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) – 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) – 16

Saki and Satoru read the farewell letter Maria wrote to her and gave to Squonk. She tells them why they can’t go back to the village, tells them not to go looking for them, and to tell the village that they died. Saki and Satoru leave the Robber Fly Colony and search for a second day, this time splitting up, but there’s no sign of their friends. Saki has a nightmare in which a faceless boy tells her to stop the search. She and Satoru sleep together on the second night, with only one day remaining before they must return to the village.

The intense emotional resonance of this episode would not have been possible without all of the episodes that preceded it, and thus serves as a testament to their quality. As Maria narrates her letter and we watch flashbacks of her life with Saki, from meeting in harmony school to sharing their first kiss, it’s a heartbreakingly beautiful sequence. What could easily come across as mushy in other works, is honest and affecting here. We couldn’t help but tear up a little as Saki did when the letter concluded. What’s so awesome is that it serves as both a touching love letter and, at the same time, a scathing treatise on society in this new world – one in which adults fear their children.

Saki can’t argue with any of the notions Maria expresses about their village, but now that Tomiko has handpicked Saki to succeed her, she’s not torn between loyalty and love of her friends, of which now she only has one, Satoru, and that Tomiko, who trusts her to one day take the reins, and the bad with the good. The way mankind lives isn’t perfect; in fact, it can be as fearsome and deranged as Saki’s chilling nightmare. But no matter how mankind has chosen to live, there will always be that one dark egg in a million that contains a demon. Perhaps the faceless boy (Shun?) told Saki her lover Maria had to die, because opinions about society like Maria’s may lead to its demise.

Saki and Satoru still have one more day. After that, they really may be all alone in the world. But they’ll still have one another.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

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)

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) – 09

With Shun gone for four days, Satoru gathers the others and suggests they go looking for him. He and Saki travel to his house in Pinewood, but it is totally cordoned off in all directions, and they find that a huge gash has been made in the forest, with a burnt-out tree trunk in the bottom of a pit that reminds Saki of the one in Shun’s house. Meanwhile Maria and Mamoru ask around school, but everyone from Pinewood is absent. Curiosity leads them to check out the inner yard, and they see three adults release two tainted cats from their kennels, and mention Shun. Maria comes to Saki in the middle of the night to tell her this, and she sets out alone to find Shun, but its confronted by one of the cats in the forest.

Whatever year it actually is in Saki’s world, it might as well be 1984 (while that monolithic tree they see brought 2001 to mind). People who do not obey and conform to the “society of love” live in constant fear of death, or worse – by the hands of the “Ethics Committee”, which may as well be called the Ministry of Love. People are supposed to stick to their particular vocation, and not pry in anything else, even if it concerns family or friends. In Saki’s case, her older sister vanished long ago, and she forgot about it like a good girl. But now she’s remembered. Now someone she cares about deeply – Shun – is in some very serious trouble. She cares about him so much she’s willing to risk everything – her freedom, her life, her parents’ peace-of-mind – to find him. Which is badass.

We don’t hand out tens willy-nilly; only three first-run episodes have received our highest rating so far, along with a handful of Retro Reviews. But we consider this episode the best and most complete of the series so far; a masterpiece of tone, mood, and tension. It’s not particularly flashy, but never before have the stakes seemed so high, or have Saki and her friends seemed to be in more danger. We’re not even sure what the real deal with Shun is yet – only that he may be turning into a full karma demon (that doesn’t sound good). This episode is the best kind of building-up episode: one that creates so much anticipation for the future, but more than holds up by itself as a comprehensive study in layering trepidation on top of disquiet on top of dread.

The moment Saki hears from Maria, she goes into Full Rescue Mode – suiting up with the talisman Shun gave her (and which she may believe was also a wordless message to come after him, not just a memento mori), and using her Cantus to good effect, bringing a loud wind that will mask her movements, flying through the air, and racing down the river. If she’s discovered, she’ll most certainly die, and the episode projects that perfectly. While a ten need not be totally perfect, we could not list a single flaw in the episode anyway. From the precise pacing to the stirring primeval score to the consistently excellent costume design, this was a winner on all fronts.


