Anime Review: From the New World Episode Eleven: Distant Thunder in Winter, English Dub.

Warning: The series I am reviewing contains depictions of child abduction, disappearance, murder, and violence in a future totalitarian society. It also depicts sexual violence. The show also contains sexual relationships between young people. That is the trigger warning.

Leave now if you wish.

Also, spoilers for the episode and the whole series. Do not read any further if you don’t want spoilers.

Recap: This episode opens with Saki and Maria in school. They end up talking about Ryou, a boy from group two who has had his eye on Saki for a while despite being in a different group. Actually, he switched over from group two to group one because group one had so few members. How had group one ended up with so few people? No one knows why. Also, Saki doesn’t know why none of them has questioned it. But she does smell a rat. Maria kisses Saki embarrassing her. Maria says Saki wants someone else to kiss her. Ryou then approaches them saying they seem close. This exchange follows.

Maria: ‘of course we are Ryou, as a matter a fact we’re in love, jealous?’

Ryou says: ‘Yes, a little’.

Maria: ‘of who?’

Ryou: ‘both of you’.

Maira: ‘you little liar’.

Ryou: ‘Saki do you think I could have a word with you?’

Maria leaves but not before Ryou mentions that Mamoru has had his eye on her and that she is number one in the polls. Older Saki now starts narrating. Older Saki now explains what is going on. Which set of students now has to form male and female pairs for school work but in reality, this is them choosing who they have romantic feelings for. Ryou wants to talk near the courtyard entrance but Saki asks instead for them to go outside. Once outside Ryou tells her he wants to pick her. Saki is confused asking why would he pick her.

Ryou becomes frustrated saying he has been watching her ever since he moved over to group one. She asks when he began to feel like that. He says he started feeling that way during the camping trip. Saki doesn’t remember this. She tries to remember but the boy’s face is edited out. Saki is not the only one who is confused. Satoru had seen her and Ryou together and his look had been one of complete confusion. There is a cut away to Saki standing in front of a grave. A dog is with her. She hears a voice of boy. The boy from her memories. The boy she cannot remember. After being buried his face and name were destroyed. Saki next sees a grave with a mirror-but it isn’t her grave. Turning she looks into the mirror. A flash of light comes from the mirror. She wakes up in bed. Crying. Another flashback of her in her families’ store room. She finds a mirror there with hidden writing on it.

The next day in school she asks Ryou to talk again. She asks him the following questions.

‘What advice did you give me when we went canyoning at night?’

‘Why did you break up with Satoru?’

‘How did the Monk Rejin die?’

Ryou is unable to answer any of these. Saki decided not to pick him. Saki runs into Satoru on her way back to class. Satoru for his part can’t remember why he liked Ryou so much. Saki says ‘(Ryou) doesn’t fit the part…. He isn’t not the person we fell in love with’. Satoru smiles at that. Saki pairs with Satoru, Maria with Mamoru and Ryou with some other girl. The scene cuts to Saki and Satoru telling Maria and Mamoru about how Ryou wasn’t with them camping. Maria is doubtful of this. Satoru says he has memories of going out with Ryou but he can’t shake the feeling that it was someone else. Ryou is not Satoru’s type. Maria agrees saying his type is more like Ray. But she still has doubts. But more that members of group one think about it the less it makes sense. Slowly they start putting two and two together. Their memories have been tampered with. They decide to seek out this other boy’s house. They call him X for simplicities sake. They end up back in Pinewood. But they don’t remember it. They end up at a massive crater in the in ground. They slip past a barrier. A recent one by the looks of it. They reach a large lake. Mamoru says X can’t exist. But Maria has doubts. It is here finally that not only do they realize there was X but someone else as well. An image of Reiko flashes across the screen. Mamoru becomes more upset saying if they keep digging up stuff something will happen. Saki says they’ll get rid of them. Mamoru breaks down and Maria rushes to comfort him. She tells them to stop talking. Mamoru is sent home on a boat. The scene changes.

