Shin Sekai Yori 25 — I Wish it Wasn’t Over

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Amazing. What a beautiful ending.

Part of what made this ending so successful is that no one was the good guy, and no one was the bad guy. Any attempt to split people onto the “good” team and the “bad” team necessarily ends in failure. Everyone in the show begins with good intentions. And all of their good intentions lead to disastrous consequences.

It’s this lack of a clear divide between “good” people and “evil” people that empowers Shin Sekai Yori to portray the struggles of the weak and powerless genuinely. Compare SSY to its contemporaries, such as Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, which solves oppression by having one smart character wipe out thousands of years of slavery with a single speech and knowledge of middle school economics, with characters from the modern world who don’t accept the basic assumptions of their own society. In Shin Sekai Yori, everyone lives in the world they were born, and share those assumptions. The powerless have to struggle. The good-hearted humans, such as Saki, don’t even recognize the injustice they perpetuate on the Queerats. The world’s problems aren’t so simple that they can be solved in a single speech or by a single person simply telling the world that everything it believes in is wrong. And the world’s problems don’t all boil down to misunderstandings or comically evil characters, as so many anime love to imply. The world is broken, complicated and ambiguous.

Let’s take a look at each of the major characters and their role in this episode.

Kiroumaru

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Kiroumaru is probably the least black and white of the characters. He selflessly gives his life to save the human village, even after all the horrible things they have done to him and his people. He even gives his life in spite of knowing that afterwards, the humans will likely go and exterminate a great number of his people.

But Squealer is right in that he is tied too tightly to the past. He wants his people to continue living in service to their queen. Even at the end, when he pleads with Saki to save his Queen, he can’t see anything bigger than his own tribe. He’s a good and honorable man, but of limited vision.

Squealer

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Squealer, on the other hand, has a vision larger than the world can contain. For a good portion of the show, Squealer was the character I sympathized with the most. He possesses a deep empathy for all of his people.

But then Squealer goes much too far in trying to achieve that vision. He starts a war with the humans and kills tons of people.

I don’t think that Squealer truly hates humans. Look at his face when the fiend dies:

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Look at thatface. Is that the face of a monster who hates humanity? I don’t think so. I see it as the face of a shocked father grieving for his son.

Now, Shin Sekai Yori doesn’t explicitly say this. Nor does it explicitly deny it. It could very well be that Squealer is upset that his plans have fallen apart. But I see this as a bit of a final redemption for Squealer. He fought and raged against humanity. And he loved a human child.

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Even when Squealer is defeated and imprisoned, made to stand trial naked, laughed at, and thrown into “eternal hell”, he doesn’t back down and isn’t ashamed of what he’s done. I have to respect that. When asked for an apology for killing the humans, he demands an apology from the humans first. He never backs down in the face of injustice.

The problem lies in his methods. He returns evil for evil, hatred for hatred.

The Fiend

The fiend isn’t able to speak for herself. So we’ll let Saki speak for her:

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According to Saki, the fiend had done no wrong. Why does she say this, when the fiend has just murdered tons of people?

I see two possibilities: 1) she is innocent because she didn’t kill what she thought were humans (her own kind), or 2) she is innocent because she is a child and only listened to what Squealer said.

Either way, I don’t buy it. For the second excuse, killing is wrong whether someone tells you to do it or you think of doing it yourself. The first reason comes across to me more as an excuse to justify Saki’s own actions in killing the Queerats because they weren’t a member of her own tribe…

Saki and Satoru

Saki has the good and noble intentions of wanting to protect her village.

But she walks around massacring Queerats without a second thought. She manages them as if they are wild animals, and doesn’t see anything wrong with that. And in spite of all this, she believes she’s treated them well.

After Squealer’s trial, Saki begins to change. This is the hope that Shin Sekai Yori leaves us with: that the cycle of hatred and oppression will begin to fade away, starting with Saki’s children.

However, this is going to be a long process. Satoru, despite knowing that even genetically the Queerats are human, refuses to see them as such. And I’m not sure how much Saki has changed, either. Note how, at the end, she is able to kill Squealer without triggering death feedback. Does she really see him as human?

Regardless, Saki misses the larger point. She begins to think the way she treated the Queerats was wrong once she learns they are human. But killing the Queerats is wrong regardless of whether or not they were biologically human.

The Human Villagers

Ok, I lied, there is one group that’s pretty unambiguously evil. Hate begets hate, and these villagers have more than their fair share of it.

Further Thoughts

This ending didn’t reveal everything— for example it didn’t reveal what happened to Maria and Mamoru (although I think I might have seen them in the ending sequence? not sure). I like that though. If you explain everything there’s nothing left to wonder about.

