The reunion of children with each other, and with their powers.
The action continues in this week’s episode, as Saki and Satoru are trying to figure out how to deal with the huge force of Ground Spiders they are confronted with. With Satoru definitely weakening, they make a last ditch effort at defensive offense, and make an effective attack on the amassed enemy with two large boulders that had been launched at them and then make a break for it. While running, they see Squealer captured by the two Ground Spiders, and he immediately points them out to his captors, but Satoru dispatches one, and then Squealer uses a hidden knife to kill the other one, but it’s obvious that he’s extremely opportunistic, and difficult to trust. Still he again allies with Saki and Satoru and they continue fleeing from the Ground Spiders. Eventually, tho, Satoru is too drained to continue running, and their failure to just destroy the enemy causes Squealer to wonder if they are no longer gods. This line of thinking is cut off by the arrival of their salvation.
The General of the Giant Hornets
That salvation is in the form of the Giant Hornets reinforcements, led by General Karoumaru (who looks more like a fox or wolf than the standard ratlike form of the bakenezumi). The largest colony, they easily overwhelm the Ground Spiders remaining forces, and destroy their queen, taking all of the young for inclusion in the other colonies (the fate that Squealer used to convince Satoru and Saki to help the Robber Fly colony fight the Ground Spiders, yet they are all too happy to accept the spoils of war when they’re the victor). And when the Ground Spider general requests a talk with Karoumaru, he allows it, only to be attacked by two exploding blowdogs hidden by the enemy general in an assassination / suicide attempt. Using the last of his energy, Satoru manages to block the explosion, saving all of them including Karoumaru.
Saki convinces Squealer
But the two children aren’t out of danger yet, because Satoru realizes that while the Giant Hornet colony is loyal to humans, they’re loyal to human *leaders*, not all humans. And knowing about the mechanism of Death Feedback, he hypothesizes that the humans would be all too happy to let the bakenezumi do their dirty work and ‘dispose’ of children known to have violated the Ethics Code. So again they go on the run, escaping the camp and trying to make it back to their canoes. Soon they discover that Squealer is following them, not understanding why they are walking, or why they need to escape, but accepts that they need to and shows them how to get to the lake.
What a coincidence.
Where, coincidentally, they find that Shun, Maria, and Mamoru have just arrived. I found this quite a bit difficult to believe, that Saki and Satoru have been fighting through the Ground Spiders, captured by the Giant Hornets, and had all that excitement, but then just happen to show up at the exact same time as the other three, who don’t appear to have had any sort of adventure. That just strained the bounds of credulity. But they all light out on the canoes, trying to get home, when they see the sailing ships of the Giant Hornets pursuing them, and no hope of getting away.
But General Karoumaru just tows their canoes to the mouth of the river and lets them go. And of course, Squealer is on the ships with them, saying goodbye. I’m guessing he went back to the Giant Hornets and told them about where the children went. It’s pretty obvious that Squealer is of malleable loyalty, ready to switch sides to whoever is winning at the moment. Are all the bakenezumi like that? Or is it just someone who is obsequious like he is, since it’s hard to imagine Karoumaru being like that. At camp that night, Satoru and Saki tell the others how they restored Satoru’s cantus, and Shun is happy to learn this, because even though he’s remembered his mantra, he was unable to believe it would work, so it wouldn’t. Saki helps him restore it, and all the rest of them have their mantras written down at home, to be restored when they return.
Literally blank faces
The children think they’re home scot-free, since they were all able to restore their Canti. But we know that Rijin said that the elders had been notified, and plus they were pretty sure that General Kiroumaru had been given orders to kill them. The only reason I can imagine he didn’t was out of gratitude for Satoru saving his life from the suicide / assassination attempt by the Ground Spiders general. But as we hear from Future Saki’s voiceover, they are mistaken, and while from the preview it looked like the known time-skip is to happen for the next episode, it’s kind of hard to believe that the children go a couple years without any punishment, and then face some consequences. Do their personalities change in some way, such as Satoru’s seemed to? Or is this more of the adults acting like everything’s ok while quietly arranging things in the background to get rid of them, like they did with Manabu’s cheating, which was passed off as an accident, but he soon disappeared after that. Again, two years seems like a long time for that to go, but perhaps it’s just trying to see if they’ve learned their lessons, or they will continue to transgress the rules.
The children are definitely getting a lesson in the ways of the world. Future Saki’s portentous voiceover certainly hints that things are not hunky-dory, and that they will get much worse. We know there will be much bloodshed, but I’m still curious as to what form it’s going to take. Could these children even cause the collapse of the whole system they have now?
Also ugly is the detachment that the adults use to rid the colonies of undesirable children. We still don’t know where they go, or if they’re outright killed. It was hinted this episode that the bakenezumi can do the killing for the humans. Perhaps this is actually something the humans have *encouraged*? If the bakenezumi encounter a powerless human, maybe they have been trained to positively target them for death. If so, Saki certainly dodged quite the metaphorical bullet.