OK, before I go any further, I just have to ask – does the world’s most advanced civilian computer lab not have a walk-in refrigerator or freezer? Does it not occur to anyone that if you’re going to try and convince the cops Shiki-sensei is alive, having the entire place smell of rotting corpse isn’t the best way to do it? There are a few of these head-scratcher plot points in this series, and I almost wonder if – like Saikawa’s exaggerated navel-gazing – they aren’t here as an intentional bit of satire. Or maybe I’m giving Oono-sensei too much credit.
I’m still of a mind that as with many good mysteries (pretty much all Hitchcock and Christie AFAIC), the mystery itself isn’t mainly the point. Rather, it’s the act of watching the stressed-out rats behavior and seeing how it changes that’s the essence of the story. Nevertheless, the mystery is the spine of Subete ga F ni Naru, and as we pass the halfway point it’s picking up steam. Saikawa and Moe are both too smart for their own good (if not as smart as they think they are) and despite their personal connection to the events in the lab, I think what’s primarily driving both of them is an irritation at not knowing what’s happened.
In that context it’s pretty clear that Saikawa-sensei will, in the end, find Yamane’s offer too good to pass up – not the bribe he offers to cover up Magata’s death for a week, but the chance to solve the case. Of course Saikawa is smart enough to realize that in agreeing to be party to Yamane’s plan, he’s making himself an accessory to a very serious crime – but the opportunity to indulge his curiosity is more than enough to make him behave recklessly and his decision to trade his silence for the chance to play detective doesn’t remotely come as a surprise.
As for Moe, there’s the additional lure of getting to play with Saikawa-sensei until the police arrive, and at the same time to show him she’s smart enough to be his partner in romance and otherwise. I’m not sure how, exactly, she got drunk on near-beer (in Japan anything up to 1 proof can be called alcoholic – but how much .5% beer does even a 50 kg (generously) girl like Moe have to drink to get hammered?). The answer of course is that she’s not loaded at all, but playing the role she imagines someone in her position is supposed to play in the movie she seems to think she’s a part of. One can’t ignore the fact that Moe is increasingly blurring the line between fantasy and reality – and that this is far from the first parallel we’ve seen between she and Magata Shiki.
That being said, Moe does discover a pretty big clue when she and Saikawa return to the lab to begin their investigation – during the moments when “Shiki-sensei” emerged from “her” room, the elevator moved from the basement to the roof. Saikawa-sensei chips in with the observation that the collections of books in Shiki’s room all stop at Volume 15 – is this the “Everything becomes F” that was written on her computer?
The episode’s big wake-up call comes when it segues – with no preamble whatsoever – from that observation into a truly terrifying flashback to the night when Shiki’s parents died. This is seriously creepy stuff here, shot in very matter of fact fashion without the crutch of an intrusive soundtrack. The event in question was even more brutal than it’s already been described – Shiki and her uncle killing her parents together, ruthlessly, and her aunt walking in just as they were finishing the job. This tells us a lot – not least that Shiki took the fall for her uncle (though she certainly was the instigator), perhaps in the knowledge that as a minor she would be treated far more leniently by the legal system.
There are a number of suspects that make a certain amount of sense in light of this new information, but for my money there’s still no one that makes nearly as much sense as Shiki herself. Her sister certainly has a motive – as does her Aunt – but when you factor opportunity and the genius and access required to pull this off, how could the mastermind possibly be anyone besides Magata-sensei herself? I guess we’re going to find out in about five weeks – and if that is indeed the answer, Saikawa’s reaction is going to be especially fascinating to watch, because it will put his pat defense of Shiki’s murderous actions in the past to the ultimate test…