“Palm of the Hand”
Thursday at 12:30 pm EST on Crunchyroll
Satoru has been flung back to the 80’s, surely a fate worse than death. In his desperate search to try and find what will save his mother, he tries to connect with Hinazuki, and learns that there is more to her story than its tragic end.
ERASED comes off its impressive start to actually make us care about an elementary school setting, something we all were wary about but turned out to be a complete non-issue. The combination of trying to understand his situation as well as taking a step back to enjoy the nostalgia of being where he was really humanized Satoru’s character. Who, when thrown back into this kind of scenario, when our lives were simpler, wouldn’t want to at least remember what it was like to be a kid for a moment? Unfortunately that also comes with the side-effect of kids being obnoxious idiots. Being a substitute teacher now, I couldn’t help but laugh at how on point his friend’s earnestness became more of a hassle than anything, especially when it comes to girls. So far I’m really enjoying this dynamic as a bit of a side-story as we become increasingly focused on Hinazuki.
Where this episode nailed it for me was when he had rushed back home, realizing his mother was still alive. Seeing the elation on his face realizing she really was there in front of him was inspiring. The dinner scene was also powerful in its tranquility. Given his new perspective, he sees that the everyday moments he had with his loving mother were things he should have cherished more. With that knowledge in hand, his determination to see this through to the end is beautifully shown. Given his mom’s sharp senses, I wonder how long it will be until she realizes something is not quite right about Satoru’s behavior. It would be very cool to see what she could bring to the table as he tries to figure out what went wrong in the past.
Abuse is a subject that is always hard to tackle. It’s interesting that this show presents Hinazuki’s behavior as very believable attempts to do anything to change how she feels. Coping strategies like this are what quickly lead people into mental breakdowns. She needs care, yes, but she also needs to be rid of this kind of potentially harmful mindset. I do like how Satoru quickly links her abuse to her death, and resolves to find a way to solve both problems at once. Of course, I doubt things will be so easy, but his attempts to change the way she acts are a good first step to get her to open up to him, and potentially save two lives at once. My only question at this point is: What if he succeeds? Every other time he used Revival, he didn’t flash forward once things were put right. Will saving Hinazuki and his mother mean having to live the next 18 years of his life over again? Or has the power of revival changed completely?
- This show is pretty up on its gaming history: Dragon Quest III came out on February 10th, 1988, five days before this episode starts.
- It is strange that Kenya is a Final Fantasy fan though, considering the first game had only been out for two months.
- 1988 National Ice Hockey Champions? Why do we never see more of this glorious part of Japan?
I’m absolutely thrilled that ERASED was able to come off of its strong start with a followup episode that, if anything, is even stronger. Whereas the debut episode anchored itself around its cool concept, here instead we’ve got lashings of great character work and some really atmospheric worldbuilding. Surprisingly, the writing chooses not to concentrate too overtly on the 1980’s setting (aside from the repeated Dragon Quest references) which I’m OK with since nostalgia for the period has already been pretty well mined, though admittedly less so in anime. Instead, we’ve got a surprisingly nuanced study of grade school interaction, complete with Satoru’s adorable/annoying gang of friends. It’s great to watch how Satoru’s interactions with all of his friends and family are subtly changed, especially the simple yet powerful scene with his mother, which speaks volumes in the small ways he shows his appreciation.I’m also a big fan of keeping an internal monologue from adult Satoru, as it lets us contextualise what is happening and keeps out focus on the bigger picture.
This episode also tactfully and powerfully addresses one of the most controversial subjects which any piece of fiction can look at, which is child abuse. I think the writing does a great job of portraying Hinazuki as a complex character, without having her fall into stock anime ‘mysterious waifu’ territory. Her interactions with Satoru are tense and believable and her cold personality is well justified by the stuff that’s happened to her. It’s a rare case where a character isolating herself feels like a convincing move rather than an arbitrary plot point, and her conversation with Satoru at the end of the episode is powerful and nuanced , with volumes left unsaid but well communicated. It’s one of the most gripping scenes I’ve seen in any anime in quite some time and I’m thrilled ERASED has displayed it has the emotional and technical prowess to back up its terrific hook. Simply outstanding television.
- I’m not sure why the show is letterboxed (possibly just so they can overlay the film strips whenever they need to) but it certainly helps add a touch of cinematic flair to proceedings.
- Although it’s all in silhouette, we see a surprising amount of the actual abuse meted out to Hinazuki. It probably just stops short of being exploitative but it’s still very difficult to watch.
- There are a number of fantastic animation cuts in this episode that really do a lot to flesh out the child characters. My favourite is probably the shot from under the desk with Satoru’s friend swinging his legs back and forth, then his shoe falling off to reveal a hole in his sock. Little details like this really add a sense of charm and depth to the world.