From the New World (Shin Sekai yori) – 25 (Fin)

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Saki charges the queerat-raised child with a disguised Kiroumaru ahead of her. The kid kills Kiroumaru, and death feedback kills him. Yakomaru is captured, and after a show trial, is sentenced to eternal agony. The central library, temple of purity, and Saki’s parents were all lost in her absence  She returns to work at Exospecies control, where Satoru tells her he’s discovered the shocking truth about queerats. Time passes, Saki and Satoru get married, and ten years later, Saki completes her book. She is with child, but it is now an object of hope, not fear.

This was a strong and emotional end to a strong and emotional series that asked a lot of tough questions about human nature and how our desire to survive can lead to questionable decisions that bite us in the ass later on. We watched a civilization of people who are programmed to die if they kill fear the powers of their own offspring. We learned that humans with cantus decided to mix non-cantus humans with naked molerats to create a new species they could control and kill without feedback. Though they lacked cantus, queerats still did all they could to survive. Kiroumaru gladly gives up his life for Saki if she saves his colony, and she succeeds. We liked the elegance of the plan to take out Maria and Mamoru’s kid, but share Saki’s sadness that he had to go.

What’s gratifying about the ending is that we go back to all the events of this work and think about how all of it came from the pen of a thirty-something Saki, sitting safe and comfortable in her lovely home with a bun in the oven. Her survival was never in doubt, but everything else was up for grabs, including what had become of her and where he was writing or recollecting this. Few of us can say we’ve lost as much as Saki lost in her still short lifetime: family, friends, lovers, and even memories. But in the end, she carried on with her life, started a new family with Satoru, remembered everything about her old world and wrote it down, in hope the new world will be better for her child. She’s a strong one.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Obserations:

  • Not a single frame was wasted as this episode was dotted with gorgeous vista after gorgeous vista. We’ll miss this beautiful world.
  • We agree that Squealer deserves punishment for murdering so many, but “eternal hell”? That’s harsh.
  • We’d heard Dvorak’s ninth symphony many times before, but we didn’t know it was called “From the New World.” It’s gotta be one of our favorite pieces of orchestral music, and the title suits it perfectly.
  • Seeing that Satoru survived with Saki and they eventually married and had a kid made us very happy.

From the New World (Shin Sekai yori) – 23

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Saki, Satoru, Inui and Kiroumaru traverse ever more subterranean horrors until reaching a dead end: a dangerous underground river. As their pursuers split into two groups, Kiroumaru suggest the same, and they do. Inui accompanies Saki back to the submarine, take it until the tunnel narrows, then continue on foot. Inui is taken out by a giant ragworm, but Saki reaches the location of the psychobuster drug, which is contained in a decorative metal talisman. Throughout their trip, she starts hallucinating about Shun, finally remembering his name. When she returns to the surface, he is there waiting for her, his mask removed.

The people of Japan believe Tokyo to be hell on earth. Their collective Canti leak, and make Tokyo the very hell on earth they fear, positively crawling with nightmarish mutant creatures. Thankfully, they’re all dispatched with fire, and none of them are capable of igniting that fire in suicide attacks. But Inui isn’t quite fast enough, and gets jumped by a worm. No body, so we don’t know what’s become of him, but for the remainder of the episode, Saki is alone in perhaps the worst place in the world…or is she?

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Years ago, her still-developing child brain was purged of all clear memories of Aonuma Shun, her soul mate, so much so that she eventually found another soulmate in Maria (only to lose her too). Whether enough time has passed or from the effects of Tokyo, she finally recalls Shun’s name and face. He’s aware of her situation, and warns her that the “fiend” she’s supposed to kill isn’t really a fiend. This explains why it can be controlled by Yakomaru: it’s been conditioned by the queerats since birth.

