No.6 Ep. 8: “Do you find it hard to believe?”

“…I just don’t know what to say…” pretty much describes my reaction to this week’s developments. Half of this episode is an info dump of the worst kind and I’m not sure extending the anime beyond its eleven slated episodes would have mattered in the long run. Sure, the pacing might have improved, but this wouldn’t do much to address No.6’s more outlandish elements.

We’ve focused so heavily on the Shion-Nezumi relationship up to this point that No.6 practically resembled a character drama. Unfortunately, there’s a larger plot looming in the background, which the anime has suddenly decided to address at this late juncture. As a result, the narrative becomes a runaway freight train. I get the parasite bees — they’ve been around since the second episode — but Elyurias? A magical song that lights up the world? A group of cave dwellers (what do they eat? how do they survive?)? Nezumi is the last of a race of forest people? What on earth is going on here?

Mystical forest land that somehow existed unscathed by war until No.6 came a-knockin’.

Before they embark on their dangerous mission to save Safu, Nezumi takes Shion to meet an exiled architect of No.6. Wait, what? If he’s still alive, No.6 must not be very old. The war that tore the world apart must still be fresh in some people’s minds, right? I guess not. Anyway, the architect pretty much does nothing but feeds us exposition. According to him, the great conflict ravaged the world to the point that only six habitable areas remained. A group of survivors decided to construct utopian cities in these six areas. Okay, time out — if this was the case, how did the magical, peaceful, hippie forest people manage to avoid having their land destroyed in the great war? Why wasn’t their land considered part of the six inhabitable areas in the first place?

Even if the forest people’s existence made any sense whatsoever, their systematic destruction only raises more questions. Why would the cities not take advantage of these people’s lush and verdant homes? Why would No.6 torch such a place? Are they stupid? Did all of the other cities just sit idly by and allow this to happen? Are they all stupid as well?

What kind of war are we waging?
I’m not really disappointed by the anime’s sudden turn to the supernatural, because I’m not really surprised by it either; nature vs. technology isn’t exactly an uncommon theme in Japanese stories. I am disappointed, however, by the anime’s one-sided approach to the conflict; it’s quite apparent where No.6’s loyalties lies.

The nature people were peaceful and lived happily until they were preyed upon by No.6. Their magical song even exhibits some rudimentary form of collective consciousness. Essentially, the hippie people of the forest resemble any other indigenous population you might find in pop culture (see: Avatar’s Na’vi). No.6, on the other hand, is totalitarian, militaristic and evil. No.6 prioritizes knowledge and science. Its culture and architecture resemble a spartan, Western civilization. This is very much in contrast with both the indigenous forest hippies and the Orientalist society cobbled together outside No.6’s walls. Hm, do I sense a bias here?

Of course, in reality, the distinction between Elyurias and No.6’s rulers isn’t as clear cut as the story would like it to be. The episode tells us that the forest people “worshiped and revered Elyurias.” In the architect’s own words, when he met her, he “became obsessed with her.” That makes me think that she was some sort of cult goddess to these people. She might have been a benevolent ruler, but as far as we know, power was still consolidated in a single person or being — whatever she was. So it isn’t even No.6’s totalitarianism that the anime finds truly questionable. Instead, the real evil in No.6 appears to be the fact that it is secular and Western.

Masked scientists experimenting on Safu is nothing more than a straw man argument against the dangers of technology. In fact, Nezumi doesn’t condemn No.6 because he finds it unjust. Instead, he calls the city a demon, invoking a sense that No.6 is wrong on a fundamentalist level. Is there a religious bent to the story? I don’t think this is very far-fetched when a biblical plague is about to ravage the city. Or how about the fact that Safu “awakens” by experiencing some form of religious ecstasy before a stained glass window? Time will only tell if our secular Sodom and Gomorrah will burn to the ground.

Everything else
• The architect gives Shion some sort of data chip containing all of his “research.” The answer behind “everything” magically exists on a singular item. In this case, Shion’s much like the hero who, after a long pilgrimage or journey, stumbles upon the holy grail, the sword of truth or some other mystical analogue.

