Boku Dake Ga Inai Machi
August 14, 2016
If you were given a chance to revisit your past and change something tragic that happened, how would you go about it? Would you do everything in your power to assure a different outcome since you know what the future holds? This is an interesting premise from Boku Dake Ga Inai Machi. A man now living his boring and struggling adult life having a few regrets from his past that is associated with the death of his classmates. Deaths which he thinks could have been avoided had he done something. When he is suddenly accused of murder, a strange phenomenon that hurls him back to the past gives him a chance to right the wrong things in hopes of changing the future for the better.
Satoru Fujinuma is 29 years old and a struggling manga artist. He gets by with another part time job as a pizza delivery guy. What a boring life. While doing his delivery, he suddenly felt a strange shift in time. Like déjà vu, he went back a few minutes in time. He realizes something bad is going to happen and looks around for the source. He realizes the truck driver is asleep and is going to ram into a child crossing the road (why do kids not look when they want to cross?). Luckily he manages to grab the steering and swerve, missing the kid but collides into an oncoming car. 2 days later he wakes up in hospital. Don’t worry, he is fine. His colleague, Airi Katagiri is there to explain what happened. Satoru explains to us he has this ability he calls Revival. He goes back around 5 minutes in time and watches the same scene play out again. It is like some force is trying to make him prevent something bad from happening. Usually the outcome ends up neutral and sometimes negative for him in the sense like in this case, he got injured in the accident. He is discharged and returns home to find his mom, Sachiko cooking for him. Looks like she’ll be staying here for a while to take care of things. That night, she talks about that incident they all want to forget. Why bring it up when you want especially him to forget? Anyway, Satoru can’t remember much but he eventually remembers 2 of his school friends died. There was this adult whom he befriended when he was young. He called him Yuuki because of his penchant to talk about bravery and courage. 6 months after his friends died, Jun Shiratori the serial kidnapper-cum-murderer was arrested. He was Yuuki.
While helping mom doing errands, another Revival occurs. Satoru looks around but couldn’t find the source. He asks Sachiko to help and she remembers him saying and doing the same thing when younger. Sachiko spots a strange man walking away with a little girl. Their eyes met. The man drives off but the girl is left behind. That night she tells Satoru about the possible failed kidnapping attempt earlier in the day. Was it because he was spotted. He is surprised so she brushes it off as a joke. Satoru remembers one of his dead friends, Kayo Hinazuki. She was always standing alone at the park. Had he talked to her and walked her home that night, she wouldn’t have become a victim. That is probably what he wanted to forget the most. Sachiko does her own investigation because she thought that suspicious man looked familiar. It was like he knew who she was too. She thinks that Shiratori guy wasn’t the true culprit. She has stumbled upon something and needs to tell Satoru. But back home, she is being stabbed from the back. She tries to get her handphone to call Satoru but she couldn’t make it. She regrets not believing in Satoru when he screamed Yuuki wasn’t the killer. Even if the police doubted him, as a mother she shouldn’t have. Satoru goes home unknowingly passing by the killer on his way down. He then sees Sachiko’s bloodied body. Is this a joke? It gets worse when he touches it and the neighbour came over to check and misunderstood the situation. It was like everything is a setup because the police are here and want to take him to the police station. It gets worse when Satoru tries to run. Then another Revival. He finds himself in a familiar nostalgic place. It is his elementary school gates and he is a kid once more back in 1988!
Satoru is still in a daze about what is going on. Is this really 1988? It is like going back 19 years in time! I guess he ran home in the middle of school hours back home (passing by Kayo) to find his mom. Yes, she is still there. Looks like a pretty normal and happy family. He believes he is here due to Revival and not by chance so there must be some big anomaly he has to prevent. But does he have to go back this far to save mom? Or is it Kayo? In class, he notices a big bruise on her thigh. Then hanging out with his friends, Kazu (typical loudmouth), Osamu (typical bespectacled nerd), Hiromi Sugita (typical is-this-a-boy-or-girl) and Kenya Kobayashi (no, not a black or African but your typical silent, observant and considerate type who only speaks when necessary), they wonder if he likes Kayo since he has been staring at her all day. He did admit he has her on his mind and so his friends commend his bravery and are willing to set them up. If they could only keep it down and not let the entire class hear… And they really did set them up to meet. She’s not impressed he wants to be her friend, though. However she understands him because they are alike. Fake. Since he still insists of being friends (in hoping it could save her), she then asks him if he is willing to kill somebody for her.
Satoru’s friends are excited how things went with Kayo but Kenya tells them not to rush and ruin it for him. Later Kenya talks to Satoru about his weird interest in Kayo lately. He doesn’t understand what is going on but they will gladly help out when they can. He tells Satoru to read the student anthology. Back home, he reads Kayo’s essay that states how she wants to go far, far away to an island all by herself. No parents, no teachers, no friends, no anybody. Satoru realizes this is her cry for help. In his bid to get closer to Kayo to prevent that tragedy, he asks mom if he could hold a birthday party in their apartment. Since it is small, he will only invite 5 friends over. Sachiko is sharp and wonders if he has got a girlfriend! Mom knows… Satoru finds Kayo loitering alone at the park as usual. He apologizes he can’t murder anybody for her. Of course, she was just joking too. Really? She notes he is putting on act so he says doing so makes it easier for him to talk to everyone and make friends. Kayo too feels like playing a part. He gives her an invitation to his birthday party and hopes she can come. She is surprised she is the first person he asks. Then she touches his hands to warm it up. It makes Satoru blush despite he knows deep down inside he is an adult and should know these things by now. It just shows he never experienced such things lah. When she says he is easy to talk to recently, he replies he decided not to lie to her. After she leaves, he remembers this was the place she was last seen. Her body was only found after the snow melted.
