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View Poll Results: Shin Sekai Yori - Episode 25 [End] Rating
Perfect 10 68 57.14%
9 out of 10 : Excellent 37 31.09%
8 out of 10 : Very Good 7 5.88%
7 out of 10 : Good 2 1.68%
6 out of 10 : Average 3 2.52%
5 out of 10 : Below Average 0 0%
4 out of 10 : Poor 2 1.68%
3 out of 10 : Bad 0 0%
2 out of 10 : Very Bad 0 0%
1 out of 10 : Painful 0 0%
Voters: 119. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 2013-03-28, 19:45   Link #201
Kirarakim
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
I have a couple of things to say, but before I do, I'll have to say that I'm not concerned with what's "just" or what's "good" or "evil". I haven't ever found any of the terms to be particularly useful. I'm a social relativist at hear, I'm a materialist, and I'm certainly no humanist. I think I better state that up-front, so to avoid (or minimise) misunderstandings.
I am not a social or cultural relativist but as I said before I actually think that is exactly how author wanted us to view this story. Not just in terms of the PK/Monster Rat relationship but also in terms of what happens to the children in the Pk users.

He didn't give any easy answers, he didn't paint any side as entirely right or wrong, etc. He even might have made us think actions were initially evil but then explained away those actions so well that it was hard to see another course of action.

Anyways I do think there are moral absolutes but I also find cultural relativism such an interesting topic that I love when it is used in fiction (and honestly fictional settings are the best place for it). It's one reason I am a big fan of Kino no Tabi as well.


Quote:
That humans put bakenezumi on trial also shows that humans do acknowledge bakenezumi as sentient. I very much doubt they'd put one of the kitties on trial should it accidently harm someone it wasn't supposed to.
This is a good point but if you recall Saki says to Satoru "but they are animals, they think differently from us" when they were kids and they discovered what Squealer did to the Queen.

Honestly it is hard to say exactly how the PK users see the monster rats because we have no real world equivalent. They are sentient and have some human attributes but then do other things entirely different from humans. To them they are a different species or like Satoru says "they aren't like us".

And you are right as much as I think we are meant to see Saki and Satoru as good people I don't think they truly understand why the monster rats rebelled.



Quote:
(I'm assuming the mechanism for death feedback involves the cantus, or it might have been simply implemented globally in the first place.)
Yes it does!




Quote:
However, that particular problem is just an exaggeration of a more fundamental one: where someone can abuse power, sooner or later, someone will abuse power. How do you live with that fear?
Right the ultimate message is you don't want PK (okay not really but after this I certainly don't.). It reminds me of my feelings for Jurassic Park, after watching that I thought I hope no idiot brings back the dinosaurs.

But I think the author has a pretty dire look on humanity, that something like death feedback was needed in the first place. Although I suppose there is hope in the end. Saki and Satoru want to change for the better. And maybe if they can't understand the monster rats maybe the next generation will (and maybe the next generation won't need death feedback).

Anyways I think that would be a good end, not one side is completely wiped out or the power just changes hands.
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Old 2013-03-28, 20:19   Link #202
love4ndpeace
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ok, i watched it till the end and there is a question left in my head.

is maria's daughter a fiend? i'm assuming she's not, since a friend could kill human freely without triggering "death of shame". but then how is she so powerful that in episode 21 she can easily kill kaburagi shisei?
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Old 2013-03-28, 21:26   Link #203
Guido
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I've read lots of your posts, and I feel a few people in here are missing some important points.

The human species is not stable whether be sociological, biological, or whatever context you want to take.

Members of the species whether be many or few will tend to blow things out of proportion even for the most insignficant or irrelevant issues.

My point is that throughout their existence humanity has defined most of its history through war, and the conflicts that led to those wars usually arose from the individuals at the top or with enough ambitions, whom tended to deprecate the other side or covet their land or resources.

This deprecation or coveting starts by identifying something that makes different the other side from the side that governs the vast majority.

In SSY, the PK-users won and wrote history, but because when the first generation of PK-users rose either they likely started as fiends or acted like Maria's child did. There wasn't death-feedback at that time and proceeded to slaughter the non-PK human population out of testing their powers, for bloodlust, due to out of control, indifference, etc.
The common factor that link all those cases was that the PK-users realize themselves superior to the non-PK humans due to their Cantus and began to see the normals as "different" from them; this time biology became an even more pronounced difference.

The next 500 hundred years saw the bloodshed period which was ruled by tyrannical PK-users whom abused their Cantus out of malicious curiosity or pleasure rising to the top of the chain, and thus dwindling the non-PK human population even more. However, I speculate by that time many PK-Humans realized their sanity and compassion, and started to resent those tyrants who abused their powers.
Eventually they became fed up against those dictators, triggering rebellions and civil wars (not unlike that of Squealer's). However, the rebellios PK-users won, destituting and killing the tyrannical fiends.

Nevertheless, little time will pass until they found out that if the given scenario their Cantus was to become unstable and out of control, then they would suffer the fate of becoming, what the latter generations to come label as, fiends and karma demons.
They also realized that the most frail and vulnerable stages for them to become out of control, sentient WMD was childhood and adolescence, hence, those PK-users propose several methods or strategies to establish and implement a sort of system control that would allow their society to progress, but at the same time be protected from themselves and their children going out of control.
They, eventually, agreed on the system which rules the SSY in Saki's timeline. Nonetheless, the era between the fall of the tyrants and Saki's timeline, the PK-users saw another flaw outside their proposed system: what to do with the remaining non-PK human population?

The problem was that if death-feedback was to be or already infused in the biology and neurology of the future generations to come after them, even if those generations would be "relatively" safe from becoming fiends and karma demons (though the story proved to us there was no guarantee), however, they wouldn't be safe from the non-PK users.

