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) – 21

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Shisei tries to rally the townsfolk to fight back, but explosives beneath them are set off and queerats attack from underground. He holds them at bay, but when the fiend enters the town, his attention is divided. Saki and Satoru flee to the Temple of Purity, where a gift from Saki’s parents is waiting for her. But first, she and Satoru meet with Inui, whose unit was killed by the fiend, who was accompanied by queerats. Saki learns Yakomaru used Maria and Mamoru to conceive a fiend, the first in an army he will ultimately use to conquer the world.

Throughout the run of this excellent series, we have heard the narration of an old Saki, and what we are watching are her reminiscences  The end has already been written, she just hasn’t shared it with us. But her presence above the story gets us thinking: what are her present circumstances? Is she on her deathbed, as we saw Tomiko last week? Is she in some kind of purgatory or afterlife, with ample time to tell the story of her life? Is she the last human alive who isn’t a fiend made by Yakomaru by foul craft? Part of us is immensely curious about her, because things are going so far downhill, she risks backing herself into an impossible corner.

It’s bad enough there’s a fiend on the loose, and it is somehow being controlled by the queerats as their secret weapon (akin to a nuke, really). But far more twisted is that this is unquestionably (judging by the hair and eyes) a child of Saki’s friends. We shudder to think whether they had a say in matters or not, but we wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t. As for Yakomaru’s plan to steal infants and use them as material to breed domesticated fiends – well, it’s despicable beyond belief, but in his belief (and that of his loyal soldiers), it’s an eye for an eye.


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) – 17

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In Saki’s 26th year, she is now a bureaucrat at what amounts to the Department of Queerat Control. Satoru, with whom she’d had a falling out not long ago, reports an unauthorized attack of one queerat colony by another. Saki gives a report to the village brass, and they call in the leaders of the two most powerful alliances: Kiroumaru and Yakomaru. They make no progress. Later, Saki and her colleague Inui are on hand to approve a battle between the Giant Hornets and the Robber Fly colony’s allies. That particular battle is won, but by day’s end the Giant Hornets are wiped out.

We’ve now seen Saki and Satoru grow from little kids playing with pottery in classrooms to responsible adults who now have active roles in the protection of mankind. That one more day the two had to save Maria and Mamoru evidently wasn’t enough, and at the moment, Satoru and Saki aren’t talking after a petty argument. It’s interesting that this chapter of Saki’s 26th year begins with the two on bad terms; we wouldn’t be surprised if Saki ultimately found Satoru unable to fill the void left by Maria (Saki seems to be reminded of her in a scene where only a single flower is colored), but nor is she above maintaining their friendship, and this new queerat incident is the perfect opening for that. But that’s not the focus of this episode.

Bottom line: the queerats (sorry, “exospecies”) are slowly but surely falling out of human control, and fast. You can’t help but fear that one day they’ll progress so far they will develop a means to counter the human cantus. Every word a queerat says – be it Yakomaru or Kiroumaru – contains a resentful undertone. Genetic predisposition towards loyalty is fading as their populations surge; and while humans have a nuclear option – annihilating any colony that opposes them – one wonders how such a violent and destructive action will affect them. Saki calls herself a “pencil pusher” but the queerats call her a shinigami (death god). Being a god ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.


Rating: 8 (Great)

From the New World (Shin Sekai yori) – 15

The igloo is gone, presumably leveled by Maria and Mamoru, so Saki and Satoru continue their search, following a queerat who spotted them. Saki falls down a snow cornice, but Satoru saves her. They are welcomed to the Robber Fly Colony, which is showing signs of vastly increased technology, and they have lobotomized their queen and set up a representative government. Squealer, now called Yakomaru, guides them to the Goat Moth colony, accompanied by organized soldiers. They find Squonk, who tells Saki he doesn’t know where Maria and Mamoru went, but has a letter from them.

We knew the search for Maria and Mamoru wasn’t going to be easy; in order to survive  they felt they needed to erase all evidence they were still alive. It’s a big world out there, and with Canti, they can move quite fast. And while we knew from the preview that this episode would feature Squealer, we would never have guessed how far things have come in the years since they last crossed paths. On the one hand, its a good time to be a Robber Fly; on the other hand, their civilization is developing at a frightening pace, so much so that Satoru is worried the queerats’ ultimate goal is to replace humanity, adopting the material culture they abandoned. It’s not a farfetched concern. They already vastly outnumber them.

After seeing how the queerats ended up solving their “queen problem” (they need them to breed, but they’re too tyrannical and unstable), it’s not a big leap to say they would take a look at solving their “god problem” in a similar way, if humans threatened their survival or even attempted to curtail their progress. Squealer is as hard-to-read as ever; his obedience seems more reluctant that before, and he has much more confidence. Ruthless and violent as queerat queens were, they were always a natural check on over-development – almost an extension of human dominion over queerats. Now that check is gone. If we were humans living in Saki’s time, we’d be very, very nervous.


Rating: 8 (Great)

From the New World (Shin Sekai yori) – 13

Saki, Maria and Satoru set out to find Mamoru, who has a three hour head start on them. They follow sled tracks across the Holy Barrier, and find queerat tracks alongside it, possibly indicating a chase. The tracks end on the edge of a cliff, and they find the sled buried suspiciously deeply and neatly. They eventually come across a queerat hut, and Mamoru is inside, saved by Squonk, who they helped years ago. He said he had to run from the village because he was being hunted by tainted cats.

Poor Mamoru. Among those still alive in Team 1, he has the weakest Cantus, the weakest talents, and the weakest will. When Maria calls him “quiet and cooperative”, it sounds like a back-handed compliment. It also makes us think of the fiends Tomiko mentioned – how they were always suspected of harboring evil thoughts and such. Mamoru isn’t like them. No, he seems to be next in line for disposal because of what he knows. Information can be a sickness, and if he’s infected enough, he may snap just like a fiend, in spite of his natural disposition. It doesn’t help that his friends are all far superior to him in every way that matters (Cantus skiing and bunny hopping FTW!!), and are keeping secrets from him.

Like everything that happens in this series, something is fishy about the picture that is pieced together by Saki, Maria and Satoru with the tracks and clues they have. It would seem tainted cats were sent to Mamoru (must be fun having a teacher who is plotting to have you killed), causing him to flee in terror. But Saki remembers that queerats are one of the tools in the Ethics Committee’s arsenal. While Squonk is simply repaying kindness (and as he said, saving a god is in their nature), one can’t help but wonder if the Mamoru was simply supposed to quietly vanish, only he didn’t, because the Scooby Gang wouldn’t let him. He may be useless, but he’s still their friend, if anything were to happen to him, Maria may be next, as guilt over what she could’ve done to save him could consume her.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)