「真紅の決意」 (Shinku no Ketsui)
Woah, how long as it been since we’ve seen the great outdoors (well, anemic patches of grass anyway) on Subete ga F ni Naru? I’m not one to judge people for staying cooped up indoors with dozens of monitors, being little more than a nerd in a room most days myself, but it’s a nice change of pace after so many episodes just wandering around the claustrophobic murderlab. Remember the supporting cast we left outside? Neither did I.
A shift in setting like this, temporary though it was, also came with a change in mood in the way fireworks do. I don’t know if it’s possible to play sparklers for anything but nostalgia these days. The pause in the mystery probably signals a transition to a different stage of the story. Our detectives share a heartfelt moment thanks to the bonding powers of pyrotechnics, the wet blanket at last finds the resolve to tackle the case head on (y’know, as per the episode title). Yes, the pragmatic thing to do would be just to leave it to the police, but pragmatism never made for good television. That said, this is the sort of pragmatism practiced by a man who was afraid of sparklers as a kid, but as an adult is all fine with igniting endless amounts of lung cancer sticks. Compensating for some childhood deficiency? Speaking of compensation, Souhei is also willing to keep hush about the murders as long as he’s allowed his dangerous fun of investigation. So, strong ethical core when it comes to taking cash bribes, but weak against the temptations of childlike curiosity. And what about the rest of Souhei’s lab, who have already been treated to storytime thanks to the intoxicating effects of non-alcoholic drinks(???). Are they bound by the NDA too? For absolutely no quid quo pro? This is the shoddiest corruption scandal I’ve ever seen. Just take the money next time, Souhei. Keep it simple if you’re so bad at impropriety.
Well, despite the ethically questionable way we got here, the story has begun to pick up momentum. Characters become willing to point out some answers instead of questions leading to more questions. And since we’ve come to this important juncture in the story, it means: recap time! There’s always a point in a mystery story where we find ourselves with nothing but a big pile of clues and, for an anime, keeping track of them every week may start to become a chore. Thankfully, fictional detectives are always up for thinking out loud to tidy up the leads for the audience’s sake. Here’s the main ones worth keeping in mind:
– The room in the which the murder supposedly took place is surprisingly clean, even untouched.
– The messages left on the computer, including the cryptic ‘Everything returns to F’ (spoilers: it’s in the title it’s important)
The newest clue this week: all the books are in 15 volumes. How… deliberate? Hmm. I usually prefer to leave speculation to you, gentle readers, when it comes to mysteries, but I will note this: notice how the idea of Shiki’s sister Miki being used as Shiki’s double is quickly brought up and dismissed this episode. Ah, but multiple personalities—well, let’s leave it at that. So, is Subete ga F ni Naru eliminating solutions, or planting red herrings?
Somewhat more conclusive is what I still consider to be the more compelling part of the show, the continuing adventure of young Magata Shiki. We finally get to see the murder itself, and it’s an appropriately bloody affair, and the ascendancy of Magata Shiki from just creepy to homicidal. The important thing we learn is that, although Shiki is the more active assailant (curious, since she seemed to have been playing more the role of the temptress to that point), it was more of a joint crime, though understandably ambiguous to a horrified third party. It seems they’ve skipped over a key part though; what was the provocation that lead to this sudden action? Since the knife was only gifted on that day, it couldn’t have been wholly premeditated.
No matter the reason, it seems Magata Shiki and the one we will later know as the director are both murderers, and now they are both, apparently, dead. Curioser and curioser.