“The Butterfly Vanished in November, Part 2”
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 slightly – or 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.