Erased (S01E08) “Episode 8”

We find out the identity of the serial killer, and 15 years later, find ourselves in a very different present. Episode 8 did a good job at the much-anticipated reveal, but also found itself buying time towards the end of the episode.

Satoru and Mr. Yashiro race after the truck that Satoru believes is being driven by the killer. While in the car, Satoru explains what he and the others have been doing, and Yashiro commends him and gives him some tea to calm his nerves. They spend time talking about people’s desires to fill voids, and how they go about doing that – but as the conversation progresses, Yashiro’s views veer into the extreme, as he implies that even bad people do what they do to fill voids, and how maybe that’s okay. What starts off as father-like advice and wise counsel, turns into chilling conversation. Yashiro then, and with the utmost calm in his voice, reveals himself to be the child kidnapper and killer, and states (to Satoru’s horror) that they’re not in his car.

After Satoru had befriended both Kayo, and more recently, Aya Nakanishi, Yashiro had suspected that Satoru was actively trying to hinder someone from reaching them; and Satoru’s appearance at the sports game all confirmed it, and made Yashiro realise that Satoru was ‘the enemy’. Satoru realises that the seatbelt is locked, as Yashiro drives away from the truck they were chasing and into private rural property, near a frozen lake. Satoru then passes out (from spiked tea) and Yashiro spends time explaining how he came to be the killer he is today. It’s a different story to that of the anime, but just as effective in motivating (but not justifying) his psychopathic tendencies. He then sets the car to automatically drive into the lake (see the image for this post), and leaves Satoru to his fate – but also makes a relatively poignant yet upsetting comment: he says that both of them have achieved something; Satoru has saved the people of the town, as Yashiro intends to leave it now, and Yashiro has gotten to murder someone with his own hands, and temporarily fill the void inside him.

We then jump to the present, where an older Kenya (who is now a lawyer and is still hung-up about Satoru’s incident from 15 years ago), is contacted by Sawada – and the two agree to investigate and find the killer. We then see what has become of Satoru. He has spent the last 15 years in a coma, being looked after his mother…

Below is my analysis of the reveal (which I think is worth a read), but otherwise I think the episode was good.  It started lacking towards the end, and I think that’s mainly a symptom of limited source material. The next four episode cover two episodes of the anime, so certain scenes are sure to be drawn out, or entirely different – which could be a good or bad thing. It’s also worth mentioning that the sub-plot involving Kenya and Sawada is entirely new to me, and will probably be a parallel focus moving forward. Adult Kenya did have an important role in the anime, but it seems like his importance is being elevated even more so. I like Kenya though, so I’m chilled with it, and hope they do a good job of fleshing him out or giving weight to his role in the story. We’re also in an entirely different present, and I’m sure time will be spent looking at the other characters from the past and seeing where they are now, including Kayo, whose future was secured by Satoru’s (selfless and ironically near-sacrificial, in retrospect) actions.

So yeah, the next four episodes are bound to be exclusively set in the present, and, as stated in my review of Episode 7, I feel both excitement and trepidation about this. I’ll keep you all updated 😉

Analysis:

I think many people (including myself, who suspected this relatively early in the anime) saw the major reveal coming, but I’m also certain a few may have been left surprised. The show definitely left a good deal of hints, but they were subtle, and one would have to first start by guessing that Yashiro is a suspect, and then actively look for supporting evidence, to come to a preemptive conclusion. But the evidence was there: he had a keen interest in the affairs of Kayo and knew of her mistreatment at home, and was frustrated when she was saved (indicated by his habit of tapping his one finger up and down repeatedly); he had a bunch of candy in his car, and then half-heartedly tried to keep up the impression that he was a sugar-addict; he had a close connection to many young students (as he was a teacher), and was trusted by them, so much so that students like Satoru would graciously accept lifts from him; he was suspiciously lurking by Aya Nakanishi’s cram-school center on one of the nights when she would walk home, and although he gave Satoru a lift, he also did his frustrated finger-tapping thing; and most importantly, he was just too nice.

It was also an expected outcome if one looked at the structure of the series – and its main cast – and then used the process of elimination; I’ll explain: this is a small-scale thriller with a small cast, and by Episode 5 or 6 it was apparent that Satoru wouldn’t be investigating a number of suspects in each episode and trying to find evidence for and against each. Knowing that the reveal would come unexpectedly, the series would need to ensure that the character was important enough (so not some unknown person) to leave some emotional impact when the reveal was made – so it must have been one of the main characters. It couldn’t be Satoru’s mother (she gets murdered), Sawada (he just visits the town for a day at one stage), Kayo’s mother (she’s evil, yes, but she just likes hitting her daughter – she’s not smart enough or has no reason to target other children, and she knows people already mistrust her), and it couldn’t have been any of the kids. Also, it almost certainly has to be a man, as we see obscured glimpses of the killer in the present. This just leaves one character from the main cast – Gaku Yashiro.

Still, I’m sure less attentive viewers, or those who just wanted to be surprised, wouldn’t have seen this coming, and the show did a good job at making it not too obvious, and did a killer job of building up and executing the reveal. Good stuff. Did you guess it from early on? I’d love to hear your comments!

Side Thoughts and Observations:

  • Baka Nano count: 10; unchanged. Now that we’re in the present, all we can hopr is that we’ll be treated with one or two more.
  • When we see scenes of Yashiro’s past, he reads a novel called the The Spider’s Thread – which was central to Yashiro’s different backstory in the anime. SPOILERS: I wonder whether he will discuss it, or make reference to it later in the series.
  • When Yashiro talks about how Satoru has saved the town, but will no longer be a part of it, it actually references the true and original name of Erased. The name for the series used in Japan, boku dake inai machi, translates to ‘The Town Where Only I am Missing’, or ‘The Town Without Me’. This refers to the fact that Satoru ends up absent from the past 18 years, and that it is almost as if he is missing from it once he’s gone into the coma. His life, his role in other people’s lives, and practically he himself, have been Erased…

 

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