Shinsekai Yori: the queerats

Shinsekai Yori is very difficult to write notes about. Of course there’s a lot I could go on elaborating about in the series, especially because the anime leaves out a lot and more of the narrative that explains almost everything in the books. But I simply dare not write anything before the story is well ahead, exactly because they leave out so much. I can’t know when they decide to stuff those details back in, and I definitely don’t want to spoil anyone. Anyway, now that with episode 8 we’re past the timeskip (and the story’s moved on to the second book), I can write about a few details worth mentioning.

First, I’ll write about the queerats. Queerats showed up in the second episode for the first time, when Saki saved one of them from drowning. Those queerats could hardly mutter a single word in a way that average humans could understand, and they looked like a weird mixture of a pig and a rat.

They are very subservient and obey humans without question. They fear the Cantus of humans and worship them as gods. However, they are not bound by the genetic and psychological shackles that humans put on themselves (as explained by the false minoshiro in episode 4), so they “cannot be trusted”. No one knows how they’ll act if they encounter someone without Cantus (such as young children), but you can get a good idea looking at queerats that don’t know humans or never had to face Cantus before.

Let me do a bit of an excursion here. The name of the wild colony from the fourth episode onwards is 土蜘蛛 (tsuchigumo). This word literally translates into “ground spider”, but it has much deeper connotations than that. First of all, there’s no actual spider race with that name. It was used to refer to the tribes in ancient Japan who didn’t bow to the emperor. They were considered wild, feral, and uncivilized. Thus, a better translation for the colony’s name would be “Feral Spider” for example.

And here you go, this is what happens when queerats don’t fear humans. They treat them just as any other threat. However, the Feral Spider colony is quite exceptional in many ways. Firstly, they are they only wild colony left in Japan. Every other colony answers to a human town. It isn’t clear how or why the Feral Spider colony came to Japan. Not to mention they use technology and mutations like no other.

The queerats live in colonies just like ants or the naked mole rats they’re thought to originate from. A colony consists of many individuals, from a few hundred up to tens of thousands. The queen is the center of the colony, the only fertile female. It always looks monstrous and huge compared to the other individuals in the colony, but that’s normal. On the other hand, the queen of the Feral Spider colony (not showed on screen) is described by Kiroumaru in the novels as a hideous mutant like “nothing I have ever seen before”.

These are a few examples of the weird mutants of the Feral Spider colony (yes, even the blowdog). These queerats are not normal, not even by queerat standards. In the novel it’s not explained (at the point I’m now) why their queen could give birth to these weird creatures, but it’s hinted that she herself was a mutant as well and could tweak the DNA of her offsprings as she wanted. I can only guess that it’s all caused by Cantus at some point.

Kiroumaru doesn’t really look like the other queerats either, yet he counts as normal. On the other hand, he’s a genius strategist and he can speak Japanese very well (he also speaks very politely, though not as humbly as Squealer). Most queerats can’t speak human languages, only their own squealing-screeching tongue. Higher officers in colonies can learn to speak quite well though (as shown).

Queerats’ use of technology is quite limited. The Feral Spiders used a mixture of poisonous heavy gases to annihilate entire colonies, and that alone needs quite the technology (the gas tanks, the pipes, the positioning all need to be very good). The Giant Hornet colony is also showed to use war machinery, although not metallic/plastic pipes as the Feral Spiders, just moving towers made out of wood. Queerat weaponry seems to be limited to arrows (shot from bows or blowguns) and melee weaponry such as spears. Only the Feral Spiders are shown using other warfare – in their case, chemical (the gas) and biological (if you want to call the blowdogs and other mutants that).

That’s it for now. Queerats will play a giant role in the later story as well, so maybe I’ll write more about them then.

This entry was posted by Vale.

6 thoughts on “Shinsekai Yori: the queerats

  1. Based on the novels, how ambitious is Shinsekai’s scale? Having walked blindly into this series, I initially thought we’d be getting a Kino’s Journey kind of show. But it seems the world-building is fairly limited (which is a bad word to use considering the world-building I’ve seen is excellent).

