This is it. ERASED Episode 12. Satoru has already saved the three children from being abducted and murdered. This episode brings us his final standoff against Yashiro, this time to save both himself and Kumi, a young patient at the hospital Satoru is staying in. Was the finale as strong as the series’ opening episode? Not exactly, though that isn’t to say it lacks any strong points.
Note: The following review contains spoilers of the twelfth episode of ERASED. If you do not wish to be spoiled, please watch the episode before you continue reading. If you haven’t seen the series, be sure to check out our first impression here (Spoiler-Free).
The opening scene for the episode once again shows Satoru and Kayo meeting as full-grown adults. This time, we are given an extra tidbit of information: Satoru’s memories came back when he touched Mirai’s hand. This provides quite the metaphor: Satoru had to make contact with “the future,” so to speak, in order to regain memories of his past, which just so happens to include his original future. It’s as if by touching her son’s hand, Satoru finally makes solid contact with his new present and future. Like Mirai, Satoru’s future is fragile and newly born, since he’s now in a 2003 that is wholly different from the previous one he lived through. I quite like the imagery of this.
While Satoru has returned to the opening sequence, there was something I noticed. To begin with, I mistakenly mentioned that the clock didn’t break in Episode 11’s opening, when, in fact, it never breaks. What does break are Satoru’s glasses from the flying bullet. If you pause at just the right time, you’ll see Yashiro pointing a gun at him in the reflection of the shards of glass, something that is present from as early as Episode 2. Another thing present in this opening that was actually in Episode 11’s opening is that Airi, Kayo, and Sachiko have spider threads dangling from their heads when the frame changes to their silhouettes. These little touches are always nice to see.
This episode once again touches upon the theme of “being a hero.” Just as Satoru tried to act as a hero in his own real-world situation, his friends did what they could to be allies in a similar fashion. Kenya brings up the fact that he became a lawyer and Hiromi became a doctor in order to help Satoru. This is their way of trying to be heroes for the one who acted as one to them, thus inspiring the two. It’s a small detail, and ultimately it likely doesn’t mean anything, since Satoru didn’t need Hiromi’s medical assistance nor does he necessarily require Kenya’s help in law. However, I don’t think that’s the point: this acts as another moment of Satoru’s heroism inspiring others, which is something he wanted. I like that his heroics don’t have to lead to other people attempting grand feats in order to “play the hero.” Inspiring others to use their talents, whatever they may be, to help others is a wonderful thing, and this moment in his hospital room effectively delivers that message.
So, what about the episode’s climax, Satoru versus Yashiro? Well, when I watched it the first time, I had mixed feelings. It didn’t seem all that special that the writers went for the “you need me to live” sort of story line, though I had enjoyed some of the imagery of their face-off. Then I decided to rewatch the episode, and I really gave what I saw some thought. “Ever since you left, I lost that impulse that defines me.” Thinking about it, in this new timeline, Satoru became a very important person in Yashiro’s life. He is the one who consistently denied Yashiro the pleasure of holding power over others, the one thing that seems to fascinate him the most. Then, just when he thinks he’s overtaken Satoru, he’s confounded by the last words he hears from the boy: “I know your future.” He then has 15 years to think about those words and how it seemed like Satoru always knew what target Yashiro was aiming at. It seems pretty apparent why he might become fixated on Satoru. The way Satoru speaks with Yashiro during the climax is also of note. For better or for worse (though most would likely say worse) Yashiro is a theatrical sort of villain, from his exaggerated facial expressions to his on-the-cheesy-side speeches. How does someone use speech to influence a person like that? Well, Satoru uses logic to counter the dramatics of Yashiro, with a tinge of fantasy (since Yashiro doesn’t know what Revival is). Satoru knows Yashiro likes to find victims who are desperate; he turns Yashiro into one such victim. In this regard, the imagery sets the scene: Yashiro sees Satoru with a spider thread attached to his head when Satoru begins talking to him; however, by the end of the scene, he sees a spider thread dangling from his own head, indicating that Satoru was able to turn Yashiro into one of the desperate individuals he enjoys lording power over. While things certainly could have played out differently had Yashiro been a more complex villain, so to speak, there is certainly a lot of nuance to the climax. As for how Satoru knew of Yashiro’s plan, one could argue that the key is the cellphone in his pocket: he had that with him from the time he was in the elevator until Yashiro took it away, so Kenya and the others would know they were on the roof and prepare a parachute. This leaves a big risk for Satoru, though. However, maybe this is just another one of his reckless-yet-somewhat-calculated plans; after all, he’s done stuff like this throughout the show, and it’s worked.
