The view from Igirisu:
It’s time for the final confrontation between Satoru and Yashiro, which is actually over within a few minutes, so it is interspersed with flashbacks to Satoru preparing for the moment. We find out the exact point at which his memories returned. It was very guessable that Kayo’s visit was the trigger, but the specific moment where her baby touched his hand is rather poetic. We also learn the extent to which his old school friends have been inspired by him. Hiromi has become a doctor due to his many visits to the hospital to see Satoru over the years, while Kenya has become a lawyer, his drive to catch the killer giving him an interest in law. Now his friends are ready to stand together with Satoru, and they all believe in him.
“I guess we say it because we want to give someone hope.”
The key message of the importance of friendship carries right through to the end of Erased. Satoru was only able to achieve what he has with the support of others. Of course, Yashiro is inflicted with a warped version of some very similar emotions. Satoru is also of vital importance to him, and that game of cat and mouse in 1988 has come to define him. It’s a familiar storyline: the hero and villain developing a connection with each other, perhaps a respect for each other, and finding that their lives have become defined by each other’s existence, but in this instance that very much runs in just one direction:
“I make you feel alive.”
If you look carefully there is a moment where you can see the spider’s thread attached to the top of Satoru’s head connecting him to heaven. This is what Yashiro sees, which he spoke about a couple of episodes ago. Yashiro never gets to cut Satoru’s thread, but in his moment of defeat he visualises his own thread, reflected in a puddle, and watches it snap. The game is over.
After the impossible vision of all his childhood friends together in school in 1988, which stirs the heartstrings, we move forward to 2010, with Satoru going home for a reunion, and then finally the romantic plot with Airi is wrapped up.
“Mind if I hang out here with you until it stops?”
The first time I watched this I was quite disappointed. It’s probably because I’m such a fan of romance in anime, and the reconnection between Satoru and Airi seemed tacked on, merely a post-credits coda. The loss of their original connection in the aborted timeline felt like a bitter tragedy. On second viewing I didn’t mind so much. Romance was never the focus of Erased, so in the end it’s just a lovely little bonus, and enough to indicate that the paths of these two people were fated to converge anyway. Satoru and Airi belong together. Her age is also more appropriate than in the aborted timeline. In 2010 she is now no longer a high schooler and would be about 20, while Satoru must be around 32, or 33 if he’s had his birthday yet. Funnily enough their age gap and the ages at which they meet in the new timeline is exactly the same as my wife and myself. I’ve never been a superhero though, but neither was Satoru, really. The support of his friends and family raised him up to be the best person he could possibly be, and that spark of inspiration travelled in both directions.
“I never stopped believing either.”
It has been nearly a year since I first wrote an overview of Erased and identified it as the best anime series I had ever seen. Nothing in the meantime has emerged to knock it off the top spot in my mind, and I have loved watching it again. Thank you for reading what I had to say about Erased, and thank you to my friend Mike for accompanying me on this journey. May there be many more. RP
The view from Amerika:
How will it all end? How will Satoru, incapacitated as he is and at the mercy of a murderer, get out of this situation? The spider’s web connecting him to the heavens is looking very fragile indeed.
OK, it’s important to compliment the art again before we get to the story. There’s a moment where a water droplet falls and hit the ground with force. It coincides with the news being shared. There was no way to show a shoe dropping, but it works with the same implied meaning. I’ll come back to the artwork once more in a moment. Again the theme of friendship and family are at the heart of what goes on and I respect this series immensely for that. And comedy still has a place even in this emotionally charged episode as Satoru once again monologues that his mom is a witch for her ability to know what he’s thinking.
Right from the start, we are clued in to when Satoru’s memory returned. It was the moment he touched hands with Kayo’s baby; the baby whose name meant Future. In touching the future, he remembered the past. The film reel reconnects in another visual masterpiece and his memories are restored. This leads us to an Oceans 11 style “fill in the blanks” moment. We see some of the missing time from before the rooftop scene and Satoru tells Kenya and Hiromi about what he remembers and in that instant, the friends are back, proving once again that time does not diminish the power of true friendship. We also see him sharing information with his mom, his other lifelong friend. Classic movie stuff here: the background
that will make sense of where we are now. And that’s OK. If we had that to begin with, the surprise wouldn’t feel as rewarding. But it is rewarding. Its clever and dangerous, but it does reward the viewer. Satoru works it out and tricks the bad guy… and wins the day. If there’s one thing I expected to be explained away that wasn’t, it was the rescue of Satoru from the icy depths. Yashiro says he did it, but with very little explanation. I did notice that the car was only front-deep in the lake so it doesn’t look like it was submerged that badly that Yashiro couldn’t get in and either force the seatbelt that child-Satoru couldn’t, or perhaps he had a knife to cut the offending seatbelt. Whatever it was, the lack of a detailed explanation does not spoil the triumph of the series.
The Japanese are big fans
of Sherlock Holmes (justifiably) and there is a distinct sense of Holmes/Moriarty to the Satoru/Yashiro relationship. Even the notion that one completes the other is very much the connection Holmes has to his arch-rival. As Satoru is about to be dropped over the side of the building, Yashiro cries because he knows Satoru is right: only Satoru understands him. No one else gets him or truly knows him. Only Satoru and in killing that one person, he is effectively alone in the universe. And I think that’s why he laughs when he sees Satoru alive; saved by his friends. It’s not a megalomaniac laugh; it’s a genuine, happy laugh. And it illustrates again the mirror opposite; the Holmes to the Moriarty. One is a force for good and has friends, the other is a negative force and is alone. Also like Moriarty, the spi
der in the center of a web, Yashiro sees the spider’s web connecting people. The allegory is drawn home too by the camera focusing on a distant spider web in some obscure corner of the rooftop. In some ways, the actions we are seeing in this story take place in a corner of the world. It touches on very few souls in the grand scheme, but where Satoru goes, he makes things better. He’s put his friends on a path. One becomes a lawyer, one a doctor, one is married (to the wrong person, if you ask me) with a child. Even Misato has done well for herself. The webs that was we weave are as much about people as they are the web of time.
And speaking of the web of time, I wondered why Satoru remained in a coma for 15 years, instead of 18. Everything Satoru has done comes from the knowledge of a time line that no longer exists. But his actions are all about choices. He chooses to be the bigger person and then ends up in a coma as the town goes on without him; once again reiterated by Kayo’s story, A Town Without Me. But perhaps the answer to the 15 year gap comes at the end at the latter part of the post credits when a certain glowing blue butterfly flutters by once more. The credit
s and early post credits show us that some time has gone by since he defeated his Moriarty. He is now a successful manga writer. On a cold day, he goes for a walk and finds himself under the bridge where once before he needed someone to believe him in lost timeline. Our butterfly passes by and Satoru notices it, and he follows its path until he settles on a young girl who runs to be with him under the bridge. His tear-filled eyes recognize her: Airi! Perhaps he is finally back where he was meant to be and that young girl symbolizes a new start for him. And he is now successful, not a “failure” working in a pizzeria. He can offer something to her now as she offered him her belief and her hope once before.
In the end, this series is one of friendship, family, hope and kindness. And it can best be captured by the artwork which reminds us that even in the day-to-day, we can always choose to be extraordinary. ML
Read next in the Junkyard… Another Episode 1