Summary: The group cruise down the river on their journey. After a campfire story, they decide to devote their trip to hunting down the mysterious Evil Minoshiro.
Dragonzigg’s Thoughts: This episode of From the New World begins to address some common criticisms of the show as we begin to put some flesh on the bones of our story, get a little insight into our characters and derive some substance out of the extensive world-building that the show has been doing up until this point. Although the plot takes a critical step forward, what impressed me the most about this episode was the way it filled in out heretofore relatively anonymous protagonists. I wrote last week that the show did a poor job of distinguishing them from each other, but here, out in the wild and away from the uniformity of the school we begin to see their individual personalities emerge. The mouthy, energetic Satoru takes centre stage here, his tall tales providing the impetus for the quest the children go on, but I’m equally impressed by the good job done on the rest of the cast too – the shy, scaredy-cat Mamoru shows he has a little more spine that we might have thought, and Maria does a bit more than just shout at everything all the time. The standout character moment, and indeed scene, in this episode though, goes to Saki and Shun’s starlit boat ride, which is one of the most gorgeous and effortlessly romantic moments I can remember in any anime. There’s a compelling innocence to the entire sequence, aided by A1’s exceptional visual work, and the combination of beautiful music and no dialogue conspire to create something special. I also like that they’re not immediately a ‘couple’ as so often happens in anime – the only suggestion we get is Satoru’s later wisecrack about Shun always taking Saki’s side, and Shun’s superbly nonplussed response.
Plotwise this is a big, although not earth-shattering step forwards. The opening flashback is pretty much a direct sequel to last week’s, and showed that the tyrannical regime of the Power users eventually met resistance – how does that tie in with the current fully empowered world? The other main event is of course the discovery of the Evil Minoshiro, which seems a little out of nowhere (we have to resort to the omniscent narrator again, a mechanism I hate) but is certainly strikingly weird. I love the concept of a living creature acting as a library (980 Petabytes is a lot of data!) and it’s interesting to ruminate on exactly where this creature came from, given the crazy level of tech it appears to be packing. I think it’s telling our flashbacks started 500 years into the future and appear to be moving closer to the show’s present (i.e. 1000 years in the future) – what happened in those 500 years we didn’t see? My bet is that’s where this thing originates from. Regardless, given what it claims to be, and the next episode preview and title, it looks as if some hidden knowledge is about to be unleashed on our teenage trekkers. Chances are it won’t be pretty.