Sunday, January 20, 2013

Shin Sekai Yori - 16

[UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_08.03_[2013.01.19_23.28.12] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_09.26_[2013.01.19_23.29.37] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_20.47_[2013.01.19_23.43.21]

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)
[UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_01.20_[2013.01.19_23.18.59] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_02.13_[2013.01.19_23.20.01] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_03.13_[2013.01.19_23.21.03]

It’s not like SSY is an especially uplifting show to begin with, but there’s undeniably something sort of depressing in watching yet another brilliant, thoughtful, beautiful and dark anime utterly tank commercially.  I suppose it can be argued that it doesn't really matter as long as the studios keep making them now and again, it’s the quality that should be celebrated for its own sake.  But that nagging voice inside my head tells me that sooner or later they will stop making shows like Shin Sekai Yori, and Seirei no Moribito.  Maybe big studios with lots of hits like Production I.G. and A-1 Pictures can afford to put out shows like this as a kind of “loss leader”, like the prestige titles big publishers used to release knowing someone would buy them because it made them look serious about literature.  But what if one day someone just says, “Fuck it – we can do two one-cour Girls@School shows for half the cost of this beast.  Does anyone really care what a few fringe viewers think?”

If there were any justice this series would get the recognition it deserves, because it’s consistently a powerful, intelligent and visually and aurally beautiful series with the narrative drive of a bullet train.  No two episodes are alike – SSY continues to find new ways to tell its story and reveal its characters, always in entertaining fashion, never losing its superb sense of pacing.  The show has elements of both the mystery and the tragedy about it, but the latter has been winning out lately – and it ties in with the sense that it’s a story from a real world that’s being retold for out benefit, not one that’s being made up as it goes along.  I’m not sure where things are going to land when it’s all said and done, but it’s a pretty safe bet that it’s going to be a heartbreaker.

I had my doubts about this episode after the first few minutes.  It seemed an odd choice to finally use an OP this far into the series, and to spend so much time in a reminiscence about Maria and Saki’s childhood playing out over Maria reading the 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.

In summation, Maria says this: “Our village is twisted.”  And asks what’s the ultimate question after 16 brilliant episodes: “Can a village that murders its children to preserve order really be considered a normal human society?”  That these devastating truths should come from Maria is seemingly ironic, based on what’s been foreshadowed – but the larger point remains unchanged.  Maria boils it all down to the adults being terrified of the children, and even makes the salient (arguably too much so for a girl her age in her circumstances, if I’m to be honest) point that this is a fundamental human reaction, throughout history.  Do the adults have good reason to be afraid, given what they know of human history?  No doubt – but that’s not the main issue.  I think for me, it boils down to this: no society can maintain this sort of approach towards its children without becoming warped and twisted in the process.  You might debate whether a society that declares all its children disposable until age 17 might be justified if that’s the only way to perpetuate itself – I would argue no, for the record – but to become the sort of adults that would be willing to do so would require a fundamental loss of humanity in the process.

That Maria’s words are heard as we watch scenes of the 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.

What’s truly heartbreaking is that we can see in the relationships of the five children that genuine human love and compassion is still possible.  It’s been obvious in the romantic love of Maria and Saki, and both Saki and Satoru and Shun – but it’s just as much so in the deep and powerful familial love they all share.  Watching 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. 

Just how Shun – 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. 

[UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_06.42_[2013.01.19_23.26.22] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_07.50_[2013.01.19_23.27.56] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_09.02_[2013.01.19_23.29.13]
[UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_09.02_[2013.01.19_23.29.18] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_09.22_[2013.01.19_23.29.33] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_11.12_[2013.01.19_23.31.26]
[UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_12.15_[2013.01.19_23.33.07] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_13.34_[2013.01.19_23.34.45] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_13.47_[2013.01.19_23.35.02]
[UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_14.29_[2013.01.19_23.35.49] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_15.00_[2013.01.19_23.36.20] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_15.13_[2013.01.19_23.36.34]
[UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_15.44_[2013.01.19_23.37.08] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_15.59_[2013.01.19_23.37.22] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_16.06_[2013.01.19_23.37.29]
[UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_16.45_[2013.01.19_23.38.10] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_17.40_[2013.01.19_23.39.05] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_17.54_[2013.01.19_23.39.19]
[UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_18.38_[2013.01.19_23.40.03] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_19.06_[2013.01.19_23.40.32] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_20.07_[2013.01.19_23.41.32]
[UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_20.19_[2013.01.19_23.41.46] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_20.19_[2013.01.19_23.41.49] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_20.53_[2013.01.19_23.43.27]

