Shin Sekai Yori 21 — The War of Liberation

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Aside from their violence and abduction of infants (a pretty big aside) I have to sympathize with the Queerats. The humans have been effectively using them as slaves. Now the tables are turned, with their infants born into slave labor, and they don’t like it.

When they meet the older Queerat underground, Satoru’s words betray some huge chutzpah. Satoru argues that Squealer doesn’t care about whether some of his soldiers die. Remember just a few episodes ago when Saki was daydreaming while she watched the Queerat armies slaughter each other? Yeah, they’re going to be convinced now that the humans give a crap whether they live or die.

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It looks like this conflict is gearing up to become more and more irreversible. At the beginning of the episode, under the priest’s leadership, a mob of humans begins chanting for death to the Queerats. Later, in the caves, this is mirrored by the elder Queerat’s statement that the only way the Queerats can be restored is to wipe the humans from the face of the Earth. Violence begets violence which begets more violence. He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.

Further Thoughts

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Certain people in this village seem to have no shortage of courage, like Saki’s parents, who fled back to the village to free the cats. If so, why doesn’t one of them sacrifice their life to kill the fiend?

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WTF? Anyone know what’s up with this guy’s eyes?

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The many commenters from two weeks ago were right. Satoru and Saki now believe the fiend is Maria and Mamoru’s child as well. I like how they just slipped that in there like it wasn’t a big deal. Although I suppose once we saw the hair that was more or less the only possibility.

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I’ve got to say, Squealer’s a genius. Still, I don’t think his rise to power is quite so inevitable as Saki believes. If word spreads of the fiends, and the other villagers get warning, I’m sure there are countermeasures they can take in the available time. Field their own armies of Queerats to slaughter Squealer, for example. Or remove the death feedback from their young ones’ training so they can defend themselves.

Speaking of death feedback, I’m confused about how it works. I thought it was a genetic thing. But just being raised by the Queerats seems to eliminate it. Is it psychological? My theory is that it only works on things the mind recognizes as humans. So being raised by Queerats, the child only recognizes Queerats as human. I wonder if that will work as well when there are hundreds of the human children raised together.

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The “land of the gods”, the archipelago of Japan. I wonder if these are the humans’ gods or the Queerats’ gods (the humans), or if the two are now one and the same. That could help explain some of the town’s massive arrogance. Has humanity gone extinct in the rest of the world?

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Among the Queerats, Yokomaru continues to call himself Squealer. I think this is significant, although I may be extrapolating here. To the humans he chooses a different name, since Squealer was the name of a slave. But among the Queerats he uses a name that marks him as one of their own.

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Probably the first time in history that accusations of people possessing “devilish powers” have been accurate.

20 thoughts on “Shin Sekai Yori 21 — The War of Liberation

  1. Interesting point with Squealer’s name. It took me a few episodes to realize that “Squealer” and “Yakomaru” referred to the same queerat, and even after the fact I was confused as to why the show seemed to switch between them. Now that you point it out, that makes a lot of sense.

  2. I wonder if Mamoru and Maria gave their child up willingly, or were they disposed of by the queerats after the child was born. Maybe the bones found were authentic.

    Since I also have not read the novels, I feel a dystopian ending would suffice the theme, where the humans live in a worse scenario than these villages. You reap what you sow.

    1. I doubt they gave up the child willingly. I’m not sure if that necessarily means they’re dead or not.

      I would like a dystopian ending as well. Happy endings are overrated.

      1. There was the time earlier when Tomiko said they found bones matching Mamoru and Maria’s DNA. Not sure if they found them shortly after they left (before they have time for a child) or a while later.

        1. My impression was that it was right after they left, but now I’m not sure. Another commenter from a previous week had suggested that Squealer just chopped one of Maria’s arms off and sent them that.

  3. Even though Squealer and the queerats already managed so much havoc to the town, Saki and Satoru still looks down on them as shown in that scene in the cave where Satoru still has the guts to tell that queerat that he can single-handedly eradicate their race. You really sort of get why Squealer managed to create this uprising. No one is correct and no one is wrong. It’s just full-on discrimination.

    This is why I love Shinsekai Yori.

    1. Yeah, Shin Sekai Yori does a great job at dealing with discrimination and ambiguity. Compare this to something like Maou Yuusha which is heavy handed, one sided, and ends up looking down on everyone and treating discrimination as something that’s easy to overcome.

