So shit has now officially hit the fan, ‘cept I’m nowhere near as excited about the stuff actually happening as I perhaps should be- instead I was far more fascinated by the exposition in this week’s episode and all the various ethical debates it posed. In case some of you didn’t know, my major’s a branch of psychology (forensic psychology), so, naturally, I find any kind of ethical debate centred on the treatment of humans fascinating! It may seem strange to favour exposition of past events over present events- very few seem to enjoy lengthy explanations- but considering that the world of SSY is far more fascinating than its characters- ergo, world building is also more interesting than the events that befall said characters- this really isn’t all that surprising!
One of the things that leaped out at me during our friend, the minoshiro’s speech was all the various disorders it mentioned. It turned out none of them were legit, but boy did they sound impressive in context- like cantus actually originated from a source present in the real world. It gave the ability a touch of realism, as though SSY is actually a glimpse into our future.
I was also impressed by Satoru’s reaction to hearing the first cantus user used his ability to murder. He actually accused such a thing of being impossible- “Wasn’t he human!? A human killed other humans!?” This is a pretty powerful indicator of the success the village leaders have had in indoctrinating the children- even though the “removal of children posing potential danger” has become commonplace, murder is still considered impossible by them. For me this posed the question: the children were living in such blissful ignorance of the reality of rogue elements being removed without hesitation, of potential murder, if I were in their shoes, would I have regretted learning the truth? Many philosophers have suggested we would much rather know the truth, no matter how painful it may be than to live a lie, but I’m not so sure. Like, I would much rather take the blue pill and stay plugged into the Matrix than face an excruciatingly painful reality… Hark at me getting all philosophical from a single line!
Whilst I’m focusing on the exposition in this episode I would also like to point out that I have proposed the idea of using genetic manipulation to inhibit human aggression before! In fact, it’s been an idea I’ve nursed for years, so I was both very excited, and slightly annoyed, someone else had also copped on to this idea! This is a topic which also poses interesting questions, e.g. is it OK for others to screw around with our genetic makeup against our will for the good of mankind? Some would argue that that is a HUGE infringement of human rights (rightly so), and, therefore, it should never be allowed, but if it creates a better world, with less crime and violence, surely it’s worth it? – A more consequentialist view. However, there are also spiritual implications. If, as I believe, there is a God, surely he/she would be greatly displeased by us humans ‘playing God’, is this another valid reason against such a procedure?
So as you can see, the 11 minute explanation gave me much to think about, and when something gives me a lot to think about, I end up enjoying it immensely- there’s nothing more satisfying than consuming something intellectually nourishing. After Marow pointed out that there was far too much talking in SSY I was concerned that I’d now be so conscious of that fact I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the show as much, but this episode showed me that, so long as the talk holds your interest, which the minoshiro’s speech did- as I said, it was intellectually nourishing, it wasn’t merely shallow chit-chat- how much of it there is really isn’t a problem.
I did not, however, enjoy the following scene as much. The minoshiro, my favourite character, was brutally barbequed, the kids’ cantus got sealed and they were all likely to have been eligible for ‘removal’ were they not then caught up in some queerat invasion, but I honestly couldn’t care less. Perhaps it was because the change of pace, from slow to fast, was too sudden or because the queerat invasion seemed to come out of nowhere, no prior foreshadowing, no explanation… But it’s most likely because I still don’t care about the characters. Sorry to harp on, but, as I said in response to one of my comments on the last episode: the characters are the most important aspect of a show- even if a story’s not great, a great cast of characters can redeem it and make it interesting, but if a cast of characters are as dull as dishwater, you’re going to struggle to care about the story no matter how great it is!
To sum up, whilst I’m still enjoying the show and its efforts to build tension and an interesting world, the lacklustre characters are really beginning to infringe on that. I think some serious fleshing out needs to be done, like, why exactly is Mamoru terrified of everything? And why does Satoru like Saki? I mean, Maria would have absolutely nothing going for her right now if it weren’t for episode 2’s foreshadowing some kind of betrayal…? Maybe we need more of that? Or more flashbacks? Or some character-centred exposition? Something needs to be done.