Ironically, knowledge and research will also play a part in No.6’s undoing. I can’t tell if this is merely inconsistency on the story’s part or not. Hopefully, the ending will strike some sort of philosophical balance between living in a forest or eschewing all of that for a modern, secular city, but I’m not optimistic.

• The architect has the same scars as Shion. He confesses that he was the first survivor of the bee parasite. Weeks ago, I theorized that the red markings might be a symbol of a character’s guilt. Well, the architect designed No.6, after all, so he should have all the guilt in the world. The jury’s still out on Shion’s guilt in my opinion.

• According to Nezumi, infiltrating and taking down the correctional facility will also destroy the city:

“The facility houses some special organization, which holds the city together. If we destroy the correctional facility, No.6 will begin to fall apart.”

It’s really that convenient? This is some Death Star-esque design flaw. For a city with as much control and dominance as No.6, I can’t believe its rulers would put all of their eggs in one basket like this. But hey, three episodes left, right? So I guess destroying some correctional facility — it doesn’t even have a proper name — will just have to do.

• What makes Nezumi’s quest to destroy No.6 somewhat implausible to me is just how personal it seems. When a regime falls, I expect it to be the result of a collective effort of rebellion and resistance. In No.6, however, we seem to have only four people in on the operation: Shion, Nezumi, Dogkeeper, and Rikiga.

Not exactly your average gang of freedom fighters.

I suppose this bothers me because it isn’t so much the fact that the people are re-claiming their agency from a totalitarian government. Instead, we seem to have a few fated and ordained individuals doing everyone a favor like the messiahs — or happy prince, in Shion’s case — that they are.

• Pretty low of Karan’s friend to tell a dystopian story just to creep on her. All of a sudden, his character doesn’t seem quite mentally stable, but we’ll see where this goes.

I wonder if the little girl that usually accompanies him to Karan’s bakery will actually play a significant role or as we near the anime’s finale.

22 thoughts on “No.6 Ep. 8: “Do you find it hard to believe?”

  1. onigiri status

    haha soo long i skipped some parts but i was pretty surprised at the “singing part” …i was too embarassed to watch it so i skipped it XD

  2. Shinmaru

    “Anyway, the architect pretty much does nothing but feeds us exposition.”

    lol I see what you did there.

    Yeah, I focused mostly on the magical stuff, and the science vs. nature stuff came to mind as well, but I kind of glazed over the illogical nature of the world and war’s set-up for whatever reason. No. 6 was really cooking when the characters were driving the plot rather than acting in service to it; this episode is a marked reversal of that, and less enjoyable as a result. It’s a shame, too — No. 6 has done some good, interesting things, and even the story going into total trainwreck territory wouldn’t erase that, but the characters really do deserve better.

  3. draggle

    That’s a very interesting point about the show’s concern not being totalitarianism itself, but more the proper form of totalitarianism. Even Shion’s mother seems reluctant to oppose No. 6, in spite of all that it has done to her son. Neither she nor Shion appear to bear much of a grudge against the government for their internal exile either.

    Nezumi’s primary motivation appears to be revenge, and his secondary goal seems to be justice for the dispossessed, so I’m not sure if I would chalk up his actions to a religious crusade.

    And yeah, this episode didn’t make much sense. :/

    1. E Minor Post author

      On the religious angle, I don’t think the anime is very explicit about it. I just think that when you add up all the ideas and imagery, you get an implicit bias against science, experimentation, modernization, etc.

  4. wanderer

    Tonight I sing for you the song of my people…

    Looks like we’re mostly on the same page. The believability of the world fell apart a bit here.

    The main mystery of episode 8 is why Shion and Architect weren’t bothered by the song. It probably has something to do with the bees.