Unlike children in the villages who are trained to control their canti, this child’s cantus has been honed to its full destructive potential, while maintaining a basic humanity. The process that made Saki and her friends was reversed to make this “pseudo-fiend.” Already reticent about utilizing biological WMD, Saki’s heart stands to waver even more now that she’s been told her foe is neither mindless nor a lost cause, but just as much a victim of fate and circumstance as she is.


Rating: 8 (Great)

P.S. Saki breaking through the wall and emerging onto the surface of a ruined Tokyo at dawn is one of the more gorgeous and arresting moments this exquisite series has treated us to.

From the New World (Shin Sekai yori) – 20

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Saki and Satoru manage to evade the fiend, but the next morning while on a makeshift raft, another monster appears that secretes explosive fog. Saki flies (or is flown) into the air to avoid the explosion, and is separated from Satoru. After mistaking Saki for a queerat, a teenage boy halts his attack and they return to the village, which has been burnt out by the explosive monsters. Saki is brought before an injured Tomiko, who officially leaves the care of the 66th district in Saki’s hands. As a fiend approaches, she orders everyone to disperse, leaving her behind.

When this series started with us following a group of tweens, the adults seemed like the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful force that controlled society and the world. Now a staggeringly cunnning and bitter queerat has instigated a brutal guerrilla war, and the adults prove almost totally unprepared. Only the strongest – and luckiest – among them escape the long night of slaughter, and they’re left battered and physically and mentally fatigued, which is exactly how Yakomaru wants when he sends in the explosive manatee creatures to scorch the picturesque village. This guy knows what he’s doing. The fact we haven’t seen him in some time adds to his dead mystique.

Most of the episode Saki is simply running, slowly floating, even flying for her life. The scene when she’s flying through the air, out of control, with the sky and earth constantly shifting position nicely illustrates the chaos she finds herself in. Worse still, her brief but powerful vision during this flight contains instances of people she knows almost warning her about exactly what is happening. With a maimed Tomiko staying behind to face the coming fiend (or whatever it is), Saki has been left in charge of what’s left of the district. It is a burden she never asked for, but only she may have the strength to bear it.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

From the New World (Shin Sekai yori) – 19

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Saki and Satoru join a group of three others and patrol for queerat stragglers. When they arrive at the hospial, everything is dark and there’s a gaping hole in the building. One of the group heads in, Satoru realizes there are queerats around. He and the other three set the fields ablaze, killing a queerat force. They slowly investigate the hospital, and find three survivors who are paralyzed with fear. Their initial attacker returns, and kills two of the group. Saki and Satoru split off from the rest and escape in the boat, but they’re being followed…

The darker horror elements of this series return with a vengeance, and though they were never entirely absent from any episode thus far, things are definitely kicked up a couple of notches. What was once an omnipresent but subtle feeling of tension and dread has now completely inundated the picture. This shit is dark. As in, better watched at night so you can see what’s going on. The episode itself is called “Darkness”. Rather than comfort us by letting a few days pass after that harrowing surprise attack, we’re still with Saki and Satoru on a night from hell that just won’t end.

No good can come from investigating spooky hospitals with holes in them in the middle of the night. Duh. But Satoru is tired of being in the dark; he wants to know what’s happened in there. Be careful what you wish for: the culprit and nemesis of the episode is either a fiend or karma demon, and it’s not friendly. Even more chilling is the prospect it was the one that annihilated the Giant Hornets. Could this thing be on Yakomaru’s side? If it is, that’s very bad news. It means the defeat of the humans is no longer outside the realm of possibility. As if it ever was…


Rating: 8 (Great)

From the New World (Shin Sekai yori) – 18

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Satoru reports to the joint committee heads that the Giant Hornets were completely annihilated by the Robber Flys. In light of very strange evidence, Shisei forms the theory that a human with a cantus destroyed the army. Tomiko refutes it’s either Akizuki Maria or Itou Mamoru, as she confirmed they were dead. At the summer festival, the Robber Flys, condemned to destruction, launch a surprise attack on the village, but Shisei eliminates them, removing his mask in the process. Tomiko vows to give Yakomaru a slow death.

