By Randy Thompson / December 7th, 2012
New Shin Sekai Yori? I’m all over that! Well, it took me two tries to get through this one. I, uh, kinda dozed off after a few minutes of More Than the Darkness, but it’s not a bad episode! It’s just a lot of, well, you’ll see. Let’s dive in!
We last left Saki staring down one of the cats released by the Ethics Committee. After the charm around her neck saves her from her jugular being torn out, Saki dispenses the cat and continues her search for Shun. After wandering through the woods and coming across mutated animals she finally comes across a mask-donning Shun who leads her to a safe haven, warning her that she has 10 minutes before she must leave.
What occurs for what is the bulk of the episode is Shun explaining exactly what is happening to him and what it all means: All people have a subconscious (Sorry, I just have to point out that subconscious is NOT an actual term — it should be unconscious, but every piece of consumable media calls it subconscious, dunno why, but I thought I’d at least get that out there.) and that subconscious causes Power users to leak their Power, altering things around them without their conscious minds doing it. The barrier keeps it all under wraps, but Shun is leaking Power at an alarming rate, hence the mutated creatures, Subaru, the sky, etc. in the area. Basically Shun is now a Karmic Demon and must be killed before he destroys everything. The other one of those cats set out by the Ethics Committee then makes its appearance.
The cat attacks Shun, but Subaru jumps in to protect him only to be killed moments later. Shun does the cat in, lamenting that Subaru is gone because he wanted to protect Shun and that the cat didn’t do anything wrong, but he must kill it nonetheless. 10 minutes are now up and Saki needs to go as the environment around Shun starts to do the deed of ending the PK prodigy’s life. As Saki leaves, Shun expresses that he’s always loved her just as he dies and Saki escapes. Saki makes her way back to the village, uttering that she must live.
This episode is chock full of exposition, probably one of the contributing factors to making me sleep in an already drowsy state. One thing that surprised me early in this episode is that Shun’s cat ward wasn’t a magical repellant as I expected, but just armor that protects the vital point the cat’s tend to attack. I suppose it makes sense, but it just wasn’t what I expected. It gave Saki the time she needed to use her Power and save her skin.
All I have to say about this episode can basically be summed up in “Oh, poor Shun…”. I really dug this guy and seeing him in such a hopeless state really made me sad and upset at his situation. Sure, having psychokinetic abilities would be cool, but they are quite the dangerous thing, something that I haven’t seen a lot of anime, television, or movies portray in the way Shin Sekai Yori does. Even though you may be the best, that can all turn around rather quickly.
Something of note is the mask that Shun wears: just what exactly is it’s purpose? Other than to hide his emotions from the audience, is it letting the actor support the burden, or otherwise is it just to make Shun look sad constantly? My guess was that his face could have been disfigured by his leaking Power, but the last shot of him shows that at least his eye and the skin surrounding it is untouched. I liked the look of the mask, but I would love some good explanation behind it. I don’t know, maybe I’m just weird with that hang-up and it should just be taken at face value, but I’d like to look more into it. Perhaps it’s purely symbolic of Shun not being himself anymore and it doesn’t show the face that we’re all familiar with?
I enjoyed the elaboration on the side-effects of being a Power user as well as explaining the origins of Karmic Demons and Minishiro. It’s a cool and interesting way to explain the shape the world is in after such a short amount of time. Nice move, Shin Sekai Yori. I’m very interested to see where this new information will take us. I can only hope that Saki enlists the help of Mamoru, Satoru, and Maria in doing SOMETHING about all this. Obviously the Ethics Committee is only doing what it thinks is right to protect it’s populace, but I think that’s an interesting take on government, that sometimes it gets blinded by the ends and forgoes what the means of such aspirations give rise to. Will Saki and the others start a revolution to free the people and let them deal with things themselves, foregoing safety for freedom? Only time will tell.
Shin Sekai Yori is up on Crunchyroll every Tuesday at about 3:30 PM Eastern Time.
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