The view from Igirisu:
Without spoiling the end of Erased, when we eventually get to find out who the killer is let’s just say it didn’t confound my expectations at all. This is a series with so few potential suspects that it’s not difficult to figure things out. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the whodunit aspect isn’t all that important anyway. Instead, the key to Erased is Satoru’s Revival abilities and the game of cat and mouse between Satoru and the killer. But considering the obviousness of the killer, the writers actually do quite a good job at misdirection. I’ve mentioned some red herrings before, without making it too obvious that I’m talking about red herrings, but I think the characterisations are so clever that we can never quite be certain, and that’s because everyone is just so perceptive in Erased. It’s a genius move, because if you have main characters who are routinely incredibly astute, you are never quite able to figure out if they are all very intelligent, or are somehow party to knowledge we are not aware of.
Kenya is of course our ultimate example, and last week we saw how he figured out quickly that something was up with Satoru, but we can never quite be sure about him due to his secret meetings with Yashiro. Of course, Sachiko is so perceptive that we have a running joke of Satoru calling her a witch in his thoughts. This week she figures out exactly what is going on with Satoru and Kayo, to the extent that when they turn up on her doorstep she already has extra food in and some pyjamas for Kayo. She is of course a character who is above suspicion, but it just adds to a background picture of characters who are really on the ball. Then we have Yashiro, who delights Satoru by getting the authorities involved in Kayo’s case, and also says this:
“I have a feeling Kayo’s safe. In fact, I’m positive she is.”
There, in a nutshell, is the genius of making everyone so perceptive, because these words could just have easily come out of the mouth of Sachiko. We simply can’t tell if Yashiro is similarly figuring things out by quiet, intelligent observations, or if he is gaining knowledge by other means.
In the meantime, Satoru has to move on to his plan B in his attempts to protect Kayo, having discovered that the bus is the very definition of a lion’s den. We start the episode with the killer entering the bus while Kayo hides inside. He is clearly angry, taking out his frustrations on a box, so Satoru’s actions are frustrating him. The footprint he leaves on the box is a little convenient. I’m sure many of us have kicked a box or two in frustration in our time (is that odd? Maybe I have more boxes in my life than the average person), and you know what doesn’t do the kicking? The sole of the foot. The toe makes a hole instead. I can’t imagine you would ever leave a perfect impression of the sole unit of your boots by kicking a box, even allowing for the weather conditions. The same plot point could have been achieved more sensibly by Satoru observing footprints on the floor of the bus, or in the snow outside.
So instead of the bus, Satoru takes Kayo to his mum. This is an episode charged with emotion. Satoru finally gets his birthday present from Kayo:
“It feels like… I dunno… like I’ve been waiting for this forever.”
He starts tearing up, and it’s a moment that is symbolic of his achievements. Kayo continues to pull on our heartstrings. Note how successful she is in stifling a scream when the killer enters the bus. Terror is part of her everyday life, and crying out would probably be something that would make things worse for her when her mother is abusing her. Then there is a heartbreaking moment when Sachiko pats her head and she flinches. A hand coming towards her head doesn’t normally mean kindness.
Kayo’s evening with Sachiko is her first proper experience of family life, getting mothered for the first time. Then at breakfast she breaks down in tears when she sees the food that has been prepared for her, something that has obviously been beyond her wildest dreams. It’s cleverly shot through her own eyes (quite literally), with the opening and closing of her eyes alternating between what she sees laid out for her on the table and what she normally sees: a pot noodle, or a couple of coins to go and buy something and eat it on a bench in the cold. It puts into perspective Yuuki’s reaction last week when he learnt that Kayo has friends now, shaking with the emotion of that news. It’s emotional enough watching an anime about this kind of thing. Imagine witnessing it in real life and being powerless to help. Shocking.
And we end with another fabulous cliffhanger, with Kayo, Satoru and Sachiko turning up at Kayo’s house. Somebody has a plan… RP
The view from Amerika:
Episode 7 ended with another cliffhanger: someone boarded the bus, kicked a box, and scared Kayo… and then left. Who was it, and why were they there? Is Kayo out of the woods yet?
The obvious answer is no. We’re on episode 8 of 12; we can’t be safe yet. But whoever walked into the bus walked right back out again. Yet that leaves me with the only nagging question I have so far: why didn’t the person notice the heat. Surely it was warmer in the bus than it should have been; how come the invader didn’t notice? It’s a minor quibble; the person might not have been in there long enough to notice. Perhaps his impotent rage blinded him. But it’s been the only thing that troubled me about the episode.
Moving past that, this episode again demonstrates the power of friendship as well as the power of parenthood. Let’s talk about the latter first. When Sachiko gives Satoru the breakfast-to-go, she includes a note to Kayo. She also goes out of her way to have a pair of pajamas for Kayo. The recurring line “witch” is used by Satoru to comment on how his mom “reads him like a book”, but it’s a testament to parenthood. She does know what’s going on without having to be told. (One could argue that’s at the heart of the series: the stark contrast between Kayo’s upbringing and Satoru’s. In fact, this very thing brings Kayo to tears later in this story! Along with that, there’s something so sad in the instant Sachiko goes to pat Kayo on the head, and we see her flinch. Very sad indeed… and all too real, if you ask me!) When Satoru runs out of ideas, realizing that the bus is in the center of all the trouble – a visual marvel showing the bus in the center of the film knot – Sachiko is put on the spot to help Kayo out. Her reaction? “This is exactly what friends are for!” She understands what it means to help a friend and she’s willing to go out on a limb for it. Friendship and parenthood; two mainstays of any healthy upbringing and this quiet little anime captures both beautifully.
The episode is a little lighter than the previous ones, adding a much needed sense of humor. Let’s face it: this is a heavy series, especially when we find the kidnapper’s murder bag! So laughter is indeed required to make it through the next few episodes. When Kayo asks Satoru if he could spend the night, the reaction from everyone is hilarious. Similarly, when Sachiko is sleeping in the room between Kayo and Satoru and asks if she’s in the way; Satoru’s answer earns him a comical thwack on the head. Also funny is when Satoru is sitting outside the bathroom hearing the shenanigans going on between his mom and his friend. He seems to be short of breath until he reminds himself, “hello! You’re 29!” (Before anyone takes umbrage with my not taking umbrage over these moments, considering things I’ve said in the past, none of these moments feel lascivious. They are played lightly and for laughs. I can accept that without any issue!)
In the realm of science fiction, the main lure for me with this series (even if it rapidly became a secondary element), I love that Satoru has a future memory about a trip to the mountainside. His reaction is funny too, but it’s the idea of him being 29 reliving his youth that makes that memory so wonderful. It wasn’t necessary, but the writers realized it added depth. I appreciate that! Also, the moment Satoru runs past a girl waiting to cross the street is also a great moment. As the viewer, we see her name tag and realize she’s one of the other kidnap victims. And at least for now, she’s alive and well.
And in the realm of allegory, I found a beautiful thing in Kayo’s gift of gloves. It hit me when Satoru started crying: “cold hands, warm heart”. Kayo realizes Satoru literally has cold hands because he lost his gloves, but his warm heart saves her and she thanks him for it by warming his hands. It’s a simple gift, a simple gesture too, but it carries a tremendous punch when the thought hits home. (Luckily, a gloved punch, but a punch nonetheless!)
The episode ends with Kayo reuniting with her mother. Her monster… um, sorry, mother is about to strike her when Satoru and Sachiko step out of the shadows. Where will we go from here? ML
Read next in the Junkyard… Erased Episode 9