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)
- 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.
Saki’s vision of Shun is broken by Kiromaru, who leads her back to Satoru, who is injured but okay. With the psychobuster found, Kiroumaru suggests they provoke the fiend into a final confrontation, using himself as bait. Saki protests that the fiend is really human, but when they place a mirror in his path, he destroys it. Satoru throws the psychobuster at him, but Saki destroys it with fire, afraid Satoru would get infected. They get cornered and Yakomaru calls for negotiation. Shun speaks to Saki once more, and she realizes there is still one way they can still defeat Squealer.
With the trump card destroyed (what a MacGuffin that was), the “fiend” on one side and Yakomaru and riflemen on the other, for a moment, Saki, Satoru, and Kiroumaru’s situation looks rather dire. So Saki asks Kiroumaru why he came to Tokyo the first time, and the buff, mud-caked queerat answers with brutal honesty: they were looking for WMD to destroy mankind and supplant them as the planet’s dominant species. Not for glory or conquest, but as a preemptive measure to ensure their survival. Other queerat colonies had been capriciously wiped out; they figured it was only a matter of time before they were next.
And there you have it: is Kiroumaru someone whom Saki and Satoru can trust? The answer is yes…but only as long as loyalty ensures his survival, and the survival of his colony. He may now be all alone, but that survival-at-all-costs credo endures. He often decries Saki and Satoru’s protestations of doom; queerats fight for survival with their dying breath, and he’s not going to let these humans give up either. Of course, he’s not aware that Shun is somehow communicating with Saki, serving as a second guide. Saki now has a plan for the endgame where they’ll end up on top, but we’ll have to wait for the finale to find out what that is.
Rating: 8 (Great)
At the Temple of Purity, Inui tells Saki and Satoru he was saved by Kiroumaru, and Saki is presented with a package from her parents containing a false minoshiro and a mission: travel to Tokyo and find the “psychobuster”, a biological weapon that will kill the fiend. Saki, Satoru, Inui and Kiroumaru use a submarine to pass through queerat defenses and reach Tokyo bay. In the morning, a ship is on the horizon. They activate the minoshiro and journey into Tokyo’s tunnels, where they face many trails and horrors. Kiroumaru determines both the fiend and Yakomaru himself are after them, along with five grunts.
As if this show couldn’t get any bleaker, we’re finally shown what has become of Tokyo in the centuries that have passed since what we would call “our” time. Shockingly, there are no ruins to speak of. It is a barren wasteland of sand and stone, utterly returned to nature. Gnarled rocks studded with twisted pieces of rusted metal provide the only evidence of man ever being here. Hearing a hellscape like this being casually referred to as “Tokyo” throughout the episode elicited a lot of disgust and dread. How could humanity have let things come to this: one of their greatest metropolises, wiped off the map like a bug on the windshield?
Speaking of bugs: while the surface is thoroughly unpleasant the tunnels beneath are downright nasty. There isn’t the slightest hint of the world’s most extensive transit system ever existing. All we see is naked, unadorned stone. The only thing more frightening than ruins of civilization is the distinct lack of said ruins where they’re meant ot be. When they have to walk across a vast carpet of bugs and guano, Saki wigs out, but does it anyway. By the time we learn Yakomaru is following them with the very fiend they must kill, and a bloodsucking giant slug lands on Satoru’s shoulder, we knew that this was only going to be the beginning of a truly hellish final showdown.
Rating: 9 (Superior)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)