“The Butterfly Vanished in November, Part 2”

「蝶は十一月に消えた 後編」 (Chou wa Ju-ichi-gatsu ni Kieta Kouhen)

The Truth of the Three Sisters:

And just like that, the mystery of the missing sisters is wrapped up. I think of all the 2-part mysteries this is probably the strongest one so far (although “The Cursed Man” was pretty solid as well), if only because I cared about what was going on, and there was a real sense of tension heading into this episode. Last week had some really good set-up, and the answers we got were not what I predicated. I initially suspected that Hanabusa-sensei was going to the killer here, but it turns out the outcome was much less predictable. After showing glimpses of the three girls together in the past, sharing happier memories with one another, Hector is set free and finds Futaba’s bones under the familiar elm tree.

Initially, we’re led to believe that Futaba hung herself, as we’re told she had suicidal tendencies and often slit her wrists, and that Minami buried her there after she wanted them all to die together. I would have believed that explanation if not for one key point: her hanging low enough to stand on the ground. When that was said I furrowed my brow and thought “Really?“, because I was 99% certain that wouldn’t be possible. But since Sakurako-san typically expects its audience to accept its explanations as the truth, I went on believing it to be true. As it turns out, only Sakurako gets to deliver the truth. The big reveal that Hitoe actually strangled Futaba came as a surprise, but watching the episode a second time gives away some telltale signs that both girls were guilty in their own ways. Colour me surprised that Hanabusa-sensei wasn’t directly involved with Futaba’s death!

Getting Dark and Dramatic:

I may have to revisit previous episodes to confirm this, but this definitely felt like the darkest and most dramatic Sakurako-san has gone. Whether it be the quick shot of Futaba’s dead face as she hung from the branch – her tongue sticking out ever so slightlyor fact that Shoutarou got stabbed trying to save Sakurako, or that we finally saw Soutarou drowned body. That brief flashback came just at the right moment, and made enough of an emotional pang for me to feel sympathy for Sakurako.

I’ve been vocal in my annoyances with her character (although I didn’t mind her last week), but I appreciate seeing her in her moment of weakness, thinking back to that horrible time in her childhood. At this point, I don’t think we even need a detailed explanation of what led to her brother drowning; it’s been drawn out since the very beginning of this adaptation, and part of me doesn’t expect it to get fully resolved anyway. But who knows, there’s still one episode left, and Hanabusa-sensei is still to be found. Sakurako believes he’s linked to the previous case that her uncle was investigating, as well as being the mastermind behind some of the cases they had been involved in till now, so perhaps he’s involved in her younger brother’s death as well?

Overview – What’s Next?:

While overall I preferred last week’s set-up to the big reveals of this episode, I was content with how this turned out. The fact that the Hitoe killed Futaba wasn’t something I would have guessed, and Minami attempting to stab Sakurako after insulting her precious sensei was a shocking moment on its own. However, it’s a shame that there were no real consequences to her actions, as both she and Shoutarou are in hospital, while Isozaki is seen walking with Hitoe. It’s not clear whether she will face the consequences of murdering Futaba, and I suspect that won’t be touched upon in the final episode, which while likely focus mainly on Sakurako after she proclaims that she and Shoutarou have to go their separate ways to keep him out of harm’s way. Let’s see how this all wraps up next week.


    1. At first I thought Sakurako’s attitude was really off-putting, especially when she presented Futaba’s bones with a grin and didn’t seem to care how Minami/Hitoe might have reacted. She even came across a little villainous in that moment. But after finding out that those girls killed/buried her there, that feeling kind of went away. Still, Sakurako is a bit of a dick.

    2. I think your suggestion should be aimed at the creators, not the characters.

      It may be just me, but it felt forced and unintentional. I can see this trend where modern anime oversaturates its characters with emotions (read facial expressions) constantly. They think it gives them more life. IT DOES NOT! It is stupid. It throws away all the subtlety and ambiguity of personality and removes the thinking part of watching experience! Character’s emotions and state of mind is so clearly depicted in every scene… exaggerated and overblown… *

      Until now Sakurako’s personality was handled subtly, not this time. The entire melodrama got out of hand. I can’t be the only one who couldn’t take this seriously (the whole time). I’m getting tired of anime characters flipping like a switch into crazy mode and then flip back moments later. Sometimes again and again. Ugh.

      I never found this show better than mediocre show done right, if only for being unique (counts in my book), but right now it regressed into plain old mediocre – something I’m not interested in.

      And don’t get me started on the supposed ‘goodbye’. The next episode is basically all predetermined as 80% boring ‘plot’, 20% focus on villain I don’t care about and 30% Sakurako-Shoutarou drama to get their relationship back to where it was at ep1. Oh yes, 30% buffer overflow. Ill try-catch that exception, return null and move on.

      What a shame. Well, to be fair, no matter what the ending is going to be, I enjoyed this show. Not for the mystery of course (couldn’t care less). I think Sakurako’s personality has been an interesting puzzle (even if in the end not really much to it) and there were some nice things this show had to say. I also find that the lack of story has worked in this show’s favor.