Preview:
[UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_22.28_[2013.01.20_00.42.49] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_22.29_[2013.01.19_23.45.32] [UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_16_[h264-720p][464F96D9].mkv_snapshot_22.35_[2013.01.19_23.45.38]


41 comments:

  1. And finally, we will see in what kind of adults will they turn into... and will (and if yes, how) will they try to change the society

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They, or she? I suspect Sakin will be the only one (out of the group of friends, not the entire society) left by the end, as the narrative seems to suggest.

      Delete
  2. this was honestly one of the most perfect episodes in anime history.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was excellent, but despite some of the choices it's made. I found the "OP" to be very clunky. It got away from the fantastic and haunting soundtrack in the show and broke away from the mood of the show unnecessarily. Thankfully, the letter portion after the OP was incredibly well done, so I could overlook it. But, some of the composition in the latter half of the episode was a bit confusing.

      My larger point, however, is that DESPITE these clear directing mistakes, the episode was still excellent. When a series has a poorer than average episode that still is excellent, then you know you really have a classic show on your hands.

      The ending of this is going to be brilliant. I only hope this series will get it's due in the next decades as one of the best animes ever.

      Delete
    2. I disagree as soon as the music started in the ep it grabbed my emotion and I was sucked in. I found it to be really effective and not mood ruining at all. It had to be down though, considering how long the bloody letter was lol a beautiful memory montage was necessary and made everything flow a lot better then what it could of done.

      Delete
    3. done* in place of down

      Delete
    4. >Taara535

      Thank god, I was starting to think I was the only one who found the OP-like treatment of the song clunky. :/ Not to mention that with the lyrics and singing in-character and all, it came across as basically fanservice, which is annoying because for one, this show should be above that, and two, it would be okay for one episode only, but this is the next ending song. :/ I kind of dread the visuals, a Maria or Maria/Saki centric ED would be very jarring and not in tune with the actual story at all.

      (Not to mention, I didn't think it was a particularly good song, and it wasted precious time. Oh well...)

      Delete
    5. I thought that the OP was perfect. If you look at the words it's basically a love song from Maria to Saki

      Delete
    6. >Scruffy

      Yes, that's exactly my problem. For one episode - okay, even though I do think it was too much and already in the domain of fanservice. But as a regular ending song? Why?

      Delete
  3. I'm just so glad that Saki will continue to remember everyone because that would just be the most devastating thing to happen to her if she forgot. And I cant wait for the episode were she finally remembers shun! Because that will have to happen because saki when she narrates each episode shes like 40 and mentions shun and friends meaning that shes going to remember them right? It will truly be beautiful. Also I'm kind of expecting an 'x-men phoenix ending' for this show because of the hint we learnt about maria from ep 3 or something. what im expecting is that Maria wont die but will lose her sanity and then go on a rampage which reminds me of jean grey and her phoenix arc for some reason. So what I think might happen is that Saki may even have to kill her! This is probably the most WRONG theory ever but hey it just popped into my head and I thought I'd share :) But saki will definitely remember Shun other wise its a plot hole that she can remember and talk about him through her narration.

    ps. Maria would make an awesome phoenix! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. im sure saki will get her memories back; they said so in episode twelve i think, that if she becomes an ethics commitee, she will be granted all her lost memories back; and since she is narrating this story was we watch it, im assuming she is already an ethics commitee head, retelling the tragic story of her past as she remembers it now that her memories have been restored.

      Delete
  4. Bloody f*ckin hell. This series is the bees knees of depression, and I mean that in a good way. Each successive episodes gobsmacks me in awe while leaving bitter aftertaste. Not terrible crude bitter (like Urobuchi Gen), but more a classy poignant bitter (think Inio Asano).

    They say the Spartans treated their young boys like expendables as well (I have no clue if it's true, never met a Spartan), though I bet not to this sort of sickening level.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haven't you heard? Spartans are an extinct sub-human species. They aren't around anymore.