Satoru tries to remember the murder case in which Hiromi was the other victim. Because of Kayo’s reported age when she was murdered, it means the murder took place before her birthday. Satoru is in an ice skating race with fellow classmate, Hamada who would eventually go on to be the school’s ice hockey champion. He is unsure whether to lose this race to him despite doing much better than him. Eventually that dilemma has Hamada zoom past him by an inch. Hamada didn’t like what he did and tells how much he hates guys like him. Satoru then remembers this was exactly how it went. History repeated itself. Satoru tries to ask Kayo for her birthday but she won’t say. In fact, she calls him a liar because he said he would try his best during the race but gave the win to Hamada. Not that it matters because they are both fakes. He then tries to peek into the records of his teacher, Gaku Yashiro but is caught red handed. But after hearing him out, he lets him have a look. She shares the same birthday as him, 2nd March. Now it is mid February and he has less than half a month to stop the murder. Satoru then hangs out with Yuuki. He is quite a nice guy to talk to. He remembers the police questioning him about his behaviour. Although Yuuki was sentenced to death, he maintained his innocence since the start. Satoru then visits Kayo’s house but nobody is in. When he sees her broken gloves on the ground and her backpack items scattered, he fears the worse. He opens the shed to find her lying there all bruised up. Before he could do anything, her mother comes to bring her in. He asks about the bruises so mom has Kayo tell him what they are. She fell and tripped. Satoru felt helpless he couldn’t say anything to counter to her sad lie.
Her mom continues to abuse her but it seems so that her wounds would heal before school. Can’t argue with an insane person, can you? Kayo arrives late for class and Satoru spots a bruise mark behind her neck. Later he talks to Yashiro about this. The reason Kayo is always late or absent on Mondays is because her mom abuses her on Saturdays. He too knows about it but why hasn’t he taken any action? Revealing Kayo’s case may isolate her further from her classmates than she is now. In fact, last May they have suspected her mother of being abusive. However her mom knows how to evade from child welfare people. When they visited, they were always not in or she knows how to hide it well. Yashiro has personally visited them and knows Kayo is being abused. Until they get confirmation from the child welfare department, they can’t do anything yet. Satoru thinks Yashiro is waiting for spring break to take action but it will be too late by then. During lunch, Satoru admits he lost the class’ lunch money. Misato accuses Kayo of stealing it since she is always poor and never contributed. The rest start suspecting her too. So as everybody spot checks each other’s bag, Kayo found the money in hers. Before Misato could further accuse her, Satoru puts his foot down that Kayo will never steal even if she is poor. Was his scolding that harsh that it made her cry? Besides, anybody could have taken it from Satoru’s bag and put it in hers. Yashiro quells everything saying Kayo was on class duty so it is not surprise the money is in her bag. Later Kayo thanks him for it and mentions how she hates her more. The feeling is mutual. But Misato did invite her once to her Christmas party just to show off her Christmas tree. This reminds Satoru to bring her go see a Christmas tree. He bought a new pair of gloves for her. Along the way, a couple of red foxes dance around them. Kayo must be disappointed the ‘Christmas tree’ is a huge withered tree. But she feels happy looking at it.
Satoru asks his mom for some allowance because he plans to bring his friends out to the science centre. But mom knows he is going out on a date and he inadvertently spills all the answers she wants to know. Mom always knows… He invites his friends but once they learn Kayo is coming along, they don’t want to interrupt and say they have something important to do. Satoru goes to convince Kayo’s mom, Akemi but of course she won’t allow it. Satoru accidentally hints this outing is to save her from the abuse. Mom asks Kayo’s opinion and when she hints she wants to go, she is about to slap her but Sachiko grabs her hand. This is peacefully resolved and kayo gets the green light to go. Satoru couldn’t be more grateful for Sachiko to intervene. Till he learns she came home early from work and decided to follow her son like a stalker. Whoops… The duo enjoy their time at the science centre. However when Kayo thanks him like as though he knew this was her favourite place and something how this place is like an inspiration for manga artists, this shocks Satoru because he somewhat remembered something like this happened before. He was at the science centre and bumped into her accidentally. Is he repeating history again? But when his friends eventually join them later, he thinks he has succeeded in changing history. Next day in class, Kayo looks much better. Satoru accidentally says aloud she looks prettier, causing an uproar in class. Today is supposedly the day she gets killed so he hangs out with her as much as he can. After sending her back, he purposely says aloud he will come to pick her tomorrow in hopes that somebody would notice he was here. Satoru is so worried that he couldn’t sleep. Before midnight, he ran over to Kayo’s house just to make sure. I know he is desperate but… Nothing happens. Phew. Since he can’t sleep, he waits outside her house early in the morning. She’s there. They are supposed to head to Satoru’s home after school for the birthday party but Yashiro has them do some tasks. After buying food for the party, they return home only to be greeted by a surprise by their friends. It seems they planned this surprise. That is why they had Yashiro cooperate with them to stall the duo. While Satoru gives Kayo a pair of gloves, Kayo shed tears of joy and also sadness as she didn’t have time to complete it since she was hanging out with him most of the time. The day passes like any other day. Satoru is so happy that he is freed from all the tension, he just slept soundly. Of course he is late the next day but to his dismay, Kayo is not present. In fact, she never came to school…