The death-feedback only afflicts the PK-users and wouldn't be able to fight and let alone kill the non-PK users, because both groups descended from the same humans sharing the same physiology and biology each to the other.
So, what they did was infusing the mole rat genome into the DNA pool of the non-PK users, so that their future generations would become less and less human from the PK-users. Eventually, distancing the biology among both groups even more to the extent that the PK-users wouldn't understand and view the non-PK humans as humans anymore.
By the time Tomiko had her first vicious encounter with the 'K' fiend, I presume the non-PK humans already had evolved into the modern Bakenezumi, seen in Saki's time; that is over more than 250 years ago from the current timeline.

The PK-users from 250 years ago were afflicted by the fear that the remaining few non-PK humans would take advantage of the death-feedback's biological weakness in order to kill the former group, and the former group feared even more that their population would be overtaken if they allowed the latter group to reproduce again in big numbers with high fertility rates so as to turn the tide in favor of the normal humans. Although it would only take one member of the PK-users to turn into a fiend in order to obliterate the remaining normal humans, that route still would result counter-productive to the PK-users since there would be no guarantee of the fiend turning against them as well.

I believe that there were a few members amongst the PK-users from that generation that tried to reason, negotiate, bargain, or find some peaceful means of coexisting with the non-PK humans, but they either got rebuffed by their peers for such proposal or were blatantly rejected by the normal humans.

The reason to fear the non-PK humans, which eventually led the Psychics to manipulate their DNA in order to turn them into Bakenezumi, can be attributed to hatred against the Psychics.
The normals got brutally slaughtered by the first and subsequent generations of rising Psychics, and suffered even worse fate and brutality at the time of the Tyrants. Witnessing in live flesh and living day to day terror and carnage would be enough for the normal humans to lose their sanity and to quickly see the Psychics different from them with either secret or outright fear, hatred, and suspicion.

That generation Psychics reacted as expected in order to ensure the survival of their community by turning the normal humans into Bakenezumi, so that the future generations of the latter group would forget or care less that they were (or their ancestors) once humans and for the former group to assert themselves over them at the top of chain without fear of having the death-feedback triggered.

We tend to make fuss even for the smallest of difference in order to separate ourselves into distinct groups or factions.

SSY world is no different. Only that the Psychics have less differences:
- The differences are if one of their members disastrously becomes either a fiend or a Karma Demon.

- Viewing non-human but sentient species diferent from them and treating them like beasts or animals.
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Old 2013-03-28, 21:41   Link #204
kuromitsu
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Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
[lots of good stuff]
+1 ( this is all I'm capable of today...)

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Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
It reminds me a lot more of feudalism, where the lords (humans) grant the bakenezumi (vassals) land in exchange for services.
I think the basic problem with the relationship is the same whether we call them slaves or vassals... at the end of the day, their lives are completely at the humans' mercy, and this is the root of the conflict. Kiroumaru says "you have power over us, which puts my people in danger and I can't have that." Squealer says "you have power over us, and that's not right because the only difference between us and you is that you have this evil power."

There's also the fact that, as many people have already said, there's a basic evolutionary issue going on, which is: 1) the existence of humans is a potential threat to bakenezumi; 2) as the adult arc proves, the existence of bakenezumi is a potential threat to humans. Where do you go from here?

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Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
Remember narrator Saki musing why the bakenezumi weren't based on meerkats instead? If they were cute, surely humans would treat them better? This is "enlightened" Saki, mind you.
That was "damn I hate these things, they remind me of scary situations and shady characters I don't trust" Saki. It was before she had some eye-opening experiences and conversations.

Also, for what it's worth, she wasn't thinking about in terms of "treating them better," I don't think that issue ever came to her mind, she thought humans were already treating bakenezumi well (see how surprised she and Satoru are when they hear Kiroumaru's confession). In that scene she was thinking more along the lines of "why would anyone want such repulsive creatures around them instead of more likeable ones" - of course as we learn at the end, the point was to make them monstrous.

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Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
So: can Squealer make this decision for everyone? He may think the risk is worth it, but he takes it for every single bakenezumi out there. Mr. bakenezumi fanatic is obviously behind him, but someone like Squonk?
Or, hell, Kiroumaru? Kiroumaru and his allies who opposed Squealer's new world order so Sqealer had to pretty much annihilate them so he could get on with his revolution. All for the cause.

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Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
However, that particular problem is just an exaggeration of a more fundamental one: where someone can abuse power, sooner or later, someone will abuse power. How do you live with that fear?
Pretty much.

Also, people keep talking about how humans should just "get rid of PK" - except even if they wanted to (and why would they want to? in itself it's a pretty neat thing to have, especially in their current situation when there are so few humans and they're so low-tech that they can't have, say, a proper industry to manufacture stuff), they have no idea where it comes from and how it works. At the end of the 14 yo. arc, Satoru mentions theories and researches, but even those are just theories. Is it a good thing that this power awakened in humans? Looking at all the damage it directly or indirectly caused, probably not. But they're stuck with it, for better or worse.

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Originally Posted by Kirarakim View Post
Honestly it is hard to say exactly how the PK users see the monster rats because we have no real world equivalent. They are sentient and have some human attributes but then do other things entirely different from humans. To them they are a different species or like Satoru says "they aren't like us".
And they really aren't like them. I mean, for all the symbolism and genetics, they're not any more human as say, chimps. Their ancestors were "homo sapiens", long ago, but right now they're close relatives at most. (And then there are the mutants. If bakenezumi are human what do you make of sumifuki that are not even land mammals? Or those twig like things from the Tsuchigumo colony?) I don't think humans should be pressed to accept bakenezumi as humans, I mean what's the point? (Other than everyone who ever killed a bakenezumi dropping dead.) The real question is, whether they should be, can be seen as equal by humans or not.