    I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that something like the following is the case:
    – (a) “Elyurias” is some kind of nature spirit (or literally “spirit of (mother) earth”, sigh), not some specific being; perhaps it’s even more abstract (qi/ki/whatever)
    – (b) Nezumi’s hippy forest tribe somehow had some direct link with Elyurias (blah blah midichlorians)
    – (c) the No. 6 leadership has been running a breeding program to create more people who can connect with (or just use) Elyurias (eg: Safu, probably Shion as well)

    And then one of these:
    – (1) the parasite bees also have some kind of link with Elyurias (or ability to use it?), or at the worst are some sort of instrument through which Elyurias can operate
    – (2) the parasite bees are the opposite: they cut off one’s connection with Elyurias (the aging == draining of life-force, perhaps? it works…)

    That’d still be cliched and dumb, but I could live with it if it didn’t get any stupider and mostly went straight-action (with at-most a touch of clap-your-hands-if-you-believe-in-fairies by the end).

    The one high note in this episode was the ending with Karan. It’s just well-realized: two episodes back Safu showed up and finally Karan didn’t feel as alone, but then Safu got disappeared. The last episode and this one she’s been getting the history lecture from Yoming and, come-ons aside, she finally feels like she’s not cray and not alone, and is able to go back to smiling again. Then she gets the note from Shion and it falls apart all over again. Sad and sucks to be her, but it’s done well and keeps her as a believable, rounded character.

    1. E Minor Post author

      The story just feels like a mish-mash of other science fiction tales. Like FFVII, Avatar, etc. all rolled into one. The result is a slurry of ideas that just really clashes on my palette. I don’t know what to say — everything seemed to be going quite swimmingly until Safu got herself kidnapped. Ah well, as you’ve said it yourself, if they just focus on the action from here on out, it might not be too stupid.

      I agree with you on the Karan scene. The emotions in it played out well. I feel as though the story has been best when it could just focus on the characters and their emotions. Since post-apocalypse scenario are also fantasy to a certain degree, it helps to have something human and personal for the story to be grounded in. This is why I’m not a big fan of science fiction in general, however; once the story had to world-build, the ridiculousness went up tenfold.

      1. wanderer

        I’d point out that of the many flaws in this episode “what do cave people eat” is probably the least worrisome. They eat whatever the slum people eat, wherever it comes from (which, really would be where? it’s all desolate outside, no?).

        I am keeping my fingers crossed that there’s a lump of stupid that can’t be neatly excised from the rest of the story — like a rat moving through a python — and we just got through it. Given the lack of a visible antagonist I’d been afraid we’d get a suddenly-introduced evil villain behind everything — and there’s still time for that, of course — but so far instead of a suddenly-introduced mustache-twirling antagonist we Elyurias.

        It’s hard to avoid putting on my script doctor hat for this episode.

        The better way to handle this info-dump would’ve been to put this guy into the correctional facility and have Shion+Nezumi run into him during the infiltration; the history lesson and the data chip can be handed over as a walk-and-talk.

        The singing could’ve been handled by having the Dogkeeper request it from Nezumi as one of her conditions for helping with the infiltration. Skip the glowing water — the wind picking up would be enough — but include Nezumi singing the bee-song and passing out. This would’ve explained why Nezumi was reluctant about it earlier, and would’ve left the audience with another mystery.

        We’re also seeing more stuff slip through the cracks due to the compressed narrative. We had time this episode to explain how Nezumi knows there’s some special facility inside the correctional facility — maybe he knows from having been in there, maybe the architect told him, maybe the dogkeeper found out from her source — but instead it’s just stated as a fact.

        At this point I’m mainly hoping it doesn’t get much stupider; at this rate it really will make an interesting contrast with Darker than Black (which I know you haven’t seen). Same studio, similar directorial approaches and style decisions, similar strengths and weaknesses, etc., but especially on the latter point they’re different enough to make for interesting comparisons.

        Up until now No. 6 had been good at following what I’d call the “no plot-critical magic” rule from DtB: the rule is essentially that if some strange event is going to be plot-critical, make sure a similar event happens earlier on. The parasite bees work, here: it’s seemingly plot-critical that Shion get infected, but before it happens to him we see at least two prior cases; this means that when it really matters for audience buy-in we’re already sold on the parasite bee dynamic and thus we aren’t sitting around going “wtf is this coming from?”

