The big climatic bit of Shin Sekai Yori 25, the finale, was so quick that for a moment I thought I had missed an episode. But even with all that time left over they had plenty for denouement and a few shocking but comprehensible discoveries.
The big confrontation with the Fiend, as she (I THOUGHT she was a she! I don’t know why everyone was calling her he, including me, because everyone else was) was called until the end, lasts less than a minute in terms of events, slightly longer with the flashbacks and cuts to this person and that. And the trick was very clever, not to mention the reason for the Fiend’s death-feedback not kicking in when she kills humans. And, writing this now, it occurs to me that it gives the big info-whammy we get near the end some extra weight, especially after Satoru asks Saki if she considers queerats “one of us.” And let’s not even get into Kiroumaru’s sacrifice and what that says about him and his kind, and what it means to be human. But it all happened so quickly!
After that and some more voice-overs we come to some moments many of us had been hoping for: the humiliation, trial and completely inhuman torture of Squealer. Unfortunately for those of us with pure blood-lust, Squealer had plenty of recriminating speeches to throw at the humans as well, almost all of them deserved. I’m a little amazed that apart from Saki they all on deaf ears, or maybe I’m just naive. Squealer and Kiroumaru are exactly right in their accusations toward the humans, and their attempts to find weapons in order to gain autonomy are perfectly understandable. Squealer tried for genocide instead, unforgivable as it would be for humans to wipe
out an entire race … oh, wait. Well, he made his point: the queerats are just as intelligent and therefore worthy of dignity and life as any human. All the more reason to kill ’em, I guess. Well, for those of us (I include myself) who wanted Squealer punished, heh, you’ll get your wish.
And while we’re still chewing on these ethical questions we get another jump forward, not to mention a final whammy that suggests that humankind will naturally try to dominate and enslave anyone weaker than themselves, and makes me wonder if Squealer’s outburst at the trial meant he knew more than the humans did. It also makes me wonder what would happen to me if I was born in that world as I am now, i.e., without cantus. Would I be in one of the not-really-autonomous queerat colonies, or would I have been discretely killed off in school? Well, now that Saki has taken on more responsibilities we can only hope that future is brighter for the powerless. After another ten-year jump we see that she and her now-husband Sakoru are still working to that end. After that it’s more Dvorak, a shots of all her old friends, and the quote “Imagination changes everything,” though for good or bad the scroll doesn’t say, a lovely way to end the series.
Though I wouldn’t call the series as a whole “lovely,” it was complex, elegant and often grotesque. It raised questions about humanity’s ability to cope with itself and its environment without feeling the need to give answers. Yet I don’t know if I want to watch it again. The last handful of episodes, when Squealer began his attacks, seized me emotionally in ways I didn’t like. It wasn’t just the hard questions it presented, it was the human hate and disgust I felt when it looked like these augmented mole-rat/humans were going to exterminate the people who created them. The show did an excellent job at button-pushing, at least for me. Do I want to go through that again, even though I know how it ends now? Well, maybe yes, maybe no. But kudos to the show for getting those emotions out of me in the first place. And to put it together in such a beautiful package with its glorious visuals and powerful music. Well done.