Last edited by kuromitsu; 2013-03-28 at 21:55.
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Old 2013-03-29, 01:26   Link #205
Guido
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kuromitsu
In that scene she was thinking more along the lines of "why would anyone want such repulsive creatures around them instead of more likeable ones" - of course as we learn at the end, the point was to make them monstrous.
After reading that especific statement of yours, I absolutely have 0% empathy for the SSY humans; my compassion goes to the Bakenezumi like Kiromaru and those other poor souls that died meaninglessly. Though I do not in anyway condone Squealers' actions for what he did, still why should I hate him?

Squealer did what he did to save his kind and to bring them a bit of dignity.

I won't say sorry for the humans, because if I take the Bakenezumi's approach, and then put it with this example: simply I would dislike and feel deep fear if ever learning that my next-door neighbor has a WMD by his disposal and could annihilate not only the entire neighborhood but the entire city as well. But what would definitely made me to dread and to tremble would be my neighbor's attitude: What if he could launch that WMD whenever he pleases? or worse what if in blind anger launches it?

That example portrays allegorically what the Bakenezumi constantly feared and loathed about the humans: "Today could be the day that I'm going to die?", "What if they killed me or doing something worse to me if I make them angry?", "What would happen to our colonies and ways of life if we disobey them?".

Reading that particular line that you post makes me even sicker about the ending.

That society should deserve to be wiped off from existence either by a fiend or better if the real truth of that world ever leaks out and reaches the masses. How would they react?, and How the Ethics Committe would react to counter the masses?

If humans in SSY didn't have that accursed Cantus, then for sure I would be engaged in the dichotomy whether if both sides did what was best for them or did wrong.

I'm sorry, but if a tremendous power like psychokinesis suddenly starts to manifest through a few individuals, and they start to treat it by behaving like a child whom by accident found his father's gun and plays with it, that to me says alot about fearing for my life and doing whatever necessary to protect myself and my family, even if I have to resort to extreme measures and holding a suspicious attitude.
With a power such as psychokinesis killing whether by accident or deliberately becomes practically a breeze; one individual with such power could easily slaughter a population of millions and subjugate it.
The comparison is not the same as if you, for example, take a terrorist cell with a somewhat great number of well-trained individuals possessing weapons of the latest technology, and they take over an entire city and start killing off the population to instill on them terror.
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Old 2013-03-29, 04:22   Link #206
kuromitsu
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>Guido

I'm not quite sure why that one line triggered this, because I fail to see the correlation between it and what you wrote... Maybe you misunderstood what I wrote, perhaps I wasn't being clear?

Last edited by kuromitsu; 2013-03-29 at 05:57.
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Old 2013-03-29, 07:48   Link #207
Kirarakim
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Guido, I think Kuromitsu was trying to say the Monster Rats look like "monsters" because that was the point. The scientists dehumanized them so the PK users would not be affected by death feedback with them.
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Old 2013-03-29, 07:49   Link #208
Dawnstorm
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I am not a social or cultural relativist but as I said before I actually think that is exactly how author wanted us to view this story. Not just in terms of the PK/Monster Rat relationship but also in terms of what happens to the children in the Pk users.

He didn't give any easy answers, he didn't paint any side as entirely right or wrong, etc. He even might have made us think actions were initially evil but then explained away those actions so well that it was hard to see another course of action.

Anyways I do think there are moral absolutes but I also find cultural relativism such an interesting topic that I love when it is used in fiction (and honestly fictional settings are the best place for it). It's one reason I am a big fan of Kino no Tabi as well.

Actually, a world of moral absolutes isn't necessarily a word that's easy to navigate, morally. It's entirely possible that no action in the real world can be entirely "good" or "evil", because of the way the world holds together. That is: you can only try to maximise good and minimise evil, and since you're not perfect you'll probably never hit the optimum. It's entirely possible, I think, to view SSY under such conditions. "Killing" in itself is bad, but you might choose the "lesser evil" (kill a person) to prevent the "greater evil" (genocide). This gets very complex very fast.

It's just that I don't think like that at all. Basically, I think you can choose to do whatever you want, but you can't choose (a) what it is that you want in the first place, and (b) the consequences of your actions. You can influence (a) and (b) to the extent that your psychology and social context allow, but that's where it ends for me.

For example, I can say with near certainty (though I can't rule out things like denial, or that misunderstand myself) that I sympathise with Squealer more than with Kiroumaru. However, in the SSY-context, I'd probably rather be at Kiroumaru's mercy than Squealer's. Note that I'm not assigning values of good/evil, but that I'm almost entirely thinking in terms of sympathy, comfort, desire... I might say, something's "unfair", or someone's "ungrateful", but that's me indulging in on-the-spot reactions - which I do for comfort.

That's not the way to go; that's just how I tick. (<-- A typical line of a social relativist.)

An example:

Quote:
This is a good point but if you recall Saki says to Satoru "but they are animals, they think differently from us" when they were kids and they discovered what Squealer did to the Queen.
Here my social relativism says: you cannot trust a word like "animal" in a context like this. The basic structure in there is a contradiction: "But they are animals...": Empahsis of difference, with an implied evaluation of "human > animal". "...they think differently from us": a comparison on the common ground of "thinking": to say this means that they acknowledge that bakenezumi can think.

They make this a general statement, i.e. the implication is "1. They are animals. 2. Animals think differently from us. 3. Therefore they think differently from us." So here's a test for consistency: do they think that the "tainted cats" think? Or are the bakenezumi the only exception in the animal kingdom? If they're the only exception, then what makes them animals? Or differently put: what differentiates animal from humans?

