17 CommentsShinsekai Yori / By Inushinde /

Shinsekai Yori Episode 8: GAAAAAAAAAAAA-

-aaaave a fair amount of material to parse, completely at odds with the past few episodes that seemed to focus exclusively on tribal mole rat awareness. It was a decent display of world building that showed our characters two years after returning from their ill-fated voyage in the throes of same-sex relationships with each other and other classmates. The various trials that they’re put through as their emotions mature are portrayed from several angles with a sufficient amount of depth, their collective emotional stability not helped by an environment that exudes quiet hostility from every shadow and smiling authority figure; unfortunately, it doesn’t do a great job of explaining itself. It’s a shame, because there’s a wealth of interesting topics to broach here regarding societal pressure, puberty as a whole, and same-sex relationships, but I just can’t see the sexual spectrum forest for the poorly rendered trees.

Make no mistake, no matter how Shinsekai tries to dress up the students’ gay-lovin’ with ominous music and dark, grungy interiors, there’s nothing particularly off-putting about all the guys making out against walls and girls walking and holding hands. It treats the whole thing as a normal day in the world of Whatever Village This Is, no different from eating a normal breakfast, walking a familiar, normal path to school, and doing normal class things like levitating and incubating eggs with psychic powers.

Thanks to not explicitly treating it as anything out of the ordinary in any circumstance (so far, anyway), it deftly avoids falling into the same unfortunate trap inhabited almost entirely by Glee and PSAs from the time when homosexuality was classified as a mental illness.

At the very least, this episode of Shinsekai does a fantastic job of acclimating the audience to its world, the end result feeling like a comfortable case study of various relationships more than a retro-futuristic, good Japanese retelling of “I Know What You Did Last Summer”. Not everybody is entirely comfortable with getting together with others that share the same kinds of genitalia, while others embrace it wholly. It isn’t treated as anything special or strange, it just /is/, and it’s as normal a part of growing up for them as it is for us.

Unfortunately, it’s when looking at how it got to this point that all sorts of questions regarding the Bonobo Instrumentality Project pop up. In order to achieve what would in essence be an internally conflict-free society, at least one without significant emotional distress related to romance, dedicated relationships would have to be discouraged by those in power. Expecting humans to have all the emotional investment that bonobos have in their relationships (especially teenagers) is impossible without some serious and grievous mental reprogramming; isolating affected individuals from the outside world when they show signs of being troubled is just counterproductive.

I’m not going to go so far as to call this an inconsistency, since that could very well be what the story’s driving at in this segment– that expecting adolescents to be in complete control of their emotions while exploring the uncharted waters of sexuality is asking too much– but it doesn’t gel as comfortably as it could have. If the purpose is to guide the young’ns through adolescence while tripping as few emotional landmines as possible in order to raise them to have a firm grasp on their innate powers, a firm grasp untainted by emotions, the village either needs to lower their standards a bit to allow for some wiggle room or discourage potential heartbreak of any kind. Yes, in an ideal world, teenagers would have the good sense to not let their emotions get the better of them when it could mean the lives of others, but giving that tremendous responsibility to people barely on the path to adulthood is pretty damn silly.

I guess my problem isn’t with the logic behind raising children into productive, obedient members of a society that relies on willful ignorance and sexual freedom to sustain itself, it’s that the methods that they’re using to make it happen seem to be making less sense as the show continues, especially seeing as emotional problems can apparently interfere with students’ ability to project their cantuses (canti?) as they desire. It’s a satisfactory enough episode, but it leaves quite a few hanging questions by the end. However, there are boobs framing a sunset, so I guess that makes up for any confusion.

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  1. Posted November 21, 2012 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    Shin Sekai Yaoi. Shin Sekai Yuri. Shin Sekai Yori.

    • anon
      Posted November 21, 2012 at 6:33 am | Permalink


    • Inushinde
      Posted November 24, 2012 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      You, sir, are a gentleman and a scholar.

