Boku Dake ga Inai Machi – 4

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I just need a minute, I’ll be fine…

Boku Dake - 04 -1This show really leaves me speechless sometimes.  It’s just so exquisitely good, but all I want is to savor the great moments (and there are many) for an eternity and, poof!  They’re over.  And the episode ends in the blink of an eye, as soon as it’s begun.  And I just want to go back to the beginning and watch it again.

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It’s one thing for a series to make me emotional because of emotional things that happen in it.  Of course Boku Dake ga Inai Machi does that as well as any anime in years has.  But it’s another thing altogether for a series to make me emotional simply because of how great it is – exceptionally, ridiculously rare.  I’ve felt that many times when reading the manga – that sense of awe that you’re taking in something truly remarkable.  But it’s happening on a whole new level with the anime, because all of the brilliance of the adaptation is layered atop the brilliance of the material itself.

Boku Dake - 04 -3Again, this is so very hard for me because there’s so much I can’t say, some of it for obvious reasons and some because I simply don’t want to risk saying something I don’t intend to.  I guess I can talk about all the things I felt when I read these chapters in the manga, because I felt them again in exactly the same fashion here.  The emotional roller-coaster of joy and tension and hope and despair – the kind of depth of feeling only the very best anime can aspire to.  There are no shortcuts to that, and Boku Dake ga Inai Machi hasn’t taken any – you have to earn it with fully realized characters and an understanding of how to tell a story.

Boku Dake - 04 -4It’s so very hard to read or watch this series and not be swept along with it, because those characters are indeed so real.  And not just real, but vibrant and charismatic.  I love these people, damn it – Satoru and Kayo and all his stalwart friends.  And Sachiko!  My goodness, what a towering exemplar of a Mom she is – that moment when she grabs Kayo’s mother’s hand is profound in so many ways.  I wish there were more manga and anime (especially the latter) that depict the elemental bond between parent and child the way Boku Dake does – but there are sadly so very few.  One can see in Sachiko’s words and deeds (and eyes) that she understands what a fundamental privilege and responsibility it is to have a child in your care, what a gift.  The way she handles Kayo’s mother is proud and unstinting and smart.

Boku Dake - 04 -5If one can watch Satoru and Kayo and not be entranced and moved, they must have a hard heart indeed.  The innocence of the child Satoru and the way it unnerves the older one is a fascinating thing to watch –  those moments when he blurts out what he’s thinking and reacts in dismayed embarrassment.  The 29 year-old Satoru may have forgotten it, but these are the same person, make no mistake.  There’s so much strength and determination there, and the moments he and Kayo spend together are superbly portrayed.  Two beautiful and strong children and a world full of cruelty and darkness – can there be a scenario more unsettling and gut-wrenching to watch than that?

Boku Dake - 04 -6This show is a unicorn, make no mistake about it.  That’s the reason it’s accomplishing the rare feat of being both challenging and profound and insanely popular.  It’s already in the Top 6 ranked series of all-time on Anime Planet and Top 12 on MAL (where the rankings always spike after a show finishes), and all of the manga volumes have powered back into the charts – and all this despite being a seinen with none of the trappings of most commercially successful and popular series.  No matter the trends of the moment, somehow when something just gets it the way Erased does, it manages to appeal to the common humanity in us.  And that makes me feel better about both anime and those who watch it.

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14 comments

  1. T

    Coming into the season, it was great to know what to look forward to, and this show has continued to exceed my and my family’s expectations. Each episode leaves us hanging and wishing for more, but fast as they may seem, the content leaves much to ponder afterward. It’s rare for a show to be so totally captivating from start to finish. I’m eagerly looking forward to what’s in store.

  2. For me, Sachiko has taken a very early lead as Best Character of 2016. In a medium in which parents are mostly either nonexistent, irrelevant, dead, complete monsters, or a young guy taking care of some moe blob, Sachiko is one of the few characters that actually acts like a caring parent that is engaged in her child’s wellbeing and happiness. She and Satoru have the sort of heartwarming relationship that has never been common in anime and I really appreciate this series more because of it.

