With Shin Sekai Yori 5 we get another example of how to expand on a world while telling a compelling story. Well, there was that one weird bit that had me scratching my head …
Saki and Satoru are trapped underground. No way out. All they have is each other. I thought they might actually indulge in that pleasant stress-relief technique this time, but it’s not brought up. Instead, Saki has a weird vision of those … whatever-they-ares that gave us the infodump two episodes ago. There’s a naked Shun there, too, coming out of the ground for some reason they (naturally) don’t tell us. Whether this is an attempt to communicate to Saki or just a light bulb going off in her head it’s impossible to say, but then after a close look at the monk’s fire (and whooshing sound effects–this show sounds as good as it looks) we get a flashback to the kids once showing each other their mantras, I’ll show you mine if you show me yours I guess, and she managed to remember it, be fair, steal it. So do these unique mantras work the same as, say, your true name does in Earthsea? … Anyway, in a confusing moment, because we go from the vision to a memory of the flames to the flashback, Saki uses the mantra to unlock Satoru’s cantus. Satoru appears to be sleeptalking, so I wasn’t sure what was going on. Once I did figure it out I marveled that Saki would be underhanded enough to steal Satoru’s mantra in the first place. A bit of a moral issue here, especially since she did save their lives. I wonder what the monks would say?
Satoru recovers and becomes superhuman by necessity, and he’s changed. More interesting questions arise: did getting his mantra unlocked also unlock any other barriers he had, because this new Satoru is more serious, and more bloodthirsty. Now he’s killing ground spiders left and right and enjoying it, until Saki points it out to him. He may have just been lashing out; the kid’s been under all sorts of stress. Maybe he just can’t resist a little fun at his tormentors’ expense. Or is there really any difference? These thoughts hover in the background, however, while the main story goes on, and that’s all about staying alive. It works. After a while I was scanning the trees as closely as the kids were to see where the next ambush was coming from. At the end, they’re still not out of danger, having run across the ground spiders’ main force and Satoru too exhausted from playing hero (another adolescent weakness) to do much. Another good episode.
I’m having more trouble writing about Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure than I used to. The novelty has worn off, and though it’s still fun to watch I can’t think of anything to do except marvel at the shouting, grunting, rock splitting (lots of rocks split in this show) and speeches, both heroic and evil, something this show always delivers. But the highlight this week, well, one of them, was the three foes Jojo, Speedwagon, and their enemy Dio clash hands, keep them together, and deliver long speeches before they separate. Yeah, if your hand is freezing, pull it away! Well, these are real men, after all. The other notable thing was the curious infodump about the two soldiers-turned-zombies, Tarkus and Bruford (Tarkus? Bruford? And Roundabout as the ED? Do the creators have a prog rock thing? The next characters will probably be named Squire or Lake) (and let’s not forget Speedwagon*), suggesting that though they’re zombies right now that they will be redeemed by Jojo and join his side, or cleansed and sent to their graves. Anyway, right now the battle is going on UNDERWATER, and Speedwagon hasn’t yet thawed Zeppeli’s arm (hmm, Zeppelin). I wonder if that kid will show up again.
* Indeed, a quick Wikipedia lookup suggests we are not done with the rock names, which probably everyone watching knew but me.
After the heavy high school social issues we’ve had before it’s a surprise to see a comparatively tame and superficial episode of Sukitte Ii na yo. Episode 5 is nothing more than Mei visiting Yamato’s home (well, actually that’s pretty heavy) and meeting his sister Nagi, who’s phoned him before. Naturally she has issues her own, discovering that her friends liked her only because she lived in a nice big house and she made good cookies, getting into a funk of her own (Mei has no funks this week, but the tradition lives on!), until she and Mei have a nice talk. It’s superficial, as I said, but still effective. She’s obviously jealous of Mei, but Mei senses it and cuts through it through simple kindness and an honest admiration for Nagi’s creative skills. Nagi’s old friends acted like this too, at leaast to her face, so I have a hard time seeing her open up to Mei like that. It was also charming to see Yamato act that way to a stray kitten, but what happened to the other ones? … I’m not so sure what the flying bird metaphor was going, though.