ERASED / Boku dake ga Inai Machi – Trust built between the distrustful

BokuMachi presented us with its despondent main character, Satoru, in episode one. A man who was mired in regrets, with a career that hadn’t turned out the way he had imagined, working a second job to make ends meet. Though it went even further than that, showing us that his reserved nature and inability to express himself sincerely had been present even when he was a child. His desire to not get involved with others, and his passive meandering through life were further entrenched with the kidnapping incident.

However, as we saw in the events of the first episode, through his ‘Revival’ power, he’s inadvertently been given a second chance to do things over, right from where it all began.

Hinazuki Kayo.

[HorribleSubs] Boku Dake ga Inai Machi - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_15.25_[2016.01.28_19.53.27]
When he didn’t call out to Hinazuki, on the night of her disappearance. Not just a moment of hesitation, but an inaction that represents the type of person he was, and the type of person he would grow up to be.
INDEX

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Plunged back into his past, but with the “future’s” memories intact. But there’s more than that. Right away we’re shown the two important, empty desks. The odd ones out. Singling out the focus of the coming episodes.
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The scene during the register is neat for driving in Satoru’s complete bewilderment and discomfort in this situation. As everyone calls out their names, we see only half their faces, eyes out of view, innocent smiles given an unknown, intimidating presence.

The next important bit, that gets across Satoru’s inherent distrust and fear of everyone around him, is the moment where he runs home. Upon the sound of an adult behind him, he immediately reacts with suspicion.

 

[HorribleSubs] Boku dake ga Inai Machi - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_05.44_[2016.01.28_20.11.23]
A moment of respite, upon seeing his mother again, who only hours ago he had seen bloody and dead. Although for her, Satoru’s uncanny eagerness is a little surprising.
[HorribleSubs] Boku dake ga Inai Machi - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_06.53_[2016.01.28_20.16.05]
We saw how adult Satoru mainly took his mother’s presence for granted. As she cooks, the show makes sure to meticulously animate the process, emphasising the gravity what would otherwise be a normal everyday moment, but immeasurably precious to the Satoru of now.
In that moment, realising he’s been given an opportunity to set things right, the resolve is formed to not waste this time, to proactively move to change the dark path the future will take. He’s going to have to behave in ways his child self… no, also his current self wouldn’t naturally act like.

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The immediate thing that jumps out about Kayo, is the way she carries herself. Immediately Satoru reacts with the sort of incredulity an adult would react with if a kid were to speak like that. “This brat is a pain in the ass” – He may have expected her to be like any old happy-go-lucky kid, but the unexpected coldness, bite, and maturity in the way Kayo holds herself instantly lets her take control of the situation.

With the body of a child, but the mind of an adult, it takes Satoru a moment to realize they are supposed to be peers. However, Hinazuki herself has already picked up on the fact that he’s something different. Both lacking in the naivete of the other kids, she points out “You and I are both fakes”. To someone with her naivety beaten out of her, with implicit distrust and cynicism of the world around her, putting on a front to protect yourself is easy to empathise with.

This is something that defined Satoru even back then, and he hasn’t really changed much since then. What with his difficulty with putting more of himself in his manga, in his art, and his self-deprecating nature, he’s unwilling to present genuinely with others.

[HorribleSubs] Boku dake ga Inai Machi - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_11.26_[2016.01.28_20.38.06]

The second encounter with Hinazuki will take place in the iconic, fateful position. In this scene the camera does very careful work to illustrate the distance being closed between the two.

From the blue, comfort zone to the red, danger zone I talked about the show’s consistent use of this motif in the previous episode. However, here it represents more than just safety and danger. The comfortable blue is the easy, path of no resistance, what Satoru’s always followed, stepping out into the red are his attempts to change, step outside of what he already understands, confronting his fears, curbing his social ineptitude.

The conversation begins with the camera viewing the two on the edge of the frame, so as the camera cuts between them, their physical and emotional distance is emphasised.

“I’m not one to talk, but I can’t see you, Fujinuma” – As each of them speak words of honesty, throwing aside façades for a moment of integrity and intimacy. We get a close-up, and this second shot of Fujinuma has him starting small and getting larger as he walks towards the camera, towards Kayo.

For Kayo, a barrier let down, for Fujinuma, a barrier crossed. One that is not only him reaching out to help another, but a display of self-improvement, acting in a manner unnatural to his socially-adverse norm.

“Fake it to make it” – a tongue-in-cheek saying that holds a lot of truth, the words of Kayo and Airi are essentially saying the same thing. You have to work through the difficult steps and continue being persistent until these habits, and mindsets become natural for you.

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“…make an effort, learn a skill, and inspire yourself.”
This scene, beyond being such a delicately crafted moment, and relevant to both characters, was also one that especially struck home personally. However, the ideas here aren’t just about social anxiety or interpersonal communication, they’re the universal trials of learning and growing to become an adult. Neither of these two are quite there yet.

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As the red gives way to a warm, reassuring yellow, the feeling of progress resounds. The overcoming of personal hangups, to enact a positive change in one’s life, no matter how little, is always incredibly rewarding.
Closing Message

Err, yes, I’m not going to laze about, pieces on episodes 3 and 4 on the way in the next few days, and I won’t fall behind again.

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You’ll still read this, right?

 

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4 thoughts on “ERASED / Boku dake ga Inai Machi – Trust built between the distrustful

  1. It’s cool to see how both you and Mother’s Basement wrote about the park scene. You wrote similar things about the symbolism of the tree, but I think that you picked up something that he didn’t, since the explanation of the danger red zone around Hinazuki is more in line with how the color is used on the show.
    If you’re thinking about writing other post about BokuMachi I’m sure going to read them!

    Liked by 2 people

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