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It's been a while since I've watched the recent episodes of Shin Sekai Yori. All I can say is that I chose the wrong time to stop watching it.
My biggest problem before with Shin Sekai Yori was the inconsistency of the series. I never found any one of the episodes to be particularly bad, but there was a lot of variation in the quality. Sometimes I'd find myself unable to stop watching, other times I was a little bored. Luckily for me, these 6 episodes have me back to loving the series.
It was timed perfectly. Shin Sekai Yori is such an atmospheric series that it went from drama to thriller at just the right time. This shift in genre focus was what I needed to get back into the series, and it still managed to wrap things up nicely before doing so. Saki and Maria's relationship was given its fair due in episode sixteen and later on became a good part of the story to revisit. A moment of pure artistic sadness that just keeps popping up in my mind. I suspect this also has to do with the book not being fully closed on the matter, meaning Mamoru and Maria's mystery has one more trick to contribute to the story.
In some ways, the story has always been leading up to these events. In particular, the understated plot involving the queerats has been in the works from the very beginning. With the plot involving the queerats having escalated quickly and the appearance of a fiend, it's really now that Shin Sekai Yori is on a bullet train to a spectacular finish. Much like the first three episodes, these last six episodes make full use of the entire story until now to give us great dramatic and thrilling developments. Squealer's true colours are finally showing, and he's become quite the impressive villain.
I'm glad to see everything come together after expressing some doubts. The story remains horror/thriller centric thanks to the atmosphere and at the same time retains a slight mystery angle to it. To me, it's playing on its strengths perfectly and keeping the tension high at all times. It's undeniable how impressive the intensity has been lately, and it shows no signs of dissipating. With the most recent episode, we've reached another turning point in the story and it looks like it could be the last one involving Saki and Satoru.
Even though this is a post summing up my thoughts on the past six episodes, I'm going to cut it short here. Shin Sekai Yori is indeed back towards the top of this season's pack. I'd go as far as to say, it's neck and neck with PSYCHO-PASS when it comes to the quality of the thriller plot. This just goes to show how much the series has stepped up its game.