Ultimately, I suppose, any mystery series is going to come down to the mystery for better or for worse – and this episode was definitely all about the mystery. Fortunately this… Well – what was it? Not a denouement, certainly, with two episodes to go… A pre-denouement? Whatever it was, it was very well done, and – refreshingly, as anime goes – it seems headed towards a resolution that kind of makes sense and doesn’t insult the intelligence of the audience.
I think the elements that make Subete ga F ni Naru a successful undertaking have been very consistently on display through the life of the series. The very clever direction, the fascinating interplay between the characters, and a genuinely interesting mystery – they’ve been there pretty much all along, and they certainly were this week. At the heart of the character interplay, of course, is Moe and Saikawa-sensei’s relationship – one which alternates between funny and quite sad.
More than ever before, it struck me this week how parental Souhei’s treatment of Moe is, and how her behavior really boils down to a little girl with a crush on the teacher (or an uncle, which has interesting connotations within this story). Even the way Souhei refuses to tell Moe what he knows, but rather pushes her to figure out the mystery herself is very much reminiscent of a father egging on their child. And in fact, there is something of a father-daughter relationship here given how Souhei clearly stepped in to help fill the void in Moe’s life after her parents’ death.
Moe’s childishness was always been there, but it was brought into focus with the arrival of Setsuko on the island (which also allows some rather blatant advertising for NoitaminA, since Setsuko pals up with Shimada-san who reveals herself to be an otaku). Just what happens on those nights when Saikawa-sensei “treats her apartment like a hotel?” I’m not certain but I don’t think it even really matters – it’s simply the fact that Saikawa has his own life that doesn’t involve her that most enrages Moe. Ironically she’d probably have had a better chance at the kind of relationship she wants with Saikawa if they’d never met before she became his student – he’s too close to Moe now to ever see her the way she wants him to (since he’s clearly not the deviant that Shiki’s uncle was).
Ah yes, Shiki. We seem to have a good deal of the mystery revealed unless Souhei is completely off-base – and I don’t think he is. Why were there two people in that room? Because Shiki was pregnant when she walked into it fifteen years earlier. And how did the killer manage to slip out without being seen? Because they set the clocks back one minute, causing one minute of surveillance footage to be overwritten. I don’t know how feasible this trick is (wouldn’t Red Magic name the new file “12:00 (copy)” or something?) but it’s a quite elegant and rather fun gambit.
As to the other half of that reveal, I still have some questions. It seems as if the implication is that Shiki Magata killed her daughter – which would certainly explain why she seemed to have aged so little. But even assuming she was able to safely give birth on her own 15 years earlier, how did she keep the presence of that child hidden for 15 years? At some point was there a “switch” where the daughter began to stand in for the mother in front of the cameras? I still need some convincing that all this holds water, but the notion of a pregnancy being the solution to a locked-room mystery is pretty damn clever even if I say no myself – and it has me mighty curious to see what final surprises Subete ga F ni Naru – and Shiki Magata – have up their sleeves.