Summary: As the next step in their education, all children have to pair up with a partner of the opposite sex. Saki is asked by her alleged childhood friend Ryou, yet quickly realizes that she hasn’t known him for as long as she apparently remembers.
Aqua’s thoughts: While watching From The New World, I very often find myself having to fight the desire to just look up the answers to all my questions. The show constantly tries out new methods of telling its story, both narratively and aesthetically, with varying degrees of success. This week’s episode all the more persevered in From The New World‘s dedication to unraveling its mystery in often confusing snippets. Similar to three weeks ago, viewers are once again dropped smack-dab in the middle of a new status quo: Shun is gone and forgotten and an insufferably generic Mr. Nice Guy by the name of Ryou has taken his place. As everyone acts as if he’s been around since episode one — up to and including editing him into a bunch of scenes from earlier episodes — it becomes obvious that the kids have once again fallen victim to a nasty brainwashing.
This easily raises some questions about just how much of what they have experienced up until now is actually true. Is Shun really dead and gone? Can Ryou be trusted? Why would the Ethics Committee start teaming up heterosexual couples now, only a year after they made sure everyone got a fuckbuddy of the same sex? Maybe the population has plummeted due to an increasing rate in dissidents like Shun? And what about Saki? Maybe she herself is just a Ryou-like replacement for her sister Yoshino, who also seems to have been erased from collective memory. Why else would she be the only one constantly realizing something is amiss? Why else is she the only one who notices something has drastically changed and everyone is acting as if nothing happened?
Mamoru got a fair bit of attention as well this week, which made all the more apparent that his voice actor is a really, really odd choice. He really seems to be the only of the bunch who is resolutely left out of a lot of the events and who seems to only in very small doses contribute to Saki’s story. I wonder what his deal is? Now that we’re talking about the characters anyways, what’s up with Maria? In her relationship with Saki, she clearly is the more affectionate half. She’s always the one to snuggle, kiss or visit Saki, which leaves me to wonder if she might actually love Saki like Saki loves Shun, but only dates Maria because the Ethics Committee forced her to. Combined with the older Saki’s “Many people would have still been alive if she hadn’t been born” line, this could lead to some interesting theories? Will Maria go yandere, or will she be eliminated by the Ethics Committee for clinging to her assigned lesbian sweetheart? All the more, mostly thanks to Saki’s efforts, the other kids who simply stomach everything that happens — see Satoru not even knowing that his grandma is in charge of the evil bureaucrats — seem to be developing in future rebels. I’m fairly certain a complete chaos will be triggered in a just few episodes. It’s about time all that slow buildup paid off.
Lastly, I once again have to give my kudos to the writing crew for their honourable and genuine portrayal of Saki and Maria’s relationship. While romance in anime, especially between girls, is very often nauseatingly sugar-coated and sees the two lovebirds holding hands and snogging at every given moment, Saki and Maria mostly communicate their feelings through quick looks, smiles and surprise pecks on the lips. It is — ironically — an often adorable and genuine portrayal of a relationship that all the more appears to be entirely manufactured.
Zigg’s Thoughts: It’s been a while since New World has been able to put together back to back excellent episodes. That it manages it this week is another testament to the noticeable quality improvement that’s been present ever since the time jump. This was a great half hour, introducing another new mystery to add to the the many that already confound us and doubling down on the creepy atmosphere for good measure.
I’m a huge fan of how the show has constantly thrown us into unusual situations without prior explanation, and let us puzzle our way out of it, and that’s exactly what they do here, with the mysterious Ryou suddenly being best friends with everyone. Of course, it doesn’t take too long for us to figure out that the gang has been brainwashed, but much more interesting than the ‘what’ is the ‘why’. Erasing Shun from everybody’s memories is reasonable given what he became, but why place a proxy in his place? I can only assume it means there are limits on the power of whoever did this – they can’t erase the memories wholesale, but they can fog them enough to place somebody else in them instead. It’s not clear if Ryou is a collaborator or as befuddled as the others – I’d lean towards the latter considering his confusion seems pretty genuine.
The evolution of the interpersonal relationships is also something that’s very notable about this episode. The climactic confrontation between Maria, Saki and Satoru gives as some real insight into where these teens stand, with Satoru and Saki more intrigued to continue the investigation, while Mario and especially Mamoru fear the consequences. Mamoru seems dangerously unstable here, close to despair even, and I don’t think I’m being too forward in predicting a possible turncoat scenario if things continue to escalate. Maria is more even-headed, but clearly also afraid. It’s interesting she leans heavily on Mamoru as a reason to curb Saki’s recklessness – is it because she’s developing a genuine affection for him, or is it because she’s using him as a shield to mask her own fear?
In terms of worldbuilding, the whole concept of the ‘duty pairs’ continues the underlying theme of manipulation and interpersonal relationships that the series has leaned heavily on these past few episodes. As Aqua notes, it’s very weird to see the society encouraging heterosexual romance just shortly after everyone seemed to be firmly on the gay side of the fence. It furthers my earlier supposition that everyone seems to be bisexual, but the overtly co-ordinated nature of the pairings, as well as the ‘poll’, suggests a behaviour that is very much dictated by the long arm of the law. Is this some sort of selective breeding program, as weird and nasty as that sounds? Only time will tell I guess.
The episode ends with a superb shock, as the mysterious Ethics committee finally unveil themselves as smiling, happy seniors, which somehow makes them even worse. The cold, creeping sense of a hidden evil is unmistakeable in these scenes, and the tension almost unbearable. Why have the Ethics committee come for the gang after all this time? Why didn’t they take Mamoru as well? In a show that’s full of facades, mysteries and masquerades, it’s difficult to find any good answers.
3 thoughts on “From The New World Episode 11”
I’ve been really busy lately but seeing this animé has been on my must-do list for a while now. I finally saw the first episode yesterday and wasn’t hooked: but I’m up for giving it a fair chance! It sure looks very interesting!
It is by far the most interesting and least stereotypical anime that is currently on air. It’s quite multi-faceted in that it has a lot of different aspects to its story, so a single episode can indeed not present a full impression of what the show is like. I’m looking forward to see what you think!
Oh yes, and now after your comment I’m even more excited about it! I will make sure to watch another episode today (how annoying with exams coming up, less animé watching time!) 🙂