Once again, I’ve found myself behind on quite a few seasonal shows. Unfortunately, this includes ERASED. Thankfully enough, it hasn’t reached the point of becoming too difficult to catch up. Let’s take a look at ERASED Episode 4, the last episode I sat down and watched.
Note: The following review contains spoilers of the fourth 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 episode begins with Satoru asking his mother if it’s all right for him to go to the Science Center on the following Saturday. Before asking all of his friends as well as Hinazuki if they would like to go, he has a brief conversation with his classmate Misato. She mentions how some of the girls are acting flirty towards the teacher, to which Satoru points out that she also used to act that way. Misato responds that she no longer can due to the teacher thinking that she’s a thief. Why was this scene included? It could indicate that something is going on with Misato personally: is it that she has feelings towards the teacher, or does she just miss the attention in general? Perhaps the scene doesn’t hint at jealousy, but aims to put the teacher in a certain light: the girls in the class are fond of him, and it further proves how close he is to the students in his class. Is this a point of concern or further proof of a potential ally for Satoru?
The confrontation between Satoru and Hinazuki’s mother was one of the most interesting scenes from the episode. She doesn’t want Hinazuki going along with him, and while she’s arguing with Satoru, the scene cuts to a shot of only her face. While there are shadows around her eyes to indicate that she’s a force of terror, there’s also a complete lack of emotion on her face. This makes it seem as if the mother isn’t all there: it’s possible that she’s drunk or is on some sort of drug, but whether that is the case or not, it’s important to note how she is portrayed. This isn’t a woman who is evil and knows she’s evil and enjoys being evil: she’s likely going through her own mental troubles, as well as issues with her husband or boyfriend (we still aren’t sure who he is, and since Hinazuki’s hair is different from both of them, it isn’t too farfetched to think that he isn’t her father). She finally snaps when Hinazuki shows an interest in going with him. She calls them both “perverted brats” before attempting to slap Hinazuki. This could also be an indication of the difficulties she’s having with her own romantic relationship.
Before she is able to hit her daughter, though, Satoru’s mother steps in. She tells Hinazuki’s mother that their households are similar and that Hinazuki’s mother should stop by their house for a chat sometime. This is another point of interest: why would she say that? One possibility is that their similarity is related to their childrens’ fathers. We have yet to see Satoru’s dad, and he hasn’t been mentioned once. The link between the two families could therefore be that both children don’t have their fathers around, and because of that, the mothers have each had to find ways to deal with the lack of support a second parent provides. While Satoru mentions that his mother works for a television news station, we aren’t exactly sure what Hinazuki’s mother does for a living. She’s able to be home during the day, and there’s a scene later on showing the mother coming home, likely from work. She’s wearing make-up, which could go along with how she focuses on appearances, or it could also indicate that she works somewhere like a host club where looks matter. Satoru’s mother isn’t drawn wearing make-up, though that doesn’t mean she isn’t wearing any. Overall, it’s interesting to note the possible similarities in both women’s situations and how they might be dealing with it.
Another moment of significance from this episode occurs while Satoru and Hinazuki are at the planetarium. Satoru feels as if he’s seen certain things before, and he recalls that, 18 years ago, he ran into Hinazuki there when he went by himself. This leads him to wonder if he’s just been following the same pattern as before. This goes along with his mistake from the previous episode when he lets the other student win the ice skating race, just as he had done the first time around. What really grabbed my attention was the line he remembers happening next and the line she says to him: “Do people who want to make manga tend to come to places like this?” We know from the first episode that, as an adult, Satoru is an aspiring manga writer. However, so far nothing has eluded to this in his childhood. Of course, he’s busy trying to find a way to save her, but, if it’s the case that she said this to him before, and that it was one of the few things she ever said to him before she disappeared, then it’s highly possible that it lingered in his mind. While it may not be the case, he could have, in fact, decided to become a manga writer because of this moment 18 years ago. The scene ends with his friends showing up, which reassures Satoru that things are happening significantly different from before.
The rest of the episode consists of Satoru spending time with Hinazuki from before school until after 6:00 p.m. on the day she’s supposed to disappear, as well as his shared birthday celebration with Hinazuki. He walks her home safely after the party has ended, and he rejoices in successfully preventing her abduction. The next day, however, he discovers that she is not only late for class, but fails to show up at all. Satoru mentions that the reason she was targeted is because she was always alone in the park, and he’s convinced that by changing that, he will end up saving her. Because of the end to this episode, it has to be questioned whether or not he was correct. An important fact to note is that his friend is also one of the victims of abduction, and he is always shown with Satoru’s group of friends. Satoru has been so convinced that her always being by herself was the cause of the abduction, that it’s entirely plausible that he failed to try and make a connection amongst the three victims. Another possibility is that the episode’s ending is misleading: her not showing up may not mean she was abducted. Since he’s been so focused on preventing just that, his mind quickly jumps to that conclusion, even though something else may have happened.
Another thought that crossed my mind was that, during the scene in which Satoru stares at the empty park while holding Hinazuki’s hand, a number of characters are shown. I interpreted this string of cuts to be showing what each character was doing while the two of them were next to the park. All of these characters are under at least some suspicion: Yuuki is the one who is eventually convicted of the crimes, Hinazuki’s mother and mate are bad forces in her life, Satoru’s friend Kenya always has an air about him that suggests that he knows more than he says, and the teacher has both the knowledge and trust of his students. However, what these cuts also show is that each person has an alibi of sorts: at around the time Satoru would have seen her at the park, Yuuki would have been picked up from the area, her mother would still be on her way home, her mate would have been out drinking, Kenya would be home playing, and the teacher would still have been at the school working. While the exact time of her disappearance is unknown, and it is likely that someone shown could have still been involved, it does leave room for the possibility that none of these people are the culprit. There’s also the possibility that her case is separate from that of his other classmate’s and the third victim’s abductions.
All in all, this episode was another good entry in the series. The pacing felt steady, a lot of details were sprinkled throughout, and the plot both moved forward as well as added new questions to be considered. The animation and art direction is great, too, with the stand-out scene being the moment Hinazuki asks the question regarding manga writers: the lighting was eerie yet pretty, and the silence really lent itself to the moment. ERASED continues to be intriguing, giving just a bit away while still keeping you in the dark.
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