The view from Igirisu:
Well, now we know. There was never any doubt, was there? After all, Yashiro was really the only possible suspect. For a whodunit to follow the rules, the killer has to be guessable and has to be somebody we know. With just one adult male suspect who has featured in the 1988 part of the series with any regularity, the answer was obvious. No series is perfect, and the lack of an alternative candidate for the killer is one of the two key flaws with Erased. The other will not emerge until the final episode.
As I’ve said before, the whodunit aspect of Erased isn’t really all that important anyway. The game of cat and mouse between Satoru and Yashiro is what matters, and this week the cat catches his mouse and plays with him for a while before dealing the killing blow.
Satoru’s major failing has always been illogical assumptions. He assumed Day X was significant when it wasn’t. Then he assumed the killer would only be interested in the original three murder victims. Ironically, when he finally figures out that another child might be the target he spectacularly fails to understand that the new target is likely to be… himself. What I never saw coming was how Misato is used as bait by both of them. The way Satoru’s actions have accidentally placed her in a position of vulnerability is a bit of very clever writing: the law of unintended consequences. That needed to come into play in a time travel series about changing the past.
“People have been avoiding her, ever since that lunch money thing happened.”
Maybe she’s not quite Yashiro’s type though. Despite the tables being turned on the bully and her life becoming lonely and sad, Misato always retains that streak of meanness, barking out “move it” to Hiromi when he’s in her way. She’s hardly the quiet, vulnerable type that Yashiro seems to target. Having said that, maybe Yashiro himself misunderstands his own victims. Kayo always had remarkable inner strength, and the little we see of Aya makes it clear that she has a feisty side to her character that would never be made obvious by observing her from a distance. How lovely that she ends up dating Kazu. Once again, forming friendships proves the key to a vulnerable child’s salvation in Erased.
Just when Satoru thought he was being very clever by keeping a close eye on Misato, Yashiro was using her as bait to trap Satoru. The clues have always been there to make it abundantly clear that Yashiro is the killer, and it has been a struggle to write about this series in depth without being too direct about those clues. The lollipops in the glove box were of course the tipping point, but long before that there were all sorts of little things, such as Satoru mentioning the bus and then Yashiro clearing it out the same day. Satoru has been feeding Yashiro information from the start.
“It was so obvious. I just couldn’t accept the possibility.”
It’s a good excuse. Yashiro is the closest thing Satoru had to a father figure. Seeing his name on the list of suspects next to Sachiko’s underlines that point. It’s almost like seeing the names of two parents together. Satoru dismisses one from consideration as readily as he dismisses the other. Maybe, bubbling under the surface of the key message in Erased about the importance of friendship is another, more cynical, but equally important message: friends and family are not the same thing.
But what’s our excuse, if we didn’t guess the killer? Despite there being only one suspect who made any kind of sense, it’s actually quite understandable, because it was just so obvious that Yashiro was the killer that it makes you think: surely it can’t be him. It’s too obvious. So in that respect the whodunit aspect does work, at least up until the moment of reveal, and then we don’t care because we’re so wrapped up in the plight of Satoru. And it’s hard to see how he can possibly survive, plunged into ice cold water and unable to release his seatbelt. With his final words, he manages to get a reaction out of Yashiro:
“Yashiro! I know your future!”
That makes Yashiro pause. Is he in the process of destroying his only means of vital information? But even if Yashiro wanted to save him, it’s hard to see how that could be achieved now. There are two episodes still to go, but is this the last we will see of Satoru? RP
The view from Amerika:
I feel horrible. I watched episode 10 of this amazing series; a series which continues to defy my expectation. First of all, we’re on episode 10 of 12 and the big reveal happened. How will the last two episodes end? Second, how does so much happen in only 22 minutes?!
The first half of the episode is once again about friendship as Aya is brought into the fold. I love the fact that she’s too mature for the group and refers to superheroes and hideouts as kids stuff. I especially love how animated the …um… animation gets when she is told a hideout is “TOTALLY MACHO”. (And then Kenya’s mumbled line “she’s childish” just adds to the comedy!)
But the lighthearted nature ends quickly and my suspicions of last week all start flooding back. First, we see Yashiro watch a lonely girl leave the school, making me wonder: is this really going to happen or am I being shown a red herring? The Satoru comments that the stuff from the bus is all gone and I recall that sometime after Satoru told Yashiro about the bus is when all the stuff went missing. As Satoru is pondering the kidnappers intentions, the camera goes back to Yashiro and the voiceover says “maybe like Mr. Yashiro…”, but it continues to talk about his craving for candy which derailed me. Except it wasn’t a derail, it was a slight bend in the road. We learn that Yashiro invited Misato to the game for a reason: he has a need that has to be sated. As he drives Satoru in search of Misato, he begins laying it all out there. And when we see a broken seat belt, we know things are not good for Satoru. Everything comes together: the seatbelt, the laxative, the candy, the generic car, the food that was ordered to bring Yuki’s dad to the location… it’s all a nightmare for Satoru… and for the viewer. The only hope I had when watching is that we see images of other people including Satoru’s mom, looking out the door, waiting for her son. And we see Kayo, coming in to see her grandmother. But is any of that real, or just what Satoru imagines before he plunges into icy water to his death? And the visuals hit an all-time high.
It’s only right that visuals should make up a lot for an anime. Early in the story, when Yashiro is talking, the sunlight streaming in the window is a beautiful sight, but it’s the last moment of beauty the episode offers as our hopes will be dashed. Then I noticed a very David Lynchian thing in this story. There’s a lone traffic light beaming its red eye into the night. A clue? Perhaps. Or just a visual to tell the audience that the mystery will stop in the next few moments. And when Satoru is learning about the darkness in Yashiro’s soul, the image cracks around Satoru’s face in a stunningly cinematic way. As the snow gently falls on a quiet scene, Satoru’s life is about to be snuffed out in the cold darkness of a lake, from which no knitted gloves could offer warmth. As he goes under, he yells out to his killer, “I know your future!” But the timeline, which has always appeared as images of the film reel, start to snap. The future he knew is fading and with it…the light fades. ML
Read next in the Junkyard… Erased Episode 11