Shinsekai Yori – With Great Power Comes Great Responsibilities
Psychokinesis, power of mind over matter. With a human possessing such power, they could control inferior people who doesn’t possess such powers through awe and fear, everyone else will have to abide by his will. In order to avoid such incidents, those with powers had to be controlled, through physical, psychological or any other means.
The characters are as if they are trapped in an invisible cage. In fear of any of them rampaging with their powers, DNA genetic altering had been done to all the Cantus (Shinsekai Yori’s equivalent of psychokinesis) users to avoid any violent outbreaks. A death feedback will manifest itself and if some sort of violent conduct is detected, the subconsciousness will send Cantus to the kidney to halt activity there, making the humans unable to harm each other through the use of Cantus. The users also had specific schools to teach them the art and psychology of the powers; they also had to follow quite a lot of rules and regulations, some of them are quite major, they doesn’t just break the school laws but the law of using Cantus itself. Breaking such laws, they will “disappear”.
The way Shinsekai Yori depicts the usage of these supernatural powers; I could relate it to a number of elements, and one of them is the way it influence himself and the people around him. Lots of emotions can be felt just by their presence alone, some in fear, some in awe, and some even worships them. Whether for the good or for the bad, the fact that they are a bit “special” makes it harder for the society to treat them as normal citizens. One slight move, be it good or bad, and they will have the eyes of the whole society on them. Because of this hierarchy, anything these “high ranked” humans do will not just effect himself but the society, or even humanity as a whole in extreme cases.
“When the current age began, users of PK only had weak powers. Even so, their destructive potential was sufficient to disrupt contemporary social order. In Japan’s case, this disruption was set off by the actions of Boy A. One day, A noticed that he could use PK to open any and all locks. He repeatedly broke into homes, raped 19 women in their sleep, and killed 17 of them. Following A’s arrest, crimes involving PK rose in number. Indiscriminate terrorism by PK users followed. The political, philosophical, and ethical conflicts resulting thereof plunged the world into an unprecedented age of strife.”
Although the system behind the current PK society seems unfair, as Shun puts it, it’s logical. By having powers superior then most other humans, you could easily control and manipulate them through fear. Aforementioned, a tiny move from these humans will cause a big change and some of them did actually used their powers without considering the consequences. Abusing their powers, massive number of murders, rapes, and other criminal activities were carried out; they basically did whatever they want with their new found powers. There was one such person as hinted by the false minoshiro, he got arrested in the end but this makes everyone see these Cantus users in a different light, in a bad sense. Aforementioned rules, regulations, restrictions and various other methods are used to keep these Cantus users in check. The “school” these students attend to, is only a means to monitor their mental and psychological condition constantly.
Gaining powers come in great sacrifices, aside from the freedom and they also had to answer great expectations and responsibilities. In the anime, other races like the Queerats think of humans who could use such powers as gods, which is an interesting change of viewpoints. The Queerats were depicted as slaves, doing odd-jobs for the human council, the Ethics Committee. As shown by Squealer, it’s no doubt that the Queerats regard humans highly in an extreme level and in order to avoid losing the trust, the humans had to carry on, using their powers for the sake of keeping up that “godly” image. It is even worse for humans who can’t use these powers and who knows what would Queerats do once their expectations weren’t answered.
Having such powers, one need to uphold the responsibilities of keeping your innermost desires from running wild. By having something which everyone else doesn’t, you have the power to make a difference and it’s up to you if that “difference” is a boon or a downfall. Satoru, for one, turned almost heinous after he regained his power in the midst of his fight against the Ground Spiders, possibly, allowing his inner desires of displaying superiority with his powers surfaced. He luckily, still listens to logic and reason at acceptable levels; he didn’t listen to Saki’s advice to retreat but he followed her battle strategy, allowing them to make steady progress as Satoru’s powers alone was insufficient.
Powers, just like wealth, fame or even political strength, are assets which are impossible to achieve without sacrificing the other. Once you obtained such power and social standing, you need to have an ample amount of self-control and responsibilities, and understand that one fragile act from you will effect a major portion of humanity as a whole. I wouldn’t want to live in such a world myself, if given the choice, as the sacrifices made outweighs the good. Would you accept such powers if given the choice?
Note: The title is from a Spiderman quote as you can see, and I swear it’s not intentional.