Yakomaru can spin a good tale when it suits him.
As we saw at the end of last week’s episode, the story of Saki’s adolescence is finished, and the timeline has jumped forward more than a decade. Now a junior official in the Department of Exospecies Control, she oversees not only the breeding of naked mole rats (obviously the precursor species to the bakenezumi), but also assists with the administrivia of dealing with the various colonies of bakenezumi. And this is the real meat of the plot, between the revelations that the bakenezumi exist mostly at the pleasure of the humans, and must do everything in the most bureaucratic of ways: fill out forms to change most aspects of their daily lives, even go to war. And it’s clearly not something that Saki feels she can be proud of.
She’s not particularly proud of her job.
We also learn that the bakenezumi near the 66th district are basically in two factions that we’ve met before: The Giant Hornets and the Robber Fly. Their methods of governance are different, and it’s hard to pick out a winner between them: the Giant Hornets leading a mostly feudally organized society with control of each colony still resting in the hands of the queen and answerable to the Giant Hornets, but the Robber Fly having the system discussed two weeks ago with representative democracy but holding what are essentially brood slaves in the forms of their former queens. There are few unaffiliated colonies, a notable one being the Goat Moths (again, from two weeks ago), who still follow their queen, but are more likely to side with the Robber Fly.
I love maps, btw.
There are some internecine skirmishes between the colonies, but things in this episode are catalyzed by an ambush attack. Satoru visits Saki at work to relate the tale of some workers from the Spider Wasp colony who were gathering samples for him being attacked from secret. There are no wars going on, and the attackers are unidentified, so it’s not sure who did it. But since the Spider Wasps are affiliated with the Giant Hornets, it’s like poking the hornets nest with a stick.
A study in contrasts.
So in order to find out what’s really going on, Kiroumaru and Yakomaru (formerly Squealer) are called on the carpet in front of the humans. A farcical interrogation follows, and everyone basically sees through the obsequious Yakomaru, as he uses opportunity after opportunity to incense Kiroumaru while spinning a patently ludicrous tale. But because it’s not actually provably false, the humans decide not to take action unilaterally. But it’s inevitable that slights like this will have repercussions, and there are multiple war forms submitted. The Giant Hornets declare war on the Robber Fly coalition, and win easily, as the coalition doesn’t have the strength of the main Robber Fly colony supporting them. Simultaneously, the Spider Wasps and the Goat Moths are supposed to battle, but for some reason, the Spider Wasps abandon the battle, allowing the Goat Moths to defeat those who had come to help the Spider Wasps. With nothing actually decided, life goes on.
And at some unidentified time later, Satoru arrives in Saki’s office to tell her that the Giant Hornet army has been annihilated.
Even without watching the preview, it’s not hard to speculate that the reason the Giant Hornets, easily the most effective fighting force among the bakenezumi, are destroyed is the rogue presence of either Maria, Mamoru, or both. Yakomaru’s easy acceptance of Satoru and Saki’s instructions to lie about finding Maria and Mamoru foreshadows that he’s got plans relating to them, and as unctuous and “silver-tongued” as he is, who knows what he would tell Maria and Mamoru to gain their cooperation.
As usual, what’s bad is what’s coming in the future of the show. I’m actually feeling more confident in my idea that neither Maria nor Mamoru become a fiend within the course of the show, and I do wonder if their aggression is ever turned against the humans (which is something I’ve doubted). One would believe that their death feedback mechanisms are not defeated, since they’re not solely hypnotism based. But the slaughter of bakenezumi would definitely be possible, as we’ve seen humans do that before, and heard of greater threats (including eradication) to colonies that overstep their bounds or act without the imprimatur of the humans.
It’s also certainly not beyond Yakomaru to use any and all humans as much as he can to serve his needs.
I know it’s picking on him, but the combination of Yakomaru’s physical looks and his truly ugly soul make him the Ugly of the week. Compared to Kiroumaru’s stately grace and integrity, Yakomaru is inferior in just about every way, except the big way that counts at the end: staying alive. And the way he does that is likely to be ugly as well.