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I want to point out how many of the revelations in this episode I predicted. I caught onto the fact that he wanted to be called Squealer, I caught onto the fact that the child wasn’t a fiend and why, and I caught onto the fact that the Queerats were transformed slaves and peasants from the empire in one of the very early episodes. Although I’d like to think so, this isn’t because I’m a genius. It’s because the show led us along the entire way, with the clues to lead us towards the proper conclusion.

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I liked the scene where a bloody Saki loomed over Kiroumaru’s corpse, and Squealer looked over the fiend’s. In the middle of a war of genocide between humans and Queerats, a human sits in mourning over a Queerat and a Queerat sits in mourning over a human. A perfect illustration of the absurdity of war. The conversation afterwards between Saki and Squealer is left to our imagination.

17 thoughts on “Shin Sekai Yori 25 — I Wish it Wasn’t Over

  1. About what happened to Maria and Mamoru, I thought it said they were killed after giving birth, and their bones were given to the Ethics committee as proof after their escape.

    I could be wrong though, and would love it if someone who read the novel to clarify this.

    1. I know the Ethics committee received bones which genetically matched theirs, but some people were speculating that maybe Squealer just hacked a couple limbs off and sent those. They’re probably dead though.

  2. Amazing! This really was an excelllent series. Squealer made for an excellent antagonist (Can’t really call him a villain). Hard to believe the guy who voices him also did Waver in Fate/Zero and Hisoka in Hunter x Hunter.

    1. Hard to believe the guy who voices him also did Waver in Fate/Zero and Hisoka in Hunter x Hunter.

      Whoa, holy crap. That’s amazing. Those three roles are absolutely nothing like each other and he sounded great in all of them. (esp. Hisoka!)

  3. It’s been a wonderfull time and a wonderfull show we watched and discussed together in this blog. There were lots of guesses we had thought out. Mostly we were wrong and the show managed to surprise us with something unconventionally we could not think of (in my opinion). But the end was exactly as we (i) have expected it to be and it is fantastic that it turned out the way it came.

    Shinsekai yori has earned an place of honer for ever in my hearth and i hope, so in yours.

    Thanks to Draggle for giving us the opportunity to talk here.

    PS: i haven’t seen for long time such cute creatures like the litte carma cats (sry if i mix their names, you know whom i mean (^.^)

    1. Yep, it was a fantastic ending just as we expected. And thank you for always bringing an interesting discussion here!

  4. Mamoru and Maria indeed got killed after the child was born.

    Saki says that the fiend did no wrong because she wasn’t aware of what she/he was doing.
    For the second point you’re saying that even if she/he’s listening to Squealer, killing is bad, no matter what. It is true, but she/he doesn’t have any idea what she/he is doing.
    She/he got raised without being taught “Killing is bad, because it causes great pain” or anything like this. She/he is just like a wild kid who never got taught anything, who is a total stranger to the world.
    She/he kills and laughs about killing humans because of the difference of strength, because it is “fun”, like some kids laugh and enjoy crushing bugs.
    The recipe is quite easy: you take the dangerous innocence of a child who doesn’t know what good, evil, life and death are, you add someone – with a strong, if not the most, importance for the kid – who tells him/her to do bad things, and you get a dangerous killer. Squealer was really smart on that move.
    I think what Saki meant is that she/he didn’t choose that path, didn’t even know what she/he was doing, this child was totally manipulated, that’s why she/he “had done no wrong” in a way.

    And I believe it is normal that she kills the Queerats without thinking much. Because it was the only way to survive, they are just seen as “enemies” for the moment. Saki seems like she can show some really objective view.
    She understands when something is wrong, or good, but she also knows when there is no choice or that “bad things happen” (like when they abandonned the girl from the other group and the nurse or patient to the fiend), even if she still has feelings and feels bad about it – she isn’t heartless.
    She also listens to the arguments of the other side, and if they are logical she understands their actions and won’t just hate on them.
    She isn’t much of a character who chose a side, she doesn’t fight because she hates the Queerats for killing everybody, she doesn’t fight because she’s human, she fights to survive and so all the madness and death can stop.
    I think the only times she isn’t totally objective or doesn’t take the reasonable solutions are when it’s about her friends’ life.
    But during the whole serie, she was more of an observer than an actor to me, watching what’s happening, how, why, trying to understand, instead of actions (Satoru was the actor).

    I don’t think either that Squealer hated humans. The way he acted with some of them just shows that he didn’t. He just wanted to be recognized as a human with the same capacities, not as a beast just because he and his people were different physically. His hatred just grew more and more til he couldn’t take it anymore.

    PS: First character, second part, you wrote “Squealer” instead of Kiroumaru.

    1. Yeah, the child didn’t know it was wrong and probably didn’t choose that path himself. But that doesn’t change the fact that the path he ended up on was the wrong one.

      Saki is more of an observer. It’s kind of infuriating a lot of the time how little she does, despite how bad things get. That’s probably why she was chosen to replace the grandmother as village head.