      Delete
  5. This serie really caught my attention: the plot is really so interesting, the art beautiful!! Too bad this show isn't getting more love! It looks like the more complicated animes are getting less and less audience...........that's just too sad!

    ReplyDelete
  6. When I saw this episode I kept thinking how similar this was to the movie "We Need To Talk About Kevin". Tilda Swinton and John C. Riley play parents that have a little boy. The movie covers the boys life from infant to adult and the mother's growing horror that the son she gave birth to is becoming a textbook serial killer/murderer. In the anime's case every human is a ticking time bomb and the parents generation is terrified that these super powered kids will go out of control and become a demon.

    Saki is the main character so we are rooting for her and the things she is trying to do but being in a parents shoes in that village cannot be an easy path to walk. I'm wondering if 26 year old Saki will still feel the same way she did at 14 or will she has an adult (possibly with her own kids) now look at things from a parents perspective?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, having never grew up in this society and having the outside perspective, I don't have much say in this, but if I retain my outside perspective and put into this society, I would refuse to produce any offspring for it and help in any way prolonging any further. It may not matter much in the long run on whether, I as an individual from this hundred of villagers do or do not produce an offspring, but that doesn't mean I need to conform like a rabbit in a cage.

      Delete
  7. This series is amazing. It's one of the best anime I have ever watched. Did it truly do so bad commercially? I can understand it's not for everyone because of its dark tone and overall sadness, but that would be greatly saddening.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Final numbers aren't out of course, but at this point it looks possible it could actually do less than 1K per volume, and there seems to be no increase in novel sales. Hopefully it's surprise on the upside at least a little.

      Delete
    2. Different Anon here. I have a question for you Enzo that I want to know your opinion on. Do you think the idea of incorporating kick-starter to the anime industry is a viable option?
      There are some great strides made in the gaming community with kick-starter, especially the indie games. I wonder if it can work with anime as well. I think about how shows like these sell so poorly is also due to the fact that it has a lower budget and doesn't look as good as shows with a larger animation budget. It's appalling that shows with cool looking animation and virtually no story can sell better than mediocre to shoddy looking shows with great stories.

      Delete
    3. As to Kickstarter, I think I need to disqualify myself as a serious commenter, because I'm far from an expert at just how well the idea has taken off. I've always thought it was one of those concepts that sounds great in theory but never quite manages to be what one hopes it will in reality. As an ill-informed observer, my instinct is that I'm skeptical of how much impact it could have in anime. I'd love to be wrong.

      As to SSY and budget, let me first say that I disagree with the first Anon that SSY has a demonstrably low budget. I actually think the animation has been rather good most of the time, and mediocre CGI has been a rarity (this week actually had more than any other episode). But even if you accept the premise in Anon's comment, they admit that the series looks great anyway.

      I don't see budget or visuals as contributing to SSY's commercial failure even a tiny bit. It's a lack of pandering to otaku tastes and a willingness to challenge the audience intellectually and emotionally. People who buy anime BDs, generally speaking, don't want to be challenged. They want the things they can get aplenty in the anime that sell like hotcakes, and since those titles are a matter of public record there's no need to rehash what those things are. Once in a while a series breaks through those barriers and becomes a hit, but mostly the upside is what we've seen with shows like Tsuritama and Jinrui - 4-5K sales, profitable but not a "hit".

      Delete
  8. brilliant analysis of the ep as usual enzo, but I'm curious that after this episode, you felt that saki is the on that maria is most in love with. After watching this episode, it truly convinced me that maria truly loves mamoru over saki. If one thinks about it, she is risking her life, willing to go against the village, just so she can be with mamoru; and although it pains her to go through with her decision, she had made this decision from the moment she read the letter mamoru had left for them when he ran away. I dont think her decision for being with mamoru is because she feels that no one will be there for him and therefore is being a good friend by staying by his side; she is staying with him because she wants to be with him and be the only one to protect him. Maria has always been protective over mamoru even when they were children, sometimes getting a little jealous when mamoru wouldnt cling on to her. As much as Maria loves Saki, she had already made her decision to throw everything away and that in my eyes shows how much more love she has for mamoru. Not to mention that maria probably felt a little at ease at leaving saki because she felt that Satoru would be there for her. I just think the village's condition kinda makes these kids feelings for each other ambiguous at times.

