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The killer invites Saikawa and Moe for a conversation inside the virtual reality. As the police eavesdrop, Saikawa explains how he found out the truth behind the murder, while Moe desperately attempts to confirm the killer’s motive.
I watched this episode in two sittings, separated by a twenty-minute long breakfast, and I have to say it was an almost accidentally brilliant way of experiencing this thunderous pseudo-finale. Happily gobbling up granola in the belief that you were right about pretty much everything only to see it crumble apart the moment you press that play button again, it certainly is a memorable way of being thoroughly screwed over by The Perfect Insider yet again. Admittedly, I’m at least a bit proud that I was clever enough to even fall for Shiki’s trap in the first place. She clearly wanted Saikawa to believe that her daughter had killed her to ‘become truly free’, just like she had killed her parents, and she almost had him fooled if it weren’t for one more shocking revelation.
I only assumed Shiki would have allowed, maybe even raised, her daughter to kill her because she figured that is simply how the world works, a sentiment she even repeats at the beginning of this episode to throw Saikawa off the loop. In reality, however, her motive was simply a selfish, almost prophetic desire for absolute freedom rather than an ideological concern for all those who share the burden of genius with her. My speculation on Shiki’s ideology was solely based on what Miki told Saikawa, and with the revelation that the Magata sisters are one and the same, it’s very likely she was simply lying in order to fool us all — thanks in no part to Saikawa’s idolization of her oh-so-noble craving for freedom. There never was a circle of violence Shiki hoped to become a part of by having her own daughter kill her, as I speculated in the comments to last week’s post. In the end, Shiki Magata remains an enigma, and everything she planned up until this point, including the whole “Everything Becomes F” mystery, only served to fool us into believing there was any method to her madness.
In all fairness, I might not be giving myself enough credit here. I was sort of spot-on about the whole Plato thing, and during her relaxed talk with Saikawa on the virtual beach, Shiki all but confirmed her eventual desire to exist as but an incorporeal mind in a virtual world of ideas. I called this philosophical parallel, which to my great disgust makes me more of a “Saikawa” than a “Moe” — at least based on my approach to figuring out Shiki. By splitting up our dynamic duo for their respective final confrontations with Shiki, The Perfect Insider perfectly pointed out the difference between the two. While Saikawa casually hangs out with the woman he’s supposed to bring in for murder on an idyllic beach, Moe is locked with her in a cramped, dark room — two contrasting spaces that symbolize how differently they regard Shiki. While Saikawa is interested in her intellect and ideology, envisioning her as a puzzle to be solved or a code to be cracked, Moe is looking for the human being inside the genius, and, in a stark contrast to her beloved professor, eventually responds to Shiki’s motives with utter disgust. The difference between Moe and Saikawa is one of emotions versus logic, yet in order to truly understand Shiki, I am afraid neither will be enough on its own.
Given his and Moe’s radically different approaches to the mystery that is Shiki Magata, it’s no surprise that Saikawa was the one who figured out the truth in the end. Yet even so, the fact that he unveiled that final piece of the puzzle — that it was Shiki who killed her daughter, not the other way around, and fabricated a lot of the case’s symbolism and philosophical undercurrents in order to fool him — rubs me the wrong way. That final twist was the sole illogical aspect of Shiki’s behaviour, an indication that she and her daughter acted against the way you’d have expected them to act. If they did, I — the ideologue, the philosopher, the “Saikawa” — would have been right. Yet the strength of this twist lied in its intrinsically being completely foreign to Saikawa’s usual reasoning, the fact that in the end, Shiki did not behave like the hyper-logical “perfect insider” who follows a strict set of rules, but was just a human being like the rest of us. A human with passions, and whims. A human whose mind works in inexplicable ways. For the analytical Saikawa to have figured that out over the more out-of-the-box-thinking Moe, seems thematically inconsistent with how the duo has operated up until this point.
Regardless, Saikawa was, for what it’s worth, more interesting in this episode than he’s ever been, from his enthusiastic explanation of the “everything becomes F” riddle (999 flashbacks all over) to his clumsy attempts at heroically cornering his idol while trying to hide his obvious regret for doing so. What made his sudden takeover of the show’s narrative last episode so jarring is the fact that he has always been a bit of an underdeveloped character, but this episode at the every least didn’t make me wish I was watching Moe playing Ace Attorney instead. With just one more episode to go, I figure The Perfect Insider will attempt to spend most of it on the hunt for Shiki’s whereabouts. Are there still tables left unturned, or have our heroes been thoroughly trumped? The existence of several sequel novels to The Perfect Insider (one of which is called The Perfect Outsider, hmm) seems to imply that Saikawa and Moe aren’t quite done with Shiki Magata just yet. Given how this kind of show usually ends up doing in the sales department, however, Fuji TV almost certainly is, so here’s hoping we’ll get some actual closure next week.
- I like how a couple of seemingly pointless characters like Setsuko or Kunieda ended up playing a role in the solving of the mystery after all, if only as convenient plot devices.
- The revelation that Miki was super-genius-lived-in-the-US-for-years Shiki after all only makes her abominable English from a few episodes ago all the more grating.
- After Lisa Mishima, Moe is the second noitaminA character voiced by Atsumi Tanezaki to get cheated out of the major role she deserves. Boo.
- One of Hiroshi Mori’s short stories about Saikawa and Moe, The Rooftop Ornaments of Stone Ratha, has actually received an official translation into English. It’s even more awkwardly translated and frustratingly verbose than the show!