Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Shin Sekai Yori (From the New World) - Episode 25 (Completed)

After all of the build-up towards a final battle against the Ogre with the future of humanity at stake, things are resolved in surprisingly short order by this final episode of Shin Sekai Yori.

In short, with the Pyscho Buster lost and with it seemingly all hope, Saki channels Shun's thoughts to find an elegantly simple solution to the problem at hand, using the Ogre's upbringing to turn the "Death of Shame" on its head and thus end the Ogre's life, albeit with a hefty sacrifice made in the process.

From here, the episode focuses entirely on the aftermath of the rebellion, with Yakomaru captured and put on trial as he vehemently argues that he and his kind are humans and should be treated as such - words which fall on death ears as the ringleader of the rebellion is sentenced to suffer the worst punishment imaginable.  Although his words angered most of the remaining populace, they hang heavily over Saki and Satoru, who between them come to realise that Yakomaru's argument isn't entirely without merit, and that in fact the differences between humans and Monster Rats have simply been enforced upon the latter by the former in an attempt to subjugate them.  It's a chilling realisation, but can it allow Saki to shift humanity towards a better world?  Well, that's a question that has to be left to our imagination.

All of this makes for a terrific ending to Shin Sekai Yori - a series that was tremendous when it got things right, but stumbled and lost its way too frequently to be considered any kind of classic.  Putting its missteps aside however, its story as a whole is a fascinating one that ultimately does a fantastic job of holding a mirror up to humanity, prejudices and all.  Perhaps the most impressive part of how these themes are woven into the story is that they're done in such an even-handed way - both sides in its eventual conflict, and the build-up towards it, are heavily flawed are blindly idealistic in their own ways, making this anything but a straight fight between good and evil.  It's these shades of gray, coupled with intelligent characters and world-building, that set Shin Sekai Yori out from the pack, and even though it wasn't always a success at what it attempted I'm incredibly happy that they at least tried and, more often than not, managed to get it right.

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