Few of the revelations in Shin Sekai Yori 9 will come as a surprise to anyone who’s thought or talked about the show. Nevertheless the episode is full of suspense and surprises. Such is the level of storytelling here.
Shun, as promised, has been missing for three days. Saki has told the others what he told her (but apparently not about the broken egg and the eye), and they decide to look for him, knowing it’s a bad idea, that they might be watched even then. Satoru and Saki go off together to his home in Pinewood while Maria and Mamoru “ask other groups,” meaning they’ll know that these kids are looking for Shun, but never mind. All of them remember that trip a couple years ago. So do we, and so we watch them head off with some honest trepidation; it feels similar to that time.
I mean, they start in a canoe (with a dolphin on the side??) and they start encountering things not normal. Barriers around Pinewood (Is that a bad translation? It sounds like a drab American suburb to me), and barriers within the barriers. Again, we know how much fun it gets when the kids go past barriers, so we’re keeping a close watch as they get closer and find odd things. Dead butterflies, queerats on patrol, frost on the ground, and a big pit or canyon in the middle of town. And that broken tree-thing at the bottom which sets something off in Sakis’s mind. And there’s that tree with the graves that they pass by …
The mystery grows when Maria and Mamoru say that no one from Pinewood’s around. So, has the village been destroyed? Did Shun do it? At dinner, Saki interrupts her parents talking about power usage (so they do have some old technology; they’re just not using it much), a discussion I’d like to have heard more of, and we get a return to “Don’t ask those things,” also the topic of losing another child, and something clicks. Saki was trying to find out about Shun but now she’s remembering her older sister. And when Maria sneaks into her bedroom and we learn what’s in those storage containers (which Shun had told them about), not to mention what’s going to happen to Shun, it’s more than enough for her to go floating off in another boat in the middle of the night to look for Shun and maybe also to discover why her friends and siblings keep vanishing. As I said at the top, all of these things could have been predicted, but the details are so odd and our sense of worry, especially for Saki, so strong (and a superb musical score this week) that every moment gets more and more strange.
Sword Art Online 21 doesn’t get us much farther than we already were. Asuna is temporarily free from her cage and discovers an experiment room (that’s what they call it) and a bunch of brains they’re doing experiments on. It comes as no surprise that they’re doing this; what does is that there’s a room like this in the damn game, with virtualized brains that any player can visit, well, when they manage to get up there. Every now and then this show does something ridiculous that takes me out of the flow of watching. Anyway, she’s captured by slugs and we get a bit of tentacle tease, and back she goes–with something-or-other hidden away. I suppose that’s progress.
Kirito and Leafa make sorta progress as well. They reach a city, find an inn, and log out. The show is more interested in showing the real people apparently, and so Leafa, I mean, Sugu, comes with Kirito/Kazuto to meet Asuna/Asuna. But all we get is the usual “he likes her more than me” moments from Sugu, and as important as the sentiment is to the story, we’ve heard it before. The only real progress they make is discover via Yui that Asuna is there. That’s huge news for Kirito, who flies off even as we know he’ll come crashing back down or be found dangling from a tree or something. And while it will increase Kirito’s determination it doesn’t do much for the practical story. They were heading up there anyway.
Little Busters 8 didn’t feel as annoying as last week. Maybe because this week’s girl, Kud or something, isn’t quite as annoying. Unlike the last two she’s not a total idiot and she actually does well on the baseball field. Plus, I like dogs. The schmaltz emotions that make this show hard to watch are muted in the Busters’ attempt to find Kud a roommate. She’s lonely, but pathological about it. I frankly think Rin should have taken the offer to help her out of her shell, but the disciplinarian Futaki is fine, too. So would Kurugaya, but for the wrong reasons.