  5. I disagreed with most of your commentary in regards to this episode, I can see that you may have understood the motif of moral ambiguity that was presented but did not watch the events unfold or listen to the tales told carefully enough to have caught much more than the blending of good and bad that is the truth in all people. Yet you go on to analyze the characters actions and motivations with an emphasis on good and bad as opposed to seeing them as nothing of the sort, to be realistic and just one cannot see things as good and bad at all. In the foundation of liberal democracy the center justice was based off of the question: “does it impede on another’s liberties” that is all, good and evil is not up for debate because it remains a subjective and oft irrational matter. Something to note of the Queerats is that they are not oppressed or enslaved, what I understood was that the Queerats are the descendant’s of Humans who were not psionic when the current dominant civilization of SSY timeline was founded. When you spoke of the genetics revealing Queerats as Human you were most certainly incorrect, it would be an utterly unreasonable prospect if they somehow developed massive sexual dimorphism as compared to Humans or even most mammals( observe the queen compared to all other male Queerats), actual castes similar to insects( queen, worker, soldier) and significant differences in physiology. The ancestors of the Queerats were altered to separate them from the more evolved humans, when the current dominant civilization of SSY timeline was founded I believe that there were at least three major groupings the human civilizations of the era fell into. One group held technologically advanced humans who were even more advanced than the humans of SSY as they used amazing future technology widely similarly to how we use contemporary technology( the humans of SSY do not because it makes their society easier to control, removes many potential dangers and destabilizing points and for lack of resources), another group contained many psionics gathered together, and the last was the largest but weakest consisting of primitive humans. From what I can see the advanced humans and the growing numbers of psionic humans made the civilization of SSY together, now dont pounce and start denouncing them as monsters for killing all of their non-psionics and genetically altering the numerous primitive non-psionics into unattractive mostly diminutive non-humans because we know that in Tomiko-sans youth proper measures to handle fiends had not been established making it obvious that their society developed slowly over the centuries into what we know it as.

  6. The reason why I insist that the Queerats are not opressed or enslaved is because from my understanding after the genesis of the Queerats via massive genetic manipulation they were allowed to make their own societies with their own settlements and leaders, entirely self-sufficient though I think it likely that their current society is quite similar to their primitive non-psionic human ancestors just with appropriate innovations for their altered forms( e.g. tunneling, queens ruling, worker drones meekly following orders). Recall how SSY modern Queerats generally address Humans as Gods, it is reasonable to assume that primitives( which they are) would awed by Cantus and regard it as divine or demonic( us too for that matter) and their serving human villages may be even partially religious in addition to the almost assured influence of cunning human government. They follow the orders of the human villages but I think it reasonable to assume that each tribe has some contract/ agreement with humans( the humans arbitering the resolution of the conflict between kiromarou and yakomarou’s tribes along with other interactions lend credit to that idea). Most of the Queerats problems stem from the fact that they are relatively impoverished and primitive and not human abuse though I think it is likely that the human villages subtly ensure this stays true. But for the most part Humans do not even see the Queerats let alone interact with them enough to be mean to them. They are essentially their own mostly sovereign state and I think much of the problem comes from the higher caste Queerats( the queens and the lower caste workers and soldiers often seem to be of diminishes intelligence as compared to the commanders( kimi and yako) who are obviously rivaling human minds with the knowledge they have of the past and its glories however limited giving them hope and ambitious desire while their positions give them understanding of Humans( their similarities, superiority, contempt and power) and the role Humans play influencing Queerats give them hate and envy. The Human villages attitude with this makes for an obviously volatile mix. Calling the Human villages evil seems like foolishness after everything shown it is clear that they do horrible, horrible things( likely more so for them because unlike us the SSY humans cannot commit violence against one another and do not even conceive of murder, some apparently for the whole lives) to keep the peace and prevent society from being to destroyed by their own intelligence , power and potential as it was so long ago, so that they can keep their homes and families and way of life( look at the ordinary side that is so idyllic and beautiful). There is no evil and no pure goodness, not even in children. Just like we too have soldiers and wars, law enforcement and intelligence agencies to keep the peace and protect us who do unsavory, difficult and sometimes horrible things as part of their work.

  7. By far the best aspect of this episode, and by extension the show…Is that the show doesn’t just say “Racism is bad– We should destroy it.” It instead shows you how racism works, and how horrible it really is– By effectively making the viewer into a racist.

    How? By showing everything from the perspective of Saki, a product of her society and culture, who does not and even cannot view the Queerats as human— As equals. By showing her making a hundred justifications for the way that their society is. By showing all the creepiness of the Queerats and the evil of which they are capable. And then and only then revealing the duplicitous Squealer’s true, very noble motives and making us see our own past in him. And wonder if we could really say the humans are being just here, and that we ourselves wouldn’t counter hatred with hatred.

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