Shin Sekai Yori Episode 17: Footsteps of Ruin
“Every now and then their intelligence frightens me.” -Inui-san
Summary: 12 years have past and Saki is now working for the Department of Exospecies Control who are largely responsible for controlling the Queerat population. When Satoru brings her news of an attack on the Spider Wasp colony, Saki and other high-ranking officials convene a meeting with Kiroumaru and Squealer, who are now the leaders of the two largest Queerat colonies. The two are questioned about what is going between the Queerat colonies, but with Kiroumaru and Squealer each accusing the other, the council can’t reach any conclusions. The conflict escalates into full-blown war between the Giant Hornets and the Robber Flys, and while Kiroumaru wins the first battle, Saki is shocked to learn from Satoru that in the end the Giant Hornets are the ones who are completely annihilated.
Impressions: Well now, that was an…informative episode. I’ll be the first to admit that when I watched this episode the first time around, I was confused to say the least. Unless you’re making notes on which Queerat colony is which and with whom they’re allied with, things can get a little frustrating and boring. Which is unfortunate. It’s episodes like these that make me wonder: if I wasn’t writing about this show (and making so many notes) would I even be able to follow it? Would I even get any enjoyment out of watching it? Well either way, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of inter-colony wars! Just what you’ve always wanted, right?
I’ll try and keep this as concise and clear of an explanation as I can, so here’s how the problem with the the Queerats breaks down. As we’ve seen in previous episodes, there are two big alliances: The Giant Hornets and the Robber Flys. Kiroumaru is the general in charge of the Giant Hornets, a colony that is very loyal to the humans and is entrusted with a lot of their more important physical labor. The Giant Hornets have about 100,000 soldiers on their own in addition to 13 other colonies who are loyal to them bringing their total number up to 500,000. The Giant Hornets still are ruled by their Queen, and their society functions as a feudal system of master and servant. Squealer, on the other hand, is just one of many representatives that control the Robber Fly colony. Since the unexpected growth of their colony at the beginning of the series, the Robber Flys have been doing very well for themselves, and have started to demand that the humans give them more important jobs like the ones the Giant Hornets have traditionally been given. The Robber Fly colony has about 55,000 warriors and 8 colonies that are loyal to them, bringing their total up to 300,000. Unlike the Giant Hornets, the Robber Fly colony overthrew their Queen (as we saw last episode) and is now governed by elected officials. Not only are the Robber Flys more advanced in terms of political theory, but as we see later in the episode, they also have much more advanced weaponry. While the Giant Hornets rely on narcotics to achieve a berserker state in order to win by shear force, the Robber Flys can be seen using very rudimentary guns to do heavy damage to their enemies. There are two other colonies that are important this episode, and those are the Spider Wasp and the Goat Moth colonies. The Spider Wasps are allied with the Giant Hornets, and while the Goat Moths claim to be neutral they’re most likely under the control of the Robber Fly colony. So when Satoru originally reports that the Queerats from the Spider Wasp colony were attacked, and by members of the Goat Moth colony no less, it quickly snowballs into a huge problem for Saki and the rest of humans.
Since the timeskip, Saki has started working for the Department of Exospecies Control, who are in charge of overseeing everything having to do with the Queerats. This includes the forms that the Queerats have to fill out when they want to go to war, transfer offspring from one colony to another, or do anything else. It’s interesting that they are so controlled, since up until now I never would have guessed that they’d need to fill out an application to launch even a surprise attack on an enemy colony. Of course the punishment for failure to comply to any of these regulations is destruction of the whole colony. Also of interest is that such an extermination would be handled by the Department of Pest Control. You’d think that it would be easier to just combine those two, unless there’s a specific reason that they’re separate? It’s because the Queerats have to fill a form whenever they want to attack another colony that Satoru comes to Saki to ask about the attack on the Spider Wasp colony members that were attacked while out collecting samples for Satoru. Upon hearing this, Saki and her co-workers call together a committee to further investigate the circumstances behind the incident and what’s going on the with Queerat colonies that would allow something like this to happen.
There are some familiar faces on the committee as Tomiko is there and Shisei Kaburagi (of the Securities Council, last seen way back in episode 8) also makes a return. They’re joined by Sir Koufuu Hino of the Occupations Council (whatever that is), and a bunch of other people who I assume are important people from the villages. After going over much of the information covered in the second paragraph, the committee decides to question both Squealer and Kiroumaru at the same time, in order to see the contradictions in their stories. It’s clear right from the get-go that these two do not like each other one bit, as Kiroumaru and Squealer both accuse the other’s colony of staging the attack. After much back and forth, it comes out that while the Goat Moth colony claims to be independent of the Robber Fly colony, their Queen is no longer directly ruling them and has instead left everything to be carried out by her regent (named Queachy.) This raises all kinds of red flags for me, knowing what Squealer did to his own Queen, and is something that Tomiko is quick to pick up on. How does Squealer know so much about the inner workings of the Goat Moth colony if the Robber Flys don’t control it? We’ve seen before how sharp Tomiko is, but Squealer really asserts himself as a very serious threat when he quickly explains away Tomiko’s question and counters it with his own theory that the Spider Wasps attacked themselves dressed as the Goat Moths so that the Giant Hornets could curry favor from the humans who would then help them destroy their greatest enemy. It’s a brilliant, and most likely false, story that makes the committee even less able to draw a clear conclusion about what should be done.
Even without a decision from the humans, the Giant Hornets go to war with the Robber Flys and Saki is there to observe the first battle. The Giant Hornets, lead by Kiroumaru, have a main force of 100,000…rats? against the 140,000 of the Robber Fly alliance, whose main army is strangely not on the battlefield at all. While the fighting goes on below, Saki meets a man named Inui from the Department of Pest Control. While chatting in the shade of a nearby hill, Inui confides in Saki about why the Giant Hornets could never be beaten in battle and about his own suspicions that the Robber Fly colony has some source of knowledge. This is the same as Satoru’s theory from last week that Squealer had somehow found or had access to a False Minoshiro/library and was able to get all of his knowledge from it. I think that this episode proves that that theory is probably correct, since I can’t really think of another way that Squealer and the Robber Fly colony could have advanced so far, so fast. The battle ends after an hour, which is longer than Kiroumaru though it would take, with the victory going to the Giant Hornets. Saki reports this to her supervisor at the Department and he in turn, informs her that in a different battle the Spider Wasps turned on their allies and switched sides to fight with the Goat Moths. Saki is shocked by this news, especially since these were the two colonies that started this whole mess. It’s looking more and more like the two were in cahoots from before the attack and this was all part of plot to get the Giant Hornets (and maybe even the humans) involved in a war with the Robber Fly colony that, judging by the bombshell that Satoru drops at the end of the episode, will be a lot harder of a battle than anyone could have imagined.
With the Giant Hornet colony wiped out, one can’t help think that the Robber Flys have some amazing weapon that would render the Giant Hornets superior numbers and berserker fighters useless. It could also be the reason that the main force of their army wasn’t at the battle that Kiroumaru took part in, for fear that if whatever this weapon is was discovered by the Giant Hornets or the humans, then they might think of a way to stop them. One thing is sure, and that is that something very bad is happening in the Robber Fly colony and I’m sure that Squealer is at the heart of it. From the preview, it seems like Maria and Mamoru might be involved somehow as well, and might even be reappearing sooner than I would have thought.
Final Though: I like the insert song from last week much more this week, since I think it works better as an ending. I also think the visuals were more in keeping with the lyrics and feel of the song. I don’t like it as much as the old ending, but it’s a vast improvement of last weeks sappy, uber-cute semi-opening.