(The order of the two main topics in this post have been switched around, so the big spoiler will be after the “Read more” tag, rather than before.)
Theme-wise, this episode really started by hitting things right at the point I’ve been discussing all along, of the twin themes of superheroes and naivete (or childishness), with Aya telling them that they are playing at being superheroes. And this episode was exactly proof of what happens when you play at it – there are repercussions. The theme of “The superhero’s sacrifice” also came here, through Yashiro’s mouth, as he’s telling Satoru he won, but is also presenting him with the bill of saving everyone else – his own life.
And this is a common theme, to save everyone, you must give up your own life. I mentioned it in last week’s write-up, how impossible it is to actually save everyone, to make sure absolutely no one is ever alone. Even trying will quite literally cost you your whole life, every single moment of it. And we can all think of stories, time-travel or otherwise, anime or otherwise, where the cost for saving one person is one’s life, or at least one’s happiness. Plenty of superhero stories are like this as well, with them ending up clutching the corpse of their loved ones, as they went to save the world. So, Satoru’s getting a crash course.
Yashiro also pulled a very Joker / Samurai Flamenco moment, but again something that is quite common in superhero stories, especially in Batman’s, the mirroring between superheroes and villains, though I think it could be applied to most people and most actions – actions that interact with others, actions that change our lot in the world, are all about trying to fill in the holes we’re unhappy with in our own lives. And just as Yashiro went on to say, “The most enjoyable moment in our lives keeps shifting,” there’s always something else to chase – there’s always someone else to save. Being happy, according to these two, is impossible, without paying the cost of one’s own life. Or, the inability to be content is exactly the source of motivation. Which is almost a tautology. It’s all about how you channel said motivation, and motivation is what Satoru lacked up to this point in his life. And here he regained it, by becoming discontent, and ended up paying with his life. If the show were to end here, the message would be, “Be content with your lot,” but it’s not over just yet, is it? Cause that’d be a terrible message, one to leave us rotting in our cubicles.
Well, they really had someone say “Keikaku dori” in this episode, didn’t they? (TL Note: “Keikaku Dori means “Just as planned”.)
This episode shocked and surprised me. No, not about the reveal, but about how it’s handled. This show’s music is done by Yuki Kaijura, and up to now when the show wanted us to feel the tension, or the mounting dread, it knew how to bring her signature style of music to bear for those moments. But this episode? When we’ve had the camera focus on Yashiro’s gloves, and then on his tapping finger, and most of all after the “After all, this is not my car” moment, I expected the music to start wailing, but alas, it was quiet. Yes, we got a very muted drum beating after the last one, but it wasn’t what I expected.
Yes, we had the dread mounting with the visual cues I mentioned above, and with the way the discussion went around the topics that the killer would have interest in, but that’s what the manga has to bear. A lot of what made BokuMachi such a great production up to now has been exactly its attention to detail, with careful and beautiful shot-framing everywhere (speaking of which, here is the weekly collection of important/beautiful shots), but this is all what the manga already had to offer – plot and visuals. Anime, aside from movement, has sound to play with, and this episode didn’t do that, which I found unfortunate.
It’s interesting to try and guess what’s going on from a meta-production perspective, by which I mean, this episode really didn’t feel like a climax. It wasn’t as cathartic as Kayo’s homecoming to Satoru’s house sort of thing, and this show, well, it really does know how to pull cliffhangers, even mid-episode, right? So here we are, just seeing everyone else looking around, together, in the warmth. It feels almost normal. The only thought I’m having then is that this episode isn’t actually meant to be a climax, but the climax is to come.
This sort of fits what I’ve said all along, that the show is a thriller, not a mystery. We’ve all “sort of knew” who the killer was up to now, because the show has been really unsubtle about it all along. So the reveal of the murderer’s identity was never really what this was all about. What it’s about at this point is two things: The first, the mounting dread as we see Satoru get into the car, and spend time with the killer. We can all see the noose, but he can’t. That’s a source of tension. The other is, what will Satoru actually do once he finds the killer? Now he found him (well, sort of!), so what will he do? And what about the present?
This episode felt sort of weak, and not just about Yashiro’s villain face, but because it really did feel like the show could’ve made much more of it. So, this was a non-climax. Makes me really curious what the climax will look like, but still think that even if it’s intentionally a non-climax, it could’ve done with a more dramatic delivery.
Two small asides:
- I did like how Satoru spoke of turning Misato into bait, while Yashiro was the one who turned her into bait for Satoru.
- When Satoru said his very lengthy goodbye to his friends, with “See you tomorrow!”, I did find it a bit silly, but their words later on made me realize what’s going on (and he later did the same with his mother) – for him, each time he sees his friends, and his mother, could very well be the last. He doesn’t know whether he’ll get pulled back to the present, and thus not meet them again, perhaps forever in case of his mother. So he makes these goodbyes count.