Satoru rushes to Kayo’s home. Nobody is home (but it looks like the guilty adults are hiding). He checks the shed. Not there. But he notices an adult male’s footprint coming out of it. Soon it is reported Kayo went missing on 3rd March but a media blackout was instated to prevent panic. Satoru becomes depressed he couldn’t do anything but Sachiko cheers him that he did the best he could. Yashiro tells his class that Kayo had to suddenly transfer to her grandma’s place and thus she didn’t have a chance to say goodbye. Of course this was just a lie so Yashiro hopes Satoru could play along. A police car is parked outside Kayo’s home every day. Akemi is also a suspect and was questioned. Just 6 days after Kayo’s disappearance, another girl, Aya Nakanishi from a nearby school also went missing. Of course her story is also she ran away to her grandpa’s place but Kenya knows better there is currently a serial kidnapping going on. When the investigation is made public, the news only shows this on certain channels and times. 10 days later, Satoru catches Akemi throwing out a trash bag. He sees those gloves inside and goes crazy. Before he knows it, Satoru is back in his current time right after he became a prime suspect in his mom’s murder. His strategy is to run away. But hiding under the bridge? Ah well… He gets a call from his manager who offers him to stay at his place. Such great hospitality. When Satoru sees on TV about his case, it dawned to him something is wrong. The police are outside and his manager is seen talking to them. That’s why. He sneaks out and bumps into Airi. Because of his handphone with GPS features, it is easily tracked. She helps him back to her place. Can he believe her? More importantly, why does she believe him after what has appeared on the news. Because she knows he is not the kind to kill his own mother. Satoru looks at a book of Japan’s gruesome murders that Airi bought. He realizes history has changed. Before, it was reported that Kayo was murdered when she was 10 years old. Now the book states she died on 3rd March at 11 years old.
The manager is seen talking to a shady person in his office. Airi takes her leave from her shift so the manager tells her to help look out for Satoru as he can’t imagine killing his mom. He will also offer his support so please call him if they meet. Oh no… Satoru does his research about another serial kidnapping 3 years ago and although the kidnapper was nabbed soon, he maintained his innocence. When Satoru returns home, the manager is seen spying nearby and trying to call the police. Airi catches him in the act and is very disappointed that she punches him and breaks his handphone. She really wanted to believe. He claims he is worried about her. If he is, then he will not call the cops to the home of the family who is taking care of her. Eventually Satoru is back hiding under the bridge. Airi apologizes for this but he agrees this is for the best they can’t return there. He asks about her home. Her real home is in the countryside and this house belongs to her mom’s brother. Instead of finding a boarding house, she was told to stay with them. As for why Airi continues to believe in him, she tells her story when she went shopping with her dad. He was allegedly accused of stealing a chocolate bar. The storeowner was a close friend and will forget this if he confessed to the stealing. But he maintained his innocence. The police was called, he got fired from his job and left the house after his wife divorced him as she believed he stole it. Airi always believed he was innocent because she was there the entire time. That is why she wants to believe him for her own sake. Satoru wants her to tell the police that he threatened her but she is not going to do that. Back home, Airi gets a message from Satoru from Sachiko’s handphone to stay where she is. She feels something amiss till she realizes this message is from the killer. Before she knows it, the house is on fire!
Satoru busts in to save Airi. He can’t do this alone and luckily the manager is here to help. Also, he gives Satoru a chance to run away but he’ll take all the credit for saving Airi. Satoru realizes Airi has slipped her handphone into his pocket. He is shocked to see the text’s contents and believes the killer intended to kill Airi and frame him. Satoru then calls Sawada, Sachiko’s ex-TV reporter colleague. They meet up and Sawada believes Satoru isn’t the murderer because Sachiko would never raise a son who would kill. After Satoru shows the text, Sawada reveals days before Sachiko’s death, she called him regarding Jun wasn’t the kidnapper-cum-murderer. She knows the real culprit. He regrets not asking for a name then. He explains what happened in Kayo’s case. She was believed that have been beaten up and tossed into the shed by the adults and froze to death. However there was a time she was missing from there. The police connected Jun as the kidnapper because his pair of boots matched the tracks in the snow. The official story goes that after kidnapping her, he took pictures of her, use some commercial freezer to speed up her death and wait till she is brain dead before putting her back in the shed. Jun was arrested and is now on death row although he has since pleaded not guilty. Before Aya and Hiromi were killed too, there was a similar case in a nearby town. Now this is happening to Satoru. It seems the killer is one who frames others for murders. By doing so, the investigation is delayed and the ‘freshness’ of the murder scene goes stale the more time passes and the more eyewitnesses dwindle. The case will then go cold. As for Airi’s case, the killer needed to frame Satoru for Sachiko’s murder by knowing what time he gets off from work. He must have visited the workplace and Airi must have seen him. Meanwhile Airi is in hospital and perhaps pretending to be in dire straits. She is disheartened to hear theories of Satoru being painted the bad guy and it even goes as far as saying Airi was his accomplice and he was trying to shut her up. She knows what everyone thinks is wrong but would they believe her?
