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“When I made up my mind that leaving the home I had been born and raised in was inevitable, I was very sad and unhappy. But when I thought about what everyone there truly felt, it gave me pause. If I had been eliminated and disposed of by the village then, after much grief and tears, my parents would’ve eventually forgotten about me. Just as your parents eventually accepted the fate of your sister.”

-Maria Akizuki to Saki Watanabe, Shin Sekai Yori Episode 16

Initially, I had compared Shin Sekai Yori to Lois Lowry’s The Giver — not because the former was directly referencing the latter, but as a framework — as both books deal with similar dystopian societies. I will touch upon The Giver again in this post, more as a contrasting example, while exploring the progression of Shin Sekai Yori and where it could go from here.

Saki, Satoru, and “The System:”

When Saki Watanabe and company found their “False Minoshiro” I had suspected that this would be the turning point where the intrepid group of friends, changed by knowledge, would bring down the system. After all, once they had learned some truths behind humanity and PK users, how could they go back to their old society. However, the series proved through multiple time-skips and moments of rising action with no resolution that change would be far harder to come by in this society.

"Satoru and I fell out over something petty a while back..."

“Satoru and I fell out over something petty a while back…”

In her goodbye letter to Saki, Maria Akizuki points out that Saki’s incredible inner strength — not to be confused with any lack of emotion — still makes her an ideal member of the village. Tomiko Asahina, Satoru Asahina’s grandmother, confirms this and gives it as a reason for why Saki and her friends were not initially disposed of by the village following their acquisition of forbidden knowledge in episodes five through seven. In The Giver, Jonas is the one to bring down the system, following his acquisition of humanity’s memories. I had incorrectly assumed that Saki would follow a similar path, eventually becoming the person behind the village’s destruction.

It’s especially telling in episode 17 when Saki thinks of how her and Satoru had a falling out “a while back” as the series makes it a point to highlight how close they are to each other, and how lonely Saki already is with the amount of people she considers close to her dwindling by the episode, in episode 16.

All of Saki’s moments of truth: her more heartfelt scenes with Maria, Satoru, and Shun, all occur outside of the village’s control. However, once Saki returns to the village, she is once again assimilated back into their social structure. Soon, due to conditioning, hypnosis, and the rigorous psychological training that has been pushed upon her since infancy, these moments become fleeting memories that she is unable to access without a catalyst. Each time-skip the series undergoes offers fewer answers and more questions to its audience, resembling Saki’s altered, now-dreamlike, memories.

squealer

Squealer/Yakomaru and the ascension of the Robber Fly Colony:

While Saki may still be a large piece of the inevitable downfall of the system, it is one whose life she and Satoru are directly responsible for: Yakomaru, née Squealer, who is now the more likely candidate to challenge the village rule. Previously a mere mouthpiece for the weak Robber Fly queerat colony, Yakomaru has built a near empire of his own through the course of the series. He credits human knowledge for his subsequent takeover and restructuring of the queerats’ governing methods; however, fails to articulate exactly where he found said knowledge.

Presumably, Yakomaru had stumbled upon another repository of human knowledge, a so-called False Minoshiro. If this is the case, he would have been made to understand that Saki, Satoru, and their village of PK users are definitively not gods, forever altering his perception of their superiority. Not only is he slowly amassing a large amount of queerats under his rule, but one can assume he is also spreading the word that human PK users, like Saki and Satoru — who once saved not only his life but his entire colony — are not gods after all.

“Can a village that kills its children to maintain peace and order be considered a normal human society? According to the false minoshiro, our history is one filled with bloodshed. However, I don’t believe we have much to be proud of when comparing ourselves to the dark ages of the past.”

-Maria Akizuki to Saki Watanabe, Shin Sekai Yori Episode 16

How do you solve a problem like Maria?

It’s this line of thought that brings us to Maria, who chose to leave the village with Mamoru instead of continuing to live bound by its strict codes of conduct. She, like Yakomaru and unlike Saki, is unable to let go of the information she has learned, especially her vague memories of one friend (Shun) disappearing coupled with the village’s recent attempt on Mamoru’s life. Maria’s choice to remove herself from the village means that she also is free from its psychological and hypnotic influences. Maria continuously touches upon the fact that she believes her and Saki’s relationship to have been a true one, as opposed to the political and emotionally-detached relationships that most people in the village have. By leaving, her choice allows her to protect her emotional attachments, unlike the example of Saki and Satoru.

Keeping their memories and knowledge intact allows for both Maria and Yakomaru to see the village from the outside, something that Saki has seen in brief flashes but has always been able to return from. Only time will tell if she will end up a part of the impending rebellion; however, it’s seemingly now up to Maria and Yakomaru to initiate the process.

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