The time skip accompanying Saki’s entrancing adult voice has finally led to her dream career: Managing the minutia of sentient mole rat relations, and making sure that they don’t do so much as take a stroll in the woods before filling out their forms and waiting 5-7 business days for confirmation, all the while pining for her long lost love. Talk about living the dream. Saki resigning herself to a workaday job checking forms and making sure that the wrinkled, flabby mole rat masses are kept under the smooth thumb of humanity is a somewhat unexpected direction, as it not only displays growth and understanding of her situation, but shows her somewhat ambivalent feelings toward the queerats as a result of Squealer basically channeling the spirit of Littlefinger.
The fast-forward to adulthood is both a blessing and a curse for the series. On the one hand, the whole idea of Saki being threatened by the unfeeling collective of her town has kind of run its course, especially considering how good a job it did at conveying the never-ending sense of paranoia and desperation that it instilled in our intrepid protagonist. On the other, the plot has been condensed to focus more on the queerats rather than Saki, which makes the occasional callback to emotional memories clunky in execution. It all adds up to post-puberty Saki being the least interesting part of the show, which doesn’t do it a world of good when she’s the most crucial component and the sole means of moving the plot forward. There’s still the longing for Maria’s company that comprised most of her emotional core by the end of the last arc, but its presence is more of a formality than anything at this point.
It’s really a shame, because other than Saki being a malformed mass of diluted human emotion, the show does a good job in its portrayal of the queerats stirring rebellion behind the scenes. There’s no shortage of intrigue at all, a fact helped by the narrative not favoring one side over the other in terms of morality. The humans welcoming the extermination of the queerats like they’d wanted it all along, and the agenda that apparently set this plan into motion, are regarded as being roughly on the same moral ground as the queerat guerillas that they helped stir into a frenzy, except without their very lives being cast away at the flick of a finger.
Despite the periodic dramatic flair usually being a benign, if not entirely good thing, most of the episode feels padded with gratuitous displays of canti use. As entertaining as changing the direction of the wind and conjuring flames to burn the poor critters alive is, it never has been in keeping with the subtleties and building atmosphere that the series does so well. I assume the point is to demonstrate how the humans are equally at fault for treating the slow and oftentimes flamboyant deaths of the queerats as a spectacle, but it makes for a disjointed experience that adds little to the overall package.
Ordinarily I’d say that Shinsekai Yori thinks that it’s cleverer than it really is, but the clumsily-handled emotional weight, blatant hints at human involvement in Squealer’s (or is it?) plot, and slightly unhealthy fascination with seeing bipedal mole rats burn to death are easily eclipsed by some genuinely well-written subtext and an ever-escalating sense of foreboding that just gets less ignorable the longer that the series carries on. Also, admittedly, some of the cantus powers are pretty fucking cool.