Satoru is looking through the past investigation details of the related murders. Based on the suspect lists and how it is whittled down, he realizes the murderer killed Hiromi despite knowing his true gender just to be eliminated from the suspect pool. Kawada sneaks into the hospital to see Airi. But it is not her in the bed but her mother. Apparently Airi told her mom how nobody believed her. The police insisted she inhaled too much fumes and her memories are still in a daze. Her mother believed in her since she regretted not believing in her husband then. They swapped places. She calls Satoru to meet at the usual place. She thinks a man named Nishizono is most suspicious as he frequently visits the pizza place and the manager looks up to him. He could have been able to check the shift schedule. He might be trying to kill her as he knows her face and they talked before. However Satoru doesn’t remember that name on the suspect list. Could it be an alias? Can a city councillor use an alias? This frustration reminds him of his unfinished manga about a reaper who accidentally killed a child. But the more he tries to undo his mistake, the more it hurts others. Satoru is in that predicament now. But Airi doesn’t think so because she is not hurt and all the other stuffs are probably the reaper jumping to conclusions. Suddenly the police surround the place and take Satoru into custody. Airi pleads he is innocent but is fallen on deaf ears. Airi feels guilty that she probably led the cops here but Satoru says it is thanks to Airi believing in him, he was able to continue fighting. As he is being led away, he notices a suspicious man among the police. He could be that killer because of the same eyes.
With the feeling of unsettled business, Satoru prays hard for another Revival. He gets his wish when he realizes he has returned back in time when he is visiting the science centre with Kayo. This is his last chance to fix things. In school, Kenya talks to Satoru how he likes the person he has become now. But he throws him a question: Who is he actually? Kenya has noticed Satoru has been acting strangely ever since and it is like a different character is occupying his body. Kenya has also known Kayo’s bruises for a long time but never had the guts to take action. So when Satoru jumped in, it was like an insult to show him how it is done. So he wants to know who this Satoru is. A hero of justice wannabe. I guess with that answer, Kenya believes this is the Satoru he had always known. After Satoru explains how Kayo will die after getting abused, Kenya offers to help him. The day before their before, Satoru has his friends hang out with Kayo so that he could hang out in Yuuki’s house to give him alibi. Satoru asks him if he had met Kayo. Yuuki starts panicking but eventually brushes it off after learning she has been hanging out with Satoru’s group. The birthday party proceeded like normal.
But after the party with the excuse of forgetting something at school, Satoru actually goes to Yuuki’s house to deflate the tyres of their vehicle, write a threatening note and throw a rock through their window. This is to make it look like Yuuki is being targeted and not the killer. In his desperate attempt to protect Kayo, he is going to get rid of her mom by pushing her down the stairs?! Luckily Kenya has been watching him and stops him. He doesn’t want him to go so far and do something reckless. Satoru doesn’t care the consequences that will befall him because it is better than Kayo dying. Satoru requests Kenya’s help this time and he has no qualms in agreeing to it. Satoru walks Kayo home after the party but he tells her he is going to kidnap her now. Surprised at first, Kayo agrees to let him do that. He brings her to the school’s abandoned bus where Kenya has been making preparations to make it is their secret base. They let her stay here while they return home. But shortly after midnight when Sachiko is asleep, Satoru sneaks out to go accompany Kayo. March 2nd passed without incident and Satoru realizes they are now in uncharted territory. Satoru has also brought Hiromi to join them in their hideout. We know Akemi doesn’t care enough to call the cops over her missing daughter. Yet. Satoru plans to drop by her place to make her mother call the cops on this. He will take full responsibility on everything. But Kayo surprises them that if they say it was her idea and that they only helped her out, everyone will go scot free. Deep in the middle of the night when Kayo is sleeping alone, it seems the culprit enters the bus…
Kayo realizes this person isn’t Satoru. Seems he got a bit violent in messing with some of the stuffs before leaving. Kayo’s presence wasn’t found out. It has been 3 days since Kayo hasn’t attended school and there is no formal word from the school itself about this. Satoru then talks to Yashiro about taking action as he has been to Kayo’s house but nobody replied. He is hinting to call the police but Yashiro claims by doing so it would inconvenience a certain someone. Yashiro assures him he has already called the child welfare and he will be going with them to Kayo’s house tonight. That night, they knock on the door but nobody answers. Even strange that the lights are on. Yashiro enters and sees the things around the house like as though somebody was here a moment ago. It could mean that the adults must have fled when they heard their knocking. They decide to back off now and give time for them to settle down before trying again. Satoru had been spying on them so he returns to Kayo and updates her and his friends what happened. He believes tonight will end everything. This means the boys will have to part ways with Kayo. Kayo sounds bold in asking Satoru to stay with her tonight. She reveals someone came here yesterday. They check out the box he messed up and find tools for… Kidnapping? That is when Satoru realizes that they still haven’t broken free of the vicious circle yet because if you remember, Aya was the other victim. Going through the other boxes, Satoru finds more equipment for framing. This bus is the centre of the circle and they definitely cannot stay here anymore. So Satoru brings her back to his place and stay for the night. Would Sachiko allow it? She is in fact proud of her son for trying to help a friend. After the kids have dinner, Sachiko calls Yashiro that Kayo is safe at her place. Kayo experiences what a good family is like. Lots of laughter and smiles. Good bath, good sleep, good food. So good that she even cries! Oh my… Speaking of Akemi, she is trashing her daughter’s room to take out her frustrations. When Kayo is at the doorstep, she is about to lash out her abusive ways but stops short because Satoru and Sachiko are with her.
