This show hasn’t always been even. The episodes in the present time in particular were somewhat lacking, in tension when the tension was paramount, and in small and comfortable moments when the show veered more in that direction (in the second half), which made sense, since Kayo was stuck in the past. Thankfully, last episode was pretty small and comfortable and good, and this episode? This episode was great. It didn’t give me the same amount of smiles and tears as episode 8 did (Kayo’s highlight episode, and being brought into the Fujinoma household), but it was at least that level of great. Can’t think of a better episode of the show, and it’s always nice to end on a very positive note, isn’t it?
My write-ups for BokuMachi have always focused on the themes of the show, and this episode, as befits a finale, not made use of them all, but also tied them all neatly together, so let’s look at some of them.
I was really curious where they’d go with the show after last episode. As I wrote about that episode, it didn’t really feel like a climax, because of the delivery, and I wondered what they’d do now that they’ve done away with the protagonist and us still having two episodes left. Then after Yashiro’s monologue at the beginning, I actually thought that after Satoru’s proclamation, he saved him from drowning, like the hamster, and kept him in a cage, to ply him from his knowledge. Well, the reveal about 6 minutes in worked. They dragged it on and on, and it was effective, so good job there.
Speaking of effective versus non-effective, or rather “Effective versus overbearing,” look at Sachiko’s tears. A heart-felt moment, I teared up myself. When it comes to tears, less really is more. Unlike what we got when Satoru was crying, which had me chuckling a bit, because, I mean, just look at it :P Also in that scene, I can’t really tell if adult Hinazuki is voiced by Yuuki Aoi or not. Half the time she sounds like her, and half the time not. I like this voice. I wish anime voice acting were more naturalistic in general, y’know? Just as I like Hayami Saori a lot more when it’s natural.
(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.
Direct and concise.
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.
You know how a continuous story that makes sense works? It has something happen, then it has something else happen that directly follows the first event, and so on and so forth. It’s the same with themes, where today’s thematic discussion has to correspond with and grow out of yesterday’s, for the story to make sense as a whole.
So, where are we in terms of themes with the show? Episodes 5 and especially episode 6 were all about trust. Episode 6 also introduced the “What would a superhero do?” style of thinking, that led to episode 7 revolving around being a superhero, about being naive. And while episode 8 last week seemed like it wasn’t all too thematically relevant, and served mostly as a break within the story, it actually drove home that Satoru is complacent, that he cares a bit more about being recognized as a superhero than being one, truly.
This episode made me realize, I want to protect that smile.
Not just Kayo’s, but child-Satoru’s as well, and if there’s anything episodes 3 had shown us, which last week’s episode had reiterated again, Satoru’s still a child, and was never allowed to grow up. Well, seeing him in this happy situation, and Kayo as well, and I’d like them to be suspended in it forever, warm and fluffy and everything.
I guess this is a good way to make us care for the tension and thriller – you can make us care because it’s just well-directed, but it always works better when we supply the dread on our own, and the show just feeds into it. We supply it on our own because we sympathize with these kids, and want them to have a happy life. A life without cliffhangers. On that note, I’m very happy this episode didn’t actually end on a cliffhanger, and no, that final confrontation doesn’t fill me with tension. I mean, does anyone here think Satoru’s mother can’t control the situation? I suspect that the teacher raised the option of Kayo staying with the Fujinumas, indefinitely, and perhaps this confrontation is to get Kayo’s mother to agree, before the Child Care Agency will take her away.
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.
This week’s episode was very much a continuation of last week’s episode, in terms of themes. You can read some thematic discussion I did on last week’s episode here. But if we boil it all down, it’s all about trust.
Ever since the first episode, I pointed out how part of what stopped Satoru from being able to grow up, to advance with his life, was the wound opened in him when his friend Jun was found guilty for the series of murders, but it’s not the murders themselves, or even how the adults tried to wrap up the children under the cover of childhood and ignorance that kept him so imprisoned, but that authority figures would not believe him, both the institution as symbolized by the police, and the personal hurt, where his own mother did not believe him.
The case of Airi’s parents breaking up over stolen chocolate was a tad ridiculous, there’s no real doubt about it, but what it was all about was how lonely and betrayed her father felt when his own wife wouldn’t believe him. The stakes might have been tiny, but the pain over someone not believing you is real. And so he ran away, or was driven out, by his friends, and by his family, because if they don’t trust you, are they really your friends, are they really your family?