        Nezumi’s magic signing is pretty much outright breaking the rule; if his song can summon the power of nature and all that jazz he should’ve sung earlier and had a more modest sign of nature’s impact — wind, etc,. — and passed out. It’s the difference between relying on previous world-building and outright deus ex machina.

        Oh well. 3 more episodes, hopefully mostly action-packed. I think I’m talked out on this for now.

        1. wanderer

          Oh, forgot one thing: in something this short there’s kind-of a law of conservation of novelty: all the weirdness (bees, elyurias, weird experiments, etc.) don’t have to be explained at the end, but whatever does get explained has to all fit together tightly / be deriving from the same source (eg: bees == Elyurias, or are closely related, etc.).

          In a longer work there can be room for several independent deep mysteries whose solutions aren’t related, but in something this short they kinda all have to trace back to the whole thing to avoid a fakey / “it’s all bs” feeling by the end.

          I’d postulate the feeling of a sudden lack of buy-in has to do with the most-recent revelations being such that it’s now very difficult to envision a backstory that satisfactory tie it all together as stemming from some specific root cause.

          Now I really am through with No 6 until next week.

        2. E Minor Post author

          How would you play script doctor for the forest people? To me, their existence in the story is the most problematic. We’re supposed to believe that the world was desolate from the war. This at least gives the whole “should we choose the slums or the luxurious totalitarian city” question some actual weight. It’s just like in the Matrix: should the humans try to eke out an existence in a terrible world or continue to believe an illusion created by the machines? Instead, there was equal or better paradise outside the walls of No.6, which they destroyed, so there’s no quandary here whatsoever. As it currently stands, the message of the anime is basically “rawr this caricature of a dystopian city is evil.”

          1. wanderer

            Good question honestly. Ideally I’d get rid of them, but assuming they need to be in the story to appease the novel fanbase here’s the best I can whip up on the fly:

            The hippie forest people will be dumb no matter what you do with them, so harm minimization is the best to shoot for. That’s done by introducing the hippie forest people revelation much later on and making as little a deal out of it as possible.

            Plugging the logic hole itself — why destroy the forest utopia — is easy-ish, but requires moving a lot of other things around.

            The approach I’d go with would be to have this Elyurias turn out to be some kind of nature spirt (nature power) the forest hippies could work with (or use). Their relationship with Ellyurias is why they had a nice pocket of greenery in an otherwise ruined world.

            No. 6 has to destroy the hippie village b/c that’s the only way to neutralize the threat their relationship with Elyurias poses. They don’t actually *exterminate* all the hippies immediately; a few are kept around in some secret prison facility as test subjects (looking for DNA links, seeing how Elyurias works, etc.).

            The moondrop thingy is either somehow imprisoning Elyurias, channeling it, controlling it, or producing an artificial form of it, and is built on the site of the original forest; whatever it is and whatever it’s up to it’s what’s responsible for No. 6 being as green and habitable as it is.

            Nezumi is the last survivor of the hippies but has no idea. He was born in the prison facility and separated from his parents almost immediately. He winds up getting raised by the equivalent of the founder character. He escapes from the facility after surrogate dad gets taken away; Nezumi assumes surrogate dad was pulped and doesn’t know he actually was exposed to the bee and survived.

            Nezumi won’t learn any of this until near the end. The photo he found with RIkiga will give him doubts about the true nature of his “surrogate dad”, and during the infiltration he and Shion will stumble across surrogate dad. Nice scene there in which Nezumi is torn between glad his “dad” is ok and wanting to know the truth behind the photo; this puts surrogate dad into exposition mode and we get the full dump about Nezumi’s backstory.

            Ideally the true nature of Elyurias would’ve already been disclosed or at least hinted at, but if not it gets mostly included in that infodump. This’d be like episode 10 or something, and serves to put the decisions our heroes make in ep 11 in the full context: they know the stakes, we know the stakes, and we can properly grasp the significance of the events and how Nezumi and Shion make their choices.

