnotic suggestion. I’d surmise that if anyone reminded them of their mantras, they’d regain full use of their Cantus.

    The intimacy between Satoru and Saki is far less meaningless to them than it is to us. They are 12-year olds in a society that has fostered intimate contact from birth, between all members of society. The reason Saki has so much hesitance about it is because she is trying to decide whether this is a true response, or if it’s ‘merely’ a cultured response, a programming that she shouldn’t have. My opinion on that would be “it doesn’t matter”. This is a mechanism your culture has for dealing with stress, and it is one that doesn’t hurt other people who do not consent (in such a culture is it hard to believe that such action would be considered infidelity even if one in a committed pair did so with one outside the pair).

    I’m still enjoying blogging this show, and it leaves so much fun stuff to speculate and discuss!

    • Kyokai says:

      Actually, it’s a tunnel so it can be anything. Not to mention, the speed with which we have been shown different species, I won’t be surprised if it’s a new terrain altogether (like you mentioned about a lake).

      Definitely yes over PK theory because Rijin just strengthened the conditioning barrier for them to think they can’t use it. I’m sure he wasn’t thinking that he’d be kicking the bucket soon, leaving the kids behind helpless. They should definitely realize this soon enough.

      I don’t think the intimacy is meaningless for them. However young they are, they are more aware of their surroundings and even if they lack adult judgement, Saki and even Satoru know when to stop and start. He could have jumped her later when they were taking shelter in Squealer’s colony but he didn’t because it was not the time and place. Though, the kind of society they live in, these things are not that important.

      Oh I definitely am enjoying blogging this too. I’m full of speculation and theories whenever I sit down to write. ^^

      • Highway says:

        Well, I’m pretty sure that Rijin *did* intend for their Cantus to be sealed permanently, although he acknowledges that he is not the one to be making that decision. I wonder if he could even do anything to unseal them, given the circumstances – perhaps it requires more of a setup, like with the fire.

        I typo’d that next part up, meaning to say “it is much less meaningful” to them than it would be to us, but you seem to have read it the way I intended. I don’t mean that it’s completely meaningless, but that it doesn’t hold the same assumed weight, especially of monogamy, that the same things would for us (compare even Aiko in Sukitte ii na yo for the gravity of even casual sex in our culture). I was mostly responding to the speculation of what it means for Saki and Shun’s relationship.

  2. Highway says:

    Oh, you mentioned the flashback to Mushin, and Saki’s response to his cries for mercy. I’m pretty sure that was a setup, set to test the Death Feedback inculcated within children who demonstrate PK powers. Whatever the setup, Mushin makes Saki believe that she is causing harm to him, that she is killing him, to see if the autonomous response is one that is required by society. If she had not suffered and collapsed, it is likely she would have been ‘removed’ like so many others.

    • Kyokai says:

      As I said, it looked like part of her conditioning to see if she behaved ideally as per their set standards than she actually hurting Mushin. Was there any blood? Nope.

      Now, I’m really curious to find out what went down with her other sibling and what her father meant by ‘rebelling in secret’.

      • Highway says:

        I think the rebelling in secret mentioned has more to do with the bakenezumi than anything Saki’s father was doing, especially given the context that he was talking about it in. We see now that some colonies have taken a far more warlike stance. And they have armies that do not have any indications on them, even though Squealer knows they are the Ground Spider colony. We don’t know nearly enough about bakenezumi culture to really know, but perhaps a colony like the Ground Spiders has been gaining strength in secret, maybe even directing their physical attributes, away from the human oversight and is now feeling ready to challenge the ‘gods’. And while the humans don’t really know about what they’re doing, they adopt an attitude that they’re possibly doing something, so they keep their guard up.

        That’s my take on it. I really don’t think it’s something about taking down their own society from within.

  3. Gecko says:

    I was a bit lost when all of that information got spewed out. I am not a science person, so some of it was a bit lost. All of them big words. So episode 4 wasn’t that great for me, since it was a lot of “focus on their reactions” but oh well.
    I do think that Saki has something slightly different about her. Perhaps her instincts are the least present, and she is able to move about more freely -and think more freely- than everyone else, making her a target for the adults. The kids were probably moved up to the school by nature of their PK and their instincts shown around. So perhaps she wasn’t really completely following the instincts? Her parents did try before (as we learned in the first episode) but the Copycats took the kids away. So clearly there are some sort of behavioral problems in the family.
    I do think her grown up version is a bit bitter when she does come in to speak, so she may be somewhat disappointed by what exactly happened.