The point when they queerats turn on their own gods came much more rapidly than we expected, and Yakomaru is almost certainly behind it all. There was always something about that rat’s eyes and in his weaselly words that we found unsettling. While he most certainly knows the surprise attack will fail, it is nevertheless a complex multi-layered assault full of feints and gambits designed to create maximum anxiety in the people, who had been previously enjoying their summer festival. Queerat infiltrators even disguised themselves as “monsters” (part of the festival) and handed out samples of poisoned sake.

Their assault may have been thwarted – and then some – by the awesome destructive power of the four-irised(!) Shisei, but the villagers are afraid, and that’s just what Yakomaru wants. Two committee heads are also dead: the most bombastic and overconfident head (who was playing a drum with his cantus when he was taken out by a queerat sniper) and the one head who called for the postponement of the festival until the Robber Flys were dealt with. Turns out that was a good call. Meanwhile, on this night when the dead return from the underworld, Saki has visions of her friends, whom Tomiko is positive they’re dead. But are they really?


Rating: 8 (Great)

From the New World (Shin Sekai yori) – 14

Humans are, in many ways, gods. One wonders if there was a lesser species of sentient animal living among us (like queerats), that species would view us as such for all of the amazing things we can do that they can’t…even if we don’t have the power of telekinesis (some monks in Tibet may, we don’t know). In the New World, everyone has a cantus, which makes everyone a potential threat to everyone else. One person can become a district-swallowing fiend. Japan is a land of 60,000 potential nuclear bombs – weapons of almost limitless energy.

Mamoru and Maria are no different from anyone else. They want to live alone in the wilderness to be safe from harm, but if they were to become fiends, they would be the ones doing the harm, and they wouldn’t have a say in the matter. As such, both the Board of Education and Ethics Committee are treating them like missing WMDs. Chairman Tomiko has big plans and faith in Saki – indeed in all of Group One, originally – so she gives her a chance to bring the wayward friends back her own way.

This week, the total scale of Tomiko’s influence comes to light, when she tells Saki how old she is: 267 years, 170 of them as the Ethics Chief. Her longevity, and the resulting knowledge amassed in her head, are the source of her power. Because of the threat humans pose to one another, only the bare minimum are entrusted with knowledge. There must be people who are aware and free-thinking enough to make the tough choices and do the dirty work and protect the others. Tomiko has been that, and she intends for Saki to replace her.

Tomiko also easily sways the Board and its much younger leadership because she points out that they totally screwed up the whole “disposing of Mamoru” thing. That’s a factor of their impatience and inexperience, which is why they defer to her. Their reverence for her is palpable. Tomiko then vouches for Mamoru and Maria’s safety if they’re brought back. We don’t know how she can make that guarantee if Mamoru is truly headed to fiendsville, but in any case, the two aren’t where Saki and Satoru left them. They have three days.


Rating: 8 (Great)

From the New World (Shin Sekai yori) – 12

Saki is brought before Asahina Tomiko, head of the Ethics Committee,but she isn’t in trouble; on the contrary, Tomiko intends for Saki to one day succeed her. She overruled the Board of Educations plans to dispose of her for learning the truth, because her personality indexes indicate a high degree of mental stability required of a leader. Tomiko tells her the story of K, a boy who became a fiend twenty years ago, and Izumi, a girl who became a karma demon. As her eventual replacement, Saki will be responsible for dealing with future fiends or karma demons before they fully develop and consume what’s left of mankind. Mamoru goes missing, and Saki, Maria and Satoru go looking for him.

Despite having retained all of the knowledge and history relayed to her by the false minoshiro, the truths that Tomiko relays to Saki this week are still a lot to take in and endure. Essentially, humanity is on the edge of a precipice, and it is its own worst enemy. Fiends voluntarily use their Canti to kill indiscriminately, like a fox in a henhouse. Karma demons’ Canti leak and subconsciously pollute everything around them, even DNA. If either of these are allowed to crop up unchecked, they could easily push the rest humanity off that ledge. K, one  of thirty documented fiends (all but two of them boys) killed 1,000 people in one day – no longer a drop in a bucket. Both Izumi and Shun destroyed entire villages, when only a handful remain. One day they were ordinary humans, the next, existential threats.

