Watching Shin Sekai Yori is a sweet, beautiful sadness.
OP1/Insert Song: "Yuki ni Saku Hana (雪に咲く花)" by Maria Akizuki (Kana Hanazawa)
farewell letter she’s left for Saki. But like almost all the choices this show has made, it was borne out as a wise one – in the end, Maria’s letter was both incredibly powerful in its own right and another brilliant and innovative way of working exposition seamlessly into the plot. Maria said in her letter what so many viewers (and this blogger) have been saying for weeks – that this society,as constructed, isn’t worth saving. It was a ringing condemnation: she compares the children of the village to pottery, waiting to be smashed at the sign of the slightest defect. Even more tellingly, to eggs awaiting hatching, as the adults watch in terror, knowing that one egg in a million will become a demon, rather than an angel.
five Class 1 children in all their innocence, playing in a natural world that retains all its beauty, makes them that much more heartbreaking. Whatever is to become of Maria in the future, it’s really striking just how selfless this act of hers was. I’ve been unsure of Maria in the past, but to leave behind the life she knows and the person she considers her true love in order to stay by Mamoru’s side is an act of genuine compassion. Maria loves Mamoru, don’t get me wrong – I think all these kids love each other in a very profound way – but Saki is the one Maria is in love with. There’s no doubt that her growing conviction that the village was rotten beyond redemption had a lot to do with her decision too, but it would still have been far easier to stay and make the best of it. It seems clear that Maria is to be a tool of the increasingly ambitious and confrontational Queerats in a coming war against humanity – either herself or in the person of the child she bears with Mamoru – and that will be just another tragedy to add to the growing list of them in Shin Sekai Yori.
Satoru and Saki is especially poignant, as they’ve shared so much over the course of the series – they’ve never been in love with each other, but they’re incredibly close, and they both loved the same boy. Even as they finally make love in their tiny Kamakura, so long after their first near-encounter, it comes as Saki is realizing just how alone in the world she is – Satoru is the only one of their precious group she has left. Even Shun’s name and face are denied her, and this is really the ultimate violation on the part of the adults – after murdering a child they deny their friends even the precious gift of their memories.
faceless and in a nightmare of a surreal landscape – is able to reach out to Saki from beyond the grave isn’t entirely clear. Whether his cantus allows him to retain some spiritual form or her love for him was so strong that Saki has simply retained a part of him in her mind, his message is clear – don’t help Maria and Mamoru. Maria has to die. It’s certainly the last thing Saki wants to hear – or believe – and it makes me believe that Shun is indeed a product of her subconscious, urging her to face the ugly reality she would rather avoid. In this terrible world there are seemingly never any good choices, and children are not just murdered by their parents but forced to confront the sort of truth that Saki now faces. It’s explicit in Saki’s narration that she and Satoru have been tools of Squealer all along (his comment that Queerat skeletons are hard to distinguish from human ones only makes me more convinced of the Queerats’ true evolutionary history), made blind by their desperation to find their friends – and indeed, the next episode is going to give us the longest timeskip yet. It’s clear that the 26 year-old Saki and Satoru are going to be confronting a very different world than the one their 14 year-old selves inhabit, but I see no reason to think it will be any less of a tragic and bereft place.