    Speaking of which, it makes me wonder, did Satoru and Saki sleep with each other because they realized how much they cared for each other,or was it the bonobo conditioning that compelled them to do so in regards to the stress they were both feeling for not being able to find maria and mamoru. It could have been a little bit of both, but i feel maybe the episode was trying to be ambiguous about that as well. What a powerful ep though, it saddened me to see Saki realize that Satoru was the only person she had left in her life. Plot wise looks like we are really going to see why Maria's existence is so detrimental to this dying society of psychics.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't see evidence here that Maria is in love with Mamoru, or indeed that she's ever been in love with anyone but Saki. She does love Mamoru, and wants to protect him, and feels she can no longer live in the village feeling the way she does because eventually, they'll come for her. That's my take.

      I prefer to think that Saki and Satoru finally slept together because they needed each other so much emotionally, not their genetics. Looked at that way, it's a kind of thumb in the eye of the sickos who engineered them.

      Delete
    2. hmmm that's a nice way at looking at it. I think your absolutely right in regards to Saki and Satoru having slept with each other out of emotional need, and yes, looking at it that way would be like a big F u to the people who engineered them that way, but i feel like their decision to have sex was slightly influenced by their engineering, i mean come on, their only 14, what do fourteen year olds know about using sex as an emotional buffer. 14 year olds of our generation only know sex as the thing the cool kids do, instead of understanding the emotional implications of having sex. But there has been evidence that the twisted engineering to these kids have held them back from being with the people that they truly wanted to be with, like when Saki yearned for shun even though she was with Maria, or when Mamoru yearned for Maria even though everybody else was hooking up (gotta give protect big props there for not conforming). Im sure during the time skip Saki and Satoru are gonna have to sort out their feelings for each other after sleeping with each other, especially since they both still love shun. Oh and as a side note looks like squealer/yakomaru has rose up the ranks once again; just look at his clothing in the preview....i smell a war.

      Delete
    3. I think the fact Saki once rejected Satoru in a situation of pure stress saying "we're not monkeys" helps the argument that they rather slept together out of emotional need and their close bond.

      Still I've thought Saki and Satoru would make a good match since episode 1, it breaks my heart that when they finally end up together its not because they absolutely love each other (like Shun) but because their literally the last 2 left. They never got the chance to be rejected/sort out their feelings in a regular teen triangle way. They don't even get to remember the person they truly love. For me, that was one of the saddest realizations in a beautiful but thoroughly depressing series.

      Right now though I'm just most curious about how the story will present the past,how the new world ended up like this. We're not getting flashbacks into the distant past anymore and the ones we did get weren't really explained.

      Delete
  9. You know, even though he was only in the episode for a minute or two, it's safe to say that Squealer scares me. Maybe it's his design, personality, or his creepy voice (one of the best performances I've heard in a while), but every time I see him, I know that something bad is going to happen. Just seeing him in the preview after the time skip was enough to get me wary/excited about next week. I don't know, but for some reason, he might be one of the more memorable characters in this show for me, despite getting half the screen time of everyone else.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed. His character design was made to disgust, easy to demonize, and even easier to underestimate. Sometimes an antagonist is incredibly cunning and ruthless, but also in other aspects indomitable, and that set up produces different triggers than Squealer.

      Delete
  10. I realize we've had foreshadowing that Maria will survive and be involved in some cataclysmic event, but when that slimy manipulator Squealer jumped on the suggestion to claim she and Mamoru were dead my immediate reaction was "that bastard! he's already had them murdered and can produce their bones on demand any time he likes".

    The insert song was not particularly to my liking, but whatever. Did anyone else find the flashback of Maria and Saki at a festival kind of unlikely? The setting and crowd density made it look more like a scene from hundreds of years in the past than something that had happened only a few years ago in their home village.

    ReplyDelete
  11. "..there’s undeniably something sort of depressing in watching yet another brilliant, thoughtful, beautiful and dark anime utterly tank commercially."

