Last week’s episode revolved around trust, and this episode, well, it revolves around being a superhero, or in other words, being a child.
This moment where we’re told Kenya asked Satoru whether he thought of Kayo’s “solution” is emblematic of Satoru’s problem. Satoru is supposedly an adult, but what he wants to be is a hero. He finally admits it. He doesn’t care how foolish he looks, but he’ll go for justice. He’ll save people. No matter the cost, even to himself. He was about to potentially kill Kayo’s mother over it as well, right?
And Kenya was needed to talk sense into him. I actually mentioned this in my episode 3 mini-write-up, but Satoru isn’t a 29 year old man in an 11 year old boy’s body, but an 11 year old boy, who was trapped in a 29 year old man’s body, who’s now back in his original body. Kenya is far more of an adult than Satoru is. Kenya doesn’t act not because he’s a coward, but because he recognizes that there are repercussions, and limitations to his abilities. Satoru doesn’t think things through, when he sees something he needs to do, or wants to do, he just does it, like a superhero, like achild. Kayo was supposed to die on March 1st, but then died on March 3rd, after his intervention. And even if Kayo somehow survives, how will that end up saving his mother? He’s only postponing things, rather than resolving them. He’s buying time, but after he’s done so, he’s no longer actually looking to solve the case.
Furthermore, Satoru had a realization on how hard it is to handle this whole mess during the gym excursion – he needs to change enough things for Kayo to not die, but not so much that he couldn’t predict the future enough so he could save her. But now, he can’t predict the future at all. And he’s not going after fixing things, he’s content with the idyllic homestead he made with his friends, he’s content with having saved them, with seeing himself as a hero, and with being seen as one by others.
If he were an adult, truly, he should’ve realized Kayo’s “solution” made no sense at all, it’d still be their fault if it were her idea, and it’d certainly be her fault, abuse or not, over disappearing like that. But Satoru is a hero, a golden era hero who’s busy with saving people, and not actually thinking things through. Guess this is what happens when the mid-90s roll over and you’re already burnt out on comics, which began tackling the issue of repercussions around that time.
“I don’t care if it’s messy and ugly, but I’ll give it my all, so I won’t have regrets!” But such self-platitudes don’t work, which is why people turn to heroes. And it’s just make-believe, a child‘s make-believe. On that front, I also liked the very subtle callback to last episode – Kenya said Satoru kept a mask because he didn’t care for the people around him, which he’s told Kayo before, it’s easier to deal with them that way. So last episode when he thought of the thing Airi wants to hear the most, this form of “kindness”, was it him putting on a mask? In a way. Just like he put on a mask this time, and the only problem is, he’s bought into it. And the hero’s mask may not be all that different from the one he wore as “The Grim Reaper”.
A few words on how the episode looked and sounded. Episodes 5-6 were outsourced, so it’s not as surprising that they didn’t look as good as the other episodes, and in general, the present segments feel a bit more flat, with less “cinematic framing” that has so many shots just so beautifully looking. Thankfully, we once more had a multitude of such shots this episode.
On the sound front, I really liked the use of silence this episode, immediately after Satoru went back in time. I was very curious to see when and where he’d end-up, and the show kept the tension by not using any sound, until he saw Kayo next to him, and the sound returned, as time resumed its flow, and Satoru was able to breathe again.
Finally, before we return to the thematic discussion, look at this moment from episode 3, and here is how it re-appeared this episode. Satoru is much more determined and hopeful, so the music this time was uplifting rather than tense. Also, when we saw this wonderfully cute moment, I knew things won’t end well this episode. Because episode 4, and because this show doesn’t believe in ending an episode on a cheerful and comfortable note (it could be Yuuki/Jun who entered the bus, but is it?).
Additionally, here are some small things I wanted to address but got no room in the main piece:
1) Satoru still doesn’t fully trust everyone else. He’s not telling Kenya the full truth. He told Kayo he won’t lie to her, and he indeed doesn’t, but the information he’s withholding back from her is quite the doozy. Likewise with his other friend, purportedly brought over to keep Kayo company, but actually because he’s another potential murder victim.
2) Kenya said how Satoru saw himself in Kayo, in how they both presented a mask to everyone around them. But Kenya also sees himself in Kayo, in how they both have “unhappy homes”, which he subtly hinted at. He did also say earlier in the episode that he expected Satoru to hate Kayo for being similar to him, which makes you wonder if he also hated Kayo, somewhat. And that may be part of why he was angry with himself over not helping her, because he thought it came from his “hate”, which he knows is not rational.
3) Just a funny aside, but I too feel the same whenever I’m about to eat cafeteria food.
4) “No need to thank me, we’re friends,” which is exactly why you should thank your friends, exactly because there’s no need. You thank them for that willingness to help. Just so. Even Kenya, who understands Satoru’s a hero for his motivations, still has what to learn. He’s still a kid too, even with his amazing perception.