Akemi accuses them for this and when she thinks they are blaming her for not looking after Kayo, she gets violent with a shovel. If not for Kayo’s action, the shovel could have hit Sachiko’s face and luckily she just got a scratch on the forehead. Before she can’t get even violent, the welfare department is here. With Sachiko’s ‘help’, they were able to ‘schedule’ this meeting. They want to discuss about the way she treats Kayo (she didn’t even look for her when she went missing for 3 days) and has concluded she needs to be taken into custody. Akemi will go make a police report about everything but her mom is seen prostrating and apologizing she never supported her daughter when she needed most. Flashback of Akemi an abuse victim of her ex-husband. After they got divorced, she took it out on Kayo. Grandma puts the blame on herself and doesn’t the welfare people to treat her daughter badly. To prove Akemi is still human, she emotionally hugs her mother. Perhaps all she needs was someone to cry on. Yashiro drives Kayo away and Satoru believes the path to her future will be a bright one. Naturally with Kayo gone, Satoru falls into depression. He receives an update from Yashiro that Kayo will be living with her grandma and Akemi cannot be near Kayo for a few years.
However it is not over yet. Despite Kayo is safe, he still has to deal with Hiromi and Aya. Hiromi is easy since he is his classmate but how do you completely get to know a total stranger? He asks mom and she thinks he is going after someone else now that Kayo is gone! Mother knows… Satoru has to schedule his time to be with Hiromi as well as ‘stalk’ Aya to know her habits which is thankfully fairly straightforward. Seems she also hangs out with Yuuki. One night he thinks he can follow her to where she lives but Sachiko needs his help to carry the groceries. Luckily Yashiro drives them home. Satoru asks why Yashiro never married (bad experience?) and also how to make friends with strangers. Satoru opens the compartment and candies came rushing out. Yashiro reveals this is his addiction after he quit smoking 3 years ago. Kenya suspects something amiss because Satoru is now trying to be Hiromi’s guardian. They revisit the bus again and find a few stuffs missing. Satoru mentions that saving Kayo from her mother’s abuse was just part of the reason as he believes there is a child murderer-cum-kidnapper and this is where he keeps his tools. Despite his story sounding like something unbelievable, Kenya believes in him and wants to help him because Satoru believed in him to tell his side of the story. So it seems a little weird like shota gay because Satoru and Hiromi holding hands while walking home?! Oh sh*t… His friends’ trust gives Satoru hope that he can overcome this. He remembers how sad he was when he couldn’t save Kayo and he never wants to go through that again.
Satoru, Kenya and Hiromi try to talk to Aya. She remembers seeing them before because they often sneak into their secret base across the river. Why is Kenya getting mad when she calls the secret base as stupid? It is Satoru’s turn when she calls boys playing heroes as stupid. As she leaves, Kazu hops out from hiding and in front of her to tell her she is wrong. She should come visit their base. Next day, she did visit the base. The next thing you know, Kazu and Aya became an item! Gosh. That escalated quickly! She hangs out with the boys sometimes at their base. With Aya’s case settled, a new one seems to pop up. Hiromi informs Satoru that he notices Misato has been alone lately. Ever since that lunch money incident, everyone has been ostracizing her. This fact made it hard for Satoru to talk to her. He tails her one day to the ice hockey rink where Yashiro and some of the students are there to support their ice hockey team. Satoru observes she has been sitting alone. But shortly after, she leaves for the toilet. He waited for her to return but she never came back. You know how women take, right? As he is about to leave, he stumbles into Yashiro. Then he spots Yuuki’s truck passing by and he asks Yashiro for his help. Yashiro drives and tails the truck. Then there is some seemingly ominous talk in which Satoru thinks he needs his candy fix but Yashiro says he won’t find any. Because this is not his car… Oh f*ck! That evil look!
Don’t hold your breath now because Yashiro is the god damn killer!!! He has observed Satoru’s actions playing detective. He said he assumed there was a killer prowling in town but he is acting that he is convinced there was one around. He is very surprised that Satoru could predict his train of thought. To be very sure it was him, he told Misato to come to the hockey game and then tell Hiromi about it. If Satoru came, then his suspicion was true. He assures the one in the truck is only Yuuki’s father and waited for the right time to give Misato the laxatives. He further reveals on the day he gave him and his mom a ride home he was supposed to carry out his plans. It was the second time his plan was foiled. But now everything has been going according to his plan. He will kill Satoru and achieve the satisfaction that he has been denied of. Yashiro still admires Satoru for thwarting his plans. Like as though he could read his future. He drives to an isolated place. After getting out of the car, he pushes it into the frozen river. Satoru is stuck in his seat belt and struggling to get out. His life flashes before him as he reveals the culprit was right under his nose and he took it for granted. Yashiro’s name popped up along with the list of suspects and he didn’t want to accept it because he trusted him. Also, Sachiko’s name was on the list making him more reluctant to do so.
