Major Spoilers Ahead
Now, the other parts of SSY, I don't really hear any praise for, but everyone praises this particular part. This is a story driven show, the characters don't matter, they say. I disagree, it isn't as story driven as many make it out to be. The major world building or story elements the show does have is very much linked to the show's characters. For instance, Ogres in this show isn't really used until the middle of the final arc story-wise, and most of the focus is on how the characters handle them. The adults are terrified of children and kill several because they fear that the children would either become an ogre or karmic demon(as directly stated in Maria's letter and their actions heavily implying it). The focus of this world building is on the character's motives. However, the town itself is irredeemable, they killed children for simply not being good enough, which wouldn't have threatened their lives(i.e the 5th wheel of the group and almost Saki). They destroyed villages of monster rats for little to no reasons(which was stated por Squealer the reason he rebelled) and ended the series por giving Squealer the most painful endless death that would make Monokuma blush for how despair-inducing it is(which lasted years mind you). They also, get this, made any human without powers a different creature and their slaves(i.e the monster rats and impure cats(as stated in the last episode)). The town is on par with Akame ga Kill villains with how evil they are. There's no reason for me to care if they all die. In the last arc, I was rooting for the monster rats the entire time. I don't care if they have a reasonable motive for killing potential ogres or karmic demons, the rest of what they do is irredeemable.
Another story element that had the characters playing a big role in is the stress being relieved por sexual contact. Which por itself wasn't explored much(with solely the reason being info-dumped at us in episode 4 then left at that), the only thing interesting the came out of it is that the village exclusively forced the teens to hook up with the same sex(as stated por Maria in the show's infamous episode(I think)). This is implied to be the reason as to why Mamoru didn't try to hook up with Maria and why Saki and Shun didn't follow through with their amor as well. However, truth be told, I don't care, the characters suck individually, and are only implied to amor each other out of physical attraction, so what if they can't be a couple. This plot point was also there to drive início how barbaric the village is(i.e in episode 4, Saki reminded that this is what primates do with a facepalm to boot) which wasn't really necessary because everything else in episode 4 already made that obvious, so story wise it wasn't needed.
The last example that I'm going to mention is karmic demons. What it did for us story-wise? Well, we learned how it worked. However, the idea can't be used or explored without the characters. The idea: We all have dark sub-conscience thoughts we aren't aware of, this is what causes Karmic Demons, and why spiritual barriers exist(Episode 10, minutos 7:03-10:36). What's done with it: We get to see what it has done to Shun's dog and Shun's suicidal thoughts. So what happened when I didn't care about Shun? The plot point made no emotional impact, the intrigue of it, in my opinion, is how it affected the characters. The factual reason, itself, is boring. Why? Because Shun completely understands it, what would you talk about? Shun(the smartest guy in the show) directly, emotionlessly told us everything there is to know about the said topic. Even if this wasn't the case, the explanation wasn't brought up again. It was mais of a fun fact, than anything narratively meaningful.
If that doesn't convince you enough that the characters matter in relation to the story, check out the hardest episode I had to sit through in anime, the dreaded 13th which consisted of mostly static shots, as the point of it was suspense. Would they find Mamoru? Is Mamoru still alive? The entire episode was just that and I hated it. After sitting through all of that, we get awarded with Maria staying behind and we spend a half episode looking for her.
Furthermore, you also have a lot of the show relying heavily on whole or half episodes for exposition. Episode 4 is the infamous one, but episodes 14,10,12 were also big offenders. Then you add to that, uninteresting war segments between two parties I didn't care for(i.e episodes 6,7,19, 20 and 21), the show becomes quite a pain to sit through. This wouldn't be the case if Squealer had mais to him, but I was rooting for the monster rats out of the obligation mais than actually caring about them. Oh, yeah Squealer is a popular character, I might as well explain why I wasn't invested in him. Anyway, we are introduced to him in episode 6, where we see that his queen almost killed him and that he's the segundo command behind the queen herself(which we also see in episode 15 when he commands an army). These elements are what makes up the majority of Squealer as he is seen leading the team and trying to improve the conditions for his race. For example, in episode 15 he puts his queen in non-stop pain because of the aggressive nature she showed in episode 6. You also see this in the final arc where he goes full genocidal so that they could have their freedom. I would call this morally grey, but this was out of self-defense, there's nothing objectively wrong with what he did. If he didn't do either, several members of his race would continue to be whipped out. The most messed up thing he did was kill Maria and Mamoru, but even then he did it, so an entire race could be free. The only flaw he does have is that he is selfish(in that he would let others die for him). Aside from that, he can also be called deceitful and cunning(in which he used for good(i.e the final arc where he took out the "Gods" por ambush tacts)).