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

RABUJOI World Heritage List

P.S. The tainted cats have pumps for feet…very strange.

From the New World (Shin Sekai yori) – 08

Two years after their summer camp adventure, the circle of friends are now fourteen and starting to drift away. Shun and Satoru are an affectionate item, but Shun gets tired of him and dumps him. Saki and Maria also form a couple, but Saki longs for Shun. Itou likes Maria but is too shy to do anything about it. One day their class is visited by Kaburagi Shiei – owner of the most powerful Cantus. When he approaches Shun (who is acting strange), something happens, and when Saki bumps into him later Shun tells her he believes their punishment was merely being delayed, and that he must now go away to recieve some kind of “special treatment”.

Love is in the air, or at least some kind of biologically-dictated version of it, as the gang ages two years since the last episode. Hormones run wild and kids pair off like there’s no tomorrow. They’re all following their ancestors’ wish to coexist in a “society of love” like Bonobos (the yaoi/yuri stuff is tastefully enough done). Saki wants to pair off with Shun, but Shun’s with Satoru, at least initially, and then…he only wants to be alone. Saki finds solace in Maria, but their pairing leaves Itou as the fifth wheel. The whole time all this touching and nuzzling is going on, Saki continues to have the feeling that something is terribly wrong. Shun shares her suspicions, but now he appears to be in trouble.

It’s weird seeing everyone suddenly two years older at first, and we think it’s supposed to be weird, like everything’s a little off. Because, of course it is. At first the episode is ambiguous, but as it progresses its clear they still remember what happened two summers ago, which means they remember everything the false minoshiro said about society, and about disruptive elements being removed for the good of the group. Shun, it seems, is on the verge of becoming a disruption, and considering how powerful his Cantus is, it looks like he’s going to be dealt with one way or another. He’s unwilling to let Saki or anyone else interfere and risk their own safety. It seems best for Saki, Maria, Satoru and Itou to simply keep their heads down.


Rating: 8 (Great)

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) – 04

The minoshiro-disguised library explains to the group in great detail the birth of psychokinetic or PK powers in humans, starting in the 21st century and ending in the downfall of civilization and the loss of billions of lifes, and a dark age lasting centuries in which brutal PK slave empires ruled, non-PK hunter-gatherers lived, PK bandits roamed, and scientists preserved ancient knowledge and bided their time until the empires crumbled from within.

Through genetic manipulation, education and development of rituals, and a system of rooting out potentially dangerous children, the scientists sought to create a new society free of strife, like that of bonobos. Before it can tell them more, the library is incinerated by a priest of the Temple of Purity, who seals everyone’s Cantus and escorts them to face punishment. On the way they come across a queerat tribe and eventually, the mythic blowdog.

More than half of this episode is one long infodump by the mobile library. But it works, and works well. First of all, because it’s an artificial construct, not some wise old man, the ceaseless stream of facts and figures not only makes sense, but has more dramatic impact. It talks about horrible, horrible things – things the kids had no idea humans were capable of – in such a calm, measured tone.

The visceral (and justified) reactions by Mamoru, Maria, Shun, Satoru, and Saki bring the chilling nature of this presentation home. It also helps that the history by itself is so rich and detailed. The library creature also lulls us into a kind of exposition trance, so when something finally does shut it up – a monk patrolling the woods – it’s a startling surprise.

All of a sudden these child detectives are in some serious trouble. Rijin may have referred to the library as a “mind-poisoning demon”, but we know better just by how his body reacts to the violent acts he performs: the “death feedback” fail-safe weakens his composure. We also know what the library said was true because of those cold opens of the bloody past. If the kids are sent to the temple, they won’t leave until all memory of what the library said is purged. But judging from that blowdog at the end, they may not get to that temple.

The scientists Saki & Co. are apparently the descendants of, like the monks during medieval times, preserved knowledge to create a functioning society when the time was right, but not without seriously compromising free will and even overwriting human nature. Then again, if PK were real, how else would society protect itself against a user who lost control, or lusted for power? This is exquisite, thought-provoking, dark stuff.


Rating: 9 (Superior)