The view from Igirisu:
“It doesn’t matter what I say. No-one believes me.”
With such an overbearing aunt and uncle, that’s not really surprising. They don’t even let Airi get a word in edgeways. The stupidity of authority figures, any kind of authority figures, has become a strong theme of Erased. The characters who believe Satoru are generally the ones who have little power to change anything. That doesn’t mean they are useless to him, but we’ll come back to that.
The one key piece of information we learn this week is the killer’s motivation behind murdering Hiromi, another of Satoru’s school friends and the third victim (or at least the third victim from Satoru’s home town; the murders follow the same pattern as some earlier ones from another town). I mentioned before the significance of Hiromi being voiced by women in the sub and the dub, and having a female appearance. Very little happens in Erased by accident, and the point of Hiromi’s death is to get the police looking in the wrong place. The investigators made the assumption that Hiromi was killed because the killer thought he was a girl. They therefore focussed on investigating people who didn’t know him. There are a couple of problems with this. Firstly, the investigators at no stage made any connection with murders elsewhere. The ones mentioned in the other town had already been pinned on somebody else. The first two victims of a killer being female is surely not statistically significant. It doesn’t mean he only kills girls. You can’t draw conclusions from a data set of three. Secondly, this tactic only works if the cops are fools and don’t even consider the possibility that they were supposed to think that was the reason for Hiromi’s death. To draw up a list of suspects that exclude anyone who knew him illustrates the depth of stupidity of authority figures in Erased and it has to be said it stretches credulity a little.
Fortunately, Satoru is not without allies. Another major one is introduced this week, although we had a brief sight of him during the Revival. Sawada is an old friend of Sachiko and he is that rare thing in Erased: somebody over the age of 30 who has a brain. There’s another of those this week too: Airi’s mum. Appropriately for a time travel series, a major theme of Erased is learning from the past, and Airi’s mum embodies that. She lost her husband because she wouldn’t believe him, therefore proving there was no trust in their relationship. She isn’t about to make the same mistake twice.
“I believe you, hon. Hurry up now and go and find Satoru.”
It’s a big step, because her daughter is clearly in a lot of danger. The series continued to confound our expectations when Airi survived the fire (we’re swinging back and forth between hope and despair), while every other female character of importance in Satoru’s life has died, but her life is still on the line. I mentioned above that the characters on Satoru’s side are the ones with little power to change anything, but that doesn’t make them useless, and we can clearly see the power of Airi’s belief in him by the end of the episode.
“What would a superhero say at a time like this?”
It’s a fantastic piece of writing, because her faith in him is actually making him equate himself with a superhero, but that never for a second comes across in an arrogant way. Let’s face it, with his abilities he’s not far off actually being a superhero, but so far he has lacked much faith in his powers, constantly thinking he couldn’t change things when all the evidence points to the contrary. He just didn’t manage to change things enough. At that moment where all seems lost, he is buoyed by Airi’s belief in him and is able to find the words he needs to give her hope:
“It’s not your fault. I know I’ll get through this somehow, because I know you believe in me, so thank you, Airi. I’m glad I trusted you.”
…and the killer watches on, the rain drops pause in their descent and time freezes. The sixth episode of Erased is probably the one that moves the story on the least, just giving us a couple of snippets of information before Satoru finally gets arrested. But as a character study it has been fascinating. RP
The view from Amerika:
Episode 6 is ominously named Grim Reaper. Having left off with Airi in a burning house at the end of episode 5, this is not a good sign. Luckily, before the opening credits roll, we see Satoru outside her house ready to run in and rescue her. But when he finds her too heavy to carry down the stairs, his boss shows up to play hero, with a snide jibe, “You manga guys should really hit the gym more!” Perhaps that’s true, but dead weight is never easy to carry, even when you’re dealing with a far smaller life form. (Ask my cat!) With Airi out of the way in the hospital, everyone is looking for Satoru, and what he needs more than anything is some answers. He meets his mom’s journalist friend Sawada who has notes on what happened back when Kayo was killed 18 years earlier.