In the real world, people don't tend to think this through, so the most likely interpretation is that there is an un-named in-between are - between humans and animals, that is only inhabited by bakenezumi. (Note that this is testable: even in our world, "thinking" is a sliding scale, where we - in the real world - go from amoebae via ravens via dolphins to humans...) So bakenezumi are not quite animals, and not quite human, and we dare not articulate what they are, so we call them "animals", because that way we don't have to face troubling moral implications.

In other words, there's an aparent wedge between what they say and what they do. They can be animal-like in one context, and human-like in another, but they can never carry the title "human". If you find out why this is convenient, you understand how they actually look at them, not how they think they look at them.

Which is precisely why I felt the need to include the bracketed line above, when I talked about relativism ["(though I can't rule out things like denial, or that misunderstand myself)"]. I may take things for granted that others can see, or that I don't want to face because it's inconvenient. That's not just an implication of being an imperfect human, to me. That's the very heart of morality. A make-belief certainty that gets you through the day and helps you decide, because you don't have the time and resources to think every little decision through to the end.

Quote:
Right the ultimate message is you don't want PK (okay not really but after this I certainly don't.). It reminds me of my feelings for Jurassic Park, after watching that I thought I hope no idiot brings back the dinosaurs.
Actually, my take is more abstract: should you not do things, because they might have risks involved? Should you trust strangers with your life? Try to apply this to the gun-control issue that's a rather hot topic right now. "If the government doesn't allow me to have guns, I'm afraid the government will abuse its power." vs. "If the government allows people to have guns, I'm afraid people I/people I know are more likely to get shot." Both positions place their trust in different things/people: your ability to protect yourself with a gun, the benevolence of a government, the benevolence of gun-carrying strangers... Catchphrases like "freedom" or "pacifism" are rhetorical will-o-the-wisps; they do provide light, but you better be careful to follow them.

So:

Quote:
But I think the author has a pretty dire look on humanity, that something like death feedback was needed in the first place. Although I suppose there is hope in the end. Saki and Satoru want to change for the better. And maybe if they can't understand the monster rats maybe the next generation will (and maybe the next generation won't need death feedback).
Look at Saki's actions near the end: she wasn't willing to sacrifice Satoru to get rid of the fiend. Kiroumaru? Fair game. Not ideal, but, well...

What motivates you? What risks are you willing to take? What sort of conscience bothers you? Imagine the conversation:

Saki: Um, I wasted the psychobuster to save Satoru. Sorry about that.
Kiroumaru: What's done is done. No point playing the blame game.
Saki: I'm glad you say that, because... um... I have this plan.
Kiroumaru: ...
Saki: *explains plan*
Kiroumaru: ... [Me and my big mouth!]

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Originally Posted by kuromitsu View Post
I think the basic problem with the relationship is the same whether we call them slaves or vassals... at the end of the day, their lives are completely at the humans' mercy, and this is the root of the conflict. Kiroumaru says "you have power over us, which puts my people in danger and I can't have that." Squealer says "you have power over us, and that's not right because the only difference between us and you is that you have this evil power."
Well, yes, for many contexts this is pretty much an irrelevant difference. But it's not good to downplay the difference, because there's actual slavery in SSY: bakenezumi enslave prisoners of war. See?

Basically, bakenezumi are threatened by slavery from their own kind, while being vassals under humans (who turn a blind eye to their slavery). Now, look at the development under Squealer: from a tribal-hierarchical structure straight to democracy (of a sort; probably closer to an oligarchy) would be an internal development.

This is important in this thread, because I'm hearing again and again that Squealer sacrifices other bakenezumi for his goals. This is supposedly making it doubtful that he wants "the best for his people". But not every kind of forced labour (even forced sacrifice) is automatically akin to slavery. How do you, for example, think of conscription in a democratic system? It's a very thorny issue. And that's why I think it's good to keep the terms straight.

I personally find it more useful to think of the human-bakenezumi relationship in terms of feudalism than slavery.

Quote:
That was "damn I hate these things, they remind me of scary situations and shady characters I don't trust" Saki. It was before she had some eye-opening experiences and conversations.
Actually, this is an intro-narration (ep17) by adult Saki. It's possible that she bridges the distance between narrator-Saki and story-Saki, and relates what she remembers of her thoughts back then. But I saw it as narratorial commentry, akin with the comment about Maria not being with them earlier on. She does then segue into her "current" job, so it's quite possible that it's not narrative comment, and more a summary of the state of mind back then. That's not how I saw it though.

She does use present tense (according to the subs) when she talks about her job, though, and that supports your interpretation more than mine, I think.

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Or, hell, Kiroumaru? Kiroumaru and his allies who opposed Squealer's new world order so Sqealer had to pretty much annihilate them so he could get on with his revolution. All for the cause.
Heh. I think I did mention him at some point in my post in a similar context. I didn't mention him in that context for a reason: I had the impression that war is a tried and true bakenezumi methodology to settle disputes. Unlike Squonk, Kiroumaru had no problem to make himself heard.

But, yeah, he and those of his followers who actually agree with him count, too. (Are we assuming that everyone in Kiroumaru's tribe actually disagrees with Squealer? What if some don't? Aren't they forced to disagree on the battlefield? It's a subtly different point, see? I'm pretty sure both Kiroumaru and Yakomaru had people fight for them who'd have preferred the other side. They're just never heard.)

Quote:
Also, people keep talking about how humans should just "get rid of PK" - except even if they wanted to (and why would they want to? in itself it's a pretty neat thing to have, especially in their current situation when there are so few humans and they're so low-tech that they can't have, say, a proper industry to manufacture stuff), they have no idea where it comes from and how it works. At the end of the 14 yo. arc, Satoru mentions theories and researches, but even those are just theories. Is it a good thing that this power awakened in humans? Looking at all the damage it directly or indirectly caused, probably not. But they're stuck with it, for better or worse.
Exactly. The question is: "Are there actions that are so cruel that you'd rather live with the fear of death, or even extinction?"

