Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Shin Sekai Yori (From the New World) - Episode 17

It's time to hit fast forward again on the world (or rather, the new world) of Shin Sekai Yori this week, as we take another leap forward in the life of Saki and company to rejoin her as a twenty-six year old woman.

As you would expect Saki is settled into a comfortable job at this point in time, working as she does for the "Department of Mutant Management", a division which handles relations between the various Monster Rat colonies for the most part.  It seems to be a curious job, involving handling paperwork when colonies want to attack one another, overseeing the resulting battles that they arrange and generally ensuring that some semblance of law and order is kept over all of the colonies, like some kind of high-powered United Nations substitute that deals with mutant colonies.

The reason that we rejoin Saki at this point in time is that something odd is afoot, with Satoru visiting his old friend to quiz her about an attack on a colony doing work for the department to which he has been assigned.  It appears that this attack is part of a turf war over the allocation of this work between the Giant Hornets who hold that position and our old "friends" the Robber Fly colony who would seek to take it over, but with no paperwork filed for the attack things are clearly going on away from the watchful eyes of humankind.  As Saki's department investigates, we get to dip our toe into the kind of lies, propaganda and conflicts now bubbling over between colonies, as well as seeing the extent of technological progression that some of those colonies now possess to give themselves an almost unassailable upper hand over any opponent.  It's a progression that clearly unnerves Saki, and it's an introduction to some far murkier waters for her by all accounts as this story arc continues.

While another jump forward in time may be a little disconcerting for a moment, one we regain our bearings this week's Shin Sekai Yori was another fascinating one - the politics of Monster Rat colonies probably shouldn't be all that interesting yet somehow manage to be just that, and the role of their human overlords clearly has plenty to say on a whole number of topics.  You can't shake the undoubted feeling that there is no shortage of social commentary at work here - never mind the so-called mutants, aspects of this episode are blatantly trying to hold a mirror up to humanity and the connections between war and politics while questioning the necessity of it all.  There's so much more to it than this that I could go on all night about it, but suffice it to say that there's a lot to chew on in this series and not for the first time - one of the reasons why it's so enjoyable to watch for the most part.

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