Another thing I liked about the climax is the dynamic between Yashiro and Satoru. We finally learn that Satoru’s dad left him and his mother when Satoru was still quite young. He admits to Yashiro that he saw him as a father figure. While it does, in a way, turn it into one of those “people with daddy issues” scenarios, what sets it apart is how Yashiro is depicted. He is shown visiting Satoru in the hospital, shaving his face and smiling to himself. This moment of care goes back to the hamster story from the eleventh episode: when it came to the remaining hamster, he genuinely took care of it. There was a sense of admiration and respect for it, just as he has for Satoru. Is it a bit of an odd set-up? Maybe, but it’s still rather interesting.
My main issues occur after Yashiro’s arrest. Satoru says, “If you truly believed in a person, you wouldn’t need to say ‘I believe in you.’ It’s like saying, ‘I believe in air.'” Kenya then says, “You mean ‘believing’ because there’s doubt?” Satoru replies, “I don’t mean to say that ‘believing in something’ is like a lie. ‘Believing’ is really a term of hope of wanting to believe.” I can’t say I agree with this. It assumes that one says “I believe in you” for themselves, rather than the other person. Yes, Airi tells him that she says it for her own sake, but that doesn’t mean everyone does. So, while that may sometimes be the case, it usually isn’t. As for the second part, that may be true at times, but there are plenty of people who believe in things to the point of seeing it as being true, such as with regards to religion or political stances. I certainly can see his point in thinking that, and perhaps it’s a more realistic way of looking at what “belief” is, but when someone believes something to be true to the point that, to them, it is pretty much a fact, his definition becomes complicated. Something that crossed my mind, though, is that many watching this show “believed” it would be an amazing show. From a personal perspective, despite witnessing a number of hiccups, I did still continue to want to believe ERASED would turn out well. Quite the meta moment, huh?
Before touching upon the show’s conclusion, there are two things shown after Satoru has become a successful mangaka. One is the name of his manga, Galactica Sword ~7 Heroes~. I just thought it was rather fitting, considering the seven heroes in Satoru’s personal story: Kayo, Kenya, Hiromi, Osamu, Kazu, Aya, and Misato. Satoru is also shown reading the story he wrote when he was in elementary school, titled My Hero. This scene acts as a bookend to the beginning of the show, since it is with this story that we get to the heart of Satoru’s mind. He’s someone who has always been afraid to take risks. The show begins with him not quite successfully living out his dreams, on the verge of leaving his twenties behind him. He lives in Tokyo and, as far as we know, has lost contact with his former friends. As he reads, scenes showing what he changed for himself flash by. Revival forced him to get to the heart of his mind, which was his regret over events 18 years prior. Ultimately, I think that’s the premise of the show: a young man working to change his past and rid himself of guilt and regret. Moments like these have always been ERASED‘s strongest, and they deliver until the very end.
As for the final scene, I have mixed feelings. Since I had been hoping he and Kayo might end up together, the idea of Airi and Satoru being paired up didn’t appeal to me. “Great,” I thought, “he’s going to end up with the high school girl. How typical.” While I still don’t see a strong romantic connection between the two, I appreciate that she’s no longer in high school when they meet in the new timeline and that the nature of their relationship is left open-ended, so I can pretend they become good friends. The final line of the show is “I never stopped believing.” Satoru has already established that “believing,” to him, is really about wanting to believe. Thus, he continued hoping to meet Airi again. I’m not sure if his emotional state is warranted: on the one hand, he really only paid attention to her after returning to 2006 when he failed to prevent the murders. On the other hand, she not only provided him with a new sense of determination, but forced him to think about his desire to be a hero and what belief in another truly means. That certainly led him to difficulties, since believing in Yashiro put him in a coma, but it also led to triumphs, such as being willing to trust in his friends to help him with his cause. Ultimately, perhaps it’s a good thing that it’s a little complicated: not everything is cut and dry in this show, so why should the ending be any different? That’s one of the reasons ERASED intrigued me: even when things seemed obvious or lacked complexity, that was never entirely the case.
Was this a perfect finale? No, and it probably was never going to be perfect to me. However, what it did do was keep me engaged and got me to truly think about what was taking place on-screen, as well as what those things meant. It’s this level of engagement that has continually kept me interested in the show. For what the rest of the show provided, the finale turned out to be rather appropriate. While the end wasn’t as strong as the start, Episode 12 used what the previous episodes provided to its advantage, and for that, I am rather impressed.
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