    • Highway says:

      Ah, that was the part I loved. The filling in of the world, the snippets of the other emperors, and the rationales why these kids accept this society that’s so uncanny valley to ours: almost the same, but different enough to give us the creeps looking at it.

    • Kyokai says:

      @ Gecko, I watched episode four twice just to take in all the information dump. So many syndromes and what not but this was needed to add in sanity about the world that we have been seeing but have no concrete information about till now.

      You are right about Saki, she is a bit different from others and how much, we’ll be finding out as the story progresses. She does sound bitter and even melancholic at points (like when she revealed about Maria and how her being alive caused many deaths). I think some of them are going to die in finding the real truth.

  4. lvlln says:

    I didn’t enjoy the 1st episode to the point that I dropped it, and boy am I glad I picked it back up after episode 4 aired! There’s so much about Shin Sekai Yori that impresses, not the least of which is the complex lore which I’m thankful that you broke down for us. After seeing so many science fiction anime recently fail so hard at world building (eg Fractale, Guilty Crown), it’s nice to see a show that takes it seriously (Psycho-Pass this season is another standout in that regard). The infodump in episode 4 did feel a bit lazy, but given what transpired between then and the end of episode 5, clearly we’ve only scratched the surface. And most of the reveals have come smoothly integrated into the plot.

    Really, I was heavily reminded of adventure novels for kids (which I guess ShinSekai Yori kind of is) that I used to read in elementary to middle school. A real sense of awe and wonder at the world around our main characters, and the impossible odds they have to overcome at times, just to survive. Combine that with the beautiful animation highlighted especially in the latest episode, and I’m completely hooked, even though I barely care at all about the actual characters.

    • Highway says:

      The only character I care about is Saki. Shun has been the ‘attractive quiet guy with the devious personality’, Maria and Mamoru are basically background scenery. Satoru is the only one who has been getting any chance of becoming an actual character in the show, and I haven’t even liked him that much.

      But the world building, like you say, is excellent. I’m watching it for the consequences of this society, these divides, the choices that their humanity fork have made that lead to this present. And from what’s been hinted at, it’s almost like another apocalypse is coming, like the one that started the Dark Ages. But I have no idea what side it’s going to come from.

  5. BlackBriar says:

    Things have become interesting yet we’ve barely even scratched the surface.

    Episode 4 did an exceptional job revealing the dark truth behind their society’s existence. There was a lot of potent information but it was done so quick that there was hardly any breathing time which was tough to process the scenario.

    The artwork made the area more otherworldly as if the kids went to another dimension reserved to queerrats.

  6. anaaga says:

    Maybe Saki has a shady past, but I don’t think that has anything to do with what Mushin did. I just rewatched episode three and four and realized that hypnotism is heavily used in this anime. It was also said that the focus of the research is the prevention of murders. I think it’s:

    1) hypnotism to make the body respond to dangerous words such as “kill” and “hurt” because it’s 2) a test to see whether Saki’s genetically enhanced body is functioning like how they want it to be. And when the body doesn’t cease its seizure, they would remove the said subject.

    Don’t worry, I only spoiled myself for the ending, so I wouldn’t know anything about this.

  7. D-LaN says:

    -EP4-

    Woohoo time for plotdump! And what a plotdump it is. Tht is one screwed up world they are living in. What irked me off is the monk burning the library… Dude, its the last of its kin as far as we know and it have KNOWLEDGE in them…
    And wow, those PK powers are godlike… And WTH did Saki did….

    -EP5-

    Sh*t is really hitting the fan together with a drastic change in style… (I am OK with it, just tht some of the shot feels a bit weird…) Its like Satoru levelled up his bishie STAT… And I have to remind myself tht they are 12 years old during the almost sex scene….

  8. MikADo says:

    my god this show is drying me inside out! its so interesting! but i have to wait a week! A WHOLE WEEK! why God! why have you forsaken me!

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