ERASED Episode 9 brings us the conclusion of Kayo’s arc in the show while also focusing on the other two victims in the case from 18 years ago. How did things with Kayo turn out, and can the show satisfyingly focus on the other two victims when so much of it focused on Kayo’s story? Let’s take a look at this week’s episode!
Note: The following review contains spoilers of the ninth 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).
Episode 9 picks up where last week’s episode left off: Kayo’s mother confronting the Fujinumas. She becomes enraged at Sachiko after she points out that the woman hadn’t attempted to look for her daughter for the past three days. Kayo’s mother grabs a snow shovel and tries to hit Sachiko with it, but because Kayo holds her back and Satoru grabs his mother’s arm, she only scratches her forehead. It occurs to me that this may be one of the few times Kayo has hugged her mother, even if it isn’t from a place of affection for her, but rather an act of protection for another mother.
Yashiro and the social workers show up, and they confront Kayo’s mother about not being able to get in contact with her as well as wanting to discuss her care (or lack thereof) for her daughter. Just as she’s about to storm off to the police, an old woman calls out to her. Yashiro had brought along her mother to try and get through to her. We learn that Akemi (Kayo’s mother’s name) was in an abusive relationship with Kayo’s father, and her mother had forced her into divorcing him. While that may have been a positive, she also abandoned her, leaving Akemi to raise Kayo alone.
The show depicts the abuse to be severe, with Akemi wearing a neck brace and bandages on her hand and across her face, as well as a black eye and a couple bruises near her lips. We are also shown his image behind Kayo, indicating that she was a constant reminder of her former husband. In the flashbacks, we also are shown Kayo draping her body on top of her mother, protecting her from her father’s blows. This creates an interesting parallel: Kayo hugs her mother to protect her from getting hurt in one case and from hurting someone else in another case.
The mother’s apologies for not being there for her daughter bring up an interesting point: earlier in the series, Sachiko tells Akemi that they’re similar in a number of ways. This makes me think about the differences: perhaps she had a better support system for being a single mother, while Akemi had to not only cope with a divorce and raise a child on her own, but try and move past the abuses placed upon her with no help, as well. While it doesn’t sanction her abuses against Kayo, these factors certainly don’t paint her as an unfeeling monster. Akemi ends up draping her body over her mother’s, just as Kayo did to protect Akemi in the flashback. While Satoru only feels ill-will towards her, I’m not entirely convinced that he correctly interprets Kayo’s turned away face. She may not be moved to tears at the sight, but that doesn’t mean she’s completely emotionless towards it. Sachiko moving from Satoru’s side over to Akemi shows a shared understanding, or at least some semblance of compassion. This guides the viewer to taking the entirety of the situation in a similar fashion. In the end, Akemi’s mother decides to take Kayo in.
The final scene between Kayo and Satoru in the episode is impressive. I’ve seen plenty of anime use creative camera movements that ultimately are hampered by the use of CG. While it is also used here, someone in the production team decided it would be best to keep the characters 2-dimensional and make the background CG. While you can still somewhat tell that CG was used, it doesn’t end up looking extremely odd and out of place. While the scene seems to end on a happy note, there’s also a touch of sadness. As Kayo leaves with her grandmother, the story she wrote for school is narrated. While she talks of going to an island where there are no people, a place where there is no pain or sadness, reality plays out: she looks behind her from inside of the car, taking in what she’s leaving behind. Sure, there was pain and sadness, but over time, there were also people that she cared about. She gets the freedom she wants, at the cost of leaving those newfound friends behind. Thus ends Kayo’s arc in the effort to prevent the murders.
For the rest of the episode, and presumably the three remaining episodes, Satoru’s focus will be on the other victims. Considering how much time is left before the show is finished, I expect that Satoru will make greater progress in discovering the perpetrator’s identity rather than trying to keep tabs on the location of Hiromi and Aya the entire time. It’s interesting that he feels his strategy of making sure they are never alone will be enough. It may have worked with Kayo, but there were other issues going on with her that others were concerned about. It’s possible that the same is the case with these children, as well, but I doubt much focus will be put on those. Satoru has to be aware by now that the killer is capable of changing his plans if circumstances change. Why doesn’t he seem to acknowledge that here? Instead of figuring out ways to make sure the children aren’t alone, it would be much more useful to try to finally identify the man behind all of this. Admittedly, he may not have enough evidence in his mind to readily convict anyone, nor head down a certain line of investigation. With all of the times Satoru is shown wandering town by himself, though, he should at least make sure he isn’t alone all the time, either. If the killer is at all clever, he will have taken notice of that by now.
Finally, let’s talk about Yashiro yet again. (I know, it’s always about him, isn’t it?) I just have to know: is this show teasing me? That scene in his car with all of the candy in the glove compartment left me thinking two things: either they are making it as obvious as possible that he’s behind the abductions and murders, or they put in the most obvious symbol for distrustful adults to get people to take a step back and say, “Okay, this is way too explicit. It’s not him.” I just can’t help but be suspicious of him, in part because the show really hasn’t given us anyone else to be suspicious of, at least to the same degree. Thus, I continue to look at the little things he does and go, “Hmm…I don’t know about this guy…” When he tells Satoru that his heroic efforts couldn’t end in tragedy, when he asks Satoru if Kayo was hiding in his house the whole time, when he calls the hideout a place that only kidnappers like them would think to go…I tell you, if he ends up being innocent, he is the most suspicious innocent person I’ve yet witnessed in a mystery (when it isn’t for comedic effect, anyway). The episode ends with Satoru’s other two friends wanting to know what he, Kenya, and Hiromi are up to, prompting them to follow the trio. The girl who bullied Kayo also gets up to leave the classroom, presumably to follow all of them and once again play a role in the story’s events. This time, though, it’s possible she’ll play an even bigger role than previously. We shall have to wait and see.
This was another strong episode of ERASED. While I am worried that the ending might come out exceedingly rushed, I don’t have any reason to doubt the scriptwriters at this point. I appreciated that Kayo’s arc ended with compassion and was slightly bittersweet, and the imagery surrounding it was beautifully done. I found Satoru’s relationship with Yashiro in this episode to be quite interesting, with him viewing his teacher as a sort of father figure. This makes me extremely curious as to how everything will play out, particularly if Yashiro is in fact the killer. If I had to nitpick, though, in the candy discovery scene, Yashiro goes from having one lollipop in his mouth to three. He only picks two up, one of which is for Satoru. To get the other two, he would have had to duck down and get them from the floor, which isn’t shown. That error aside, it was another great episode of ERASED.
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