Episode 2 of Shin Sekai Yori opened with another flashback, to five hundred years “later” – presumably this is five hundred years later than the previous flashback, five hundred years after the establishment of telekinetic power. If it’s five hundred years after the events of the story we may as well stop now, because why be a hero when your actions are doomed to lead to an oppressive empire?
I wish I were a psion so I could set fire to people for not commenting on my blog posts.
Somehow something must have gone wrong with that evil empire to leave us in the current demon-haunted world. I wonder if it has anything to do with the “karma demon” the students were reading about in class. Taken at face value, it suggests that if a psion becomes sufficiently evil (or full of “bad karma”, which I think is just the Eastern version of evil) then the psion undergoes a change and becomes a force of destruction in his environment and has to drown himself before he destroys everything. It’s possibly incorrect to take it at face value, though. It seems like sort of a morality story, trying to set norms for their children of “don’t be evil” (seems like a good norm) and “if you must be evil at least drown yourself” (perhaps a little more controversial). On the other hand, there are cat demons that eat bad little children, so morality stories may well have physical force in this world. It’s fantasy, after all.
The centerpiece of the episode was the rolling-ball tournament. For the most part it was good clean fun and nothing seemed to be much of a symbol of anything.
It’s robot fightin’ time.
Well, it would be a waste to put magical powers in your world and not have some sort of sporting competition/game based around them. Their game was a lot more interesting than Quiddich, although I’m not sure why they went to all that trouble making fancy person-shaped clay dolls to control. It seems like a simple solid wedge would be less prone to breaking and would tend to win in a fight… Except I guess that if you’re not allowed to lift the ball off the ground, a solid wedge might be a good way to accidentally break the rules, if the ball rolled on top of it. And since accidentally breaking the rules gets you eaten by demon cats, you’d want to take care.
Seriously, what’s up with the demon cats? I had figured the adults were just helpless to stop them from eating children if they got old enough without hitting magical puberty, and I figured that the chick who was just bad at magic didn’t count as having gone through magical puberty because she was so bad at it, and that’s why she was eaten. But apparently misusing your magic gets you fed to demon cats too, and the adult who saw the boy blatantly misusing his magic didn’t seem to care about it, probably thinking “ah well, he’ll get eaten by the demon cats anyway”. Are the adults actively feeding children to the demon cats? That seems a little unkind. I recognize they have to do certain things to survive in this harsh environment, and non-harmonious or magically-untalented people are only going to drain their resources and leave them vulnerable. I guess we should be glad that we don’t live in a world ravaged by demons, to have to make these choices.
I mean, if they don’t keep up a strict regimen of purging the unworthy, they could end up like the ratmen:
The new world’s 99%.
The ratmen are not good clean fun, I’m pretty sure they’re supposed to be a metaphor for the poor, or third-world sweatshop workers, or something. A ratman falls in the river and the first-class human beings worry about whether they’ll get yelled at for trying to help it. On the other hand, even the rich first-world equivalents have to deal with constant demonic harassment and cats eating all their children, I don’t think they qualify as “privileged” per se.
Even if they can use magic, and are free from the grotesque physical deformities of the ratmen. Well, I guess privilege is a relative thing. Even the most privileged in society today is still haunted by the relentless forces of entropy that gnaw away at everything they’ve ever loved. First world problems.
So next episode they’re going camping! That should be fun, right? I’m looking forward to it, they’ve created a compelling world and I’m interested in seeing what it looks like outside the Holy Barrier.