After escaping from the nightmare that has consumed the past few episodes, this week's episode of Shin Sekai Yori flings us a couple of years further into its future as our group of kids edge closer to adulthood as they hit fourteen.
Of course, those two years can make a big difference in terms of a kids interests and attitude, and thus the first half of this episode is preoccupied by examining the burgeoning sexuality of the group as everybody starts pairing off and being alone suddenly becomes incredibly "uncool". With thoughts of the "society of love" echoed by the Minoshiro-cum-library of a few weeks previously still rattling around in our heads, we see Shun and Satoru take more than a passing interest in one another, while Saki and Maria also become inseparable, partly as a reaction to their friends circumstances.
While these relationships wax, wane and threaten to become complicated, the visit of the supposedly most powerful of power users to the school, Shisei Kaburagi, causes quite the commotion. What seems to be a routine tour and inspection of the school and its student seems to turn rather more sinister when Kaburagi comes across Shun - after doing "something" with his powers, Shisei storms out before the class is quickly dismissed. From that point forth, we see a very different Shun, who eventually has a decidedly solemn warning for Saki that bodes ill for all of the group involved in the misadventure of two years previously.
Having hoped that episode five of this series had been a one-off in terms of Shin Sekai Yori's shifting art style, here we are again with an episode that looked, well, pretty rubbish for the most part as it frequently veered alarmingly off-model in some really off-putting ways. Simply speaking, it just didn't work. As for the content of the episode, the focus on the groups sexual proclivities was clearly an important follow-on to information dropped in our laps earlier in the series, and Shun's eventual reluctance to remain involved with Satoru is perhaps equally important along those lines - that said, perhaps a little too much time was spent on this, and when coupled with the half-baked art of the episode and a slightly heavy-handed treatment it did feel like it was veering into doujinshi territory for a while there. We seem all poised for some more intriguing times ahead however, so I'm hoping that these artistic missteps and slightly misjudged slices of pacing aren't going to become too frequent in what has otherwise been a very good series.