Or: On Queerats and Monarchy
From the New World is the commonly known name of Dvořák’s ninth symphony. It is also the name of a novel by Yusuke Kishi. The anime adaptation of the latter aired between September of last year and March of this. Yes, it did use Dvořák’s ninth.
The lives of individuals are meaningless before the greater cause.
In the twenty-first episode of From the New World we are treated to the continuation of what is likely the series’ denouement. We are also informed of the central tenet of the queerat rebellion; a belief that not only motivates the queerats to take up arms against the human villages, but also the resolve to sacrifice both themselves and one another.
To paraphrase a queerat infantryman, they no longer wish to be ruled by tyrannic false gods.
Although bestowed with a god-like power, the humans of From the New World are most certainly not gods. To add to this, and whilst we do not know if they originally claimed godhood or not, we do know that they do not discourage the queerats in thinking them so. Ergo, we can comfortably agree with the charge of false godhood.
What then of the other charge, that of tyranny? Again, we find plentiful evidence that the humans are absolute rulers from a queerat perspective. The humans created and have since bred queerats; they use them for manual labour, they administer the lives and trials of the queerat populous, and they are happy to dispose of the occasional troublesome queerat colony, or indeed colonies, when deemed necessary.
Through modern eyes, tyranny is a bad thing – an outmoded form of governance to be eradicated at every opportunity. Should we, therefore, succumb to the very modern urge and support the queerat rebellion irrespective of how ominously it is painted by the series?
I would argue otherwise.
“When I made up my mind that leaving the home I had been born and raised in was inevitable, I was very sad and unhappy. But when I thought about what everyone there truly felt, it gave me pause. If I had been eliminated and disposed of by the village then, after much grief and tears, my parents would’ve eventually forgotten about me. Just as your parents eventually accepted the fate of your sister.”
-Maria Akizuki to Saki Watanabe, Shin Sekai Yori Episode 16
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.
vucubcaquix: There’s a thematic contradiction brewing in Shin Sekai Yori. Last week we teased out how the show means to comment on the nature of conflict in humanity, and of burgeoning sexuality, through allusions and comparisons to dystopian literature and Buddhist dogma. The opening moments of the first episode showed a nameless child with psychokinetic (PK) powers lashing out violently and indiscriminately; the ensuing episodes seemed to reinforce the commentary that this type of power is corrupting. But whether its influence damns humanity into violence, or humanity as a whole is unworthy of this power to begin with remains to be seen. Either scenario is like some take on original sin, but with a different inherent perspective/locus on the Fall of Man.
“With his new, heightened feelings, he was overwhelmed by sadness at the way the others had laughed and shouted, playing at war. But he knew that they could not understand why, without the memories. He felt such love for Asher and for Fiona. But they could not feel it back, without the memories. And he could not give them those.”
-The Giver, Lois Lowry
ajthefourth: One cannot go through life, as much as it may pain one’s perfectionist heart to admit, without being inferior to others in various ways. The inverse is also the case and, when comparing one’s self to others, one will always find something that they can best another in. Cliché though it may be, it is our differences that allow us to function as a society. It is the conflicts that arise from these differences that allow growth and eventual prosperity. Dystopian fiction is nothing new, and often aims to depict a state of humanity that has failed to navigate the treacherous balance between prosperity and self-indulgence through the presentation of a controlled, formulaic society. Shin Sekai Yori adds its own spice through the introduction of psychokinetic powers as the next step granted humans in their evolutionary process. Of course, this brings about its own bloody consequences, where select “PK users” abuse their powers, eventually resulting in the destruction and inevitable reconstruction of the current society that the series introduces its audience to.