Shin Sekai Yori Episode 8: Omen
“What on Earth are we doing?” -Saki Watanabe
Summary: Two years have passed since the kids returned from their summer camp adventure, and though they have returned to society, things are not as happy and carefree as they once were. The group has splintered, and couple-like relationships have taken the focus over friendships. In school, everyone is studying more and more advanced PK techniques, and an unexpected visitor pushes Shun onto a dark and unknown path, separating him from the rest of the kids. Saki, who still cares very deeply for Shun, is left with a warning to beware of the cats as he says his farewell.
Impressions: So what do you guys want to talk about first? The “Uh…is it getting a little hot in here or is that just me?” relationships between Saki/Maria and Shun/Satoru? Or the super bad vibes that I’m getting from the situation Shun finds himself in? Or do you want to read about how freaking cute/sad Mamoru is? As a whole, I think this first episode with the time-skip really delivers, on almost every level. Shin Sekai Yori has brought its A-game to every episode so far, with a mixture of action, suspense, drama, and mystery and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be slowing down any time soon. I get the feeling we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
By using a random generator (i.e. my whim) I’ve decided: Let’s talk about sex, baby. First, HERE. This is the jam that you should listen to while reading this next part, because it’s not only a great song by itself, but it also fit’s very well with this episode and with SSY in general (at least IMO.) A big part of this episode (including the scene that launched a thousand GIFs, you know exactly the one I’m talking about, don’t lie) is focused on the change in the relationship between all our cast members. With a two-year time skip, a lot has changed. Everyone has grown up, not just physically, but mentally as well and their attitudes towards each other have changed. Instead of being one big happy group, it’s much more divided into couples with Maria and Saki forming one pair and Shun and Satoru forming the other. Mamoru is left as the odd one out, as he quietly pines away for Maria.
Episode 8 makes episode 5 look tame as far as sexual acts go. We have a very graphic make-out scene between Shun and Satoru (as far as mainstream anime kisses go, that one was pretty bold, but then again I’m using shoujo as my standard for kisses so who knows? Ecchi might be on the same level?), and since SSY strives for equality, Saki and Maria get a good touchy-feely make-out session as well (Yay for boobie touching!) It’s probably worth it to mention that I’m really glad that both of these scenes were included, as I don’t think homosexual situations are shown very often in a way that isn’t total fanservice, and is presented as being a totally normal situation. As you can see in the scenes in the school corridor, most of the kids are coupled up in similar same-sex pairs as our protagonists. Now the reasons for this are two-fold. One (and this is based purely on things I’ve read at various other sources, so I’m not 100% sure on the absolute truth of it), because in their society heterosexual couples are mostly off-limits till they turn 18. There are a lot of reasons that this could be, probably mostly because of the possibility of pregnancy. I think it’s also linked to my second reason, which is based on my own ideas, and that is that when your around age 14 or so, it’s natural to be more comfortable with people of the same-sex, and since in SSY‘s society you release stress by acting in a sexual manner with the people around you, if all those people are the same-sex as you, you’re going to end up with homosexual relationships.
Here’s my thinking behind that: Boys and girls go through puberty very differently. Girls generally mature a little bit faster than guys, and so once you can’t all play tag (because one party is more interested in doing less childish things or whatever) a divide is formed. Everyone is friends in elementary school, but once you start to become more aware of the differences between the genders in terms of what your priorities are, people of the opposite sex suddenly become very “Other” and your circle of friends generally shifts to be either all female or all male. Thinking back to middle school, it was really rare for a girl to be friends with a guy or vice versa. It was a very big deal if a boy asked a girl to a dance, for example. Of course this is all speaking in sweeping generalizations, and there are exceptions to every rule, but I think it makes sense.
Going back to Middle School again, while it’s true that you might only be hanging out with people of the same-sex, you also do start to develop feelings (“crushes” if you will) on people of the opposite sex, in that awkward, curious, middle school way. You can see this in SSY most clearly with Saki and Mamoru, both of whom have crushes but are unable to voice their desires to be with people who they still see as being very different from themselves. It’s probably less true in Mamoru’s case, since he seems to make no bones about wanting to be with Maria, even if he can’t articulate that to her clearly (due to shyness?) Narrator Saki even said so at the beginning of the episode; that a lot can change for kids over the course of two years. Saki, Maria, Mamoru and Shun all might have grown up together but for Saki and Mamoru, Shun and Maria are very different people now. There’s probably a waaay better way to explain all this, using the stages of Freudian psychosexual development or something equally high-brow, but I’m not qualified or smart enough to go research that.
As a trade-off for the couples taking the main stage, the group dynamic between the kids has taken a real nose-dive for the worse. It breaks down as follows: Saki likes Shun who is in a relationship with Satoru. Saki is jealous of both of them, and is seeking comfort in her relationship with Maria. Mamoru loves Maria, and won’t even think about anyone else, but Maria either doesn’t see him the same way or she does and is hiding it. Saki feels uneasy about Mamoru’s love for Maria and feels a little bit of resentment towards him for always being around. Since Saki and Shun aren’t really on the best of terms, the whole group has fallen apart and doesn’t spend any time together like they used to, which only really Mamoru notices and misses. As sad as it is to see the five of them on such rocky terms, like I mentioned above, a lot can happen in two years and drifting apart can be a natural occurrence. There’s a really jarring contrast between the final minutes from last week, where everyone was celebrating the return of Shun’s PK to this week, where the whole thing has kinda fallen apart.