Quote:
And they really aren't like them. I mean, for all the symbolism and genetics, they're not any more human as say, chimps.
Except that sign-language experiments with chimps never got to the stage where you could have a discussion with them about equal rights, if you wanted to. That's actually pretty darn impressive. (Actually, if I were to apply a blind [typed text only] turing test, Squealer might come up ahead on the humanity scale, depending on what human you chose as a sample. )
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Old 2013-03-29, 08:11   Link #209
Eragon
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I guess this discussion, as I see it, is more about who the audience puts more faith into to change the current system* - Saki or Squealer. To me it doesn't matter who's cause was just - although, I will concede, Trajan has rubbed off on me. To me it mattered whether the winner would be capable of changing the system they live in. Since, as so many have mentioned, the current system is just not sustainable - especially now that Squealer proved that there is a way to defeat the "Gods".

* I certainly do not know what that change might be. When there is such a fatal chasm between the powers of two species it is very difficult to come to a compromise. The arrogance of PK-users certainly doesn't help the situation.

Now, I myself put more faith in Squealer just due to the fact that nothing had changed in so many years of PK-users "regime". And Squealer seemed smart enough to not repeat the same mistakes that PK-users committed - lording over the queerats and the general trash treatment of them. I don't think Squealer would be dumb enough to do the same thing with the "enslaved" children. He is too pragmatic to let personal feelings rule his judgement.

My reason to not put my bets on Saki is simply that, I just don't think the PK-users will ever have enough of a reason to remove death-feedback. And unless they remove it, there is no way they are gonna trust the queerats to give them equal status.

That said, Trajan you are one hell of a poster man! Thank you for the good read. Dawnstorm too. Its so rare that I find a show which generates such well though out arguments.
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Old 2013-03-29, 08:47   Link #210
Kirarakim
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Actually, a world of moral absolutes isn't necessarily a word that's easy to navigate, morally.
Okay I looked up "moral absolutes" and I don't believe that. I believe more in moral universalism.

However I think in the context of the SSY world there isn't moral absolutes or moral universalism so that is how I approach my views of the series.

I know some people can't separate their own feelings through fiction but I actually like what different philosophies are presented in fiction different from my own.

On another note besides cultural relativism I think there is also a lot of utilitarianism in SSY. The good of the group is more important than the individual. This is something else I don't actually agree with but I enjoyed how it was presented in SSY. Anyways basically fiction doesn't have to match with my own ideals.




Quote:
In other words, there's an aparent wedge between what they say and what they do. They can be animal-like in one context, and human-like in another, but they can never carry the title "human". If you find out why this is convenient, you understand how they actually look at them, not how they think they look at them.
Well this is just how our own approaches differ because I do think animals think differently than humans. We hold up animals to different standards than ourselves. So when Saki said they "don't think like us" as in they have different thought processes I do think of animals or an entirely different species.

But in the end like I said we don't have the equivalent (mixture of human and animal) of the Bakenezumi in our world.






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Actually, my take is more abstract: should you not do things, because they might have risks involved? Should you trust strangers with your life? Try to apply this to the gun-control issue that's a rather hot topic right now. "If the government doesn't allow me to have guns, I'm afraid the government will abuse its power." vs. "If the government allows people to have guns, I'm afraid people I/people I know are more likely to get shot." Both positions place their trust in different things/people: your ability to protect yourself with a gun, the benevolence of a government, the benevolence of gun-carrying strangers... Catchphrases like "freedom" or "pacifism" are rhetorical will-o-the-wisps; they do provide light, but you better be careful to follow them.
I was being a bit facetious. I don't think the real theme is we just don't want PK.

Anyways I think the series had a lot different themes and concepts.


Quote:
Look at Saki's actions near the end: she wasn't willing to sacrifice Satoru to get rid of the fiend. Kiroumaru? Fair game. Not ideal, but, well...
Saki's motivations were purely selfish there but I think those were selfish motivations we could understand and appreciate. She wasn't thinking about the community but someone she individually loved and didn't want to lose.

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Originally Posted by Eragon
My reason to not put my bets on Saki is simply that, I just don't think the PK-users will ever have enough of a reason to remove death-feedback.
The anime left it out but according to Kuromitsu

Spoiler for novel:


Anyways before anyone says the novel and anime are different I understand but often times the novel just gives you more details and understanding left out of the anime. Bearing unimportant changes like the gender of Maria & Mamoru's child.


Quote:
And Squealer seemed smart enough to not repeat the same mistakes that PK-users committed - lording over the queerats and the general trash treatment of them. I don't think Squealer would be dumb enough to do the same thing with the "enslaved" children. He is too pragmatic to let personal feelings rule his judgement.
We see a scene of Squealer yelling at a monster rat below him. I also don't see anything in Squealer to show that he is pragmatic enough to not do the same thing to the "enslaved children".

I can understand sympathizing with Squealer's cause and the reason he took such drastic actions but there is absolutely no evidence that after Squealer kills all the PK users and enslaves the children everyone would suddenly live in peace and harmony. I mean would everyone live in peace and harmony who agrees with Squealer? What about all the monster rats who didn't agree with him? Remember Squealer did not just kill the PK users.

