The fifteenth episode of the currently airing From The New World continues Saki and Satoru’s quest to find their friends, and return with them to the human settlement before their deadline falls, and the hounds released.
The series itself has prompted a smattering of praise, speculation, and attention from across the anisphere. Indeed, with recent revelations, one might wish to spill yet more ink on a range of topics; from Mamoru and Maria’s inevitable demise, to the limits of the humans’ abilities. In the following, I intend to spill my ink on the topic of the societies shown—that of the queerat society in particular.
In the latest episode, fifteen at time of writing, we are reintroduced to the queerat Squealer. Since we last saw him, this little fellow appears to have manoeuvred himself into a position of not insignificant political power. Now named Yakomaru, he stands as a representative of the queerats’ newly formed assembly, the governing body of a coalition of some eighteen thousand queerats and their colonies. This is a marked departure from the queerats’ society seen in previous episodes.
The transition from absolute monarchy to a republic or constitutional monarchy, is commonly associated with a smattering of decapitations—a head especially expected to roll is that of monarch’s own. The introduction of the democratic process in some form, as seen here, is also considered a Good Thing in today’s climate. Yet only more so, when His or Her Majesty is a few shillings short of a crown, or so to speak.
Regicide itself is a topic that tends to be approached according to one’s nationality, political views, and the general public’s disposition towards the King or Queen at that time. The people who carry it out are sometimes branded traitors, other times heroes. Indeed, sometimes it has worked well.
France, whose nobility somewhat ironically forgot their duty, has arguably benefitted without yet another King Louis, decadently lounging on his throne. On other occasions, however, the grass was not quite as green as hoped.
Across the Channel, Cromwell and his fellow Parliamentarians were quite happy to depose and decapitate Charles I. Expecting the following years to be better without a monarch who believed in his Divine Right, what instead followed was a string of campaigns that led to Cromwell himself, revealed as a bit of a genocidal despot, being crowned in all but name. Once Cromwell had returned to the earth, his son and successor, Richard Cromwell, only worsened the situation. A bit of a wet blanket, and without the support of the military, he was soon deposed. This led to the return of instability, and eventually the extension of an invitation for Charles’ son and heir to take up his rightful throne.
Cromwell might have been a hypocrite, and arguably no worse than some of history’s kings, but he was useful to a certain extent. We are now quite happy with our constitutional monarchy and particular flavour of British Democracy. Indeed, one might argue that democracy is generally good, whilst monarchy a bit of a mixed bag. A leader under the former can either be waited out, or forcefully removed from office with a strongly worded letter. That is not to say one’s country is doomed if the latter is both absolute, and whose entire royal family is unfit to rule. Regicide and revolution, is always an option.
Yet what if one were an insect; more specifically, an insect whose queen is the only member of that colony capable of reproduction. In this case, one might consider regicide a bit of a bad idea.
The queerats of From The New World are similar to such insects, in that it has been shown that not only do they live in colonies, but that their queen is the mother of the entire colony. Yakomaru, in his quest for democracy and equal rights for all queerat, has prudently not killed his queen. He has, however, made her a mindless slave. As have the other queerat colonies in his coalition to their own queens.
Yakomaru’s queen—once tyrannic, cannibalistic, and powerful, according to Yakomaru himself—has been reduced to nothing more than an incubator. Her only task to produce offspring for the growth of the colony. Her mind only capable of this. She has been robbed of independent thought, of her freedom, and of the very rights, as a member of society, that our queerat friend has placed on high. Whilst I would personally suggest this much worse a crime than any a dictator might inflict upon his people, I do not wish to turn this into a discussion of what is right and wrong under these circumstances.
More generally, From The New World, has highlighted several forms of governance. We have seen most of the Buddhism-inspired, totalitarian state of the human settlement. Formed as a means of defence against themselves, its shortcomings and necessary elements have both been highlighted. Through a series of flashbacks and the repository named False Minoshiro, we have seen myriad societies in their attempts to acclimatise to a subset of their people having supernatural abilities. These societies have often been unpleasant and arbitrary in our modern eyes, with their flaws self-evident. Away from the human settlement, we have seen the queerats’ society. Previously dismissed as simple beasts, bred to serve humans, and created to do the settlement’s dirty work, they are shown as an advancing society. Indeed, as Satoru mentions within the episode, we see ourselves, our own history, in their advances.
Akin to real-world societies, those presented have flaws and benefits both. Indeed, From The New World does not appear to shy away from this fact; instead presenting the world and its inhabitants in such a way that one might suspect it challenging the viewer to consider society itself, and the dreadful questions and compromise that accompany any form of governance.
As such, it does not, as other media might, present one society as the utopian ideal. Hence, making the question of which is best open ended, and mayhap, unanswerable. It might also be argued, albeit perhaps less successfully, that certain forms of society are both necessary and beneficial at certain times in civilisation’s development. It should also be noted that one can have a benevolent dictator, a just monarch, or a grand vizier with only the wellbeing of the people at heart. Suggesting, perhaps, that the type and title of office held is inferior to the qualities of the man who holds it.
Yet the uncertainty presented in From The New World is not troubling in the slightest. Rather the questions and challenges this series raises, of the myriad forms of governance, and more generally, of morality and of ethics, is a delight in and of itself.