Anyway, moving away from the personal relationships, let’s get on with the good parts! And by that I mean the story, and especially Shun, whom I’m legit a little scared for at this point. At the start of the episode, it looks like everything is peachy for him and Satoru, holding hands in the hall, tumbling around in the grass, matching necklaces, the whole nine yards. But we very quickly see that something is maybe just a little bit wrong. Shun is having trouble in class, as more and more pressure is put on him to do more and more advanced things with his PK, like trying to make a chick grow inside an egg. He breaks up with Satoru, saying he wants to spend more time alone and that he’s tired of being with him 24/7. If the music at this point didn’t give you the heads-up that something was a foot, probably the creepyiest scene of the episode was more than enough to really drive home the point that we should all be very worried for Shun.
The class is visited one day by Kaburagi Shisei, a mysterious man wearing a really crazy get-up who also happens to be the most powerful PK user around (Maria says he could split the earth in half if he tried so this guy’s probably no joke). He’s come to the class to check out what all the students are learning, and of course everyone shows off, but it seems that his true target is Shun. Kaburagi does something to Shun, and then leaves in a hurry as the teacher tells the rest of the class that the lessons for today are over. Saki goes to check on Shun, who is so exhausted he knocks over the egg he was working on. It falls to the floor and breaks. The kids are ushered out, but not before Saki sees the thing inside the egg: some sort of monstrosity with a single glaring eye. Straight-up nightmare fuel that was! *Shudder* The thing that Shun had been growing didn’t turn into a chick, that’s for sure. Wether it was conscious decision to grow a monster or if it just happened wasn’t revealed (yet?) but judging by the rest of the episode and the way Shun acts, I’m guessing that something is seriously wrong with his powers.
His absolutely creepy evil grin, wanting to spend so much time alone, the fact that he seems to not have as much control over his PK as he once did. Even at the end of the episode, where he tells Saki that he’s going to go spend time alone in a house by himself, and that she shouldn’t get close to him, everything seems to be echoing the story from Episode 2, the one about the Karma Demon. I’m willing to take bets on if Shun descends into madness and is forced by the adults to take his own life, in a similar manner to the boy in the story of the Karma Demon (those who have read spoilers from the books need not apply.) I’m really hoping that’s not how this goes down, and that Saki and the other’s will save him, but I’ve got a feeling that this is the type of show (or book rather) that isn’t afraid to do terrible, terrible things to the characters before the story’s over. I’ve already mentally prepared myself for it in fact. But generally speaking, after all that, its a testament to the quality of this show that it can shift gears so well from being all about relationship drama right back into being it’s creepy, spooky self.
The very last part of the episode was perhaps the most cryptic, as Shun talks to Saki for the first time in what seems like a while. We already knew from last week that the adults hadn’t been fooled into thinking that they didn’t get into any trouble on their summer camping trip, but this episode Shun tells Saki that the adults know about them having lost their powers and that they are most likely delaying their punishment for some reason. Nothing less from the society that weeds out problem children at a young age! Why wouldn’t they do something as cruel and spiteful as drawing out the punishment for breaking the rules? I wouldn’t be surprised if they did it in order to teach them some kind of lesson, just like the ones they’ve been learning about in the stories from the first two episodes. Shun also warns Saki to look out for the Cats, not specifying if they are the same as the Copycats. He gives her a charmed
dog collar necklace in order to protect her against them. While last episode it was thrown out that the Queerats could be the ones killing the unwanted children (since PK users can’t harm other humans for fear of the Death Feedback), but I’m putting my money on the authorities controlling the Copycats in order to do away with any undesirables. The Queerats don’t look like they’d be able to move with any kind of grace, and don’t look particularly strong, on top of being so outlandish looking that they would draw too much attention to themselves if they ever got caught inside of the town. The Copycats, from what we know of them, seem much more suited to the task of silently hunting for their prey without detection.
Phew, okay, I think I’ve covered everything now. How did this get so long again? Brownies for everyone who read down this far! The preview for next week leaves me even more anxious for Shun’s safety, and I’ll be trying my hardest to resist finding and reading any spoilers from the novel. If I missed anything you want to talk about, or if you think I’m dead wrong about something, feel free to drop me a comment. This episode had a lot going on and I’m sure I glossed over somethings that may or may not have been important. I’d also love to hear any of your guys’ theories on the show so far!
Final Thought(s): Two things; One, I really liked the new track that they played at the end where Shun is saying goodbye. It sounds like the opening hymn but less forceful and more melancholic Two, MAMORU! I’ve held off talking about him this whole time but waaahhh my sweet prince! This whole episode was like torture, looking at his sad, helpless, face as he watched everyone else partner up, leaving him all alone ;__; And he was so excited when everyone was together again! Oh, my heart, it hurts. Well, it would hurt if I had a heart, but you get what I mean. Also, the fact that Mamoru likes to draw is yet another reason to add to my growing pile of “Reasons why Mamoru is my favorite.”