    A feels ya Enzo.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I guess it really depends on how you define "humanity". In the context of SSY, survival probably trumps compassion and I suppose if we avoid analyzing their society through the lens of our current civilization, many of the precautionary actions that the village leaders have taken would look perfectly plausible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, thank you, I've been saying this ever since we started learning about their society. Enzo and many of the commentators on here seem to be of the opinion that humanity should just say "WELP guys we had a good run but society is fucked, let's just stop breeding and put an end to it!" That may be an interesting idea intellectually but it's not realistic at all. AT ALL. That's simply not how evolution works, for a species to get as far as humanity has they MUST by necessity have a strong survival instinct. It's what lets dudes who get their arm pinned under a boulder out in the middle of nowhere saw their own arm off with a pocket knife to get away. It's what lets parents push themselves to the extreme when their children are in danger.

      This instinct exists and to say that the society in this show should just give up and let themselves go extinct is a pie in the sky fantasy at best. Obviously their society is not perfect. No society is. Their society seems worse than ours in a lot of ways, granted, but their circumstances are completely different to our own and to judge them through the lens of the world we live in is ridiculous. Especially considering I have yet to see a single person on these posts offer any kind of alternative to the system as shown. We have shootings every now and then that kill maybe a dozen people and that is enough to cause people to clamor for major systemic reforms. The people in this show each have the capacity to easily kill thousands. They've got to deal with it somehow. The way they've come up with sucks but I have yet to hear anything better.

      Delete
    2. The argument is not that straw man you're saying it is, that society is simply going to voluntarily let itself go extinct - obviously our biology dictates that isn't going to happen. The argument is that it isn't worth saving, if this is what's required to save it.

      Delete
    3. So the argument is that it isn't worth saving. According to what set of values? The whole point I've made in several posts about this show now is that it's easy for us to sit in judgement on a society that looks twisted from our perspective, but none of us have ever had to deal with these kinds of circumstances. If I lived in a place where every human intrinsically possessed the possibility of going insane and wiping out the whole town, I might feel that the kinds of things going on in this show are completely justified. Then again, I might not. I've never been in that position. And neither has anyone else. Everyone is judging this society according to current social trends and the point I have been trying to make is that it is wrong to do that because their circumstances are completely different from ours. Can you honestly say that you are 100% positive that if you were in their position you'd still think the same way that you are thinking right now? I think there's an interesting discussion to be had about their society, but that discussion should be about why their society is the way it is, what leads to that, and what can they do better. Whether or not it should be saved seems irrelevant to me because human nature dictates that they will try and save it regardless.

      At the end of the day I think we are just watching the show from two completely different viewpoints and I'll need to just accept that and move on. I really enjoy your writing generally but with this show I just feel like you're not asking any of the questions that I find interesting, which I can only assume means their is a fundamental difference in the way we are viewing the show. The question you want to ask seems in my opinion to be irrelevant. But I'll keep reading your posts about the show anyway because at least you are asking some kind of question, unlike most anime bloggers I've read who just recap the episode and call it a day.

      Delete
    4. I agree, Beckett, and I think it was played out in the words in Maria's letter. To me, they sounded like the idealist words of a teenager, someone who thinks they know all about the world, and thinks that there are serious things wrong with it, and if everyone just was nicer to each other it would all work out. I'm not someone who thinks that the world is hopeless, or that humans are terrible. I have great hope for humanity, and think that we make progress toward more happiness for everyone everyday. But I also realize that there are problems with that worldview.

      I wonder what Saki actually thought of Maria's words. She's seen far more of the other side than Maria has. And she's better understood the pressures that that society faces. You wonder if Maria realizes the thousands that have died in the past from the few Fiends they've had. Or if she's really aware of the massive destruction of human lives from the Holy Cherry Blossom Empire. And would that change her opinions?

      It really seems like she sees half the picture: the half that she's been exposed to, and drawn conclusions based on that. And she's partly right. The society is scared of children. And it's really tough for a society to thrive with that mindset. But as Saki found out, there are reasons for those fears, and there's justification there, in my opinion.

      As for this society is 'worth' saving? Who are we to sit in judgment? They are certainly self aware. It's not like they are culling children with such frequency because they're superstitious, or because the volcano said to. They love these children, and they know what they represent, both the good and the bad. It's possible that there is some balancing, that the Board of Education has been too free with disposing of children. But the number really isn't an issue (and if it is for you, then you're 'just haggling over the price'). And this is what they feel they HAVE to do. Not a decision easily arrived at.