  4. Actually a lot of Japanese anime dealing with war… 1) make it look as though neither side is wrong and it’s all just a misunderstanding, or 2) hold responsible only the villainous leaders, and not “the people.” (Gundam Seed Destiny.) Both have anti-war messages, and the first one is more interesting; however, I still have a problem with writers feeling compelled to give a reason to every foe that must be fought. I dislike this because I think Japanese directors have a problem with admitting that (historically) masses of normal people can be “wrong.”

    You can color me brainwashed by public schooling, but I feel certain wars are justified such as the fight against Nazi Germany, or the American Civil war. Because it is unrealistic to pretend everything can be solved diplomatically. To balance out the moral scale I’d like to see an anime where an entire country is brainwashed/unambiguously evil, who must be destroyed, without trying to moralize or rationalize why the enemies are fighting… all while keeping the villains human instead of turning them into aliens or demons.

    -Also: It’s funny how the queerats are now using sub-machine guns & swords.

    1. Agreed completely. I think part of this stems from an aversion to look back at WWII when Japan was pretty clearly the invader and confront their own country’s responsibility, when they were in the wrong. This was a war that had wide public support and was definitely not just a misunderstanding. The worst offender in this regards in recent years is Maoyuu Yuusha, where wars are carried out by comically evil villains which are against the will of the people (as are discrimination, religion and serfdom, apparently).

      I agree that some wars, such as the civil war and WWII, can be “justified”, although I hesitate to say they are morally correct. It’s more like they are the least morally offensive option on a list of terrible options. I think that the roots behind Squealer’s conflict are justified, but the things which make his war completely unjustifiable are a) his failure to attempt any sort of peaceful resolution (at least as far as we’re aware) and b) his plan to wipe humanity from the face of the Earth. In both the civil war and WWII, nonviolent means of resolution were exhausted beforehand. Furthermore, after the war, the defeated side was not enslaved or executed, but the victors actively helped them to rebuild.

      I think a story that may(?) come close to what you’re looking for is the UC Gundam shows, where the Zeon are pretty unambiguously evil fascists but still manage to remain human.

      1. Sorry… English mistakes ahead, even so let me try and add something I’ve read somewhere:
        It is said that most nations who got their independence/liberty through war, have had a new war afterwards. Nations who got their independence in a somewhat “peaceful” manner had different outcomes, and that’s where Gandhi’s example lies.

        In this Shinsekai Yori’s episode, I think we just have seen a bunch of brainwashed soldiers ready to give their lives for the rise of a “”new system”” (somehow sounds like WWII…), and obviously these soldiers will not going to enjoy the benefits of it (they will be dead..), but the ones in power will (Squealer & cia).

        1. Perhaps. They certainly risk dying by becoming soldiers. You could see it as brainwashed, but I think the conversation they had underground with the one soldier reveals that he is fully aware of the risks and the stakes and goes to war willingly. Their desire to fight stems from legitimate grievances. The leadership has provided an outlet for those grievances, certainly, but I don’t think it is correct to call what Squealer has done brainwashing. It diminishes the other Queerats and their choices.

          To bring in the comparison to WWII, as you mentioned, I don’t think it would be fair to say that the German public was brainwashed by Hitler. The Germans had legitimate grievances dating back to the Treaty of Versailles. Certainly, Hitler stoked these for all it was worth and led the public to extents it would likely not have reached on its own. But the majority of the German public went along with it for reasons of their own, willingly. I think that attributing the blame to “brainwashing” both diminishes the general public’s responsibility and ignores the root causes of the conflict.

  5. Re:WWII

    Should be said that there were planners and designers who realized where we stood geopolitically and where we could be once the war was over. Sounds like a bit of risk, but any government tends to look at that sort of picture. Not that there weren’t some Good Fight reasons mixed in as well.

    1. Also while Squealer’s revolt has merit, he himself just does not. He has always been true to his name. A hero to a movement can be a lot of things, but sniveling and groveling aren’t qualities that should be in the mix. And of course his voice has an unfortunate self-pitying quality. Those are obstacles are too much for me.

  6. About the name, not much of a spoiler but yes later on when Squealer will face Satoru he’ll tell Satoru that he’s name is Squealer, not Yakomaru since he doesn’t want to be like the “Gods” and make other feel like he is superior to them.

    1. Ah, I guess I was even more spot on than I expected. One thing you’ve got to say for Squealer as a leader though, he certainly doesn’t act like he’s superior to others.

  7. Just curious… How did you guess the fiend was Mamoru and Maria’s child? Just in episode 21 I got it, before I had thought Mamoru and Maria themselves had lost control of their powers.

    1. Oh, I didn’t guess it, some of the commenters from previous weeks did and I became convinced as we discussed their theory. You can read the discussion here.

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