Yashiro narrates how it all began. When he was in kindergarten, a fellow classmate brought a few pet hamsters in which she had carelessly allowed to breed. Yashiro took them all home and drowned all of them in a bottle. But only one hamster survived and it did so by standing on top of its dead brethren. Ever since, he has been fascinated with this and calls this lone hamster survivor Spice. This reminds him of that Spider’s Thread story and so he began killing kids who have this spider’s thread he sees over their head. Satoru also had this but he didn’t die too. Above all, he foiled his plans. That is why he decided to call him Spice and observe him. We see scenes of Sachiko going about in her daily life. She starts crying when Satoru opens his eyes. He has been in coma for 15 years!!! OMG! A mother’s dedication showed that every single day she did all those exercise on his comatose body in hopes he would wake up one day. As he undergoes rehabilitation, his memories are still hazy what happened 15 years ago. He is glad to see his friends, Kenya now a lawyer and Hiromi a doctor. That girly guy is now chubby! But the one whom he instantly recognizes is Kayo! I believe we have never seen her adult version before and yet Satoru recognizes her. So much so he starts crying. She is now married and has a baby named Mirai. Oh, she is married to Hiromi. In a way she feels guilty for finding happiness and after all that Satoru has done for her, it is like she has abandoned him. But Satoru believes every action he took was his own and he has no regrets.
As Satoru improves steadily in rehabilitation, he meets a girl, Kumi who is supposed to undergo a bone marrow transplant but is too scared of the surgery. She becomes amazed with Satoru’s determination and courage. With Satoru’s improvement, the media and paparazzi are also trying to cover his ‘miraculous’ story. Perhaps even coming up with something scandalous that he might be an adult now but his heart is still of a young boy (his socializing with Kumi). They are stopped by Nishizono who threatens them about the laws they are breaking and enough to put them behind bars. Nishizono then confronts Satoru and identifies himself as Yashiro and his ex-teacher. Remember him? He explains he got married 5 years ago into his fiancee’s family and changed his surname. He even changed his first name to Manabu. As his father-in-law was a councillor, his sudden death 3 years ago made him venture into politics. So he has been a councillor for a year. He met Kumi at a charity event for leukaemia. Satoru’s determination has made Kumi want to go for the surgery. It will be the day after tomorrow and so this is the last day for visitors. Unfortunately she is sleeping so Satoru and Yashiro talk instead. To avoid those pesky paparazzi, they head to the rooftop. That is when Satoru reveals his memories of 15 years ago have returned.
Kenya and Hiromi updated Satoru about their other friends. Surprisingly Misato was the one who initiated the drive to fund Satoru’s hospital bill. Kenya knew Satoru had his memories back but didn’t say anything as he was still recovering. He was glad to have him back and that itself was enough. He doesn’t want him to fight alone anymore and if he still wants to, take them with him. Satoru remembers their strong bond and told them Yashiro is the killer. Now Yashiro wants to know how Satoru knows his every step then. He guesses that Satoru is having a handphone recording this device or letting Kenya hear this conversation. Too bad whatever crimes he did, its statute limitations have expired or never existed to begin with. That is why he will never be caught. Yashiro has also planned Kumi’s death. He will frame Satoru by granting her a merciful death for being worried about her surgery. Feeling guilty, Satoru will then commit suicide. Although Satoru will still die anyhow, he can still have a chance to save Kumi if he talks. There is of course no assurance that Kumi will live but the possibility exists as long as he talks. But Yashiro feels he is wasting time since back then it might just be Satoru’s luck. He has even crafted a nice suicide message for Sachiko to read. Yashiro spent 15 years for him to wake up because when he lost Satoru, he lost the drive that defined him. But Satoru tells him he is no longer alone. Despite Yashiro had the chance to kill him any time, he has not for the last 15 years. Flashback shows he even helped cared for comatose Satoru. No wonder he looks so well shaven. This proves that Satoru is important in his life. He is his purpose in life. He is his hope. He is the one who filled the gaping hole in his heart. Now he has lost.
While Yashiro denies all that, Satoru quickly jumps off the ledge. He didn’t fall because Yashiro grabs onto his wheelchair. This is further proves why he can’t kill him. 15 years may be a flash for Satoru but it felt like eternity to Yashiro. Satoru hints he has repeated his life several times and had several friends killed. Even so he bears no hatred towards him. Because there was only one person who knew the real him. Tears trickle down Yashiro’s cheek. He lets Satoru’s fall to his death as he mentions he can’t live without him anymore. He is about to jump off too but he sees Satoru landed on a big cushion well placed by his friends and mom. Game over. You lose. Yashiro is arrested for attempted murder. Satoru narrates he lost 15 years of his life but he lost his most prized possession: In a town in which his existence was erased and his friends lived through their precious moments for his sake. Satoru now lives as a manga artist and I can guess he is doing quite well since his manga is getting an anime adaptation. He has stopped experiencing Revival ever since. He also visits Yuuki who has a family of his own (Indian wife and son?) and regularly hangs out with his other friends. I believe that hot chick is Misato. By deduction it should be her, right? Satoru seems to have his own Hollywood walk of fame plaque on the ground near his school. Well, something that looks like it. As he hangs out underneath the bridge, it starts snowing. He is surprised and happy when Airi takes shelter there too. He is glad he never stopped believing.
