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Shinsekai Yori & the Impossibility of Coexistence

Squealer

2,528 words

Reviewing anime for a White Nationalist site can be hard, for the want of good subject matter. There are infinite complaints that can be made against mainstream anime that reflects Western memes. In search of content, I trekked across multiple Discord servers and subjected myself to many a time-sucking waste of eyeball-occupation; including but not limited to the predictable Zankyou no Terror (nationalists are Nazis who experiment on kids!), the borrifying original 1989 Appleseed movie, and the frankly bizarre and offensively liberal Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise, a 1987 release from Gainax, the studio that later produced Neon Genesis Evangelion.

I could spend an entire review griping about this one movie alone as it showcases a man’s descent into self-abasement, spurred on by the sight of homeless communists protesting the space program he is part of — protests that are of course a parallel to real life negroes protesting at rocket launches that NASA funding wasn’t going towards gibsmedats.  The animation is gorgeous, but the story centers upon an apathetic pilots struggle to work up the conviction to take his job as a potential astronaut seriously. The only worthwhile line and voice of sanity in the whole thing is from the visionary behind the fledging Space Program, who remarks that “War is not a product of civilization, it is necessary for it.” Eventually, an annoying thot and her bratty offspring ensare him into the church of snowflakery, and the movie ends with him praying in space for a borderless world and an end to war. What a cuck. This total letdown was a bitter pill after Shinji Ikari’s self-acceptance and realization, so I had to fight myself to not rip the DVD player out of its placement and launch it through the nearest window.

I needed an anime for Counter-Currents, something punchy, something new. Imagine then my relief at an anime that not only applauds ethnonationalism, but boldy makes the case that life is a contest for group survival, and that the borders-free fantasy world of Lennon, Eurocrats, Jewish interests, and Space Force Mayonnaise‘s central character is impossible. That anime is Shinsekai Yori: From the New World, a coming-of-age fable intertwined with an interspecies war.

A novel adaptation (I haven’t read the novel), Shinsekai Yori follows a young girl in a strange but seemingly idyllic postapocalyptia. A shocking opening montage of mass murder, global warfare, and pandemics cuts suddenly to her greeny, benign world. Children are going to school and are being taught to manipulate objects with their inherent psychokinetic abilities, and falling behind seems to be a very bad thing their parents are deathly afraid of. The village is sparsely populated, but lovingly maintained, and no one seems brave or interested enough to venture beyond the Psychic / Spiritual Barrier line that surrounds their isolated town.

The animation has high production values, and the soundtrack is melodious and immersive. The world of Shinsekai Yori is pretty and described through lots of panning landscape shots. The camera steadily tracks characters running,  flying, motor-boating, and wandering through each setting and the story settles into a rhythm of suspicion, discovery, conflict and revelation, before taking a time-jump of years to the next pertinent part of the lead character’s life. The show has many memorable moments, spaces, and clever scene compositions.


Group One searches a mountain pass for their missing friend

At its worst, the narrative sort of sags and becomes lost in its own intrigue, at its best, Shinsekai Yori describes a monumental, world-ending conflict, expressed and endured with quiet dignity. The English dub also has great voice acting, the female lead narrator and antagonist “Monster Rats” being superbly voiced, at no point breaking immersion and helping this fairly dialogue-heavy, intricate show be all the more crisp and comprehensible. The texture of the animation, soundtrack, and visual elements all lend itself to an otherworldly and mystical feel, and I came away from From the New World feeling refreshed, and like I could adopt the inner strength of Shinsekai Yori‘s lead for my own struggles, and wander back to that dreamy world for solitude and contemplation.

That is not to say the show is without flaws. Characters can be nondescript, and their visual design pared down by an easily spotted A = B = C fallacy. Minimal design is cartoony, and more cartoony is cute. Shinsekai Yori‘s central casting has an “if Ayn Rand wrote anime” feel about it in the third act. Time constraints sometimes devolve dialogue to the level where characters don’t express themselves but simply conflicting viewpoints. The front-on literalism of the camera, in hindsight, makes certain characters look like cardboard cutout standins for Ellsworth Toohey. Thankfully, this occurrence is rare, and through the bulk of the series the characters have emotional and motivational three-dimensionality.

SY‘s world is also somewhat barren and empty apart from essential plot agents. The development of the conflicting empires is strong, as is the visual design of the intriguing creatures that antagonize the leads, going from foe to friend, autonomous to object, and back again (Impure Cats! False Minoshiros! What wonderful names and designs). But regular flora and fauna make scarce appearances. There are “Tiger crabs,” but these are throwaway giant crabs used in a scene or two, unlike the fully-realized, emotionally in-depth giant crabs I wish to see in anime. Cardboard cutout world aside, there’s enough going on that SY‘s flaws are minor gripes. The real strength of the show is the anthropological elements of SY‘s main societies.