Again you are just changing the power structure with one side mostly dead (genocide) not creating true equality.
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Old 2013-03-29, 09:24   Link #211
hyperborealis
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Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
One of the things about the show is that it encourages us to think in factions, and biological features (such as cantus, but also being a blow dog...) support that. But if you think the basis of equality is sentience, then we ought to be thinking in terms of individuals. It's hard to pull off, though, if biological features give you the edge.
On reflection, I think it naive to suppose equality can be predicated upon sentience. We routinely deny equality to children, for instance; likewise, criminals, and in very recent times women, blacks, gays etc. Equality rests instead upon force, the fact that your fellow is your equal in the capacity for violence. In this case, there can be no social equality between the humans and the queerats, for the biological reasons you point to.

Here is a really excellent quote from David Hume that describes SSY perfectly:

Were there a species of creatures intermingled with men, which, though rational, were possessed of such inferior strength, both of body and mind, that they were incapable of all resistance, and could never, upon the highest provocation, make us feel the effects of their resentment; the necessary consequence, I think, is that we should be bound by the laws of humanity to give gentle usage to these creatures, but should not, properly speaking, lie under any restraint of justice with regard to them, nor could they possess any right or property, exclusive of such arbitrary lords. Our intercourse with them could not be called society, which supposes a degree of equality; but absolute command on the one side, and servile obedience on the other. Whatever we covet, they must instantly resign: Our permission is the only tenure, by which they hold their possessions: Our compassion and kindness the only check, by which they curb our lawless will: And as no inconvenience ever results from the exercise of a power, so firmly established in nature, the restraints of justice and property, being totally USELESS, would never have place in so unequal a confederacy. ["Of Justice," An Enquiry into the Principles of Morals]

Hume's point is that justice can only obtain between equals, and that, since there is no equality of force between humans and queerats, there can be no critique of their relationship on the grounds of justice. The fact the queerats are rational is quite simply irrelevant.

Two other points follow. Saki's policy of kindness is nothing more than the condescension Hume describes above, the gentle usage that expresses the goodness of her heart but that has nothing to do with the restraint of justice.

The other point is that the queerats can only get the justice and independence they desire when they are equals in force to the humans. Squealer's violent & bloody revolution is quite salutary in this regard. Kiroumaru's plan to acquire a WMD is equally sensible. Another option might be to maintain their technological ramp-up to the point they can create weapons that put them on par with the humans. The queerats know what they need--they are hardly sentimentalists. I am quite sanguine about their future, Squealer's defeat notwithstanding.

Dawnstorm, just a bye-the-bye, but I loved your post in which you praised Kiroumaru against Squealer's envy and resentment. That was so brilliant...
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Old 2013-03-29, 10:09   Link #212
kuromitsu
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Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
Saki: Um, I wasted the psychobuster to save Satoru. Sorry about that.
Kiroumaru: What's done is done. No point playing the blame game.
Saki: I'm glad you say that, because... um... I have this plan.
Kiroumaru: ...
Saki: *explains plan*
Kiroumaru: ... [Me and my big mouth!]
lol XD Kind of irrelevant to the topic, but note that in the end perhaps it was this plan that saved what Kiroumaru valued the most (his queen and whatever was left of his colony).

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Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
This is important in this thread, because I'm hearing again and again that Squealer sacrifices other bakenezumi for his goals. This is supposedly making it doubtful that he wants "the best for his people". But not every kind of forced labour (even forced sacrifice) is automatically akin to slavery. How do you, for example, think of conscription in a democratic system? It's a very thorny issue. And that's why I think it's good to keep the terms straight.
FWIW, I'm not saying you're necessarily wrong, but "slavery" is what the characters call it, and it never once refers to forced labor - it refers to a slave's situation of not having their basic rights.

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Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
Actually, this is an intro-narration (ep17) by adult Saki. It's possible that she bridges the distance between narrator-Saki and story-Saki, and relates what she remembers of her thoughts back then. But I saw it as narratorial commentry, akin with the comment about Maria not being with them earlier on. She does then segue into her "current" job, so it's quite possible that it's not narrative comment, and more a summary of the state of mind back then. That's not how I saw it though.
It was a summary of her state of mind in that time, though. What she wonders about in that scene are questions she knows the answers to by the end of the story. She thinks bakenezumi were genetically engineered out of naked mole rats, and wonders why her ancestors used such revolting animals. By the end of the story she knows that the bakenezumi were engineered out of humans with some naked mole rat genes, and the reason for using naked mole rats and making the end result look so revolting was to remove even the slightest possibility of humans developing any positive feelings for the bakenezumi.

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Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
Except that sign-language experiments with chimps never got to the stage where you could have a discussion with them about equal rights, if you wanted to. That's actually pretty darn impressive. (Actually, if I were to apply a blind [typed text only] turing test, Squealer might come up ahead on the humanity scale, depending on what human you chose as a sample. )
I didn't mean their intelligence, though. They don't look like humans, they look very different from us. (And, at least at the start of the story, they live a very different life than the humans.) If chimps developed human level intelligence, would people automatically consider them human? Would we refer to them as "humans" or even "new humans" or something like that? I think they would be regarded as chimps, they would just get a "sapiens" tacked to their scientific name. That doesn't mean they wouldn't necessarily be considered equal, with equal rights to humans, just that they wouldn't be perceived as one of us.

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Originally Posted by Kirarakim View Post
We see a scene of Squealer yelling at a monster rat below him. I also don't see anything in Squealer to show that he is pragmatic enough to not do the same thing to the "enslaved children".
Frankly, I don't quite get why people are so hung up on how Squealer treated the kid. Even if he treated her well it doesn't make any difference in their relationship any more than how humans treated bakenezumi. The argument that oh, but Squealer/the bakenezumi treated the kid well is the same as oh, but the humans treated bakenezumi well. (Because they did. It's not like destroying entire colonies was something they did often and with no reason.)

In any case, though, I think to walk away from this series thinking "bah, the humans are bastards, they should all die!" is a very simplistic view...

