「遡る嘆き」 (Sakanoboru Nageki)
“A Deep Sorrow from the Past”

Legend of the 2nd District Murderer

My stomach is still churning. But my feelings on the episode are mixed. For starters, the opening warning that this episode might not be suited for younger audiences immediately clued me that something was off. Doubly so when no opening theme played this week. That’s how you know shit is about to go down. Although I enjoyed the underlying time travel premise and sympathized with Estelle’s motivations of wanting to save her dearest friend, the predictability of the plot undermined many surprise twists, as well as tense moments.

We kick off on Elaina desperately needing money, so she takes up a vague request by a local witch named Estelle. We are told that Estelle had a childhood friend named Selena, whose parents were brutally murdered by a robber that was never caught. Traumatized, and forced to live with an uncle who abused her, Selena embarks down an irreversible path to becoming a serial killer – one who Estelle ultimately had to execute.

But for years, Estelle couldn’t shake off her regret. She never stopped wanting to rescue Selena from her fate, so sought to create a time travel magic that could allow her to avert Selena’s fate in another parallel universe. Her plan? To travel back in time and prevent Selena’s parents from being murdered. And she requires Elaina’s assistance as a source she can draw magic from, because utilizing time travel completely expends her existing mana reserves.

Traveling to the Past

We knew it was never going to end well. Not with all the obvious signs being thrown around. But Majo no Tabitabi truly dialed it past eleven – even if the dialogue got hammy at times. Due to years of sexual abuse from her father, and physical abuse from her mother, Selena desperately wanted to kill her parents. She was the hooded robber who murdered her parents all those years ago. And nothing about time travel could change her underlying reasons. Above all, Selena was fundamentally a psychopath who derived pleasure from murdering and became addicted to committing atrocities. The tragedy of the situation was that in spite of Estelle’s best intentions, Selena could never be saved.

Seeing that bloody smile, missing teeth and her bones showing through her pulped flesh was truly nightmare fuel. And it seriously shook me to think what kind of horrors she suffered that would warp her personality so badly. And make her so unfazed by physical pain, as Estelle brutally fought back – ultimately sacrificing her memories to behead Selena using magic for the second time. Though I won’t deny questioning how such a little girl could possess superhuman strength allowing her to singlehandedly accost two adults and a witch by herself.

Concluding Thoughts

I felt very sorry for Estelle. If I sacrificed so much to go back and save a loved one from turning down the path of darkness, only to discover they had always been beyond redemption, even if it was for understandable reasons, I would mentally collapse. That’s an experience I wouldn’t ever wish upon even people I hate. In the end, her 2-3 years creating time travel magic amounted to nothing. And she even lost her memories. She tried to create a happier parallel world for personal closure, and only brought more pain upon herself, making the whole endeavor meaningless. This was definitely one of those cautionary tales, when it comes to being careful of what you wish for.

Elaina? Well, she couldn’t have predicted this outcome. And we see another situation that was totally beyond her control. Estelle might have lost her memories. She can live with far less suffering. But Elaina remembers it all. Additionally, this scenario was a really excellent exploration of her character, beyond the usual, apathetic traveler who dislikes involvement. It’s easy to criticise her in previous weeks for her vain and selfish approach to other people’s problems. However, this was a staunch reminder that despite all her magical powers, Elaina is still a young girl with clear limitations. While we, the viewers, want her to be a hero or some paragon of justice, that was never a path she actively chose or considered.

Anyway, that’s about everything I wanted to discuss. As always, thanks for reading this post and see you all next week!

26 Comments

  1. Two things that really bothered me deep by this episode
    1. Mother being jealous of her daughter being violated by her father, like wtf.
    2. Elaina left Estelle bleeding out on the chair when they returned to the present, Estelle clearly in state of confusion and has no idea whats happening, wtf Elaina you bitch.

    Elaina kinda pisses me off now.

    Kyle
    1. Elaina’s behavior is to rooted in the current Asia behavior to keep out your nose from others things, for not take responsibility of their Life

      What an old laughable “tradition” this is, i was hoping they overcome this long ago. But seems not, it is the Soul of this Anime. So please keep this Anime for yourselves, do not even think into release it in the West. They will not understand it and Hate it even more

      But, they choose to run with this Setting “look away, it do not concerns you!” even in this time and age. This Stroy is an Dinosaurian and earned to die out

      Your laughing? Well, at WW2 this was also heavy spread out in Japan. but as you can see still exits

      Sorry for being a bit emotional

      Worldwidedepp
      1. Just to say, as a Chinese Asian who watched this show too (and grew up in the “don’t butt your head into others’ affairs” culture), Elaina’s apathy has went beyond that definition long ago. Please don’t group us together.

        Some viewer from Asia
        1. it was not my intension. I got angry about this Animes “soul”.

          i am sorry for that and happy that it is not reality

          i try to control my emotions better next time. But i am also Human

          Worldwidedepp
          1. It still doesn’t change the fact that you did think it was reality. We are humans but we should also understand when to vent out and speak or when not too. In this case, you were showing your personal opinion which isn’t quite true. Using the excuse that your also human doesn’t excuse the fact that you did reveal your point of view. Just a fact and no offense.