It is impossible to give analysis without spoiler and plot detail reveals, so stop reading here if these trigger you. After a baffling opening salvo of episodes, we learn through following the childhood experiences of Saki Watanabe, the female lead, some of the underlying mechanics of their mysterious world through her encounter with a False Minoshiro — a sort of Amazon Alexa of the future, a public library, a robot Pokémon, and font of knowledge. The False Minoshiro (it is delightful to me that a real “Minoshiro” is never shown, described, or otherwise mentioned) explains to the terrified schoolchildren of Group One that their world, hundreds of years into the future, is empty other than competing species — Humans with Psychokinetic abilities (or PK), and Monster Rats. The world and civilization of 2011 was lost permanently in a convergence of catastrophes as regular humans struggled to destroy and survive — these things are synonymous in the world of Shinsekai Yori — the emergence of a small minority of humans with PK, each of whom is monumentally powerful and able to manipulate the material world through sight and willpower alone.

In response to this, scientists engineered a new gene sequence into the psychokinetic population. Should they kill another human, the sight of that person dying will trigger in them a “death response” of their own, whereupon their own body will turn on them and begin to shut down.

The human society of Shinsekai Yori, descendents of this psychokinetic group and described as “Bonobos” by the pseudo-Minoshiro — endures this de-fanged existence and so has to ruthlessly police their own ingroup for any member in which the death response may not be effective. Hence, somewhat disturbingly, the disappearance and deaths of school bullies or children who don’t quite “fit in” at the claws of the Impure Cats, reared by the Education Committee to make sure that all the children turn out correct. Childhood romance is induced by another genetic feature designed into the last humans. Their response to extreme stress is a desire to mate.

Whilst the humans of SY are blessed and cursed by near uncontrollable power, their primary competitors and enemies are not. The Monster Rats live in colonies managed by the humans, and throughout the course of the series make many innovations. Like the “Badgers” in the Epic of Human Evolution, the Monster Rats may not be able to innovate technology of their own, but have captured their own Amazon Alexa and learnt the “knack” of it. The Monster Rats are branded with a mark of their colony owner and are permitted to make war on each other, provided they have forms signed in triplicate. At the beginning of the series, a lowly but Machiavellian member of the Robber Fly colony, Squealer, manipulates and deceives the children into using their powers for his advantage, under the guise of assisting them. Towards the end of the series, he progresses into direct confrontation with his opposite number, Kiroumaru, leader of the Giant Hornets colony.

General Kiroumaru and the Giant Hornets

These characters describe a perfect three-way conflict of natures. Squealer, through deceit, cunning, duplicity, and manipulation, ends up leading the Robber Fly colony, which at start numbered barely a few hundred but towards the end is able to declare a complete interspecies war on the dwindling humans. The PK humans are burdened with catastrophic internal problems, and their status as natural aristocracy given their immense power is threatened by the sheer weight of numbers of the mischievous Monster Rats. And Kiroumaru, an outsider but a straight-talker with a true warrior spirit, is separate from both parties and wishes to perpetuate his own offspring and civilization.

For those heads spinning, bear with me. Squealer and the Monster Rats wish to undermine humanity and destroy us. He leads his colony of sentient rats through industrialization and to a democratic age — imprisoning their own egg laying queen — “Should not all intelligent individuals be given equal rights? That is what I read in the books of the gods. It is the core principle of democracy.” The PK humans have lived unthreatened for too long and believe themselves invulnerable. Although they think they are granting the Monster Rats “complete autonomy” and freedom to live as their own species, the simple imbalance of power and management of one side by the other by psychokinetic pest control leads to loathing and eventual revolt. Upon his entrapment, he remarks that he started a revolt against the humans, leading to mass slaughter of Monster Rats, not just for his colony but “for all my kind. Only victory has meaning. Had we won, all our sacrifices would have been worth it.”

Wise words indeed. Squealer, like the lesser races he is a caution against, uses egalitarianism as a ploy. He insists that he and the Monster Rats are human, and deserving of equal rights and respect. But this is merely a ploy to “end the tyranny” of human rule — and to destroy or subjugate the natural aristocracy entirely, as the mere presence of the beautiful is an affront to the ugly, and a reminder of lower status in the contest of life. Kiroumaru, on the other hand, accepts human rule as fait accompli, and is in Squealers eyes a “relic.” This noble counterweight offers a more clear-cut explanation. In words I could not believe were set to soothing yet melancholy music, Kiroumau explains that he would destroy humanity “if we were certain we could win, then yes, perhaps. Before you come to any conclusions about my people, I want you to know that we do not hate your kind, nor do we have any delusions of grandeur. All that we wish is that our colony would continue to grow and prosper.”

