The episode opens with a flashback to the coronation of Emperor Daikangitei, who proclaims that to celebrate the event, he will sacrifice the first hundred people who stop applauding. Man, this show can get pretty dark.
The rest of the episode contains a series of mostly unrelated events, painfully reminding me that story is different from plot. I find the story of Shin Sekai Yori pretty intriguing, as well as its world and characters. But goddamn if the plot isn’t a mess of meandering, loosely connected segments of mostly pointless non-exposition. We learn about the story of a boy who spurns his peers and falls victim to his karma, then watch the class compete in a psychic sporting event where the object is to roll a ball into a hole.
There were a bunch of other rules which I didn’t play close attention to, but the point is the final match ends in a blatant show of cheating. But since the teacher refereeing this thing ranks somewhere between a pro wrestling ref and Tim Donaghy in terms of being-good-at-his-job-ness, he of course didn’t see nothin’ and declares the match a draw. Maybe if he fucking opened his eyes, he’d be able to actually make a call.
We are then treated to a spiel on “false loyalty” which is kind of stupid because we all know what ulterior motives are. Apparently there are these vaguely anthropomorphic rats who have cursory sentience, and pretty much live as the bottom tier of society. Saki and friends encounter a pair of such “monster rats” (bakenezumi), one of which falls into a canal. She rescues it, ignoring the danger that we only know about because we were told about it in dialogue not five minutes ago.
I think this trend of splicing in background story with completely unrelated plot will continue. Why am I watching a bunch of schoolchildren? What’s with the flashbacks? Two episodes in and I still don’t have the faintest idea how they’re connected. I like the sense of mystery and the foreboding atmosphere, but at least do something to show there’s a connection between the back story and the present day. Right now, jumping between the two is too jarring and pointless.