“Palm of the Hand”
The view from Igirisu:
This week we get the debut of the opening and closing title sequences and the first outing for the fabulous ending music. Both sequences are metaphorical rather than literal, with the ending particularly creative artistically. The opening tends to showcase feelings and fears rather than actual events, with the grim reaper putting in an appearance, blood soaking across the screen, the wonderful Revival effect and the school being flooded, presumably a metaphor for events spiralling out of control.
Once again, there is a huge amount packed into 20 minutes. We get to see some new possible suspects. There is a brief introduction to the teacher, Gaku Yashiro, but much more of a focus on Satoru’s friend Kenya. Bearing in mind that we can’t rule out the killer being a child in 1988 at this stage, Kenya is a fascinating character. He is oddly mature, which can be explained away by his great intelligence, but he is remarkably perceptive for a child. He is the first to notice Kayo’s sufferings, and he immediately realises that Satoru is a like-minded friend who wants to protect her, cutting through all that childish you’ve-got-a-girlfriend stuff. We also meet Satoru’s other childhood friends, including Kazu and Hiromi. The latter is voiced by female voice actors in both the sub and the dub and looks feminine but is actually a boy. This sort of thing is often played for laughs in anime, but Erased is mature enough to be matter-of-fact about it, and maybe it might serve another purpose further down the line…
Then we have Kayo, and she’s immediately fascinating. We get brief glimpse of her mother, first with that incredibly creepy smile of hers, and then beating Kayo, animated tastefully but shockingly, without being gratuitous. It is obvious right from the start that Kayo is a remarkable person, holding herself together despite living a horrendous life. She has an enforced maturity to her, and at one stage her philosophy echoes that of Airi in the first episode. Her essay is all about escaping. She also manages to retain a sense of humour, although it is understandably dark humour:
“Does that mean you’d kill to protect me?”
But it also indicates a lack of understanding about what a friendship actually means. If Satoru is actually going to form a friendship with her, which he wants to do in order to save her, Kayo is somehow going to have to learn what that means. She is going to need to learn how to be a child.
The meetings between Satoru and Kayo are very interesting, and beautifully animated, particularly their moment in the park in the snow, with their breath visible in front of their faces. We get our first indication of the complexity of how Revival works:
“Take it easy dude, you’re 29. Why are you getting all flustered?”
This is of course because it isn’t a simple matter of a 29-year-old developing feelings for a 10-year-old. Revival isn’t just about Satoru inhabiting his younger body. It’s much more of a union of his two selves. A large part of Satoru now is the child he used to be, and the child he has become again.
Even while packing in so much, this episode found times for the quieter moments of reflection, and it had an important lesson for us:
“I let times like this slip by without even thinking about it.”
The moment where Satoru walks back into his childhood home for the first time is done brilliantly, with the camera panning back as he takes in the scene, a look of joy on his face. Later the simple act of sitting at a dinner table with his mum and eating her home-cooked meal makes him cry without quite understanding his own emotions. He also apologises for getting angry with his mum earlier in the day, which is of course something that happened pre-Revival. It’s a powerful message: make the most of what you’ve got in life, and appreciate it, because one day those precious moments will be gone for good. We can’t go back into the past like Satoru, but we can perhaps all appreciate what we have in the present a little bit more. RP
The view from Amerika:
Episode two continues the mystery that started with Satoru finding himself 18 years in his own past. Wondering why he’s back there and if he will have to relive those 18 years, he goes about the life of his 10 years old self. But with nearly two decades of additional life experience, some of his memories are a bit vague and he struggles to even remember where he sat in his classroom. Luckily, those friends he made back then are still around, because for them no time has passed, and they help him acclimate without ever realizing what he’s going through.
One of the things I love about this series, and we will definitely be seeing more of it, is that it focuses on true friends and the bonds of family. Satoru’s friends help him adjust. He starts to work on how to be a good friend and through Kayo, will live the motto “a friend in need, is a friend indeed”. Not understanding why he was sent back 18 years, he tries to see what it is he has to change and observes something of his classmate, Kayo. He starts to work out that, just maybe, Kayo is why he’s back in the past. And his friend Kenya (oddly, voiced by a woman in the dub, even though the character is male) proves to be very clever indeed, realizing something is up with his friend Satoru. In fact, it’s Kenya who points Satoru to some school essays after believing Satoru has a crush on Kayo. Rather than belabor the point with the rest of the group, he allows Satoru to deal with that on his own, but draws his attention to the essay because even he can see it’s a cry for help. Her essay, “A Town Without Me”, is both beautiful and dreadfully sad. It is indeed a cry for help. Evidently, Kayo is an interesting character. She’s a loner. She’s cynical and distant. And she’s beaten rather brutally by her mother which we see in a violent silhouette that rips our heart out, and may even bring us a bit of rage that any human being can do this to another, let alone their own child… Her life experiences have taught her how to read people and her comment to Satoru, “you’re fake too” is eerie in its accuracy, although she can’t possibly know how right she is.
Episode 1 set the stage for who Satoru is and what his ability is all about. Episode 2 sets us up for what he has to do, presumably, to correct the future. In the process, we get some truly stunning visuals. The scenes at the park, particularly at the end of the episode are both melancholy and utterly beautiful. There’s something about Kayo standing alone in the cold park that screams “take her in”; someone needs to help and protect her. Thankfully, Satoru realizes this too. I was also gobsmacked by the film reel again. I love the use of it to indicate a passage of time and I found the brief image of it burning even more amazing considering this is anime; someone drew this! The scene of Satoru running past Kayo and the image going into slow-motion was cinematic, again making me forget this was an animated series.
For such a heavy series about the death of a child and the murder of one’s parent, it can’t stay all bleak if one wants to hold the attention of the viewer. Little moments of comedy are the subtle touches that really enhance a series like this. It’s not overdone, or it would take away more than it would add. As it happens, it adds beautifully throughout the series. Kayo’s “you’re an idiot” makes me chuckle frequently. (Maybe one day I’ll share a personal anecdote about that to add spice to this story!) When Satoru tells his friends that he’s not in love with Kayo, he says “I’m just curious about her!” His friend replies, “That’s the same thing!” I had no idea! By that logic, I might have to speak to someone about myself… And my favorite, which will crop up again, is Satoru’s belief that his mother might just be a “witch” as she always seems to know what he’s thinking. (What he won’t know until one day when he’s a parent is: that’s just the mark of a loving parent!) And that brings me back to the beginning: this is a story about family, friends, and appreciating those around us. There’s an old phrase, “you can’t go home again”. In essence, it means what’s gone is gone. Satoru has a chance to relive a part of his life, and he clearly appreciates it so much more now. In some ways, life is cruel that way. We often don’t know or appreciate what we have until it’s gone. Satoru has a chance to both appreciate those things and to prevent himself from losing some of them. While his situation may have been spurred by tragedy, this may be a gift of epic proportions. ML
Read next in the Junkyard… Erased Episode 3