(Warning: Spoilers for Shin Sekai Yori)
This day’s challenge was tough because there aren’t many moments in anime that really shocked me. I’m too desensitized, I guess. There are a few big ones that got me, though. Those are mostly unexpected deaths. However, the shocking moment I chose for this post was not a death but a reveal. It’s when Saki and Satoru in Shin Sekai Yori confirm what Squealer said at his trial, that the Monster Rats are modified humans.
It’s a bit strange that I usually predict the big things, like Sybil’s true form in Psycho-Pass, but completely missed this one that was so hinted at in SSY. Well, I had a good reason.
I hypothesized starting in episode 10 that Monster Rats were like Minoshiro and Tiger Crabs: they were Naked Mole-Rats evolved into bigger, stranger creatures because of the unconscious Cantus Power leakage of humanity. I did think it was odd that they were so intelligent, but when episode 17 revealed that the Monster Rats were directly modified by Cantus Users, I accepted that explanation. For whatever reason, the humans of a few hundred years ago decided to give the newly evolved, large Mole Rats the capabilities of advanced thought and verbal language.
As you know if you’ve seen the anime, my theory– which is also what Saki and all the others believed– was wrong. What we know as Monster Rats were the tribes of humans who never gained the power of Cantus. Many physical and behavioral traits of Naked-Mole Rats were forced into the genomes of these powerless people, by those who had the power of Cantus. And why? To protect themselves.
The new humanity, or the Cantus Users, couldn’t kill each other or anything that looked human because of a programmed response called Death Feedback or the Death of Shame. But those without Cantus never had Death Feedback, and could potentially kill whoever they wanted. To avoid that, Cantus users turned all non Cantus Users into beasts. As Satoru pointed out, “It was to protect their privileged status.”
Shin Sekai Yori is one of my top 5 favorite anime ever, and its final reveal shocked me.