From The New World Episode 17

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Recap: It has been over a decade since the last episode, and Saki and Satoru have grown up and found jobs in the village. The status quo is threatened however by the deepening political tensions between the Queerat clans.

Aqua’s thoughts: Alright people, this is it. The grand finale. After last week’s heartfelt goodbye, From The New World skips ahead a great deal of years — twelve to be exact — for now 26-year-old Saki and Satoru to finally reunite with Maria and Mamoru and take down the malicious Ethics Committee once and for all! (Zigg’s note- You’ve been watching too much Tokusatsu)

Or not.

Once again, From The New World does something completely different again, and this time, not in a good way. Although it appears as if Saki and Satoru ran away from Kamisu’s 66th district last episode, this episode sees them safe back at home, even working along the higher echelons of the authority. Saki now works as negotiator with the Queerats, though it seems as if in twelve years, the relationship between the two sentient peoples of Earth has not gotten all that better. Saki and her colleagues even leisurely watch from the sidelines as the two big colonies slaughter each other and their observant, passive attitude reminded me a lot of that naggy, negotiations-obessed Jedi Order that made the Star Wars prequels such a tremendous bore.

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Yes, in stead of a grand finale, the plot suddenly gets hijacked by copious amounts of Queerat politics. The amount of bureaucracy involved shows that the Queerats are slowly becoming the dominant species on earth while the humans only really still manage to be considered “above” them because of their Cantus. As such it seems as if a rebellion against the “gods’ and a full-on war is imminent. Then again, this is From The New World, so if there is anything not happening, it’s probably that. As always, it remains to be seen just what exactly the plot will do next. The Queerats still seem not in the least bit interesting or relevant to the main characters’ quest for justice, and it looks as if From The New World is operating on two wholly different plotlines that have jack all to do with each other, struggling to decide which one it wants to go with. With no mention of Copycats, Cantus, brainwashing or even Maria and Mamoru, it seems as if we’re watching a wholly different show.

What surprises me as well is that Saki and Satoru, despite copious foreshadowing and buildup, are not a couple. I have no particular desire for them to be together, but it seemed very obvious in a world were sex and relationships are used to overcome struggle. Given how the two are back in the village, which directly contradicts the ending of the previous arc, I’m assuming they got another healthy dose of brainwashing, too. Overall, this timeskip seems just too big. I refuse to believe so little happened in those 12 years — especially when compared to how much happened between the first two acts. Has Tomoko not tried to get any closer to Saki? Haven’t Saki and Satoru done anything to fight the various shady committees running their town behind the scenes? It gave me a feeling similar to the beginning of The Dark Knight Rises, where it was implied that Bruce Wayne spent eight whole years holed up in his mansion like a crazy hobo for no particular reason. Goodbye, suspension of disbelief.

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Of course, Saki still mentioned something about a falling out between Satoru and her, so it might be a bit too early to complain. It would be unfair to judge this third arc based on this first episode alone, but my eyebrows remain slightly raised at what exactly From The New World is trying to attain. While it looks like we’ll go back to the other plot next episode — with Maria and Tomiko featuring heavily in the preview — I really hope all this Queerat hullabaloo will prove it was worth all this attention in the end. Even though Squealer is supposed to be an ambiguous character, his over-the-top body language in the last few episodes ascertained me he is up to no good, and I am afraid this is not intentional. Worst of all, I still see no real reason as to why he is such an irredeemable bastard to the humans, as most of them still seem to think his democratic mindset is way more evil than his imperialistic one.

… Then again, though… when you think it through, despite its many flaws, this arc — and the show as a whole — still could go down some very interesting paths. Interesting are the analogies between the Queerat conflict and overall Japanese history. Is this whole plot supposed to be an allegory of the contrast between the noble and old-fashioned, yet aristocratic feudal system, represented by the samurai-like Giant Hornet colony, and the democratic, yet devious and seemingly corrupt system of the modern era, represented by Squealer and the Robber Flies? It would be interested to see humanity being confronted with their own history repeating itself. Maybe From The New World is just one big statement against our democratic consumer culture that brought forth the Karma Demons and Fiends? Is that why the humans are so disgusted at what the Queerats are becoming?

Well, that escalated quickly. Geez, I don’t even know whether From The New World is clever and interesting or vapid and boring anymore.

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Zigg‘s thoughts:  Weak. Boring. Deeply disappointing. These are all words that come to mind when I think back on this episode. I’ve complained several times about how New World‘s structure has often prevented me from getting maximum enjoyment out of it, but this time it’s just poor plotting, plain and simple. After the big emotional climax of last weeks episode, this ditches all the accumulated tension. It’s almost as if the show decided to just start over.

The big talking point here should really be the dozen odd year timeskip, but that’s where the problems begin. Satoru and Saki ended our last arc knowing they lived in a society that actively hunted down and killed the weak or deviant, a society that  drove two of their best friends into permanent, irrevocable exile. And yet they appear to have happily returned to that society and settled into the equivalent of boring 9-to-5 jobs for the best part of a decade. What’s wrong with this picture?  It feels like an utter copout after their childhood travails, and it doesn’t help that the additional insight into the running of the village Saki’s new job afford us makes it a much less compelling setting.  Rather than the shadowy, unnerving rural pocket of the early days, we’ve now got a place where workers sit and read whiteboards and hold inquests. The idea that you have to fill in a form to go to war is so silly I’d say in a more subversive show it might be an undercurrent of Brazil-styled black comedy. As it is, it just comes across as dumb.

Given this leeching of atmosphere and mystery, which have always been the worthwhile parts of New World, what we’re left with is another wearying chunk of Queerat politics. It’s nice to see the super badass Kiroumaru again, but otherwise i am utterly sick of this plot thread – in my opinion it was never interesting and has only gotten worse over time. The fact that most of this episode is actually just talking about action rather than action itself is especially grating, not that the show has proven to be much cop when it does come to putting fights onscreen.

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What I find most worrying is that as the plot gies on, the show seems to be gradually drifting from its roots as a horror/dystopia story and instead moving further into the realms of ‘regular’ schience-fantasy. This isn’t something I’m particularly in favour of, as i don’t think the actual plot has been up to much snuff so far – it’s (as I’ve mentioned a lot) the tense, unsettling atmosphere which keeps me watching. the complete absence of that in this episode was highly concerning to me. Next episode promises a lot with the return of Maria, but for the first time I think I’m more down on New World than up. Prove me wrong, please.

Random Observations

  • The new ED is superficially pretty but generic, with none of the individuality and beauty of ‘Wareta Ringo’
  • Glasses Saki gets a thumbs up from me however.
  • Even if Maria’s return wasn’t spoiled in the preview, it’s pretty obvious the red-headed woman in the ending is her.

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