Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Shin Sekai Yori (From the New World) - Episode 10

Last week saw Saki set out to find the missing Shun, or at least discern his fate, and as this tenth episode of Shin Sekai Yori opens she soon finds him after treading a dangerous path that she only survives thanks to the necklace given to her by Shun previously.

Having finally found Shun in the midst of an area with a very strange aura indeed, he seems to be well enough - aside from wearing a mask (clearly he is preparing to cosplay as Hei from Darker Than Black), he walks and talks just like normal.  So what happened to him?  Despite Shun's insistence that she leave, Saki is going nowhere until she learns the truth, and so he reluctantly gives her ten minutes while he explains the whole story.

In short, Shun's Power is out of control - while everyone in this world sees some of their powerful naturally leak away (with the Spirit Barriers set around the world effectively acting as a collection and dispersal mechanism to prevent this from being dangerous), such is the condition suffered by Shun that his power is leaking ever more massively, to the point where it twists and distorts everything around him, turning it into a monster of worse.  As he recounts the fate of his parents and his faithful companion Subaru exhibits the results of his disease, his isolation as he slowly but surely turned into a so-called "Karmic Demon" seems eminently logical, and there's nothing that anybody can do to save him.  Faced with this inevitability, what next for Saki?

As frustrated as I am with Shin Sekai Yori's ever-shifting art style and overall look, I have to admit to being grabbed by this episode from an aesthetic point of view - its dream-like, surreal visuals made it difficult to grasp whether what we were seeing was the world's reality or some kind of nightmare initially, but once that became clear it acted as an engaging conductor for Shun's disintegration at the hands of his own uncontrollable subconscious.  It also sheds an interesting light on the show's world as a whole - with all of the build-up of the series thus far hinting towards undertones of evil and darkness within the town and its higher-ups, Shun's story gives a sympathetic side to their actions.  Surely they had no choice but to banish a boy with the power to destroy everything in his path but no power to control that ability?  This train of thought even calls back to the very first scenes of the first episode of the series, giving even that a different tint.  Once again, I'm fascinated as to where Shin Sekai Yori intends to go from here, and I have to give it kudos for that no matter how frustratingly inconsistent it's been in many senses at times.

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