The view from Igirisu:
This episode finally wraps up Kayo’s storyline, with Satoru achieving his goal of getting her taken into care. Her grandmother turns up to provide some context to what has happened: Kayo’s mum was abused by her husband and abandoned by her mother when she needed her the most. When she sees her mother again she breaks down in tears:
“I wasn’t buying it. If anything she felt sorry for herself.”
Satoru is right, of course. What Kayo’s mum went through is absolutely no excuse for the tortures she inflicted on Kayo. Seeing her in tears does little to pull on the heartstrings, but it’s useful information that makes a bit more sense of things: context, not excuse.
After a bit of moping around because his girlfriend is gone, Satoru realises pretty quickly that his job isn’t done yet. The other two murder victims also need protecting. One of them is already his friend, but the challenge will be Aya Nakanishi, who goes to a different school. He asks Yashiro for advice:
“I guess I’d get her to drop her guard first. That way I wouldn’t freak her out.”
…and later in the same episode Satoru finds a huge stash of sweets in the glove compartment of his car, which he laughs off as cravings after he quit smoking.
“What a weirdo.”
I’m not going to spoil the identity of the killer here, but I do need to discuss what this particular episode is doing in terms of giving us clues. Right from the word go, Yashiro has been the obvious candidate for the murderer, and we now have a situation where the episode is leading us even further down the path of forming that conclusion. At this stage it could still be a massive red herring. After all, it seems far too obvious that he should be the killer, and a load of sweets as bait for little girls is just the sort of clichéd red herring we might expect. However, there is also a more subtle clue. Satoru tells Yashiro about the location of Kayo’s hideout, and after that the bus is cleared out. Could those two events be connected? If so, Yashiro has an incredible poker face, as he has no reaction whatsoever to that revelation from Satoru. So we might think we know who the killer is by now, but we would still be making some assumptions.
Talking of making assumptions, Satoru is making too many of those, and it has been his major failing throughout the series. His big mistake during the first Revival was assuming that all he had to do was keep Kayo alive through Day X. In reality, the day of her death was not significant, and events shaped themselves around his interference. Now he’s making a similar mistake. He is protecting the killer’s original victims, and never for one second considering the possibility that the killer might go after somebody else instead. And due in part to his friendship with Kayo, her former bully now finds herself in a similar position to her victim: friendless and lonely. The episode ends on a shot of her mournfully heading home, a friendless child and an obvious target for the killer, ignored by “superhero” Satoru. But how can he possibly protect everyone? That brings us to his other major failing. Satoru focusses on protecting the victims but makes little effort to identify the killer. Ultimately the only way to protect everyone is going to be to catch the killer, and to do that he needs to figure out who he is. He has had plenty of opportunities, when he knew what the location of the killer was likely to be and could have lied in wait to catch a glimpse, either at the bus or at Kayo’s house. That should always have been his first priority, and failing to understand that might just be his downfall… RP
The view from Amerika:
Closure: a sense of resolution or conclusion at the end of an artistic work. There are 12 episodes in this series and we are on episode 9. Surely, closure is the furthest thing from our minds. But it is a resolution of sorts. It’s the conclusion to the story of Kayo and with it, a major part of my excitement about the series dwindled. I had become so caught up in her life and her well-being, I forgot that there were still two other kidnappings that needed solving. And that says nothing of the future murder of Sachiko. Yet half way through this episode, I felt like I had finished running a marathon. Kayo was safe. But as one door closes, another opens, and it’s my responsibility to step through and see what’s on the other side.
After monster-mom attacks Sachiko with a shovel, narrowly avoiding her head but still drawing blood, Child Protective Services arrive to take Kayo away. Surely they didn’t like hearing her call her daughter a “little retard” or swinging at a woman with a shovel! But when monster tries to fight back, her own mother shows up and we get a silhouetted story depicting the cycle of abuse. And with Kayo taken away, it can finally end. Kayo can live a happy life and not recreate that cycle. As she leaves, we again hear her recite her story, The Town Without Me. It’s a horrendously sad story and breaks my heart both times she speaks it, but now it has even more meaning, especially as Satoru runs after her car. Surely by episode 12, it will end with her reaching out to him in the future. It has to! I mean, there’s foreshadowing right? When Sachiko gets the return note from Kayo it says “next time, I want to cook with you!” There will surely be a “next time”!
Before I talk about the second half of this episode, I wanted to again compliment the artwork. My favorite moment in this story is when Satoru is considering the kidnapped children. Kayo shows up in color because she’s safe; the other two are in black and white. It’s a great visual. Also, when Kenya is speaking to Satoru about believing in him and sticking with being a detective, the music becomes more triumphant and the sun comes out and illuminates the cold landscape. Both are visually great moments. And it’s the visual things that give me pause… because I had a very uncomfortable thought when watching this episode…
It was during Satoru’s Aya-stalking that Mr. Yashiro beeps and offers Satoru and Sachiko a lift since they were carrying heavy bags. When Satoru spots something in the glove box, I was horrified! There’s even the line about finding the “evidence”! Oh, no… Yashiro is… phew, not the kidnapper! He just has a sweet tooth. For a moment the writer was toying with me. But then something hit me. What is used to lure kids into the back of strangers cars? We saw it earlier in the season when a little kid is walking with an unknown man. Sweets! (Candy and ice cream, as it were!) Nah, I’m reading too much into it, surely. But there is something else. It’s Yashiro who tells Satoru that Kayo’s grandmother now has full custody of her and it will be a little while before the authorities allow her mother to see her too. I initially took this as a nice little bow tie to wrap up Kayo’s story. But back in the alternate timeline when Kayo died, it was Yashiro who relayed that Kayo moved away. Ok, so? When Satoru was running after the car, it’s being driven by Yashiro, who has Kayo and her grandmother in the car, not the CPS people. Not even her mother is in the car with them. If we never hear from Kayo again, does that mean…
NO! It’s too dreadful to contemplate. I’m seeing menace in my own shadow now. If that were the case, why would Yashiro cry when Kayo is saved? Surely it’s someone else. Just because it’s framed like a detective story, doesn’t mean it has to be someone we’ve met yet. This is a science fiction detective story complete with time travel, after all. I guess I’ll know soon enough! ML