Ciconia When They Cry is the next installment in the When They Cry series. Written by Ryuukishi07, the beloved author of the previous entries (Higurashi and Umineko), Ciconia is a biting critique on war, society, and human nature.
By casting its events far into the future, Ciconia seems removed from our world. However, by alluding to history, borrowing from psychology/sociology, and referencing modern concerns, Ciconia grounds its sci-fi setting with a familiar reality.
In this two-part article series, I’ll be introducing Ciconia’s setting and worldbuilding in part 1. Using some light spoilers, I hope to convey Ciconia’s rich story to a new audience. In part 2, I’ll go into further detail about how Ciconia uses history to invite your speculation and critique.
Society and Technology: the Setting of Ciconia’s Critique
Before moving onto themes, readers should understand how Ciconia borrows from its technology and setting. By creating an immersive world, Ryukishi creates tension, foreshadowing, and opportunities for creative development. Just as Ciconia’s setting mesmerizes with its sci-fi allure, its unsettling similarities creep into your thoughts.
After World War III, societies across the globe bind together, making technological leaps. To combat the nuclear fallout, the Eight Million System or 8MS was introduced. 8MS is multi-purpose nanotechnology. It regulates temperature, cleans water, reduces smell, cleans pollution, and even prevents earthquakes.
In the A3W era, mankind has conquered the elements, going so far as laughing during earthquakes. 8MS is everywhere from the skies to the ocean depths—even the human body. When it’s first introduced, an accompanying image is provided; 8MS looks unsettlingly like HIV, both invoking fear and foreshadowing events on the horizon.
Mental Displays are another futuristic invention. As their name implies, it is an innovation that allows a user’s mind to access the internet, view apps, play games, and an assortment of conveniences. However, this is a tool that (for the most part) can only be used by a younger generation—a technological divide between the old and young.
This divide gets further emphasized with Kizuna (meaning “bonds” in Japanese), an app that revolutionizes the world. Kizuna “bonds” people around the world by allowing them to understand each other; it’s a translation device that unifies the younger generation and our cast of child soldiers.
If the older generation can’t understand one another—cannot bond—it is up to the youth to mend this “divide” between their ancestors. However, Ciconia’s world is one of divisions. The landscape of global superpowers has changed, creating new alliances and interests.
New Borders and Global Superpowers: the Aftermath of World War III
The A3W era is more than its technology. It is an era with heavy political and societal changes. After the war, new borders were created and alliances formed, forever shifting the power of each nation.
Just as technology divides the young and old, the aftermath of World War III divides humanity into winners and losers. After spiritium is discovered, an enigmatic resource that powers new technology, countries that contain this resource dominate the globe.
The following are brief descriptions of Ciconia’s nations and alliances. While similarities exist with their counterparts, it’s important to grasp how much WWIII changed the world and its beliefs.
AOU: The Arctic Ocean Union is an alliance between America and Russia, the former superpowers of the B3W era—our era. To restore their strength, both countries united to regain their previous worldwide influence. To combat the massive losses in WWIII, each country now produces humans in industrial factories. Despite the AOU claiming to care about human rights, other countries are skeptical. This topic gets alluded to heavily.
COU: The Central Ocean Union is an alliance between China and India, the two most populated places in our world and the superpowers that rose in Ciconia’s B3W era. Since its founding, the COU has opposed the AOU, choosing to maintain their B3W values and traditions, thus their opposition to factory-born children.
ABN: The Abrahamic Brother Nations, or the Europe/Middle East Alliance, is a historic alliance. At the end of World War III, the three religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam united, creating an unprecedented union as a single religious nation. Within the ABN, religious tolerance is enforced and slander is outlawed by the Religious Police. While rules are strict, they are implied to be one of the few countries accepting immigrants.
ACR: The Africa Commonwealth Realm is a union of cultures and religions across the African continent. Following World War III, a hero-king united all of Africa, serving as both leader and highest-ranking member of Africa’s cultural and religious spheres. Following the AOU, the ACR also produces factory-born children, choosing to unite tradition and technology.
LATO: The Latin American Treaty Organization was formed after World War III. Blessed with many fields of spiritium, the countries of LATO quickly became the richest in the world. Their growing economy fostered a stronger military, giving rise to their eventual place as the “World Police.”
With new borders comes a new status quo. Ciconia’s world is one where those in power abuse their influence to maintain their current status. In the next article, I’ll discuss who protects each nation’s borders and how, once the walls dividing each nation fall, so do the “walls of peace.”