Bokura Ga Ita, Kimi No Iru Machi
We were there, A Town Where You Live. Names of previous anime series and despite the different theme and setting, I can’t help how uncannily similar their names would fit right in this series as well. Because it shows that Satoru and the rest were there. They existed. Not erased as Satoru personally believes the time he was cut away from. They were here existing and living in this little town. Therefore despite Satoru was not there physically, he was there all along in their hearts and it is that presence that strove his friends to continue living their best.
I would never have expected this series to be this good. A reason why I didn’t put much high hopes despite reading the intriguing synopsis because I based my bias and prejudice of the mystery genre on my last anime in the same category. It was unfortunate that Sakurako-san No Ashimoto Ni Wa Shitai Ga Umatteiru fell short of expectations but it was careless and unfair of me to judge a totally different anime this way. It goes to show that every anime is on a case by case basis. It proved how wrong my judgment was and I am glad to have watched this series to dispel that. The plot twists are amazing as it kept me preoccupied and trying to guess what would happen. The execution is also good because there were nail biting scenes that might amount to nothing or something. It was something so simple but yet kept me on the edge of my seat.
The ending was good with all the loose ends tied up but yet bittersweet in a way because when you start thinking all the pain and suffering that everybody went through just to set things straight, it makes you question whether a 15 year justice is worth the wait. No doubt justice in the end but as mortals with very short lives on this planet, 15 years is a very long time to fathom. Everybody eventually had a happy ending thanks to the hard work of Satoru (and friends) in making it happen. He might have lost an important prime time of his childhood life but at least the good thing is that he is able to retain memories of his past lives so it isn’t all that bad. At least he doesn’t need to go to school again for his age. With no more Revivals, I guess the future is very much secure now, huh?
But the one little thing that bugged me at the end is how everybody never seemed to question how ‘advanced’ Satoru is. At least we are not shown how. But the way they interact with Satoru like as though he is an adult. Remember, despite Satoru retaining his memories and vocabularies of his other lives, in this time line to everybody Satoru is an 11 year old kid waking up in an adult’s body. So didn’t they find it strange that he could speak advanced words? Okay, maybe he did not spout a fancy and elaborate vocabulary. But shouldn’t they be suspicious that Satoru is acting like an adult instead of a child? I think everybody is just glad to have him back and couldn’t care less about this oddity. Besides, Satoru has been acting like a responsible adult in his bid to save Kayo and the rest so it makes no difference.
There is nothing much for me to comment on the characters since Satoru has been playing a pivotal role every time. It goes to show that if you want things done, you have to do it yourself. More importantly, things change not because of what you think, your opinion or regrets of what should have been done. Instead, things change because of the actions you take. Satoru is given that golden opportunity to right the wrongs but he is a lucky guy because he gets to do it twice. I think it was wise of him to not reveal about his multiple lives because logically and naturally nobody will believe him. Not even Yashiro. Some truths are meant to be kept by yourself. Speaking of telling the future, I think Sachiko is another one. She has this power because she is a mother. Uh huh. It is sometimes funny to think of the irony that she knows everything about her son like as though she read the script and thus able to tell his future and what is on his mind. So people, beware of your mother next time. They always know. ALWAYS! Otherwise Sachiko is a great mom whom every kid would love to have. She is understand, she is supportive and above all a dedicated mother who loves her son even when he is sleeping for 15 years with hope that he will wake up one day. That is what a real mother should be about. She should win the mother of the century award. Then again when you think about him, what kind of mother gives her 11 year old son so much liberty to do things himself and putting himself in danger of being kidnapped! Yikes! I retract that award thingy…
I feel a bit sad for Airi because when everything worked out in the end, it is only natural that she never existed in his time line. So perhaps I think they try to balance things out in the final scene when they meet again. I can speculate that maybe Satoru and Airi would become a couple after that since well, Kayo is already married. A fresh new beginning, right? But that itself is another story. Say, they are making a spin-off of this series after the manga ends… Kayo is also another sad case. As a child abuse victim, she had nowhere to go and no place to voice out her desperate plea for help. A tragedy waiting to happen. Her case of isolation reminds of this phrase that she didn’t build walls to keep others out but to see who cared enough to break them down. Sceptical of Satoru at first, she quickly puts her trust in him because anything is better than that hellhole under the guise of a home. Kenya turns out to be a potential genius friend of Satoru but ultimately I don’t really see him do anything much. What a waste…
I always had a hunch and suspected Yashiro as the culprit even from the early episodes because of the way he casts he glance and the seemingly suspicious actions he makes. Therefore when Yashiro was actually revealed as the big villain, I couldn’t help feel a mixed sense of happiness and disappointment. I was happy that I got it right which means I was paying attention and understood, right? But at the same time I was hoping that it was a different person. I was hoping to be proven wrong that it had to be somebody else and that I was just thinking too much. Because just like Satoru, I too was some sort in my own denial that I didn’t want this guy to be the perpetrator at the end. After all, had it been somebody different and a new character that we have never seen or appeared before, it would not have been fair to viewers because that ruins the romance of the mystery genre.