            This is still stitched together out of tropes and cliches but at a glance seems like it’d at least flow better than what we’ve seen as of ep 8. The main thing this accomplishes is putting the “forest hippy village destroyed” disclosure at right around the same time as when the full story with this Elyurias nonsense gets revealed. Until you have both pieces it’d seem like a huge logic hole, but the Elyurias thing seems to be the final card to play, and so the village history lesson has to get delayed until it’s time to disclose Elyurias in full. I hope that makes sense.

            It’d be easier to do this knowing how the story ends, b/c then I’d be more comfortable saying the hippie forest people can be completely reworked w/out too many issues. Oh well.

            1. E Minor Post author

              Bit of a belated response, but I’ve been racking my brain on how best to respond to this comment. I’ll just say this: this is well thought out and interesting, but since I don’t really do plot repairs, I have nothing to contribute. Still, I appreciated the comment and let’s hope the rest of the No.6 emerges unscathed.

          2. wanderer

            No worries about not replying or anything.

            My main motivation was just a bit of a disagreement: I think the ideas introduced in Ep 8 are definitely hackneyed and cliched, but I don’t think the *ideas* themselves are enough to intrinsically ruin No. 6 (though they certainly might). The problem isn’t so much the ideas as the way they’re used and how they’re worked into the story.

            It reminds me of something I saw some screenwriting coach say somewhere, which is basically that beginners tend to focus too much on dialogue. Specifically, their writing process is (1) write the best dialogue they can come up with and then (2) stitch those scenes together into a story. It tends to come out better the other way around: plan the story and storytelling first — what happens, and then what scenes get presented to the viewer in what sequence — and then write that story as well as possible.

            In any case, that’s my take on what’s wrong with No. 6: the ideas introduced in ep 8 aren’t great, but what’s dragging it down is how they’re used and when they’re used, not the ideas themselves per-se. But, Ep. 9’s out and it’s time to move on from this one.

            1. E Minor Post author

              I don’t mean to imply that the individual elements of episode eight were bad. My biggest beef was simply the cheap mysticism thrown in at such a late stage in the game. It feels like a cop out. So I don’t think we’re in much disagreement if your general argument is “how ideas are used determines whether or not the story fails.” There’s a time and place for forest people and mysterious goddesses and magical healing songs. I just don’t think it belongs all in a single episode near the end of the conclusion.

  5. inushinde

    The idea of the nature spirit isn’t anything odd, but it felt thrown in at the last minute. Unless it comes back to bite No. 6 in the ass for whatever reason at the end, I won’t see much of a point in it.

    1. E Minor Post author

      It’s not odd, but when you pile on the nonsense — killer bees, magical song, nature spirit, blah blah — it just becomes all too much.

  6. linda29693

    Of the 10 anime shows with a 11 episode format I’ve watched, the only ones who did it right were Tatami Galaxy and Aoi Hana. The others ruined the ending like this, or finished without explaining, or just sucked. So, why are they still producing them? They almost never work. They make Sci-fi anime unexplainable Fantasy shit.

    I wonder if they had more episodes to go, they would keep the pacing a bit… I don’t know.

    1. E Minor Post author

      Well, unless Bones diverged heavily from the novels, can’t really blame them for the “unexplainable Fantasy shit.” I will blame them, however, from even moving beyond the Shion-Nezumi relationship. Their story really is the best thing about the anime despite all the “GAAAAY” complaints from anime fans. If they knew that the fantasy stuff was going to be this bad, should have just ignored it.

  7. Pingback: Notes of No.6 Episode 8 | Organization Anti Social Geniuses

  8. AceofHearts

    It’s rather convenient timing that Yoming, Karan’s creepy friend, seems to be gathering a resistance right as the main characters plan to infiltrate No. 6. It’s possible that they might work together, giving Sion and Nezumi an edge against toppling an entire government. But since there has been little contact between them and the “resistance”, this probably won’t happen short of the two groups attacking at the same time and realizing “Oh hey, you hate No. 6 as well?” It’s disappointing that the resistance idea was added so late in the game, it had potential to create a lot more action and tension.

    1. E Minor Post author

      Actually, I’m not sure he’s really going to be of much help. He seems a little off-kilter and could actually pose a problem for the main characters.


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