      Delete
    5. Who are we to sit in judgement? The audience, that's who. We're being asked by the author to sit in judgement. You can preach from atop the high horse all day long about how morality is relative, but I think it comes down to whether you believe there exists a right and wrong in the first place.

      My position is very simple - in contorting themselves so ridiculously to try and find some way to save humanity, the elites (read PKs) who founded this society forfeited their humanity. What they've done to their children is only the cherry on top of the sundae as far as the atrocities we know about, never mind the ones that are hinted at.

      Yes, this argument has been going on almost since the show started, and we're watching the show from very different perspectives. That's obviously not going to change no matter what happens in the series itself, so let's just wait and see what the author has to say on the matter.

      Delete
    6. But they are *not* humans in the same way we are. The standards of humanity pretty much have to change. Some of this goes to the slipperiness of the whole concept of 'humanity'. But as for us being the audience and judging, that's a pretty facile position to be in to condemn. And it's not as simple as right and wrong and it never has been. Not in their society, and not in our society.

      Delete
    7. Not if your standards of right and wrong are elastic enough, I'd guess not.

      Circles. I'm done debating this until the show gives us something new to add to the debate.

      Delete
  13. A-1 clearly anticipated that this would fail commercially since it obviously had a very low budget. It still looked beaitiful because of the skilled people who worked on it, but you can clearly see how they were on a low budget. The characters are rarely shaded and the designs are not detailed so that the frames can be drawn and colored faster. They managed to make this fit visually though. Bad CG also makes a lot of appearance. The ED wasn't even finished when the show started airing on the channel earliest to air it lol. Still, it looked beautiful since the staff did what they can with the low budget.

    I'm saying this because I think projects like this will not disappear. They'll just not give these projects high budgets now, unlike before where even projects like this get enough money to have consistent animation.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Re: first paragraph

    I shouldn't be here, as I'm only slowly catching up with the series and the discussion (moreso the latter) around it, but I have to say, as much as I share your pain that the series didn't preform well, and while I can empathize with your concerns, I honestly don't share them.

    Sure, we can fear that one day the powers that be decide to figuratively say Screw it and not fund shows like this, but when we look at it realistically, that's not what happens. Throughout the years, we had some brilliant anime that had completely tanked sales wise, but were nonetheless excellent in their content and to this day remembered fondly. And that is not by the viewers, but also by the creators and animators who worked on those shows. As long as there are people in the industry who want to create and even adapt shows like SSY, even in the face of falling sales, they will be able to do so.

    And this isn't limited to anime either. Look across all forms of media, and you will see the same story of how many great stories end up falling to catch the interest of enough people to manage to make back the money that went into producing it. However, that has never been an incentive for creators to abandon their desires to create quality entertainment, if anything, I often see it as even more reason for them to overcome those odds and continue to create more work, no matter how long it takes for their projects or adaptations to get off the ground.

    It is not like there is a single outlet of creative energy and shows in this industry, and people all across the industry will continue to try and create shows like SSY, not because it's a money maker, but because it motivates them to create works of similar quality (or adapt works of similar quality, or write books of similar quality etc.). I mean bless the folks at A1 who want to diversify the studios output and have the money to do so into many quality shows, even if some of them don't generate money or are not all that great, it is great to see them so invested into extending everywhere.

    On a personal note, SSY was actually one of those shows that I had considered importing, but I decided not to. It's wasn't any decision to make, but ultimately I decided to wait for the English release instead. I'm sort of kicking myself for not going with the importing option though at the moment ... and the release had the ost as well damnit ...

    ReplyDelete
  15. I just want to thank everyone here for thinking about this great show and discussing it. I tried discussing this on the Star Crossed anime blog, but people literally don't get the show over there. They just think it is sad, but a pointless show to watch since it asks too many questions............

    So, despite many of us may disagree about the show, THANK YOU for thinking about it and discussing it here!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thats really sad that people found it pointless. It surly is sad, but one of the main reasons that its sad is that it asks important questions where the answers are not obvious

      Delete
  16. low sales would have been within the budget, isnt it, considering how it mostly appeals to a mature audience. i don't think it would lessen any more good, mature shows like these. rather, it's kind of a tasteful show with a nice artistic style that would probably have longer lasting popularity even if not a big hit. but, i am not say familiar with anime to know better, just my take :)

    ReplyDelete