OP: 「Dear answer」 by TRUE
“Where Do You Live?”
Episodic Format – A Lost Child:
As many of us suspected, Sakurako-san is sticking with an episodic format, at least for the time being. This week’s episode focuses on three-year old Yuuka, a girl who stumbles across a red-roofed convenience store with bloody footprints, in the middle of an early summer night. Within the first minutes the set-up for this mystery already had me hooked. Just like the characters, I was intrigued by this girl – who she was, why her stuffed toy had a bloody hand print on it, why she’d suffered an avulsion fracture, and why it hadn’t been properly treated? Add in fake names given at the clinics, and you’ve got effective set-up for what proved to be a gripping episode.
Gripping is definitely the word I’d use to describe the events that unfolded here. Once they found her home and stepped through the front door, I was glued to the screen to see what was going to happen next. You have a dead (and potentially abusive) mother, a confused little girl, and a mystery surrounding how all of this happened. However, the most fascinating part of all of this was the revelation of the younger brother, and him suffering from heat stroke after being hidden underground from the killer for several hours. It’s not often you see CPR performed on infants, especially in anime, which had me seriously worried for the survival of these kids once we caught in the thick of the drama. Thankfully, they both made it out alive, which gives me hope that there is some humanity behind the atrocities that Sakurako-san intends on focusing on. Abuse, drugs, and murder aren’t light subjects, and shouldn’t be treated as throwaway details just to deliver the ‘shock factor’.
Not Completely Realistic:
While the revelation of the second child and rising tension are what stood out to me most of all, this episode did have some problems. It certainly gave me the rush to find out what was going to happen next, but there were plenty of moments that came off a little convenient. Last week I praised Sakurako-san for being rooted in realism, but after this second episode it appears we’re going to have suspend some disbelief with these cases.
For one, the police work is simply awful and unbelievable, which quite obviously exists to make Sakurako seem superior by comparison. The killer showing up at just the right time was convenient as hell, but it did made for a dramatic conclusion. And then we’ve got Sakurako’s concentration mode, which looks to be a recurring motif. I quite liked it last episode, but I suspect if we get this every single week, I’ll eventually grow tired of the recycled footage. I do feel like the scene would have been better without that moment inserted – it broke the tension slightly, and it worries me that we may be headed to the realms of fantasy if we get into more difficult and convoluted cases. Hopefully not soon, if ever.
The Mystery of Soutarou/Shoutarou:
While some details of this mystery irked me, overall I was thoroughly entertained. And although this episode seemed to be a stand-alone, there are hints of an overarching story on the horizon. We see glimpses of a Soutarou, who I assume to be Sakurako’s younger brother. Going by her memories in this episode as well as scenes from the OP, I can only assume that he passed away at a young age and that has left Sakurako with an emotional scar. Perhaps it also explains why she’s drawn to a boy with almost the exact same name, which she only says aloud for the first time after she thinks he’s going to sacrifice himself for her. The more we learn about what’s going on in Sakurako’s warped mind, the better.
Overview – What’s Next?:
I was already invested last episode, but I’m thoroughly hooked now. There are elements that will likely continue to irritate me, but they should pale in comparison to everything that Sakurako-san has going for it. I’m fine with some more episodic stories for the time being, but I suspect that the butterflies this week’s killer kept mentioning will tie in with the evil-looking fedora-wearing man in the OP, as well as the swarm of butterflies that attacked Sakurako as she was answering the door. It seems those beautiful little insects are symbolic for her own trauma, of which I am keen to see explored as the series continues.
ED: 「Uchiyoserareta Boukyaku no Zankyou ni」 (打ち寄せられた忘却の残響に) by TECHNOBOYS PULCRAFT GREEN-FUND