What we have here is a setup for “part two”. The first half of the season is wrapping up with this episode and Satoru needs pieces of the puzzle to start his deductions. So he’s in the “present” (for as long as it lasts) and must gather data to work out the details. Like any good armchair detective, he has no access to the actual facts, only the documentation of a friend. Like Airi, Sawada’s belief in Satoru is a highlight. While it may never form an exact science, Sawada does his own deductions realizing Sachiko didn’t raise a child that would kill her. This deduction is no leap, but Satoru has far more facts to weed through and unlike Sawada, he doesn’t know all the characters in the story well enough to make an assessment. He learns that Yuki’s father was a suspect, as was a councilman. He has gathered his facts, and now he gets a chance to see Airi once more before the second half of the story will kick in. Interestingly, things go wrong for him but even in his confusion he manages to turn to give Airi a parting line to make her feel better and let her know that he believes in her too. I don’t know how many people would actually do what he does, but I’m delighted to be watching a character who is capable of such an action. As a reward, he sees time stand still and he takes in his surroundings. There’s a man there, standing… watching. He’s covering his face but he has a dark smile creeping up his face. As the episode ends, the blue butterfly flutters by, and I know we are in for a revival! I can’t wait for episode 7.
Each episode of the series has left me with some really interesting ideas, not only related to the story, but also the art, the writing, and the character development. I love that all the decent people have faith in one another. Airi’s mom stepping into the hospital for her to allow her daughter to escape is wonderful. But I equally have to wonder about the possibility that this was planned with the police to “allow” Airi to “escape” to lead them to Satoru. I too like to be a good person and have faith, but we have to ask: isn’t it possible? To have a child leave a watched hospital room without being seen, is unlikely. To have nurses not know the difference between a mother and daughter, when they are checking on the patient… no, I don’t buy it. And when she reveals herself to the visiting Sawada, some time has gone by and presumably the police are already following her. (Notice when she calls Satoru, a car follows her and it’s not the killer!) So while I want to believe she was truly helping her daughter, this is the same woman who allowed a candy bar to destroy her marriage.
I was also very impressed by the steps Sawada goes over with Satoru about the death of Kayo. It’s horrible, don’t misunderstand. The idea that her parents beat her so badly that she froze to death… argh! I want to hurt them. (Yes, damn it, I know it’s a story and they are cartoon characters, but the idea is one that takes place in reality and it makes me sick!) Following the steps is like those later Batman: Arkham games, where you have to piece together the order of a crime to understand what happened. I find them tremendously fun because I love understanding, but I am bothered by the events. Which, I imagine, is a good thing. I also loved the use of the Grim Reaper manga Satoru talks about. It was a nice way to tie the title together while remaining a believable story to tell Airi.
The only thing that really depressed me about this episode… well, beyond everything about beating a child to death and losing faith in people… is the commentary about the world we live in. The other day at work, I accidentally complimented the way someone looked. I wasn’t being lascivious or ogling, but it slipped out. For a comically glorious second, I became like Satoru: I said it and thought, “I said that out loud!” and then the comedy passed and I cringed. One might think: this is a bad thing how? Well, mainly because it’s at work. Because of people being offended by the silliest things, one has to be careful with what one says to ones coworkers. Typically I wouldn’t dream of doing this, but it truly slipped out as I was getting ready to go to lunch. Thankfully, the person was very appreciative and even as I apologized, she said I shouldn’t be so afraid of being nice; she was grateful for the compliment. But that’s the world we’ve created: a world where complimenting ones peers could lead you to an HR interview. Or the one where helping kids in a park might lead to a comment like, “I hope he’s not a pedophile.” When Satoru is helping the kids, and we hear that mumbled in the background, it made me sick. It’s the sort of thing that might really happen. And to a certain extent, you do have to be aware of the unfortunate world of our own creation but I hope it never gets so bad that people automatically assume the worst without trying to read a person’s intentions. Please… tell me things aren’t quite that bad yet. Please? ML
Read next in the Junkyard… Erased Episode 7