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Old 2013-03-29, 10:39   Link #213
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A few general points, and a question:

1. Psychokinetics has always been one of the more troubling imaginable superpowers in my mind because, at a high enough level, it's basically magic. But it's "magic" without all the positive connotations that are loaded into that term. I do find it interesting how SSY has managed to make this superpower seem like a very, very negative thing, on the whole. It actually borders on being an effective anti-thesis to some of the ideas and themes presented in the X-Men comics. Maybe Senator Kelly was right...

2. Speaking of the X-Men, it's not hard to get why Death Feedback was created. Yes, it ultimately caused much more harm than good. But without it, Cantus-using humans are essentially glass cannons - They carry immense destructive potential, but their bodies can be cut, stabbed, wounded much the same as a normal human body can be. A society of glass cannons without any sort of force regulating them is just asking for chaos. The first time two of them get into a dispute that turns violent, the potential for massive death and destruction is very high. It's much like two superheroes/super-villains getting into a fight in a comic book universe. There's high potential for widespread collateral destruction.

3. The cantus-using human society of SSY is about as alien to our modern world as a human society can get, without being completely unrelatable. So yes, I do think the author intends for us to be as culturally relativist as possible when evaluating this work and its characters.

4. There is one important plot point/world-building issue that I'm a bit unclear on. And I'd love to hear other viewer's thoughts on this. Both Squealer and Kiroumaru raised the complaint of the SSY humans being dangerously capricious. That they could order the elimination of Bakenezumi tribes on the slightest whim. To what degree is this complaint valid? From what I can recall, the narrative (at least in the anime) never spent a great deal of time on this.

For me, this plays a significant role in how I view the human/bakenezumi relationship in SSY. The more capricious the humans are, the more justified the bakenezumi are, imo. However, the less capricious the humans are, the more defensible the status qou becomes.
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Old 2013-03-29, 10:45   Link #214
Eragon
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Originally Posted by Kirarakim View Post
The anime left it out but according to Kuromitsu

Spoiler for novel:


Anyways before anyone says the novel and anime are different I understand but often times the novel just gives you more details and understanding left out of the anime. Bearing unimportant changes like the gender of Maria & Mamoru's child.




We see a scene of Squealer yelling at a monster rat below him. I also don't see anything in Squealer to show that he is pragmatic enough to not do the same thing to the "enslaved children".

I can understand sympathizing with Squealer's cause and the reason he took such drastic actions but there is absolutely no evidence that after Squealer kills all the PK users and enslaves the children everyone would suddenly live in peace and harmony. I mean would everyone live in peace and harmony who agrees with Squealer? What about all the monster rats who didn't agree with him? Remember Squealer did not just kill the PK users.

Again you are just changing the power structure with one side mostly dead (genocide) not creating true equality.
Why would he potentially create the same situation of which he is a result? Doesn't seem consistent with his character - which is mostly cunning.

And no, I do not sympathize with Squealer or the Queerats. What I have for them is admiration/respect for their guts to go up against PK-users. Most if not all the Queerats under Squealer's command must have had some investment in the hope that Squealer would lead them to a better future if they win this war. I do not believe you'll get soldiers ready to do suicide missions if they are not committed to the cause.

I do not think there is ever going to be a Utopian solution like that as long as the humans(assume PK-users) have that power. And I really don't think anyone apart from Saki believes in that vision. As Hyperborealis stated, equality in SSY is essentially equality in power - that's what you said right? - (which isn't happening anytime soon if ever).
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Old 2013-03-29, 11:36   Link #215
Kirarakim
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Most if not all the Queerats under Squealer's command must have had some investment in the hope that Squealer would lead them to a better future if they win this war.
But my point is if they didn't believe in Squealer's future they were killed, their tribe destroyed. Equal rights only implies if you agree with Squealer.

You are right Squealer was certainly cunning. I can think of one more word to describe him though which is ruthless. To be fair you probably had to be ruthless to accomplish what Squealer was trying to do.

Anyways I am not saying Squealer's actions would not have created a better world for the Monster Rats. I am saying all the PK users dead and the children enslaved is not a better world in general. If the Monster rats won it would have just created a better world for them not for the SSY world.

Now I acknowledge there might not be a solution where it is better for monster rats and PK users but that is what makes the series not black and white in the first place. In the end we have two equally bad choices, not one better choice.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R
4. There is one important plot point/world-building issue that I'm a bit unclear on. And I'd love to hear other viewer's thoughts on this. Both Squealer and Kiroumaru raised the complaint of the SSY humans being dangerously capricious. That they could order the elimination of Bakenezumi tribes on the slightest whim. To what degree is this complaint valid? From what I can recall, the narrative (at least in the anime) never spent a great deal of time on this.
I think the complaint is a valid one. Because of their position the PK users hold absolute power over the monster rats. It doesn't even matter if they ever did (although I think the monster rats do mention colonies disappearing) the fact of the matter is they can. The PK users can always hold "we can destroy your tribe" over the monster rats head and there is absolutely nothing the monster rats can do. They are always at the mercy of the "benevolence" of the PK users.
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Old 2013-03-29, 12:20   Link #216
creb
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It's easy, and fun, but ultimately pointless to debate these issues as a neutral third party.

Ultimately, for there to be any meaning, you need to put yourself in the shoes of one side or the other.

Myself, as I'm a human being, I instinctively put myself in the shoes of the human population. Sure, "we" are doing many questionable moral things, ignoring that morality is a relative term, and my views on morality are borne out of growing up in a western culture in real life, and not in the society that Saki and crew did. If I really put myself in their shoes, there's very little in their action's that I'd find questionable.