  2. Fumoffu!!
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    The amount of people who have dropped the show because of this episodes is kinda depressing, are the that afraid of a little gay tonsil tennis?

    • gw_kimmy
      Posted November 22, 2012 at 12:10 am | Permalink

      no matter, an equal amount of fujioshi who previously didn’t care just picked up the show at the same time. it all evens out.

    • ninjapenguin1414
      Posted November 22, 2012 at 6:39 am | Permalink

      I haven’t dropped the show but I didn’t like this specific episode because it was so damn boring, especially after the last few episodes when they were running for their lives. However, I didn’t care for the fact that their was no subtlety to the romances at all they all just ended up being gay with no context, hopefully they end up explaining it soon or at least giving a little back story.

      • Inushinde
        Posted November 24, 2012 at 8:36 am | Permalink

        There was some explanation to teh ghey. Basically, same-sex relationships are encouraged in the teenage years by those in power, though in the end it’s still pretty far from Bonobo Insrumentality.

  3. Chipp12
    Posted November 22, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    I’ll just copy-paste stuff from the one post I saw:
    “Having read novel spoilers and part of the actual novel about the rules of their society about relationships…
    1.Boy-girl relationships are strictly discouraged until they reach full adulthood/age for marriage. There are regular checks to ensure this.
    2. Boy-boy and girl-girl relationships are encouraged in place of boy-girl relationships during their childhood/teenage years
    Therefore, almost all relationships at that age are boy-boy or girl-girl.
    This is why you only see adults having male-female relationships so far.”

    • Inushinde
      Posted November 24, 2012 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      I’d say that I wish they’d explain why they do this, but they probably will within the next few episodes. Still, it’s pretty interesting.

  4. Sarif
    Posted November 23, 2012 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    Loved this episode. it was a real come back. I think that the near enforcement of same sex relationships is so that they can perform their sexual stress relief while avoiding pregnancy. I also think it is a super neat way of exploring nature vs nurture situations, which themes are already deeply sewn into the fiber of this show.

    Also it could just be a flat out way of reducing the number of Canti offspring. The Canthus users in this show are obviously being treated like animals in a zoo.

    Also maybe I just loved it because I am a gay man… and this officially makes this show the only good yaoi ever.

    • Inushinde
      Posted November 24, 2012 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      You may have a very good point about it being related to population control, seeing as the village already seems hellbent on culling the population of who they view to be unproductive or a risk to the safety of others. It could very well also be a kind of litmus test for adolescents to pass, those without an explicitly marked interest in the same sex becoming breeders.

      This episode was great and terrible at once, simply because it was so indefinite about any of this, and I definitely can’t wait for more.

  5. Posted November 23, 2012 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    This is an awkward episode for, less so from the homosexuality of it, but more on the /why/. Sure, I’ll admit that I’m left a bit squicked out by the tongue play of Satoru x Shun, but then there’s a bit of yuri in there, so it balances out.

    But really this episode just dumped more questions that needs answers, and not in an rushed infodump episode. The setting of the world is just too intriguing to drop all because of some man-on-man action, IMO. ANYTHING FOR INTERESTINGNESS IN THIS CURRENT BLAND WORLD OF ANIME.

    • Inushinde
      Posted November 24, 2012 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      No matter how great the portrayal is, the “why” is definitely the most suspect part of it. No matter how you look at it, it’s a touch skeevy, unless after a certain point the kids can choose who they end up with. But hey, there’s definitely an overarching thing here, so we’ll just have to wait to see what happens.

      • Posted November 24, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

        Agreed. Though I am rather miffed that they went from “oooh scary black demon-cat” to “jello-horse library” to “rat people civil war” to “all homo” with minimal explanation or cohesive continuation. But maybe they are saving that for the season end to blow our minds into magical glittery sparkles. That would be nice honestly.

  6. CS
    Posted November 24, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    I was totally unprepared for it.. I was all over the place lost in madness at the normalcy of it all. Gave a slow clap at the end.

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