Shin Sekai Yori 13 – 15 — Sleigh Rides and Revolutions

Sorry, I fell way behind on this. It’s such a good show, but even better when you don’t have to wait a week for the next episode.

A Wonderland of Snow

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First off: snow is awesome. Every anime should have snow and mountains. Best setting. The only thing about Kanon that wasn’t terrible.

Snow is made even better by esper skiing. Gah I want to do this too so bad. It makes Maria’s flying look lame by comparison.

Courage

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. Saki, Maria and friends think Mamoru lacks in courage. I don’t see this at all. I think he’s the bravest of the lot.

Back after they returned from the school trip, everyone else was making out to comfort themselves and get over their fear. Mamoru was the only one who didn’t need that.

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Now, Mamoru knows they’re going to kill him. Does he just roll over and die? No, he chooses to live. He leaves everything he’s ever known behind so that he can live. He leaves all his friends behind so that they won’t get hurt. All his friends want to go back, but he doesn’t take the easy way out. He even makes it so no one can find him.

A personal aside: in middle school, my history teach had been a colonel in the army. He told us all these stories about how he escaped on helicopters, took a mortar he’d never used before out of his dead friend’s hands to save his company, and many similar stories. Not a guy anyone would accuse of lacking courage.

Anyway, he called me to his desk about an essay I had written. The essay asked what we would do if we lived in the time of the civil war. I said that I would have dodged the draft because I wasn’t very brave.

“Draggle,” he said, “do you roll over and get out of bed every morning?”

“Yes?”

“No matter how much you don’t want to?”

“Yes.”

“That’s what true courage is. Don’t ever say you aren’t brave again.”

I never did.

Mamoru gets out of bed every morning, even when his own village is trying to kill him, even when he’s all alone, even when he is doomed to wander the wilderness alone until he dies. Mamoru is the bravest person in this show.

The Rights of Man (and Queerats)

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What Squealer says makes perfect sense. The rats should have rights, and the queen shouldn’t be allowed to just eat them whenever she feels like it.

The queen also has the right not to be turned into a vegetable, of course. But what choice do they have? Eliminate one person’s rights, or eliminate the colony’s very hope of survival?

Saki’s thoughts on the treatment of the queen are fascinating.

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Is she really talking about the queerats here? I don’t think so. She’s talking about the humans. About how they eliminate the problem children so that the community can survive. They only did it to survive, after all. Is it the right thing to do… or are the humans beasts themselves?

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He sees right through her. The queerats are hardly different from humans at all. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did replace the humans soon, either. Their technology is advancing beyond that of the humans, and they have far more ambition. Humanity is stagnant and living in fear of itself.

Further Thoughts

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  • Best face. But it stands out because for the majority of the show, the faces show such little variation in expression. Even if the voice acting has plenty of emotion behind it, it tends to come across as fake since they spend such little effort animating facial expressions. You don’t realize how important these things are until they’re missing.
  • This show sure knows how to amp up fear. They have a superb sountrack, as I already mentioned, and they use it to build the tension perfectly. Things slowly get worse and worse, until when you least expect it, something drastic happens, like Saki falling in the avalanche.
  • I liked the scene where Saki faces the board of education. I’m kind of confused about why Saki had to be executed for knowing about the cats though. Can’t they just brainwash her again? I don’t see how that would necessitate death. I mean, all the adults know about them, and Saki’s almost an adult anyway.
  • I can’t believe everyone except Saki and friends is continuously brainwashed all the time. It’s amazing this society stays together at all. And if they’re kept on such a tight leash, why do so many of them need to be eliminated?
  • Squealer is so moe. The way they present him is great: even the most reasonable and innocuous things he says seem completely evil.
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14 thoughts on “Shin Sekai Yori 13 – 15 — Sleigh Rides and Revolutions

  1. It is a complete tragedy that Shin Sekai Yori does not seem to be selling well. If there’s any justice in anime, SAO would be a Mid tier selling show, while Chihayafuru and SSY would be cruising to big hit status. Alas, this isn’t so, so the best big hit I guess we can expect would be something on the order of Garu-pan levels of story-telling, at best.

    Anime needs more stories of Shin Sekai Yori’s caliber, but as long as stories of this caliber do not sell, I doubt we’d be seeing too many of such stories.

    1. Maybe the character art is part of the problem for why it doesn’t sell? I confess to being shallow and rewatching sappy stories (Kanon 2006) just because I can roll my eye around the screen watching fancy snow/particle effects, sunsets, or details on people and cars when the dialog sucks.

