Shin Sekai Yori Weekly Update – Episode 21

He whose goal is the world

The briefest of appearances for the puppet master

I have to give credit to Shin Sekai Yori: It can take this bleak world, now facing a total war, and make it even bleaker without losing the audience. Many shows that were this hopeless, where you know that things are just going to get worse and worse, would push me right off the show. But this world that we’ve been built, and a tremendously well done one it is, is still compelling. At this point I don’t know if future Saki’s narrations are taking place after this war is over, or as what I’m starting to suspect is a last ditch record of the humans holdout in the face of the unstoppable onslaught of the bakenezumi. With only 4 episodes left after this, we’re going to get that answer pretty soon, but I think it’s guaranteed to get worse from here.

Unmistakable lineage

The lineage is unmistakable.

Frankly, the humans are doomed until someone can shake off their conditioning enough to kill the fiend. Now obvious that it’s Maria and Mamoru’s child, and that it’s a tool of the bakenezumi, the fiend makes it to the main town of Hayring, where Shisei is vowing to protect the villagers, even as the rest of the bakenezumi have tunneled below their town square and collapse it. After destroying them, Shisei faces his greatest foe, and one that doesn’t have his inhibitions. And as Satoru predicts, without inhibitions, Shisei is doomed.

Shisei's end

 

Shisei meets his doom

The analogy that Tomiko came up with is more and more applicable: Psychokinesis is an offensive weapon. Yes, there are shields that one can put up against physical attacks, but when the attacks become more personal, there is no defense. We’ve seen bodies twisted, squeezed, burned, exploded from within. And there’s no defense against that except – as in the inimitable words of Lazarus Long – “Do unto others what they would do unto you, just do it first.” Just like the only defense that came from nuclear weapons was Mutually Assured Destruction, with one of the most correct acronyms ever, the only defense against someone who can rip your cells apart is to rip his apart first. And because of the attack inhibitions and death feedback, none of the humans can do that to another human. So, like Shisei, they are doomed when their body is twisted and warped. And so dies the biggest hope of the humans, even though the audience knew that hope never had a chance in the first place.

The wheel still turns without water, indicating the end of Niimi

No water, but power from somewhere.

And the news goes from bad to worse, with a couple stops at atrocious on the way. Niimi is able to fulfill Tomiko’s wish, and announce to everyone in the village that they should flee. And despite Satoru’s optimism that he got away, Saki realizes the truth: with the canals drained, there’s no water power, so no electricity from the water wheel, so no broadcasting. The only answer is that Niimi is using his PK to turn the wheel, and when the strains of the New World Symphony, what everyone knows as “Go Home”, play, Saki realizes that Niimi has given his life so that hopefully others may live. It’s a moment of personal tragedy for Saki in the middle of this wholesale brutality and destruction that helps bring everything down to that human scale of appreciation.

Saki learns her parents went back to the town

 

Learning that her parents had left the safety of the Temple of Purity

Also atrocious is that despite hoping to find her parents at the Temple of Purity, Saki is told that they had come there… and left to go back to the town, where they are likely now dead. But there is still someone to meet with them at the Temple: Inui, the leader of the eradication force, who drags their minds from horror to horror, and reveals to them that all the infants at the hospital had been taken, spoils of war just like the Ground Spiders young  had been. Instead of having just one fiend, Yakomaru now has the potential for tens of them, and following the same strategy could end up with hundreds or thousands. Are humans facing extinction?

Robbing the cradles

 

Empty cradles

Satoru, upon hearing that the bakenezumi have captured all the children and infants of the humans, imagines a plan of Yakomaru’s that uses an army of uninhibited PK’s to take over first Japan and then the world. But the problem I see with that is that Yakomaru would have the same problem that the human societies have, ramped up to 11. Despite Tomiko’s analogy to nuclear weapons, there is a key difference: each PK is a person. And an army of PK teens will be an army of teens… with power analogous to a nuclear bomb, but the temperament of teens. And without either the ingrained genetic death feedback, or the inhibition against killing others that is gained through years of hypnotization in the current human society, it wouldn’t take much for a bunch of wild kids to wreak havoc on both the rest of the PK’s on ‘their side’ or even the bakenezumi. If that’s Yakomaru’s game, it’s a dangerous one.

The master

 

This works for one, but for an army?

As I’ve seen in other posts on this episode, the interrogation of the bakenezumi sheds some light on the mindset of the bakenezumi, in that they’ve basically embraced terrorism. Could we stack these analogies together and come up with a result that would be an analogy for the idea that terrorists in our world could get control of nuclear weapons, and what the result might be? It doesn’t hold up for long, especially considering that terrorists in our world would be quickly wiped out, no matter how many nuclear weapons they have, because in our world neither nuclear weapons nor soldiers have any particular compunction against killing other humans. But the rhetoric of the mustachioed bakenezumi is the same as terrorists in our world, a mixture of legitimate beefs and self-righteousness against a received wrong that allow one to justify equally abhorrent acts as retaliation.

Episode screenshots:

2 thoughts on “Shin Sekai Yori Weekly Update – Episode 21

  1. I thought the same, having an army of PK humans without knowledge is a risky bet for Yakomaru. What is he going to do if they grow bored of not killing anything and they turn on him? 😀

  2. Yes, as tenuous and last gasp as the human society is, Yakomaru’s basically starting from there, and reintroducing all the problems they’ve had in the past.

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