Shin Sekai Yori Episode 9: The Gale Came
“You will have to face many hardships in life. Parting with dear friends is one of them.” -Saki’s Father
Summary: Saki, Satoru, Maria, and Mamoru decide to look for Shun. Satoru and Saki investigate Shun’s home only to find the whole area under quarantine and a crater in the ground where his house used to be. Later that night, Maria sneaks into Saki’s room to tell her about what she and Mamoru saw when they searched the school as well as the conversation she over-heard about Shun. Saki is so disturbed by Maria’s news that she leaves immediately, slipping by the guards posted along the outskirts of the village, and arriving near Shun’s home again. But in the darkness she finds that she is not alone as she comes face to face with…!?
Impression: HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT WHAT DID I JUST WATCH!?! It’s too late at night to start writing about this now, I’ll finish in the morning. (The next day) Even after a full night’s sleep my initial reaction still holds true because holy shit that was intense. It’s a rather straight-forward episode, mostly focused on the rest of the group trying to find Shun, but there are a couple of absolutely great twists that take the tension that builds throughout the episode and really uses it for maximum effect. Every week this show takes my expectations and surpasses them in one way or the other, and if you’re not already watching it, you really should be.
So, like I said, the episode is mostly focused on our little band of friends trying to find out what happened to Shun. They split up and Maria and Mamoru go check out the school, while Saki and Satoru go to Pinewind Village, to go check out Shun’s house. SSY drops a bit of an over-lookable bombshell on us right at the beginning, in a tiny little scene involving a cricket. See, it turns out that especially powerful PK users can create any kind of animal or creature they want just using the power of their imagination.With all the strange creatures we’ve seen crawling around this show, now any one of them suddenly can become a spy or used to carry out nefarious deeds. I’m not sure though if this would work like Satoru’s manifestation of the mirror, where its conjured out of thin air and lacks a certain tangible aspect, or if once the animal is made, it exists forever and will do it’s master’s biding. Either way, it opens up a whole lot of possibilities as to how the adults might have kept track, and are still keeping track, of the kids.
What Saki and Satoru find on their way to the village get’s progressively more and more creepy. The first thing they notice is that the main way into the village has been cordoned off with ropes and black and yellow cloth squares. It seems that the whole area has been quarantined , if you will, and no one is allowed in or out. The two of them then make their way through the woods, where they encounter a variety of strange occurrences. Strange, twisted faces carved into trees with blood-red bark, fields of dying moths and flowers, sections of ground covered in frost, and finally a giant crater of a hole where Shun’s house once was. Something is definitely very, very wrong here, and Shun might be at the center of it. Some of the visuals during this part of the episode were really nicely done (probably at the expensive of the characters faces, which are still pretty wonky sometimes.) It certainly helps set the tone for the rest of the episode. Unable to find out anything else, Satoru and Saki go to meet up with Mamoru and Maria at an abandoned playground, but when the other two don’t show up, Satoru suggests that they go home as well.
Probably the smaller of two real surprise in this episode happens at Saki’s house, when she arrives home for dinner. There’s a really insightful discussion first, regarding the use of electricity that tells us some more about the way their society is set up, and very subtly shows how unmoving and rigid the Ethics Committee can be. They will only use their limited supply of electricity to power the audio equipment needed to play the “bell” so that everyone knows to come home. Even asking for additional light in the streets or the library is out of the question. If these are the same people who make the decisions about who lives and who get’s spirited away, to either be killed or have terrible things happen to them, so they are not people you want to mess with. They’re also the people who will probably be behind the eventual punishment of the kids for breaking the rules, if they haven’t already taken action. All this talk is interrupted by Saki wanting to know what happened to Shun. Both of her parents work in positions inside the government, but because they’re her parents, and they want to keep her safe, they can’t tell her anything. Saki’s mom at this part really moved me, knowing that she’d lost who knows how many other children, and now desperately pleading with her last to keep her nose out of places where it doesn’t belong.
All of this leads Saki to remember looking up what her name ment (“youngest child”) and to dream about her older sister (!), Yoshimi. The fact that Saki can half-remember her really threw me, since I thought that any siblings she might have had would have been taken long before she had been born, but from the large holes in Saki’s memory itself, I think something slightly more sinister happened. I wouldn’t be surprised if her memory had been tampered with in order to make her forget, since she didn’t seem like a young enough child to forget something like that entirely. But then who did the tampering? The Ethics Committee, for the safety of the whole town? or Saki’s parents themselves, in order to keep her from talking about her (since it’s “forbidden” to talk about the people who disappear) and thus keep her safe? Let’s just say that after such a big reveal, and all the suspense that had been building up the whole show, when Maria turns up at the window, all scary-like, I nearly jumped out of my skin. For a split second, before it opened, I honestly though the ghost of Yoshimi had come to haunt Saki.
The information Maria brings is probably the biggest “holy #%*&@$^!” moment of the whole episode (except the end.) She and Mamoru ended up exploring an off-limits part of the school, finding it full of storage units that screamed BAD NEWS. And guess what’s inside the ominous containers? Yeah, motherfuckin’ Copycat’s that’s what. And guess who’s going to be their next target? Shun Aonuma. Yes, my theory from last week (or the week before?) proves correct as the kid’s teacher and two mystery people remove two of the (what they refer too as) “tainted cats”, restrain them with their powers, and take them outside, all the while talking about how they need to stop “him” before he goes full Karma Demon. So the cats do the killing on behalf of the humans who can’t (on a side note: what if a PK user just killed a person without using their powers? Would they still suffer death feedback? Because the way I understand it, that only happens when they use their powers to harm other people. Just curious.) Maria is scared and shocked by this news, which she delivers to Saki, who feels exactly the same upon hearing it.
The last sequence of events though takes all that horror, suspense, and unsettling atmosphere that was building up over the course of the whole episode and uses it to deliver a very, very good cliffhanger ending. Saki, following a very tense escape from her room and down the river (complete with dodging a guard’s spotlight and accidentally setting off the alarm “bell”) makes it to the same forest she was in earlier with Satoru. As she bends down to pick up a new stick to use as a torch there is a brief second of darkness as she extinguishes one and lights the other. And when the light flickers into life, she is no longer alone; she’s face-to-face with a Copycat. And then the episode ends, and I’m left siting there, my heart racing, hands sweaty, and the knowledge that I’m going to have to wait a whole week to find out what happens next.
The Copycats are still very much shrouded in mystery: how do the adults control them? Can they only go out at night? Are they intelligent enough to tell who their target is? And what the heck is up with their feet? What’s going to happen to Shun? Where is he? How is Saki going to get out of the mess she finds herself in? As the stakes continue to climb, I’m left with a growing feeling of dread for what’s going to happen to our group of friends. The people who control the Copycats (maybe also probably members of the Ethics Committee?) are dangerous, and Saki, Satoru, Maria, Mamoru and Shun have been breaking so many rules that I can’t help but feel anxious over what could happen to them as a result. Argh! NEXT WEEK NEEDS TO HURRY UP AND GET HERE!
Final Thought: Did I already how fantastic the scenery was this episode? Because it was really fantastic. That whole scene at sunset, with Satoru and Saki on the playground and then Saki in the boat going home? Yeah, some great, great art going on there. Especially the colors. Eye-candy all around!