      ‘‘I can’t believe everyone except Saki and friends is continuously brainwashed all the time. It’s amazing this society stays together at all. And if they’re kept on such a tight leash, why do so many of them need to be eliminated?’’

      I haven’t read the book, and usually when there’s a minor question like that I give the original work the benefit of the doubt. Stuff gets lost in adaptation.

      But I do I have some thoughts… I don’t think all of the society is brainwashed. The elder and some of the elites probably have enough latitude to handle emergencies, just like Saki’s group. Also let’s assume those scientists who designed society were really, really far-sighted… only now problems they couldn’t forsee have accumulated, and its starting to break apart. I’m pretty sure their population and territory has been shrinking, they didn’t even patch that village where Shin lived, they just moved the holy barrier inward.

      *Possible spoiler* (don’t read:)

      I think a coming twist reveal is the Queer rats are former human slaves mutated by the PK users, possibly from their thoughts going outside the barrier.

      1. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt as well. Your explanation makes sense though. Clearly the person teaching this to Saki wasn’t brainwashed, so not everyone is. I’m also guessing that once the citizens become adults they are no longer brainwashed (or at the very least, are brainwashed to a much lesser extent).

        I think the Queerats are the former slaves as well (I’ve been speculating about that since the first time they were introduced) and that’s a good explanation of how it could happen that hadn’t occurred to me.

      1. It’s the entire Japanese anime market that sucks. It’s these ridiculous consumer spending habits that create such a messed up market. The fact that these tasteless idiots are willing to spend an inordinate amount of money gives animation companies continual incentives to keep ripping them off. That’s what killing the industry, not pirates. They are not being responsible consumers and as such are being constantly ripped off.

        I’m starting to wonder if kick-starter will work in the anime business. It’s gotten good traction with games. If Japanese otaku have any sense, which I doubt, we would have seen more anime with interesting stories having better budgets. As such, we are currently having to suffer from the appalling bloated shows like Vividred Operation and Guilty Crown, which they might as well have flushed that money down the toilet instead of spending them on writers. But that won’t matter because these idiots will STILL BUY EVERYTHING.

        1. People do make pretty weird choices about what to buy. But still, they manage to make the occasional higher caliber anime like Shin Sekai Yori and Penguindrum. Perhaps it’s easier to make something that will sell, but there’s still a market for shows like this.

          I chipped in for the kickstarter, and that was pretty successful. Who knows if it will work though… if it becomes more common, won’t people just fund the same things they buy now? I’m sure SAO would have gotten way more funding than Shin Sekai Yori.

  2. loved this post and your personal story!

    BUT I’d argue that you may see Mamoru from a very different perspective. I can identify with Mamoru a lot, to the point that I hate it. There were times in my life when I thought I didn’t want to live. Heck, there are still times I feel too empty and lonely and can’t find a reason to keep going. Yet, I’m too scared of commiting suicide, coz I hate blood and don’t want to have a painful death. I realize that behind all this it’s my instict of self-preservation and that what I want the most is a more beautiful and better life. That I haven’t still had the chance of living fully the way I want and that it’d be unfair to hurt myself when the others are at fault (well, ok, I share responsibility, too, to a certain extend).

    As for not pairing up, when everyone else does, it’s just a character trait or too serious love-sickness. Mamoru may have wanted to remain true to himself or he was perhaps too scared to be intimate with a person he didn’t have feelings for.

    So, what I want to say is that it depends how someone defines courage each time.

    1. Mamoru never says he doesn’t want to live though. He does want to live, so much that he runs away from home and everything he knows so that he can. That’s what courage is. And I think you are braver than you think as well.

      In the show, it’s presented that humans have been engineered to require physical intimacy to reduce their fear and anxiety. I don’t know if it’s because he’s true to himself, or he’s afraid of intimacy, but regardless, he makes through without the emotional crutch that the others rely on. I think that’s remarkable.

      1. I wanted to focus to the instict of self-preservation when I tried drawing a comparison between me and him. And to the fact that sometimes there are things you don’t do, because you simply you can’t bring yourself to do them. That’s where my doubts come from.

        Of course your opinion is respected.

  3. I’m loving the parallels that they’re drawing between the rats and the humans. It seems like every time they encounter Squealer they accuse or suspect him of something, but they could look at a mirror and say the same thing about humans.

    1. Exactly. The way the show presents it makes it seem really horrible too, unless you actually think about what he’s saying.

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