Saki shows Maria and Satoru the mirror with the hidden writing. It belonged to Saki’s sister. Saki believes the school got rid of her sister. The writing is a bit crooked. Maria asks Saki not to bring this up again but Saki is angered by this. Maria explains herself saying she is more worried about the friends she still has. Not Saki because Saki is the strong one but Mamoru who needs to trust the world he is in. Who is too fragile to survive without that trust. Saki is more sensitive than most but she is able to live with pain and suffering. Something the rest of them can’t do. Saki promises not to bring this up around Mamoru anymore. The two girls embrace and kiss. Satoru also hugs them. Just as they are about to go home they are approached by two adults who asks to talk to them. Satoru asks if they are with the education committee. But they say they’re not but in fact work for Satoru’s grandmother the chair of the ethics committee. The scene cuts to them in a waiting room. Saki and Maria demand answers from Satoru. Maria says he must have been rating them out. But Satoru doesn’t know any more than they do. Saying that neither of them knew either because the members of the ethics committee is kept a secret. This information is not public. They are brought one by one to the chair’s office. Her name is Tomiko. Saki is told there is no need to be nerves but she is in face scared. The episode closes to credits.

Analysis: This episode began as something of a breather from everything that happened in the last episode but very soon it changed into setup for the next episode. For when the audience meets Tomiko head of the ethic’s committee. Answers are coming. The anime has now really hit its stride. The animation, music and characters are all coming together to create this story. It is with Shun’s death that this anime really kicks off in terms of story. An explanation as to why people in particular children has been around since the first episode, children who are weak, aggressive or appear to be are killed by Impure Cats. But here it’s explain why no one ever reacts to that. Memories are erased. People are removed not just physical from society but also from their friend’s and family’s hearts and minds.

The education committee is ruthless in doing this. Maybe Saki’s sister was still learning to control her powers? Had poor control over them like Reiko? Or she might just have had bad eye sight? But the education committee is so afraid of Karmic Demons and as we later learn Orgies or Fiends that they killed her at the first sign of trouble. Is it justified? That’s another question I’ll deal with further down the road once I’m finished with this anime. Other small details give more answers though and raise more questions. For starters why is the Ethics committee so secretive that even their family members do not know about their jobs? Satoru behavior shows he was just as clueless as the girls. One small detail I really liked was when at first called his grandmother ‘granny’ but then called her Tomiko. He’s realized that this woman was not who she appeared to be.  Another subject is how far did the mind wiping of Shun go? How many people had to have their memories erased? Why is it only group one who are putting two and two together? This is talked about further down the road as well.

Another thing this episode is that even though they have been paired with two boys now Saki’s and Maria’s romantic relationship has not ended with them kissing in this episode. I’ve said before that I doubted these character’s relationships are intended to be monogamous. Maria’s and Saki’s continued intimacy here provides the strongest evidence for that. However not much more comes of it in terms of conflict for the story but it would have been interesting to see what may have happened if Maria stayed in the village. (fanfic anyone?). Similarly, so it is further evidence that despite having both other sex relationships and same sex relationships none of these characters are expressing jealousy. Maria is not upset at the idea of Saki being paired with Ryou in fact she teases Saki about it. Another thing about this episode is that it shows just how analytical this group is. They figure out very fast that someone has been playing with their memories.  Saki shows in particular how aware she is of something being wrong in how she deals with the situation with Ryou. She is soon able to detect he is not the boy she spent that summer camp with nor is he the boy she developed those feelings for.

Another great scene in this episode was when Saki and Satoru talk about how Ryou is not the boy they both had feelings for. Saki even puts their Shun as the same saying ‘He’s not the person we fell in love with’. However, Shun is not gone entirely from the story. From now on it looks like he will be Saki’s spiritual advisory. Which is a pretty cool touch. Finally, one thing this series does that I haven’t mentioned but is done just as well as the creating an atmosphere and foreshadowing are the cliff hangers. This episode ends with a really well-crafted one finishing just as the audience meets Tomiko. Leaving a huge desire for us to learn more about her and the only way to do so is to watch the next episode.

Note: I hope you enjoyed reading this review and my other posts. I started this blog so I could publish my own work because chances to get your work published are usually far and in between. Because I’m doing this on my own I don’t have anyone advertising this. So, if you are enjoying my writing please share my blog posts with people who you think will also enjoy them. It would mean a lot to me. A big thank you to anyone who does this and to people who have already been reading. It means a lot to me.

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