ERASED Episode 8
by Nick Creamer, Feb 25th 2016
How would you rate episode 8 of
ERASED's articulation of Hinazuki's broken home has not generally been its most graceful feature. Stories about childhood abuse need an even more sensitive touch than most stories, and considering ERASED occasionally likes to lean on the drama horn a little hard, scenes featuring Hinazuki's mother have often tended towards melodrama. But here, when an intruder in Hinazuki's hideaway prompts Satoru to find her a new shelter, the show absolutely nails its articulation of her trauma. By revealing the harshness of Hinazuki's life through its consequences more than its reality, this sad and gentle episode shined.
The show quickly defused last week's cliffhanger, as the figure invading Hinazuki's bus ended up just being there to store their own contraband. The opening sequence here emphasized Hinazuki's fear through shots framed in distant corners, a trick that the episode would later apply to Mr. Yashiro's investigation of Hinazuki's empty home. When Satoru and his friends investigated the supplies left behind by the mystery man, they discovered the paraphernalia of the killer himself - ropes, masks, tape, and all the rest of it. And so, deciding it was time to lean on the one other person he could trust, Satoru brought Hinazuki back to his own house.
The second half of this episode was equal parts touching and heartbreaking, as Satoru's mother did everything she could to make Hinazuki feel safe and comfortable. Just like in the present-day narrative, the key here was trust; even from the start of this episode, it was clear that Satoru's mother knew what was going on, but she trusted her son. His equal trust of her was reflected in his choice to bring Hinazuki to his home, but when Satoru's mother reached out to her, she flinched. Hinazuki has been taught not to trust anyone; taught that an extended hand generally means violence, and that adults are never truly looking out for you. That is not a lesson that is easily unlearned.
Over a warm dinner and long bath, Satoru's mother slowly tried to unknit the emotional violence that had been done to Hinazuki. Like in the birthday episode, these scenes were full of quiet warmth, a much-needed emotional reward for the many trials these characters have undergone. Abuse didn't have to be articulated in outright violence; it was clear in the small degrees of shock Hinazuki kept expressing at every kind gesture, or the way she initially tensed when Satoru's mother lightly punched her son, before realizing the two of them were just playing. And this revelation of kindness reached its climax in the morning, when the sight of a real breakfast from a loving parent made her recall all her own lonely mornings, and brought her to tears. A light piano track rose as if to muffle the sounds of her sobbing as she thought back on all she had suffered, and suddenly realized everything she had missed.
This was a genuinely touching episode of ERASED, and close to the most consistently effective episode of the show so far. By expressing Hinazuki's pain through her near inability to parse a loving home, the show brought her tragedy to life far more effectively than if it were to simply catalog more overt violence. While the actual plot only moved forward a few brief steps, this episode did critical work in solidifying the emotional realities of these characters, and even offered a new perspective on the show's themes regarding the importance of trust and a support network without directly spelling anything out. This episode was graceful and emotionally rich, a highlight in a consistently excellent show.
ERASED is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.
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