9 CommentsShinsekai Yori / By Inushinde /

Shinsekai Yori Episode 13: A Glimpse Into Feline Terror

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I don’t think I’m going to hear too much dissent when I say that man’s relationship with nature in Shinsekai Yori is kind of fucked. The excess of psychic energy that people produce is leaked into the environment on a regular basis, mutating plant and animal life into grotesque mockeries of their former selves. And, rather than living in fear or attempting to hunt these abominations, humans not only coexist, but outright intentionally create them with the sole intention of utilizing them to keep their society in order. Unfortunately, this usually means killing those who’re deemed to be problem children, including Mamoru, better known as Saki’s friend with the soiled mop on his head.

The weird stalker cats that have served as an ever-present threat to underperforming children were kind of creepy to imagine with the tiny details that were given; stalking their prey just conspicuously enough to be sensed, but not quite found, making the target paranoid and fearful before finally pouncing, snuffing out their life in an instant. It’s one of those perfect ideas that don’t seem so plausible during the day, but at night makes one think that walking down a dark hallway to bed will guarantee obtaining a new lease for residence in a panther’s digestive tract. The fact that the cats are obscured during these sequences only makes them worse.

Actually seeing a character followed in this manner, malign shadows creeping in from the corner of their eye accompanied by a purposeful scuttling noise, is enough to understand why they’d feel paranoid at all times. I’ve mentioned before that the environments in Shinsekai Yori are well-designed, often incorporating twisting, dark corridors and dim lighting to create a hostile atmosphere, but they really do a superb job of making getting stalked by ravenous hellbeasts as harrowing a watch as possible. It’s a small payoff on an even smaller plot detail surrounding an even smaller character, but it really works.

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Unfortunately, when you have half an episode of three teenagers repeating the conversation of “Where are his tracks?” “Over here, see?” “Oh, okay,” before psychically propelling themselves onward through snow drifts, there isn’t a bevy of subtext to pick up and mold into a post. In Shinsekai Yori’s defense though, at least this episode didn’t shove blurrycam where it doesn’t belong.

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9 Comments

  1. shengar
    Posted December 27, 2012 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    You know, I’ve put a big hope watching this one along with Psycho Pass, and JoJo. Untill somebody in a certain forum put a picture of boys frenchkissing without spoiler tag.

    Should I….repicked it?

    • Posted December 27, 2012 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      Yes, this is a great story, Shengar. In this episode, there is telekinetic skiing. But more seriously, it’s a well-executed adaptation of a well-written sci-fi dystopian novel with lots of fascinating topics to think about. Don’t worry about this being a yaoi anime–said forum picture means very little without context.

      @InuShinde – I really think this is one of the best anime I’ve seen when it comes to atmosphere. Even the part of this episode you found boring kept me on edge the whole time, since I couldn’t help but worry about Mamoru more and more as things only seemed to look increasingly worse for him with each passing minute (e.g. finding queerat tracks “in pursuit” of him, finding the tracks stop at a cliff, and finding his sled deep beneath a snowdrift without Mamoru there). The fact we didn’t get any scenes showing him until he was finally found worked perfectly for achieving this effect, IMO.
      I also like it when a story doesn’t make things simple for the characters just for the sake of making the plot move faster (i.e. the anime could have just had the characters go straight to the snow fort with Mamoru in it, but then that would’ve felt way too convenient).

      • shengar
        Posted December 27, 2012 at 8:51 am | Permalink

        I know, some friend of mine said that the yaoi and yuri things are not without explanation. But still those images were burned into my mind before I know the reason first >__>
        All right then, I’ll take it anyway.

      • Inushinde
        Posted December 27, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

        @Cho: Oh no, I hardly found it boring, there just wasn’t a lot of material to parse is all. I can hardly complain.

      • Posted December 27, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

        It’s not in the yaoi *genre*, so the fact that two boys are kissing in it doesn’t tell anything about what kind of story it is, but if you have such a bad case of homophobia* that the picture itself is disgusting you on it’s own, then probably you should skip it.

        * As in being afraid of/disgusted by homosexuality.

    • Posted December 28, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      I do kind of understand a bit why people would be squicked but awesome french kissing yaoi action; heck I’ll admit that I am too at that moment; but really to drop such a wonderfully nuanced world (and at that time, have so much potential for best in-story universe I’ve seen in a while) just because of one scene of hot, sexy yaoi tongue action? Such a wasteful decision.

      Do recommend that you persevere through it and it will be forgotten by the visage of even more horrific entities.

  2. shytende
    Posted December 27, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    The yaoi and yuri was surprising, but it’s just one episode, and in fact sort of make sense…

    That being said, it’s not a serie for everyone.

    Shin Sekai Yori doesn’t always believe totally in itself, but when it does, it really is great !

  3. Nazaren
    Posted December 27, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    I have to say… that sound, when Mamoru was walking back down the hallway after storing the papers… oh god, it was unsettling.

    Like… burning, crunching, crackling, liquid… sentient… behind you (also, it’s a cat).

    Nightmares cometh.

  4. Erif
    Posted January 5, 2013 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    So From the New World is yaoi now?

    On a separate note Inushinde, why did you decide to not blog the previous episode? There was certainly a bevy of content ripe for analysis, at least compared to this one.

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