「壊れた水槽」 (Kowareta suisō)
Things are looking grim for our young crushers. Hiroki is now on the run after having confronted Tsukasa for crushing his peak giver, Hayashi. Satoru is being manipulated and cornered into a ploy where he’ll be contributing to his own demise. And with Hayashi now gone, Tsukasa’s mental state is only going to continue to deteriorate.
It’s no secret Tsukasa’s mind has completely cracked after his experience crushing Hayashi. Even if Hiroki saved him from being completely pulverized, he never fully recuperated from the event. He is unable to keep his cool, his thoughts are completely wrapped up in getting rid of his ‘loose ends’, and he’s entirely set on revenge. If his mind were straight, he could perhaps rationalize that the real culprit behind his misery is the Company. Hayashi was but an employee of the Company being told what to do. He had no other choice but to let Tsukasa go and take on Satoru as his new pupil. Actually, should he look in the mirror, he would see that his reflection is not that far off from Hayashi. Even after becoming the CEO’s adoptive son, he still has no real agency over the direction of his life. Like Hayashi, he’ll forever be at the beck and call of the CEO and the Company’s every whim. He’s repeated to Hiroki that they can’t simply ‘leave’ the Company or do whatever they wish.
This episode definitely left me with a strong impression of Hiroki. The poor lad underwent a swell of emotions in such a short amount of time. But with this comes a shift. He’s more self-aware and finding more agency. The fear he found within his only mentor and friend is driving him to find out the truth on his own. Tsukasa’s manipulative ways may not hold any more sway over the young image user. It doesn’t help that Tsukasa was ready to alter his pet’s own memories. It’s a sad realization to Hiroki that his ‘owner’ could deceive him so much. Can you imagine disappointing your own pet? Your dog? I’ve seen that look. It’s harsh. Rather than capturing them and manipulating them into doing you bidding, you try everything in your power to make them happy again. But right now, Tsukasa is long past considering Hiroki’s feelings and all about protecting his own interest.
Tsukasa is digging his own grave. He’s lost his only trustworthy companion, he’s completely eradicated his peak giver, and the Company has him on watch because he’s lost all control of their most valuable pet. And because of this, he’s allowed Long and Meiling to maneuver their way back to Tokyo to find Hiroki. With a hit on the boy the size of the one on John Wick at the end of the second movie, I imagine there’ll be a lot of confrontations with Hiroki.
Will he be able to fend off every employee attack? And how will he fare against Meiling when he meets her? Will this supposed ‘weakness’ in his lock really be the reason he succumbs to the Company? And how about Satoru. The young man is so ecstatic at the thought of Hayashi’s return, will simply ‘crushing’ Hiroki be enough? Will he even believe the concocted lie? There’s so much at stake here. I, myself, am a little conflicted. I don’t want to see these two young souls go head to head, and I’m extremely empathetic to the paths their lives have taken. But something we can’t forget as viewers: these men are extremely powerful and have caused regular people, families, friends, and who knows how many others to lose their lives entirely. They aren’t as innocent as we might think.
The only real redemption for these two, should they make it out of the Company intact, will come when they acknowledge the damage they’ve caused and they forgive themselves. Because without that, what hope do they have to truly be released from the Company’s grasp?