A-1 Pictures and Ishihama Masashi’s anime Shin Sekai Yori (or From the New World) has been a fascinating ride, with numerous ethical questions and a fascinatingly different story. One of the many things I’ve found interesting about the show is the portrayal of the two main Monster Rats, Kiroumaru and Squealer. Needless to say, this post will contain spoilers.
First we meet Squealer, a Monster Rat of moderate standing in his clan. He is initially portrayed the same as his comrades, with the only difference between him and his kin being his name and speaking role. He rescues Saki and Satoru and attempts to please them, at least pretending that he believes them to be gods. He is smaller than the young children he serves and presents himself with some amount of modesty, offering up his life and the lives of his kin in service to the humans.
Of course, this is quickly revealed to be a feint as he slowly works his way up the hierarchy of the clan, starting a revolution and establishing a democracy in his people where he eventually sets himself up as an important member of the Diet and a representative to the humans, where he is given the human name Yakomaru.
Before he becomes an important figure, however, he is quickly contrasted with another Monster Rat, namely Kiroumaru. Kiroumaru is everything Squealer isn’t: strong, large, and regal. He commands respect and looks more like a lion than a large rat. He cares for his people, and one of the humans mentions that unless he had some pressing objective, would pull out of a dangerous situation as soon as one of his men were killed.
It would seem that Kiroumaru really is an example of a great leader, who should serve only to show the seeming failures of Squealer. Both fight for the rights of their people against the oppressive humans, but it is Kiroumaru that the viewer tends to gravitate towards. After all, he didn’t make any sort of uprising against his queen, nor does he attempt to bring humanity to its knees through the brutal means of Squealer. There is one thing Squealer has that Kiroumaru doesn’t, however.
Squealer is bursting with pride as a Monster Rat. He will occasionally bend his knee to allow his schemes to come to fruition, but this is only if they serve his immediate goals. The name his people call out as their glorious leader is not Yakomaru, his human and, dare I say, noble name. It is that of Squealer, a typical Monster Rat whose fierce determination nearly led to the liberation of the Monster Rats. He becomes a symbol of pride for his whole people, who see the Monster Rat that dared to defy the gods and save his people. When confronted with his failure, rather than begging and pleading for a merciful death, he instead spits on the humans and embraces his heritage, presumably knowing what he will soon face is eternal pain.
Does he look so pathetic compared to Kiroumaru now? Kiroumaru is a great leader in his own right, but he is very willing to serve the humans and aside from his attempt to obtain nuclear weapons, he seems to have little interest in liberating his people, instead being content to merely preserve them.
What ends up being fascinating to me is that in the end, both Kiroumaru and Squealer have won some small victories for their people. Kiroumaru ends up serving as an example of the potential cooperation between humans and Monster Rats and saves his clan in the process. Squealer, on the other hand, has won a very different victory. Though the masses of brainwashed humans mock him for his insolence soon after they were nearly exterminated by him, with his rebellion Squealer has brought the issue to far more attention that he could have without his efforts. Saki, and to a lesser extent Satoru, now understand the real plight of the Monster Rats and how they are creatures deserving the same life and respect as a human. It is Squealer who has enabled Saki to move humanity and the Monster Rats from their current plight into a new world.