Shin Sekai Yori Episode 2: Vanishing Children
“Solitude brings the seeds of bad Karma to life”
Summary: To start with we’re given another look into the past, this time 500 years after the events that took place in last episodes flashback, where the Emperor of Delight has just ascended his throne. In celebration he randomly kills the first 100 people in the assembled crowd who stop clapping for him first using his powers. We then shift back to the present, where the kids are once again reading stories in class. Shun is chosen to read aloud the story of a young man whose pride eventually turns him into a Karma Demon, leaving him no choice but to take his own life in order to protect others from himself.
Group 1 then face off against their classmates in an interesting psychic version of what is essentially mini-golf. The games turn from friendly competition to something much colder, leaving everyone with a bitter taste in their mouths by the end. We’re given our first view of the Queerats (Bakenezumi) as Saki steps up to save one from drowning. From the information that can be gathered from various promos and articles, these creatures will have a lager role in the over-all story to play. The episode ends with a cryptic allusion to Maria’s past and how if she had never been born, countless others could have been spared.
Impressions: Over all, another solid episode. It did a lot to establish the characters a bit more, as well as do some more world building. I’m glad that they’ve decided to keep up with using flashback in the beginning of the episode. It’s a nice way of getting just the tiniest glimpse of what life was like between when people first obtained their Cantus and the time when our story is taking place. In those 1,000 years a lot must have taken place, most of it probably to the detriment of everyone born without powers, and seeing these little glimpses helps to get a vague idea what it would have been like in those formative years before they arrived at the societal structure they have now.
I also was glad they included another short story, complete with a different style of animation. Not only did it look creepy as all hell, but it reminded me of the original Grimm’s fairytales. I’m not talking about the sanitized Disney versions, but the real ones, where cannibalism, incest, violence and blood run rampant. Those stories weren’t about happy endings and princes, those were stories people told to their kids so they would learn to mind their manners, work hard, and never stray from the forest path lest something truly unfortunate occur.
The fairytales in Shin Sekai Yori are even darker, warning of the consequences of believing that you are above all else and inforcing the thought that the sacrifice of the individual for the good of the whole is a noble act. Being able to take your own life for the good everyone appears to be the running theme of the two stories we’ve heard so far, and it seems to reflect an idea that is highly regarded in the small, insular society that Saki and the others live in. It makes sense when you think about it within the context of the show: in a world where the population is as controlled and weeded-out as it is here, with everyone from those born without powers to simple rule breakers mysteriously “vanishing”, it makes sense that protecting those few that make it out of childhood alive would be such a treasured idea. I’m looking forward to more of these in future episodes, as I’ve that you can glean a lot about a culture by reading their myths and folk tales. Also, super great animation during those segments, and really, who could pass that up?
The ball game part of the episode was okay. It held my attention and was interesting. We got to see all of the characters in action and interacting with each other a bit more than last weeks episode. The “action” was done well, for something that could have been so boring. I’m glad they didn’t spend the whole episode on it. It seemed to only really serve the purpose of introducing us to Katayama Manabu, the cheater from the other team, who also dissappears, as well as to demonstrate the Code of Virtue. The fact that you can’t interfer with something a person is already controlling is very interesting. I would wager to guess that that rule is in place so that people don’t fight with each other or those in charge using their Cantus. It’s just one more way that the society is controlled in order to keep the peace (and not end up like what was shown 500 years in the past).
I was way more interested in the Queerats, or Bakenezumi. They look as weird/gross/cute as I imagined them, although they’re a bit smaller than I was thinking they would be. They worship humans with the Cantus, but no one knows how they would be around children (since they have no power) so they’re kept away from them. I’m glad that Saki has enough good in her to save the one that falls in the water, even though everyone else seems to think it’s a bad idea. Plus, it was also a very nice display of her powers. Am I the only one who though it sounded like they were saying “Thank you” and calling Saki a god? Even thought the rest of the language was pretty garbled, I could have sworn that’s what they were saying. From what I can gather, we’ll be seeing more of them in future episodes.
I’m almost 100% certain that the narrarator is the grown-up Saki, especially after this episode. She talks about the ball rolling event like she was part of it and drops hints about Maria in a way that makes it clear that it isn’t Maria talking about herself. Next weeks episode looks like it’ll advance the story more, as the group goes camping outside the Barrier Rope. Let’s see what kind of trouble they get into.
Final Thought: (*Edit* Hahahahah just kidding I was going to ask why they’re translating it as “Cantus” but I went to UTW site and they had an explanation so jokes on me, I’m an idiot *End Edit*) How CUTE is Mamoru? SO. FREAKING. CUTE! Look at his fluffy hair and sad, puppy dog eyes! He’s been mostly in the background for now but I still just want to pinch his cheeks.