ERASED: Episode 3

erased3d

“Birthmark”

Thursday at 12:30 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Satoru continues to gather information about Hinazuki to get a better timeframe of when she may be kidnapped. After tracking down her home, he gets a firsthand look at her personal hell.

Marlin’s thoughts

ERASED piles on the tension as we see more into Hinazuki’s life. The opening hook is really well done, with Satoru’s established memories giving us a vague timeline for action, one Satoru has to figure out for himself. It’s interesting seeing how he’s able to realistically balance his investigations with his continued attempts to make none the wiser at school. The one thing he has on his side is the free time afforded a child, but knowing his timeline could be as early as March 1st means he can’t wait too long. Its kinda weird that he was able to get as far as he did into the teacher’s lounge without being spotted, but his earnestness quickly gains him the trust of his teacher. The show seems to be making him seem shady, but I can’t imagine we’d be getting such overt clues to a real culprit this early. I’m wondering if Satoru’s comments about his intuition were more like how he treats his mom, someone he likes, but is wary of their ability to read him.

erased3a

Seeing Yuuki was a nice break in the oppressive atmosphere. Listening to Satoru reanalyze his behavior as an adult was fascinating. That was a pretty weak lie he told to cover up his porn stash, but it’s interesting just how much humanity that bit of shame brings to his character. You can clearly tell that he is a bit of an odd duck, but he is genuinely friendly. It would appear his life working for his parents has made it hard for him to make friends his own age, so he has found a place befriending the children in the park while everyone else is still working. Seeing what has become of him as a prisoner, broken in body and spirit, gives an extra motivation to find out who is truly responsible.

If last week’s depiction of Hinazuki’s homelife was brutal, this weeks was absolutely crushing. The audience feels just as helpless as Satoru as we see the extent of her abuse, but have no power to stop it. I really liked the touch of him about to punch the mom, but as he is only a child, he gets brushed away so easily. He starts to realize that just avoiding her death isn’t enough. He needs to get her out of her situation, even if it means taking her away from his life. Knowing everything we’ve been told the last few episodes, what’s next? It’s been basically spelled out that Satoru won’t have the power alone to stop Hinazuki’s abuse. How can he make sure she still won’t meet her fate? The only thing I can think of him doing is trying to convince her to run away at this point. We also still have two girls who were also abducted, one who seems to be the same girl that is close friends with Satoru. Why has he not paid that any mind? After saving Hinazuki, will he be forced to go through the same steps to save the other girls as well?

Random observations

  • Man, Hokkaido is so different from the normal Japanese setting. Speed skating matches? Seeing red foxes out on a snowy mountain? Hokkaido is the best island.
  • Speaking of, throwing a race would really piss me off as a skater as well.
  • At first one might think of the poor Child Services response to Hinazuki’s abuse to be ridiculous, but to this day Japan doesn’t have the mandatory reporter laws many other countries have that are meant to help detect and prevent child abuse. I can’t imagine the governmental structure around it was much better in 1988.

erased3b

Zigg’s Thoughts

I don’t think that this is as effective a standalone episode as last weeks, but it’s clearly meant to build the ongoing narrative and gives us more context for the situation in which these events are taking place. On that count it’s abundantly successful, and it helps by further building up the characters to enrich the world. It’s nice to see that grown-ups are not complete morons in this setting, and while Satoru’s teacher’s defence of the relative inaction surrounding Hinazuki is a very Japanese way of putting it, it at least gives some context to her continued mistreatment. I’m also a fan of the way that she’s still very prickly and not immediately accepting of Satoru – just like in real life, it takes time for people to open up. The show goes even further this week than last about showing the brutality meted out to her, which is honestly difficult to watch but extraordinarily effective at conveying the cruelty and terror of her mother. In contrast, the ending is a cathartic, uplifting moment which (combined with the fantastic visuals) genuinely feels like an escape from what came before. It’s a great use of contrasting tones to lift up the show from a dark place to a bright one.

erased3c

The biggest plot development in this episode is probably the formal introduction of Yuuki as an active character, and it’s an effective one, full of nuance and contrasting undercurrents which make him an interesting figure. The show presents him as a mostly friendly, open figure who lives up to Satoru’s childhood memories, but then cleverly undermines that by rapidly cutting back and forth with the police detectives questioning his motives. Thanks to our knowledge of future events, even minor things like Yuuki mentioning he’s aware of Hinazuki, or hiding his modest pornography collection, give us reason to doubt him. Most effective is the cut between the hopeful, smiling young Yuuki and the grizzled, death row prisoner of 2006. It’s a great example of how to make a character truly morally ambiguous, and it’s a tension the show is going to have to keep up for at least a bit if it’s going to keep the whodunnit element of its mystery front and centre. For now I’ve got no problem with tha though, as this was another masterclass of tense, understated storytelling.

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “ERASED: Episode 3

  1. I might have got the characters mixed up, but I thought that one of the victims was a boy – one of Satoru’s gang, in fact?

    • I never really thought about that, but wouldn’t he also be much more involved if one of the missing/murdered children was part of his personal clique and not just focused on Hinazuki?

      • If it is the same, the name is Hiromi, which for some reason strikes me as a girl’s name. As far as that goes, it may be that is a memory he wanted to forget even more.

  2. Man this episode was excellent and difficult to watch. The abuse that Hinazuki recieves is brutal, and her mothers smug smile is infuriating…Excellent job to get us emotionally involved. I get the impression the boyfriend could be a culprit of the abuse.

    Still not sure about Yuuki, everything about him so far makes him seem a victim of these crimes also. That ending though, what it Satorus sly and very observational friend speaking to the teacher about?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s