    I guess in a roundabout way I’m asking if the setting will ever expand beyond the village and its immediate surroundings or if we’ll be seeing a dedicated focus to the initial setting.

    It’s currently my favorite show of the season, but I want to keep my expectations in check since we’re only a quarter of the way through it.

  2. Some interesting scenes left out of the show.

    「女王の体を変異させたのも、生みの親である前の女王ですから!」
    “The one who mutated the queen’s body is the previous queen”
    スクイーらが、叫ぶ。
    Exclaims Squeeler
    「え?それって・・・・・?」
    “Wha? That means….?”
    奇狼丸が、怒りのこもった唸り声を上げて、スクイーラを睨みつけた。
    Kiroumaru makes grunts angrily and glares at Squeeler.
    「申し訳ありませんが、これ以上は、ご説明できません」
    “I’m terribly sorry, but we can not give any further explanation.”
    「どうして?わたしは、神様なのよ!」
    “Why?” I am a god!”
    「わかっております。先ほどは、私の命を救っていただきました。ご恩は、死ぬまで忘れません。しかし、子供の神様には有害な知識があるため、お話してはならないことがあると、論理委員会よりお達しをいただいておりますので」
    “I understand. I will never forget my debt til the grave, for you have saved my life. however, I there exists information that is considered harmful to child gods for which we have received notice from the Ethics Committee prohibiting us from telling you. ”

    -Another scene-
    覚は、得々と説明をはじめる。
    Satoru proudly begins his explanation.
    「東南アジアのマレーシアに棲んでる蟻の一種は、敵が近づくと自ら破裂して、空気中に揮発性の成分を撒き散らすんだって。敵が近づくことを、巣に伝えるためらしいんだけど」
    “A certain species of ants living in Southeast Asia, Malaysia blows itself up and spreads volatile chemicals into the air in order to alert the colony of the danger”
    空腹を通り越して、目眩がする。このままここに座り込んでいたらもう二度と立ち上がれないかもしれない。
    I begin to get dizzy as I become increasingly hungry. If I sit down now, I may never get back on my feet again.
    「つまり、こういうことなんだお。普通の生き物が、敵を撃退するために、いちいち自爆してたら、祖先を残せなくて説滅してしまうだろう?だけど、蟻のような社会性生物にとっては話が違う。自分は元々生殖能力がないんだから、巣と女王を守るためであれば、我が身を犠牲にしても引きあう。そう考えると、風船犬は、土蜘蛛の変異個体以外にありえないんだ・・・」
    “So, basically, it’s like this. If a normal animal kills itself every time it comes across an enemy, that species would die out rather quickly as it wouldn’t be able to leave very many descendants, right? But, in an ant like colonial life form’s case, the individual doesn’t have any reproductive capabilities, so it’s perfectly acceptable for a worker to kill itself as long as it can save the queen and the rest of the colony. If you follow that line of thought, you inevitably must conclude that the Fuuseninu(balloondogs/whatever)must be a mutated queerats.

    /end

    Other things of note:
    - Saki hypothesizes that the fuuseninu may be getting sexual gratification from blowing themselves up and the queen shrank their brain in order to keep them stupid enough to not fear death and to ensure absolute loyalty.
    - Squeeler wrote a report that was sent to saki’s village via a bat, which detailed their situation. It also mentioned that it seemed as if it was only the boy (satoru) that had been using the juryoku, and he looked very tired and the girl seemed unable to user juryoku. This is a big reason that really solidified saki and satoru’s decision to leave after meeting Squeeler, so I’m not really sure why they left this out of the anime.

  3. This is really helpful. I love the series but the problem I have is that I am concerned about what is left out, altered, implied, etc. because it is an adaptation of a novel.

    • Aidoru translated the first 2 chapters into engrish if you want a bit more. Personally it gave me a bit more insight into the mythos/environment.

      I would be hesitant to say that it’s a perfect translation but I wouldn’t call it transmogrifying. I myself haven’t read the source material. Perhaps another (more qualified) could comment on the translation?

      End of the day: use it as a supplement to the anime.

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