This was as moving to me as was intended – a frank admission that yes, we may all be “human,” to a degree, but we can never exist in anything other than a contest to best the other. To tear down borders is to die, to invite the invader — who may be the highest born of Monster Rats and yet cannot ever belong to us or become one of us.

If there is any love we can have for those who are radically unlike us, it is the love for the opportunity to better ourselves through testing ourselves against what we are not. Just as Shinji and Asuka, Ledger’s Joker and Bale’s Batman are equivalent opposites who need and complete each other, Kiroumaru and Squealer — both monster rats — define themselves against each other and bring out each others better qualities. The two least human characters end up displaying the noble traits. Squealer endures unimaginable pain and degradation when he stakes his future on leading the Monster Rats to final victory and, for the sake of the plot’s happy ending, loses, and Kiroumaru dies a warrior’s death in service of defending the humans against that, as a plea for his colony’s survival.

Saki and the Chair of the Ethics Committee

But even this balance of definition and co-dependence requires the mutual appreciation that comes with being the same species or of the same type. Squealer, the underhanded alien, does not rely on humanity for definition — he simply must usurp and destroy in order to replace humanity with a whole different species and competing civilization. It is a struggle to see which race will emerge victorious, and which will be eradicated. After he is sentenced, near the final credits, we see a museum where models of Squealer’s armed Monster Rats are on display — strongly implying that he is the last of his race have been completely destroyed.

In the end, Squealer turns out to be right. The sentient Monster Rats (and they really are, metaphorically, monstrous rats) turn out to be, to Saki’s shock, the descendants of human being that have been genetically altered by the PK bonobos so that the PKs can kill them without dying themselves. They have been dehumanized so that they can be killed without pang of conscience. So two branches of humanity became differentiated enough that their destiny could never again be amalgamated without resentment and ceaseless bloodshed. Saki is horrified that she has killed “humans, hundreds of them,” and says they should all suffer the death of shame. But her protector and future husband Satoru (his earlier homosexual bonobo status discarded with maturity) retorts, “At this point, they’re not humans anymore. Can you really see them as one of us?”

Shinsekai Yori, in full, is a wonderful work of science fiction and a gripping mystery horror. The best sci-fi stories tell timeless truths but stand apart from reality, inventing instead of borrowing, and the best virtues and lessons are able to be drawn from them without direct comparison. The show builds the human and not-so-human motivations on a bedrock of biological needs and impulses, and flatly refutes the idea that anyone can be anything more than or anything different from what they are. And yet, the cast of Shinsekai Yori is full of heroes, villains, charlatans, and even child killers — all roles that conflate, overlap, and merge together as the different societies struggle to deal with their own inherent flaws and characteristics. The series hews to the morality of survival, and that “only victory has meaning” and yet shows the victors as savage and barbaric.

The show ends with Saki and Satoru — now husband and wife and the last surviving members of Group One — playing with Impure Cat kittens. Saki is heavily pregnant. Their survival is precarious, yet they are optimistic. Perhaps if whites adopted the rooted sincerity of those From the New World, our hope for the future would burn brighter too.

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4 Comments

  1. Han Fei
    Posted July 3, 2017 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    One should consider carefully what LotGH’s message actually was.

    The problem with it, and this is especially evident in the books, is that Tanaka essentially delivers a mainstream view of history. There’s nothing “exceptional” in his narrative, it’s painfully and banally in line with the commonly held historical interpretation of hierarchical power structures that don’t derive their source of authority from the masses as being inherently evil and exploitative. The reason why it appeals to the right minded person is that unlike most anime, the hypersexual, almost pornographic aspect is entirely absent. Every character largely resembles a real person. Even the idealistic features of Reinhard are meant to evoke the appearance a young Frederick or Alexander the Great. Most characters are strong, positive figures, there very few females present, and those that are, are made certain to carry their weight. Although there are dozens of characters, there is never a single individual whose presence is not justified, that is to say, who is written in to simply to cater to some audience.

    Nat-soc or alt right types will quickly “figure” out where the series’ narrative stands vis a vis their movement’s ideals. Reinhard is a fanatical anti-nativist, as he makes it clear on many occasions that he doesn’t stand for birthright or ethnic origin playing a role in determining a person’s position. In fact his entire life’s mission is to smash down structures that are built upon this principle. Viewing himself as a sort of template (though to be fair he doesn’t possess ideal genes, and those who do, invariably are shown as absurd figures), he believes in individual resolve and willpower as being the only authentic determinants of a person’s character. The revolution that Reinhard pushes forward, although seemingly authoritarian in nature, in reality closely veils a radical progressive, anti-structural agenda in many ways reminiscent of Jacobinism.