In this case, it's never a question of whether the rat's complaints are valid or not, because acknowledging that question intrinsically acknowledges that the rats are on equal footing as you. I'd argue that while there may have been an individual here or there who broke the mold and did view rats in such a light, that general perspective simply did not exist in this human society, and asking if it should have is akin to asking if the sky should be blue or red, purely hypothetical and completely disconnected from reality.

TL;DR: Humanity prevailed in this particular conflict, and as a fellow human, I'm glad they did, regardless of the cost. When fighting for survival, high brow ideas like morality are pretty much the last thing on one's mind.

Edit: To be clear, I don't think there's anything wrong per se with debating these issues as a neutral third party, but I do think it's important to realize the distinction when debating an issue with someone who is not viewing the issues through that same lens, otherwise it just becomes people talking past each other, rather than to each other.
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Old 2013-03-29, 12:37   Link #217
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Well, looking at it from the perspective of a cantus-using human living in Saki's village:

1. I might have some mild grievances with how we treat the Bakenezumi. Nonetheless, I don't know enough about the full picture there to have a strong opinion on it.

2. The culling of children is highly distasteful. But arguably necessary. I'd probably be supportive of the idea of finding a way to remove Death Feedback so this will no longer be necessary.

3. Everything we did during the War Effort was understandable. Obviously, I'm glad we won.

4. Squealer's punishment was barbaric. I would not have been in favor of it. But in fairness, if I had lost my parents and best friend to the Bakenezumi uprising, I doubt I'd have it in me to seriously question it. I'd just turn away in total disgust - Of him, and what we were doing to him. I strongly identify with Saki's overall response here.
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Old 2013-03-29, 12:56   Link #218
creb
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Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
Well, looking at it from the perspective of a cantus-using human living in Saki's village:

1. I might have some mild grievances with how we treat the Bakenezumi. Nonetheless, I don't know enough about the full picture there to have a strong opinion on it.

2. The culling of children is highly distasteful. But arguably necessary. I'd probably be supportive of the idea of finding a way to remove Death Feedback so this will no longer be necessary.

3. Everything we did during the War Effort was understandable. Obviously, I'm glad we won.

4. Squealer's punishment was barbaric. I would not have been in favor of it. But in fairness, if I had lost my parents and best friend to the Bakenezumi uprising, I doubt I'd have it in me to seriously question it. I'd just turn away in total disgust - Of him, and what we were doing to him. I strongly identify with Saki's overall response here.
I think the only major difference I'd have done, being in their shoes, after these events is to have started research into genetically engineering/breeding the rats on a more stringent scale (presumably, this was already being done to some extent), for traits one wants from the labor class. Favoring loyalty, low intelligence, passivity, strength, etc.

I'd be tasking the department Saki had worked in to be more in line with the Ethics Committee, to the point it would essentially act in the same role, but in regards to overseeing the rat population. They'd be tasked with putting the type of effort the Ethics Committee put into controlling and shaping the human population into doing the same for the rats. Some rat is borne exhibiting cunning? Sic furry kitten death on it. Make it "vanish". Brainwashing on mass scales. etc.

Ironically, Saki and Satoru, due to their respective positions would have been able to do just this, but presumably went in a very different direction over the course of their lives.

I, too, would have thought Squealer's punishment was overly harsh, but mob mentality being what it was, I doubt I would have done anything to prevent it. What Saki did was really the most realistic outcome in that situation.
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Old 2013-03-29, 13:04   Link #219
ahelo
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Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
Well, looking at it from the perspective of a cantus-using human living in Saki's village:

1. I might have some mild grievances with how we treat the Bakenezumi. Nonetheless, I don't know enough about the full picture there to have a strong opinion on it.

2. The culling of children is highly distasteful. But arguably necessary. I'd probably be supportive of the idea of finding a way to remove Death Feedback so this will no longer be necessary.

3. Everything we did during the War Effort was understandable. Obviously, I'm glad we won.

4. Squealer's punishment was barbaric. I would not have been in favor of it. But in fairness, if I had lost my parents and best friend to the Bakenezumi uprising, I doubt I'd have it in me to seriously question it. I'd just turn away in total disgust - Of him, and what we were doing to him. I strongly identify with Saki's overall response here.
All of your 'would be' reactions actually completely resemble Saki's reactions. In a sense, while Saki is a character in her own right, she also somehow serves as the most relatable character in the show (well in general MCs are supposed to be relatable) and someone who we can insert ourselves in when watching the show and what are plausible reactions would be if we were in the same situation (well as you've said, if we were cantus-using human being living in Saki's village).
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Old 2013-03-29, 13:41   Link #220
Kirarakim
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Originally Posted by creb View Post
It's easy, and fun, but ultimately pointless to debate these issues as a neutral third party.

Ultimately, for there to be any meaning, you need to put yourself in the shoes of one side or the other.


Edit: To be clear, I don't think there's anything wrong per se with debating these issues as a neutral third party, but I do think it's important to realize the distinction when debating an issue with someone who is not viewing the issues through that same lens, otherwise it just becomes people talking past each other, rather than to each other.
But see I disagree with you. I think the point of the story IS to be a neutral third party and to not sit in judgement of either side. I think this is hard to do for people because people want to have a better side in the story or a side to identify with. I think the author is telling us that there is not really a right side here.

Anyways I am not sure why there is no meaning in the story if you are looking at it as a third party. I think there is plenty meaning in a story that presents us with no truly good choice. That is one the most fascinating things about the SSY world.

Edit: To clarify I think we identify with Saki because she is our narrator and we see the story unfold through her eyes (although I do think Saki is an unreliable narrator since she says things only from her perspective) but I don't identify with either side the PK users or the monster rats. As I once said before as humans we are both sides and neither side.
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