There were a few other conspiracy theories that formulated in my head over the series. But thankfully they were just me over-thinking. For example, I kept thinking that Kayo and Airi are actually the same person! Because I seemed to notice that they often use the line, “Are you an idiot?” on Satoru. Yeah, my conspiracy theory goes as far as that Kayo has survived the murder and another kid was mistaken to be her. She grew up, underwent plastic surgery, changed her name and went on to forget those hideous memories. Since they never see each other again, that is why they don’t recognize each other at work. But then again, there are a handful of other lines that a character says that rings a bell in Satoru’s mind that has been said by another character. Another wild conspiracy theory of mind is how the killer is Satoru himself from another timeline! I mean, he could go back in time and mostly for a short time. So what if all that Revival phenomenon has caused him to split another dimension where another version of Satoru materializes? I am saying this because when I first glimpsed at the killer’s eyes, I somehow seem to think how similar (which is not) to Satoru’s.
The art and drawing feels a bit simplistic. Sometimes I feel the characters have that one kind look. Not to say that it is a bad thing but I just can’t help that shake off that one kind look they have. After all, this is generally a drama and mystery genre so visuals aren’t going to be emphasized so much that it will strain the budget. And is it me or just that middle aged women like Sachiko and Akemi have puffed lips? Can’t… Avert… My eyes… Produced by A-1 Pictures who have produced ‘better looking’ animes like Sword Art Online, Saenai Heroine No Sodatekata, Uta No Prince-sama series, Kuroshitsuji, OreImo, Ao No Exorcist, Magi series and even Fairy Tail, they also have made ‘bad looking’ ones like Denpa Kyoushi.
In the voice acting department, I believe this is the first time in a long while that a main character is given 2 different seiyuus. The only other anime I can think of now that uses this is Ranma 1/2. This is necessary to differentiate the thoughts of which Satoru that he is narrating. Is it the one from the future or the one as a kid? It helps in separating and making it easier to viewers to listen as it would have been a bit heavy if they were just voiced by the same seiyuu. Sometimes I think there is a subtle joke about using this because Satoru has a tendency to accidentally speak aloud his thoughts. So maybe the different voices to differentiate which thought Satoru is speaking confused himself too? The adult Satoru is voiced by Shinnosuke Mitsushima. I am not sure if his husky voice is his natural voice but if he does sound like an amateur, it is because this is his debut and only voice acting role so far. But his voice does seem to fit the kind of uneventful life that Satoru lives as well as when he is thrown back into the past and thinking deeply on how to change the future. The child version of Satoru is of course voiced by a female, Tao Tsuchiya and this is her first time voicing an anime character. I checked she had minor roles in live action movies.
The only seiyuu I recognized is Aoi Yuuki as Kayo. Just take out all the lively enthusiasm from her other anime characters and put on a gloomy tone and voila! You get Kayo. The rest of the other casts are Minami Takayama as Sachiko (Conan in Detective Conan series), Mitsuru Miyamoto as Yashiro (Steven in Kekkai Sensen), You Tachi as Kenya (Anzu in Prison School), Akai Kitou as Hiromi (Mary in Cross Ange), Takahiro Miszushima as Yuuki/Jun (Takajou in Charlotte) and Akemi Okamura as Akemi (Nami in One Piece). There are a lot of relatively unknown seiyuus as well such as Yukitoshi Kikuchi as Kazu, Ayaka Nanase as Osamu, Ayaka Kaneko as Aya and Hina Kino as Misato.
Hearing the opening theme, Re:Re brings back familiar memories. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first but once I found out that it was sung by Asian Kung-Fu Generation, instantly all my memories came flooding back. I’m not saying I am a fan of them but the last time I heard these guys are from the opening themes of the anime Naruto (the original one and not Shippuden) and Fullmetal Alchemist (the original one too and not the remake Brotherhood). And those opening themes are from the last decade! The rock style and trademark singing voice are still the same and maybe that is why the nostalgic feelings return. The ending theme is Sore Wa Chiisana Hikari No You Na by Sayuri. A little bit dramatic but not really to my liking after hearing the awesome opening theme.
There is even a live action film of the same name released right after the TV anime ended its run. I wonder if it follows the same storyline as the anime because if it does, I think the thrill and suspense factor would be gone. At least for those who watched the anime. After all, since this series was adapted from a manga that shortly ended after its anime run. Spoilers? I read the anime ending is supposed to be of the original manga. Well, I couldn’t tell since I don’t read it. So if they wanted a twist and changed the ending, imagine the rage of the fans… Can you imagine Kayo staying single and waiting for Satoru to wake up and then they get hitched? Yeah… But as far as the movie is concerned, I just think that it is for adults. You know, anime is like cartoon so it is like kiddie stuff. But whatever the format this story is played or how the end turns out, it is definitely a good one that you should not miss.
That is why if we had a chance to do and change something, we should do it right away for we have no Revival to redo another try and undo the wrongs. A happy future might not be guaranteed but, to borrow and modify from Yashiro’s words, as long as you take action, that possibility remains. Because if I had Revival, I would have gone back and not watch disappointing animes. Now I’m stuck in a single timeline and my only way is to watch every darn anime just to know whether they suck or not. This one doesn’t. Thank goodness there is still hope. Never stop believing :-).