Shin Sekai Yori Episode 12: Weak Link
“Why…why is it so sad?” – Watanabe Saki
Saki meets up with the head of the Ethics Committee, Asahina Tomiko, who reveals a few more pieces of the puzzle as well as divulging some stories from her past. A few days later, when Maria finds out that Mamoru has gone missing, she heads out with Saki and Satoru to find him.
Hey everyone, it’s me! Tender’s off on holiday, so other bloggers will be covering for her during that period – I’ll be doing both Shin Sekai Yori and Magi for the next couple of weeks. I may not be able to live up to the high standards she sets, but do bear with me xD
We were introduced to her at the end last week’s episode, however this is Asahina Tomiko’s proper entrance into the story, as the head of the Ethics Committee. She’s Satoru’s grandmother, however given her position and the impression I have of her, it’s unlikely that she’ll let personal feelings influence the decisions she has to take within her position; she’s very clearly the Ethics Committee head before she is a relative and grandma to Satoru. From what we’ve experienced of the Brave New World (see what I did there) Saki and her friends have lived in, we have every right to be suspicious of her and her intended actions, though I was honestly surprised to learn that she wants Saki to succeed her – so I’m presuming that the narrator we get in an adult Saki throughout the story could be what’s she’s become after taking over the Ethics Committee, and how her view of things have changed. Tomiko struck me as quite similar to Mustapha Mond – the head of the World State in BNW. Similar to him, Tomiko is very open about her reasons and the way society is running things – she freely admits to wiping Saki’s memories, and the bloodstained history divulged by the false minoshiro all those episodes ago. She understands the dystopian aspect of their society, and knows where Saki is coming from – yet she still doesn’t raise a hand against it, for reasons we’ll probably discover in the future. Mustapha Mond is a public figure however, while Tomiko is in secrecy about her position to everyone – even her own grandson. Again unlike BNW, those with understanding outside the regime aren’t exiled to islands of their choice but instead reintegrated into society, like, I dunno, Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Anyway, Tomiko easily reveals that they were going to be disposed of (admitting that disposals do happen) until she intervened because of Saki and her high Personality Index – another factor used in monitoring and assessing individuals within their society. It’s very likely that this index, however it’s conducted is actually a really important factor in determining the next Ethics head – a high number means that the person is very mentally stable, and can remain themselves even when their life takes an unexpected turn. This will be definitely required in someone like Tomiko, who will frequently have to put her job and position before her personal and emotional attachments – if she had to dispose of Satoru, she may not like it, and may emotionally suffer, but she’ll do it. Under those circumstances, someone like Saki, whose score did not permanently decline even after knowing the truth, is very suited for the job. Even within their group, Saki is very much a keystone, and this has become even more apparent now that Shun is gone and has been forgotten by everyone.
“There are only two things in this world that we really have to fear. Fiends and Karma Demons.” – Asahina Tomiko
I’m actually glad this episode had a lot of Saki, because she’s my favourite character in SSY. Despite not having the strongest Juryoku, I agree with her moral values, which goes very far in my books especially in this sort of society. So seeing her break down during Tomiko’s stories was pretty harsh for me as well, and it strikes me as weird seeing such close parallels between Shun’s situation (which Saki witnessed first hand) and Izumi’s, who both became Karma Demons. Let’s go with that story first. Tomiko calls the destructive leakage of Juryoku a “bad spill”, which is what we saw in Shun when his own Juryoku went out of control and the entire surrounding wildlife was changed. The ground froze over, the surrounding landscape became a giant crater and even his dog, Subaru became a weird mutated…thing. Izumi also had the similar isolated house she was kept in, and mutations + deaths occurred with the people around her, similar to how Shun’s parents were quick casualties after his Juryoku started going out of control. It’s even worse when you realize that Shun was the most talented Juryoku user of his year – and learning that human DNA is changeable makes me wonder how Saki even got out alive and unharmed, even though Shun was desperately trying to keep it under control. The white pill was another similarity – both Shun and Izumi were offered this, and while Shun refused, Izumi took them all in one go and disposed of herself instead of having the Tainted Cats do it for her.
That’s a Karma Demon. Boy K, whom Tomiko had close-up contact with in her past, was a Fiend. Instead of subconscious leakage of Juryoku like with Karma Demons, it seems like Fiends seem to just “give in” to something holding them back – something snapped, and in a very Blood-C-like fashion he literally tore his teacher apart. I think they actually were too lenient with him despite a Fiend not having appeared for 80 years prior to that – when a kid starts going on about seeing corpses and broken axes it’s very apparent that his desire for destruction and bloodshed is not normal, especially with all these restraints through death feedback and the natural violence-countering measures they have in their society. He must have…uh, not had a lot of sex, which instead then converted into a mass killing impulse, similar to how Nineteen Eighty-Four has people’s pent-up sexual tension converted into hatred for Goldstein and anything opposing the Party and Big Brother. I don’t know how much of that rampage is normal for Fiends, but given death feedback I don’t think attacks by them are pre-emptive at all, and is much more akin to the endorphin intoxication thing – “Fox in the Henhouse” syndrome is a pretty apt name for those who become Fiends. It was obvious from the moment Boy K entered the hospital that the drugs given to him were meant to kill him, and it’s actually amazing how Tomiko managed to encounter him yet stay alive and witness his death. Um…I bet someone’s going to become a Fiend now, aren’t they. Maybe Maria, given the ominous phrase Saki said about her near the start of the show?
“A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” – Asahina Tomiko
It actually rather sickens me that the Ethics Committee changed it so that human rights are only allowed to those above 17 years of age – that’s just disgusting. There’s all this talk and controversy IRL over the sanctity of life and when a baby is allowed human rights – the moment of childbirth or the moment of conception being two popular answers. But to raise the limit to being 17 is just…astonishing, and I can only imagine how many kids have been disposed of between their birth and adulthood. Talking about disposal, it’s probably right to say that the removal of our protagonists’ memories is the only reason why they haven’t been removed – because of the possibility of this getting out to everyone, and the mental chaos this will create. Saki may be able to endure her memories back, but as we saw last week, Mamoru very clearly can’t. And the current chain is made up of Saki, Satoru, Maria and Mamoru, with the latter being the weak link in all of this. It doesn’t help that he’s been weakened even further by all these relationships as well – even when Shun was around, he wasn’t in a relationship with anyone, and Saki x Maria is still going strong to his dismay (that’s his opinion though xD) I really hope that nothing has happened to him now that he’s disappeared, though I can’t really think of a place where he’d go to. It’s also possible he’s been taken away, due to his already weakened mental condition – to be disposed of by Queerats, perhaps? Props to Satoru for managing to fool Ryou enough to leave them alone – he’s technically Group One, but we can see that the Board of Education’s replacement of him hasn’t worked as well as they’d hoped. Even subconsciously and with no knowledge of Shun, Group One still leave him out, and Ryou hangs out more with Group Two than his official group. Let’s hope that everyone returns happy and well after this next excursion into the unknown. Or maybe it’s more appropriate to hope that everyone returns alive…
P.S. How does Tender do this consistently every week?!