Whoa, that was intense.
Not much else to say, aside from repeating myself and pointing out that Shin Sekai Yori continues to do wonderfully at ramping up the horror. Every time you think it can’t get any worse it does. Every single time. We start out with the hospital door obviously blown apart by Cantus. There’s a possible Fiend out there, can’t get much worse than that. Oh wait, now we’re surrounded by an entire army of Queerats. Yikes, the hospital is abandoned. Now there are assassins, wonderful. It turns out everyone’s dead except three prisoners. Oh wait, the prisoners are insane. Ah, that’s because the Fiend is still nearby. Oh, there he is on the front law, setting our friends on fire! We’d better escape, oh wait, now he’s at the back door, another one bites the dust. Phew, now we escaped on a boat, although everybody else died. Oh, there he is on the boat behind us. Crap. It keeps getting worse and worse.
Building Throw-Away Characters to Last
I’d also like to praise the way this episode handled the throw-away adult characters. They’re here for less than an episode, but they still have unique personalities and react differently to the horror unfolding before them. Of the people joining Saki’s team, one is only worried about someone back at the hospital. Another is foolhardy and thinks the Queerats aren’t any threat. The team leader is a bit cowardly and wants to just level the hospital. In retrospect, that probably would have been a good idea.
Then we have the prisoners at the hospital. One goes plain vanilla frothing at the mouth insane. She lives the longest. The second tries to run as far and as fast as he can. The third keeps his wits about him, but is still panicked. Even though these characters aren’t here for long, their different reactions allow the viewer to fully grasp the magnitude of the situation.
Well, we knew a karma fiend would have to show up at some point, given how much they were discussed previously. I don’t think anyone really grasped how horrible they were until this point, though. It seemed just like an ordinary serial killer, horrible, for sure, but not something to bring about the destruction of humanity. It turns out the village was right to worry.
However, it seems like all their precautions have actually made them even more vulnerable to karma fiends. They engineered themselves to be unable to kill humans. I guess it could help stop the creation of karma fiends, but when it doesn’t work, they’re screwed. The death feedback should only kick in after killing someone though— can they kill the karma fiend first if they’re going to die anyway?
Regardless, I’m still not convinced that one karma fiend poses an existential threat. An arrow in the back will kill a normal cantus user, and I assume it will work just as well on a karma fiend. He’s got to sleep at some point. Although he’ll certainly do a lot of damage before he does.
The village is woefully unprepared for fighting though. These people greatly overestimate the power of their Cantus. Cantus isn’t going to help you if you’re busy barfing over corpses in the middle of battle. Plus the ordinary people seem to have very little training in combat. And then they are sending these poorly trained people out in groups of five to face armies with no coordination. You’d think they’d all want to stick together for defense instead of wandering around a warzone willy-nilly.
Even if the users don’t seem to know what they’re doing in a battle, the Cantus powers are powerful. I like how they just went down the line popping the Queerats like bubbles. Can certainly understand barfing then.