Saki, who’s seen and heard a lot and maintained her poise and sanity, is next in line for a very solemn but essential position in society: one who identifies those weak links that may flare up into fiends or karma demons, and stamp them out. However cruel it may seem to preemptively eliminate fellow human beings (through the use of tainted cats), considering the threats that will sprout up if they don’t, Tomiko would seem to have little choice. Watching her in the flashbacks as a nurse overcome by fear and dread and seeing her serene presence in the present, we see someone who has come to terms with that, and does not simply rule out of a desire for power and control, but to keep the human race, flawed as it may be (looking at you, Mamoru) alive. She does what must be done. And one day, she hopes so will Saki.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

From the New World (Shin Sekai yori) – 11

The time comes for the school groups to pair off into boy-girl pairs for school duties, ceremonial preparation, and eventually, procreation. A handsome guy named Ryou tells Saki he’ll choose her, but she’s not so sure who he is. Ryou seems to have replaced Shun in everyone’s minds, but Saki and Satoru still remember him. Saki also finds a mirror with her sister’s name etched in, as well as the girl who was in their group years ago. Itou freaks out, and Maria tells Saki to drop it. She can’t give up, but she won’t bring it up again. Two officials from the Ethics Committee appear before them, and the three are brought to the committee’s head, Asahina Tomiko, starting with Saki.

Whatever methods the powers that be employ – be they the Ethics Committee or their bosses – to ensure the people remain blissfully ignorant and only believe and remember what they’re told, they simply haven’t worked on Saki. Aonuma Shun’s growing power, whether from ‘illness’ or ‘ascendance’ was an immediate existential threat to the almighty status quo, and it was dealt with by allowing him to self-destruct in isolation, then swept under the rug. But Saki’s power – that of intense, piercing curiosity and doubt – is far more insidious. One by one, it spreads to her three remaining friends, though they exhibit varying degrees of enthusiasm.

Saki gets things started. Satoru is willing to hear anything out. Maria is unnerved. Mamoru is terrified. This may also be the order from worst to best sense of self-preservation, because not long after the matter between the friends is more or less resolved, a couple of kind, friendly-looking adults shows up, essentially arresting Maria, Satoru, and Saki. Has the Ethics Committee finally had enough of Wantanabe Saki and her incessant digging? They may well wish to ‘purge’ or ‘dispose of’ her, but with all the nice manners, smiles, and insistence that ‘there’s no reason to be nervous’, they may have another use for her altogether – one even she can’t fathom.


Rating: 8 (Great)

From the New World (Shin Sekai yori) – 10

Saki survives her encounter with the tainted cat by the skin of her teeth, but the talisman Shun gave her is destroyed. She finally finds a masked Shun by the lake, who allows her to stay for ten minutes. He explains how he’s become a karma demon (AKA Hashimoto-Applebaum Syndrome), and his Cantus is leaking out rapidly, allowing his uncchecked subconscious to warp the world. The other cat appears to kill him, but his dog Subaru sacrifices himself to distract it, and Shun finishes it off. As his control starts to slip, Shun decides to end his life, but not before confessing he always loved Saki.

Last week’s excellent buildup and preparation was not let down in this, the payoff episode. The tainted cat cliffhanger picks up with a lightning-quick and brutal battle between Saki and the beast, and she is quite clearly outmatched. Were it not for her choker, she’d have ended up dead before she even knew what hit her. But Saki is no slouch, taking advantage of the cat’s failed jugular shot to literally wring it out with her Cantus. It’s satisfying to see how much skill and discipline she’s amassed in the two years since the last arc. All her efforts are simply to reach Shun, the guy she always loved but never said or did anything about it.

