Another interesting episode, though interesting for the right reasons, I should stress. Plenty of visual metaphors, gripping twists in storyline, and artistic choices, comparatively, a lot easier on the eyes, but just as functional. And despite the fact that the events of this episode were not much different from those in the last episode, this one felt a lot less muddled- I guess because we’ve seen Satoru behave aggressively before so the behaviour he displayed during this episode was a lot less surprising than the sexual behaviour he displayed last week, and the queerat war had already been established, in other words, what we saw this episode felt like the natural progression of events rather than something launched at us at high-speed from what seems like nowhere.
As I mentioned above, I was pleased with the artistic choices producers made for this episode. It was a relief to see the art-style of Shin Sekai Yori revert to normal- a move that makes sense given it had served its purpose (making the sexual scenes less icky), so was no longer necessary. I definitely prefer them looking younger- it contrasts nicely with some of their more violent behaviour. But what I particularly enjoyed in terms of the art were some of the characters’ facial expressions, but more specifically, Satoru’s. I loved his menacing grin as he launched his tirade against the Ground Spiders, but I especially loved his drained facial expression towards the end of the episode. I also adored the slight twitch of the lead queerat’s eye as Saki almost lets slip that she is powerless. The reason I loved these subtle facial expressions so is that they warped the mood of their respective scenes entirely around them. Satoru’s cruel facial expressions contrasted starkly not just with those he wore during previous scenes, but also with his being but a child, making viewers feel almost horrified at how easily cantus warps individuals- it is a threat not just to others, but to its often vulnerable users also. His weary facial expressions further highlight this detrimental effect cantus can have, but also makes viewers uneasy that the only one in the group with real power, looks like that. But the queerat’s twitch was definitely my favourite- such a small movement of the face, yet it suggests so much- anger, disbelief, fear, perhaps? And in that split second the Robber Flies went from being allies, to just another potential threat, a threat our duo were in no shape to deal with, and it was scary!
I’ve been observing the characters for a number of episodes now, but their facial expressions only really stood out to me during this episode, I’m not particularly sure why, perhaps because, in comparison to some other episodes, there was far less talking, which meant characters’ facial expressions had to make up for that! Actually, it’s not often I’m impressed by the facial expressions of anime characters. Maybe it’s because the average anime face is much simpler than ours? Sure, they have huge eyes, but next to no nose or mouth sometimes, so animators have very little to work with. But anyway, I was very impressed by the effort put into characters’ faces during this episode.
So now I’ve finished dissecting the facial expressions present in this episode, how about Saki’s trippy minoshiro vision…? Let’s try to dissect that monster of a metaphor! Firstly, why does Shun appear in her vision? Providing this is Saki’s unconscious, it could represent her unconscious desire for him… And the minoshiro bursting forth from his glowing naked body? Well, if the minoshiro represents knowledge, which I believe it does, that fits in rather nicely, as Saki has also shown a desire for knowledge in previous episodes. I’m not sure why it was necessary to have it emerging from Shun’s head like some kind of horrific butterfly though, perhaps just to creep us out? Now, if Shun represents sexual desire, and the minoshiro, a desire for knowledge, the minoshiro rattling its… back tentacles (?) seems to me to act as a kind of warning against these things (I’m pretty sure some lizards do the same to ward off predators, though not with tentacles, obviously). The fact it seemed to almost attack Saki- as much as a slimy, tentacled horse can attack someone- immediately afterwards, I believe, supports this theory. All this makes me think this vision may have been implanted by the village leaders to be triggered when dangerous desires are nursed using some kind of hypnotism, but perhaps I’m reading too much into it? But hey, a crazy explanation sure is better than no explanation! As for the minoshiro maturing then disappearing, I dunno! Maybe that’s a kind of ‘wait until you’re older for those things’ metaphor? But who knows?
Providing my analysis of Saki’s vision is correct, the entire scene is wholly unnecessary. You could have easily have skipped it and gone straight to her vision with the monks and her flashback without having missed out at all as we’ve already seen some of the negative consequences of her desires, we don’t really need further reminders. Though, saying that, you would miss out on a few giggles- it was freakin’ funny! Groovy rainbow backdrops, a glowing, naked underage boy, psychedelic horse things- all very exuberant! And it’s good that the show’s making an effort to be clever, most shows don’t bother…
Needless to say, I was so busy analysing minute facial movements and fangirling over the minoshiros during and after the episode to string a semi-intelligent thought together regarding the cliff-hanger! My only reaction was to guffaw at the predicament Saki and Satoru’s complacency had landed themselves in (still not caring much for them, you see)!! I suppose they’ll either retreat or the other kids will stumble across them and aid them in battle (depending on whether or not any of them have recovered their powers), but even if one of those two scenarios were to be pursued, it still feels as though they’re waaay over their heads here, which is a good feeling to have- I’m sure if I cared about any of them, I’d feel nice and apprehensive right about now!