      I find this a good measure of how good the show is. In graphics art it is called hyperrealism. Now im not agaist this, I think it has its own merit and I myself like drawing ‘trace-like’ drawings of photographs (its good, e.g., to learn how the light behaves), but… In anime it’s almost always part of the ‘stupidifying’ trend. It is no longer about figuring out what the character feels and then why he feels that way and then finding a personal meaning in it, i.e., interpreting the message. Now it’s only – aaw that’s so saaad, that’s so cute… Its such a degradation. When I look at screenshots of modern anime I see this surplus of facial expressions that are so wasted…

      Interesting example is Kyoto Animation, which turned this into a ‘style’, but it doesn’t work for me. It works on an artistic level, often times (pretty bgrs, fluid animations – the technical side of things…), but anime is not moving pictures. Animation gives life (by definition). It shouldn’t capture reality, it should construct it. The difference between capture and creation is that creation is ‘incomplete’. It’s funny because I’m the last person who would argue the perfect creation is less meaningful than a flawed one. But in my opinion the perfect creation is not the one closest to reality.

      So we end up with productions that look good, but on a scene level – there is nothing left for the viewer to figure out – everything is shown and for me it is very frustrating. In other words sometimes standing still silently is meaningful – more than all these fake conflicts and big emotions.

  1. After watching this episode for the first time, I was a little disappointed. I mean, I like how the girl’s mystery was resolved, and seeing Shoutarou get stabbed was a little surprising. Sakurako’s expression seemed slightly macabre and creepy, but as a bone otaku, I guess I can see where she comes from. I have the biggest gripe regarding the mystery villain. While we have had inklings spread in older episodes, the reveal that he was a killer that may have a connection to Sakurako was kind of strange to me. And the fact that Sakurako thought of him so quickly seemed too quick.

    This episode was alright, though a little strange. Though, I think that since this was portrayed off of a light novel, it might be better to read the novel to get a better context of the character’s thoughts than what the anime can portray. If this was the last episode, it certainly made me want to read the source materials to continue the story, so I say that in that regard, the episode did a great job of conveying that feeling into me.

    1. “Slightly macabre and creepy” is an understatement. The slasher smile, using Futaba’s radius to prod Hitoe’s and Minami’s faces, bringing Hector along to find Futaba’s body… the only thing missing is for Sakurako to lick the radius as if it were a knife. 😛

      I’m a bit relieved that she’s crying after the hospital visit, implying that Shoutarou has become important to her as a person and not merely as a replacement for/reminder of her brother.

      So our serial suicide instigator is actually a bone collector with a manipulative streak rivaling that of Kirei Kotomine. :O

      Magnus Tancred
  2. These girls are really mentally unstable, but I guess you can’t hate them for being the way they are.
    This is due to their family upbringing with Hitoe being restricted so much from her father who prioritize his image reputation rather than his daughter’s safety.

    And, Minami getting disgusted with her mother’s stubbornness whose staying with her current husband (Minami’s stepfather probably) who is hinted to be abusing (and insulting) them, especially maybe a lot to Minami.

    Whether or not, they can’t be jailed (whatever crimes they’ve done shown in this episode) due to being minors (even if they’re college students, they’re probably around 19 years old to be considered minors), but I’m guessing they would have to be put in a mental hospital as seen with Minami still not accepting reality of her so-called sensei putting up a false love on her.

    Overall, it was a shocking episode, but my favourite episode is still the 2nd episode (https://randomc.net/2015/10/15/sakurako-san-no-ashimoto-ni-wa-shitai-ga-umatteiru-02/)

    with Utsumi being a fun, determined, and lovable side character. Hopefully we’ll get to see him in the final episode of this cour. Miss him being the goofy, but helpful assistant for most of the mystery cases.

    Richie Kim
    1. Yep, all three of those girls were mentally unstable. And as you say, that goes back to how they were brought up, which I mentioned last week. Even if they were raised in completely different households, they still wound up where they are now. I don’t know if we’ll see them next episode, but I would like some closure if we can get some, even if it’s just a a few shots in the epilogue.

      1. I think it would also have been nice if we’d had a little separate background on Futaba. Sure, it was mentioned she was a self-harmer, but apart from her being in relation to Hitoe and Minami, we never really found out about her life at all. Only Hitoe’s and Minami’s lives were touched upon. I guess some of it is down to her being dead before we even met ‘the three sisters’, as it were, but at the same time I kind of feel like that it’s because of that we should have known a little more about her….I don’t know, the lack of insight was just sad.

  3. Wow, I expected this episode to go dark, but not so grim dark. These girls are beyond madness. Is there a deed more evil than forcing your best friend to kill you?
    Minami attempting to stab Sakurako was also shocking, but to be fair Sakurako asked for it.

  4. That gave me the chills all over, seriously. I don’t think I was expecting any of what happened to…well, happen. I wonder what the last episode (last two??) will bring to the table.

  5. I think Hitoe could get off for self defense. I mean Futaba said strangle me or I’ll strangle you. And from Futaba’s apparent mental state, Hitoe had reason to fear for her life. And it’s not like she was armed with anything more than Futaba had or would have had. That being said, even if she gets off, it looks bad for the family

  6. You know, it makes sense that our main villain is a bone collector. The best villains to have are those that are twisted reflections of the protagonists. Those that you can compare the two and say,” there but fo the grace of God go (I).”

    Even Belloch in Raiders of the Lost Arc puts it rather well, “You and I are very much alike. Archaeology is our religion, yet we have both fallen from the purer faith. Out methods have not differed as much as you pretend. I am a shadowy reflection of you. It would take only a nudge to make you like me, to push you out of the light.”

    It is isn’t that hard to see Sakurako taking her brother’s death even worse and going down that twisted path. I look forward to the finale. If good it really could make this show.

    Gouka Ryuu
  7. I can understand that Sakurako wants to protect her young friend, but this will just NOT work. He is going to come to help you with your hunt for criminal mastermind whether you want it or not, and if you he gets lucky he might even survive.
    Anyway, poor girls, one was kiled, one ended up as killer herself, and one ended up as attempted killer…


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