Their trippy encounter only lasts long enough for him to tell her the volatile nature of Canti, the true purpose of the Holy Barrier (directing “leaking” Canti to the outside world) and his “illness”, which has already cost the lives of his parents, his neighborhood, and likely others. Shun, in the end, had too much potential, his Cantus too powerful to exist in the world, and he ceases being able to hold it back. Taking his life was the only course of action to prevent the further suffering of others (we’ll assume, for now, he succeeded) Saki finally gets the answer she always silently sought (that he loved her too), but her challenge now is to stay alive, not let grief or guilt consume her, and keep trying to make sense of this crazy world she was born to.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

From the New World (Shin Sekai yori) – 07

Satoru uses his Cantus to burn the Ground Spider army’s nest in the forest behind them and redirects their catapulted rocks to buy him and Saki time to run. Just as Squealer suspects they’re no longer gods, they hear the horns of the Giant Hornets, the largest queerat colony, and most loyal to humans. Their leader Kiroumaru welcomes the humans, and Satoru saves him from a last-ditch blowdog attack by the enemy.

Still, Satoru still feels he and Saki are in danger, suspecting the adults will use Kiroumaru to execute them for their crimes.  They escape in the night, followed by Squealer. They reunite with Shun, Maria, and Mamoru and start rowing home, and they’re intercepted by Kiromaru’s fleet, but he simply tows them the rest of the way, out of gratitude. They bid farewell to the queerats and return to Kamisu’s 66th District, where they get a less-than-warm welcome.

If indeed all living humans get death feedback, it would preclude them killing other humans. So Satoru figures out that the “Ethics Committee” the False Minoshiro spoke of lets other parties do their dirty work. Enter the queerats: sentient, violent beasts led by slightly more civilized generals like Kiroumaru. Satoru suspects he was ordered to “take care” of the meddling kids he finds, and considering humans gods, he’s naturally inclined to obey without question.

But Kiroumaru’s sense of debt and balance overrules his obedience: just as Squealer’s colony owes the Hornets a debt, Kiromaru owes Satoru a debt for saving his life. We sweat for a moment there when his fleet appears (Game Over?!) and this series excels at building crepy tension and impending doom, but Kiroumaru turns out to not be their final executioner. The narrator, whom we suspect is an adult Saki, states ominously that while the queerat ordeal is over, her trials are only beginning.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

From the New World (Shin Sekai yori) – 06

Trapped in the cave but alive, Saki recites Rijin’s words and somehow Satoru’s Cantus is restored. He uses his powers to bust them out of the cave, but many perils await them on the surface. Satoru seems to have fun killing Ground Spider queerats, and when Squealer and the Robber Fly remnants offer to escort them to safety, Satoru agrees. He defeats ambush after ambush, but begins to experience death feedback, and his powers weaken. Squealer shows them an enormous queerat army awaiting them up ahead.

When Saki somehow restores Satoru’s Cantus, he wastes no time putting on a psychokinetic clinic, kicking ass left and right by dividing boulders into cubic bullets, lifting trees out of their roots and turning them into burning missiles, and directing the flow of water, deflecting boulders launched at them, et cetera. But throughout all this, Satoru changes from the kind, gentle kid of just last week to someone crueler, more arrogant and vindictive. He’s having too much fun. Defense isn’t enough for him. He takes the fight to the queerats, and allows himself to get drawn into a war.

Satoru’s refrain is that if they simply run away, reunite with the others, get back in their canoes and go home, they’ll be pursued. He thinks running would be suicide. He wants to instill crippling fear in the queerats – every last one. But Satoru is just one person, and not nearly as disciplined as the monk Rijin; the extent of the pain and suffering hes causing to living creatures starts taking its toll fast. Thus far Satoru’s actions have only extended and worsened his date from hell with Saki. If he passes out, she’ll be all alone in a sea of queerats with no Cantus to stay afloat; a terrifying prospect.


Rating: 8 (Great)