    On the FPA side, the Yang Wenli is essentially portrayed as a paragon of liberal democracy, and a very peculiar one at that. He clearly understands the non-viability of such a political system, and on many cases wants to wash his hands from partaking in its politics whenever possible. And yet, when required to make a decision between letting the system die or carrying out a futile struggle to preserve its sickened entirety, he employs an almost Talmudic type of reasoning to justify his allegiance to it, even though throughout the course of the series, he reluctantly assumes near dictatorial levels of power in his hands (his argument essentially boils down to something along the lines of “I don’t know the truth but neither do you, so therefore, I will pick and choose from what I intellectually accustomed to hold as true from birth, even though I reject birthright in principle, but ah never mind”).

    From a political perspective, the only few positive characters were Jessica Edwards, who denounced the democratically elected FPA leaders for their hypocrisy in regards to calling the nation to make great sacrifices in the war effort and yet not making any themselves, and Admiral Merkatz, who, despite witnessing the worst of the depravity and incompetence of the ruling class, remained staunchly loyal to the banner, and the cause of the Goldenbaum monarchy, as indeed any Imperial with blood in his veins should have.

    From the perspective of traditional right, the series’ handling of religion is dismally laughable, combining native Japanese anti-Christian sentiments with fedora hat anticlericalism to paint a caricature of a shady cult which improbably grows into a major plot driving antagonistic force in the latter half of the series.

    But with that said, I would love to see LotGH receive a proper treatment on counter-currents. Any review of this landmark series, and indeed it truly is one of its kind, needs to consider the aforementioned points.

  2. Pilleater
    Posted July 3, 2017 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    The anime that was a “yellow-pill” for me was The Wind Rises.

    Very sympathetic to WW2 Japan. Neo-Nazi twee Japanese stuff.

    Also, please check out Sakigake!! Otokojuku. This pokes fun at far-right parties.

  3. A fan of good taste
    Posted July 1, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    If you would like reference to other anime that delve into nationalist politics, I can point you to some. This site needs an LotGH (Legend of the Galactic Heroes) review badly, I’m sure you have heard of it Buttercup Dew. It is a war of an Empire that expands and utilizes eugenics, it became a new meritocracy after Reinhard took over, from an aristocracy. The other side is based on current age democracy with all its ails and degeneracy.

    Another one (mecha genre) is Gasaraki, the world economy-technological era is present day, where an old survivng Japanese warrior clan aims to overthrew the current Japanese government, oust/genocide the foreign working migrants via economic collapse, and revive the Japanese soul that was destroyed as a result of modern capitalism and consumerism. To do this they planned to move all of Japan’s assets into one location and somehow tempt the US to attack it (ala a US version Pearl Harbor on Japan), because somehow they were going to destroy the global grain economy (and somehow wipe out a huge portion of the US with starvation). The UN plays a role in the show too, and accurately predicts Middle East conflicts/terrorism as a means to further agendas. The show was made Pre 9/11.

    Another good anime is Dougram that depicts nationalism. Earth has a few planets by now, and they meet another human species on another planet, planet Deloyer – if Earth can subdue these people (Deloyerans), they will have a chance to take their planet, and the other few planets nearby. If Earth doesn’t imperialize/colonize Deloyer, it will be a 50/50 balance in terms of Earth to Deloyer, similar to the US and Russia power struggle during the cold war. The story is about Deloyerans attempting independence through different means – war and negotiation, seeking help from rival states on Earth. There’s a lot more to talk about but I can’t recall it all, take a look and push out more quality reviews, thanks!

  4. Gustl
    Posted July 1, 2017 at 3:33 am | Permalink

    I have not watched the anime reviewed in this article, though it sounds interesting.

    On the topic of anime made by /ourguys/ the #2 most popular anime on http://www.myanimelist.com is Attack on Titan, whose author, Hajime Isayama, is an imperial Japan sympathizer which led to some controversy among Korean fans when he praised a Japanese WWII military general. Also, Carl Schmitt the “crown jurist of the Third Reich” was a major influence for how Isayama conceived the military-monarchy system which reins over the remains of humanity (who all happen to be Germanic Europeans except one half-Japanese girl) packed in to concentric rings of walls. And lastly, one of the main heroes is a tall blonde Aryan named after Erwin Rommel.

    Perhaps this is another you could tackle someday, Butterdew?

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