  3. Given what happened in this episode I’m starting to fear that this is not the FIRST time Satoru makes the loop – he simply has forgotten all about it, as he slowly gets “assimilated” in his child self. But yeah, this episode was sure to punch you in the gut – it was all too happy and nice up to the end, so I kind of braced for the twist, and there it was, unmistakeably.

  4. s

    I will say that sachiko is a mom that most people should strive to be: not only is she doing the whole parent thing on her own, but you can tell she loves her son effortlessly. She lives for this boy man; she is his rock and nothing will ever change that fact; absolutely nothing; And she’s doing this all by herself!!!!

  5. o

    I can’t remember the last time I’ve had to try so hard to NOT go look for spoilers.

    Like Simone said, I was sort of braced for a twist – Kayo’s mother seemed a bit too cooperative? after the confrontation with Sachiko, but I was still thinking she’d be at school……

    And wondering if/when Satoru shares his troubles with his mom/friends.

  6. When Satoru jumped in joy after going through the first day, I immediately thought he was probably celebrating too soon – it was just too simple. I am really hoping he isn’t stuck in an endless loop of struggling to fix the future… I’m wondering if his actions alone are enough – after all, he is technically just a kid and he can’t do much against Kayo’s mother, for one.

    Waiting a whole week for the next episode is going to be painful.

  7. I could see that punch coming…

    Interesting that the two mystery series of this and last season fall on Thursday and Friday, both being replaced by dramatically better series this season, with the long running one coming later in order to give me the weekends to speculate.

    Anyway on to the episode, I’m guessing Sachiko was suspicious of something that led her to follow Satoru on that day, that would fit her and things would have gotten very ugly if she hadn’t intervened when she did, I’m also pretty sure she’s the smartest character in the show right now. Something is up about the girl sitting next to Satoru said, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the teacher who planted those notes. Now that the stakes are fully established I expect we’ll be in for a really crazy ride.

  8. M

    Kayo-chan is so adorable when she says sorry to Satoru for not being able to finish the gloves…

  9. What kills me is the sense of dread knowing already that Kayo got murdered and as the days now unfold in the past and Satoru is working so hard to save her, I just kept waiting for the other shoe to drop (she still gets murdered). The episode ended on a cliffhanger so here is hoping she is OK (missing school because of a cold or her Mom tossed her a beating).

  10. w

    all the links links to ant-sized pictures 🙁

  11. G

    I think this is one of the cutest parent-child relationships portrayed in anime. Both the 10-year-old Satoru and the 29-year-old Satoru are helpless against mum’s sneaky questions. And I think it’s a wonderful coming-of-age story to see Satoru take a step forward to embrace his friends (where before, he sort of keeps to himself).
    I think it is time he realizes that he has to figure out the killer rather than delay Kayo’s death. It’s heartbreaking to have to see him go through that stage over and over to prevent the tragedy.

  12. J

    Just watched the series in one sitting yesterday. Favorite part is the intelligently written mother (with the actually-competent teacher being a close second). Most disliked aspect is that one friend who keeps saying “Satoru’s got guts!” after having said it several times already, but it’s a child so I guess I cannot hate them for a lack of creativity.

    It warms my heart to see a seinen getting so much acclaim, though I suppose it’s easier to analyze and improve upon a near-realist drama compared to shounens full of magic, sci-fi, or simply quirky elements that consume all the animators’ attention.

  13. T

    I think we also have to realize that as a child Satorou is limited to the resources he can us in order to find the killer. I mean how do trace someone who is good as being sneaky and blends in with everyone? Regardless i feel he is doing too much on his own even if he feels some of his friends might not believe it would be nice to see him rely on someone because this is something he clearly cannot do by himself.

    I still strongly suspect its the teacher because even though I want to believe he is a good guy and want to believe there are amazing people who are teachers out there that look out for their students he just seems too good to be true.

    Anyways I love the relationship between Satorou and his mother its so rare to see parent and children relationships on the anime scenes. Granted that does not mean there are perfect parent and child relationship (read skip beat enzo) , but its fantastic to still see this on screen.

  14. Thank God for writing good characters in this series. I am still not sold 100% but it’s getting close.

    However, this episode is the slowest among the four but it gave us convincing SOL scenes.

    and a smart direction towards the end which lead us to this very damning (but very good) aftertaste.

    Oh crap.

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