Look, Squealer isn't a bad character(he's por far the best one in the series), but the most enduring thing about him is that does necessary evils to correct this society. This made the narrative weakened him as a character due to this opposition being so unrealistic and dramatic por comparison. There's nothing to talk about, even Saki(the person shown to be the most empathetic towards the monster rats) let Squealer suffer in pain for years, which por the way, was seen por all in a museum before even deciding to do anything about it(despite being the leader and having the authority to do so). The end result is that he came off mais of a moral argument and a reflection as what's wrong with that society mais than an interesting character. He just pointed the obvious out and did what he had to. Everything there is to care about him is how he interacted with the story, we don't get to see him outside of that lens. Maybe, he'll be a good character, if he had a mais down to earth opposition and mais information about who he is personally(i.e mais slice of life moments with him).
Only Character in the Show with Lifelike Eyes
Sorry, about that 2 paragraph ramble about a character, but his character(like the village) was story woven, so it was best placed here. Anyway, another problem I have is with the powers, is that they seem rather aleatório with only the vague connection of it being controlled with the mind. This was especially showcased when kid Saturo was fighting the monster rats in the first arc(episodes 6-8, I believe). He made a tornado, boiled a lake, dividido, dividir rocks into cubbed parts, threw back several arrows, and set fogo to trees. There isn't a commonality between these things, it's a complete free for all as far as I'm concerned. To prove this point, let's look at the rules. It is stated por Shun and Saki in episode 10(and shown throughout the series), that they have to visualize it the same way as you would to do anything. For instance, for Saturo to make a tornado, he probably needed to visualize and understand what he would need to make one. That being said, they draw the resources for it out of nowhere(as they could make glass out of thin air(as seen in episode 1)) and we have no idea what these characters even know, so the characters are free to do anything at any time(with unknown limitations on the amount of power said character has). I hate this about them as the author could literally pull anything on you. The powers needed mais defined rules for them to be interesting or work in a fight, as it stands though, they suck.
Additionally, I also didn't like how SSY handled its world building and setting. It was almost exclusively explained through info dumping. Well, most people states it's boring because it's dull to look at, but that doesn't matter to me, animê has detailed artwork because so it rarely moves anyway. The reason it's boring is that info-dumping is a long lecture trying to explain a cluster of important, specific information at once. It's hard to process all the detail, let alone even care about the information if the writers just shoved it in there. Why should I care about how sexual contact idea was based upon a peaceful monkey species(episode 4)? Or that lobos inspired the pain someone goes through before the death of shame(also episode 4)? The writer didn't really use this whole society is based around animais idea(only explaining that it was indeed a thing), the average viewer only needed to know that there is a pain before committing the act and that sexual contact was found to be the best way to calm stress in that society. Both could've easily been quickly explained then shown, instead, the show goes on and on about something irrelevant to the viewer for minutos on end in one long speech. Episode 10, was especially hard to sit through since Shun thought of clarifying the difference between conscience and sub-conscience thought for minutes. This information was only needed to understand Karmic Demons(when the plot relevance of it wasn't going to matter after this episode) and is something commonly known. Good world building gives a reason to care about it first because unless the audience just so happens to find the idea interesting, no one is going to be entertained por having to sit through a lecture.
Ah, even despite this ranting, there are positives in the series, maybe I'll do a short artigo on that(as the directing, soundtrack and some of the world building was done well). Final Score: Characters:1/10