The view from Igirisu:
The first half of this episode feels like a rather depressing tying up of loose ends. Kayo is dead and gone, Satoru has failed, so it’s all pretty bleak. There are a few points of interest though. Firstly, there’s the teacher’s “is there something on your mind” taunt to Satoru, which makes the class laugh because they are still in Satoru’s-got-a-girlfriend mode. Considering the teacher is at the very least fully aware of Kayo’s home situation and is also aware that she has disappeared at this point, it seems unusually cruel.
Six days after the death of Kayo, Aya Nakanishi gets kidnapped, “sooner than she should have been”. That raises the question of why that has happened. Have Satoru’s actions in attempting to protect Kayo worried the killer and prompted him to act more quickly, or is he emboldened by having achieved his goal with Kayo despite Satoru’s best efforts? Finally, we are presented with the hideous sight of Kayo’s mother throwing out her daughter’s possessions, with that creepy, inhuman smile on her face. She really is a monster, and it’s no wonder Satoru runs away screaming.
That moment of heightened emotion brings the Revival (and therefore widescreen!) to an end and he’s back in 2006, and once again on the run. First he turns to his boss for help. Blink and you’ll miss it, but there’s a print of the Last Supper on the wall, while Satoru shares his last supper with the Judas boss who is about to betray him. Then his ray of hope turns up: Airi.
“You’re an idiot.”
Her similarity to Kayo is remarkable and poignant. It’s not just her attitude to life. In a flashback sequence we see the reason why she is so keen to believe Satoru: he father was falsely accused of theft and it destroyed his life. The authorities in Erased aren’t coming across all that well so far! But in that flashback the child version of Airi bears a striking similarity to Kayo.
“If someone believes in you, you’re not alone.”
This continues the theme of the importance of friendship from the last episode. Satoru’s friendship made a huge difference to Kayo’s life in her final days, and now her lookalike is making a huge difference to Satoru’s life. But the odds are mounting against them. Their boss is seen talking to a mysterious man in a position of power, who is clearly the killer. Of course, we don’t get to see his face. We learn that a child disappeared three years ago, so his killings didn’t stop in 1988. Airi learns of her boss’s betrayal, snaps his phone in half and then punches him in the face, which is a moment that will probably have most viewers cheering at the television. The fact that he has been set up as a weaselly love rival for her affections makes us like him even less. He’s got no chance.
Then, after a chilling text from the killer, Airi is trapped in a burning building. Is this why the three women in Satoru’s life all go into silhouette in the opening title sequence? Sachiko and Kayo are both dead. Is Satoru about to lose Airi as well? Surely no series could be that cruel?
Now that’s how you do a cliffhanger ending… RP
The view from Amerika:
It’s truly amazing how much can be crammed into a 22 minute episode. It doesn’t feel overloaded and keeps me wanting more. Why is that, exactly? In “act 1”, Satoru has to come to terms with the missing Kayo but upon seeing her mother throw away a bag containing her mittens, he snaps, runs off and “act 2” begins with him back in the present. His mom is still dead, but he learns that his involvement did change the past. If he could only go back again, he’d be able to really save Kayo. But even in the future, there’s a dark shadow lingering over Satoru…
The first act gives us information: Satoru’s mom was the one responsible for suppressing his memories of the event; she didn’t want him growing up with horrible memories. We also learn that the second kidnapping still happened, but faster than last time. It isn’t until act 2 that we confirm that his actions have an impact. This is a much needed episode in that regard: it tells the viewer, “Don’t worry; he can change things” because up until this point, there’s been the question of whether or not any of what he does actually matters. We now know, they do. He just has to figure out how to make it all meaningful. And that’s the other thing we can see in this story: Satoru is a detective throughout, he’s always deducing. As a kid, he observes the footprints in the snow and as an adult, he realizes that his mom’s bag and phone were missing from the crime scene. This episode establishes that he has a chance to solve the puzzle. And it also leaves that missing phone to be used later…
It also establishes that friends can be found even in dark times. “If someone believes in you, then you’re not alone.” Well said. Satoru has Airi to help him but Airi’s faith may not be enough. After cracking her boss in his face (justifiably) she finds herself being stalked by the killer. Before she has a chance to escape, she’s caught in a house fire. Things are heating up!
There are, as usual, items of note that rise this above just a simple cartoon. The advanced nature of the story certainly counts. There’s also hints of humor, which I steadfastly believe need to be there, especially in dark times. Referring to his friend as a “knob” was comical, but it’s really Airi’s “you’re an idiot” that makes me chuckle. Then there’s those subtly clever things like the brief image of the painting The Last Supper. While I don’t think it’s spiritually symbolic, it may represent a final act. As death is so prevalent in this series, with Sachiko’s death, Kayo’s disappearance and the death/abduction of other children we haven’t come to know, this painting may be more important than we think. If nothing more, even for Airi, her last supper is left on the ground after she belts the manager, never to be eaten. And it’s not just visuals that impress me. The musical cue when Satoru realizes what Kayo’s mother has thrown away is intense. It signifies horror, desperation, and loss. It’s such a perfectly realized moment that it’s no wonder it sends Satoru back to the future. But will he be able to do anything with his return to tomorrow? Unsurprisingly, the answer lies in the past… ML