            Some Asian American viewer
      2. That was a very racist comment. There is a deeper racist meaning you have there. It doesn’t change that you got a bit emotional but to go as far as to even remark that it’s the “anime soul” shows how well uneducated you are. You just don’t go off and insult another culture when your very own culture also have it’s issue.
        Using the excuse of “Your also human” doesn’t excuse you of your racist comment.

        DisappointedatHotTake
          1. it is not only this Episode, all the previous Episodes add to this here, and this is the cup of the cake.

            So, i bark at the Anime choice of the Setting nothing more and some of you do to. So let us make peace and agree this setting is not right

            Worldwidedepp
          2. Which then begs the question: why are you watching the anime in the first place?

            You already know that anime is fiction (as you pointed out), and yet you somehow relate this to real-world Japanese culture? The ‘soul of anime’ that you pointed out is pure hypocrisy; it is the viewer’s prerogative on how to perceive and interpret the events that transpire – it is highly evident even in the reviewer’s thoughts.

            Please keep your opinions to yourself, if your only purpose is to unfairly demonise Asian culture – we are the most diverse group of people in the world with a range of cultures that also celebrates virtues that all of humanity can appreciate.

    2. Elaina wasn’t fairing well either. Unlike Estelle, she remembered everything and was pretty much at her wits end. Don’t yell at Elaina when It’s Estelle’s fault she witnessed the horror she did in the first place and just wants to get the hell out of there. Elaina probably would have helped more if she wasn’t already going through emotional turmoil.

      I’m sick of people trying to put their morals on Elaina.

      Avalon
        1. Even if we call her a new character, she still gets to forget the horror that Elaina is forced to remember. In a sense that is a blessing whereas Elaina now has that traumatic experience forever ingrained in her because she got involved with a girl she only met a few hours earlier. The only thing on her mind when they made it back to the present was probably to get away from there which is what she did and she proceeded to break down.

          I imagine what I possibly would have done in that situation and making sure Estelle was ok probably wouldn’t have been my first thought. I understand where you are coming from, but Elaina was far from being in her right mind and for good reason.

          Avalon
  2. Gotta be a first an Anime (at least in my experience) – the warning —

    {Anime} may be inappropriate for younger viewers.

    I mean, isn’t that 99% of what Anime is ⸮

    Anyway, I didn’t think it was that terrible other than the mention of the
    sick and abusive family Selena grew up with. In fact, one of the things
    that I like / respect about Anime is that very few topics are taboo.
    And this is a good thing generally since it (with good story telling) can
    add an aspect or depth to a story that would otherwise be flat. Talking
    about abuse is how the {social} problem of abuse is bought to the top
    and dealt with as a society; unconfronted things are unconfronted.

    I’m beginning to see Elaina in a completely neutral way and I think that
    is one of the goals of good story telling. Yeah, this story telling isn’t perfect.
    Elaina emotionally is a child whose decisions are sometime right but
    she’s not mentally equipped to assimilate the experience and consequence
    of those decisions in an adult manner, IMHO.

    In this episode, her decision and its outcome broke her. Now I don’t know
    if she’ll heal that deep scar and make it a meaningful experience or if
    it will haunt her for a very long time — I gotta tell you regret cuts the
    deepest and takes the longest to heal, if ever.

    This is much different than Kino no Tabi in that Kino experiences “things,”
    but they don’t seem life altering to his personality. Yeah, he learns, but
    he’s still basically the same Kino. We’ll see in future episodes if Elaina
    is a different character from this horrifying experience.

    Or if it’ll be forgotten…

    mac65
    1. I do agree with anime being allowed to push more boundaries for its content than Western shows, but personally, my issue with this episode isn’t so much its content, but the fact that the show tackles it in a laughably tone deaf way, along with pulling the whole “Being abused makes people into crazy killers” trope. The episode just piled needless suffering onto Selena for no reason other than shock value, with little in the way of nuance and care whatsoever, and since we’ll likely never see Selena again after this, her whole ordeal literally means nothing.

      Firechick
      1. That’s what being episodic is all about. You can’t expect the characters/themes in a single episode story to be as developed as those that get several episodes. There is nothing wrong with some shock value. They piled on the suffering so we had an idea of why Selena turned out like she did. How else do you expect them to do it in 1 episode? Also we don’t know how this ordeal will affect Elaina in the long run. Selena is not the main character. How this affects Elaina is what matters.

        I’m sorry, but it sounds like you’re just complaining to complain.

        Avalon
      2. @Avalon + @Firechick :: IMHO you both nailed the same issue from
        two different perspectives, and this sorta plot device is not unique
        to Anime. Definitely piled needless suffering onto Selena while at
        the same time piled needless suffering onto Selena to (hopefully)
        push the “character growth” for Elaina.

        What I wonder is if this experience of Elaina will be reflected in the
        future episodes, or simply be ignored by the crying-her-eyes-out
        reset at this episode’s end. My gut tells me Elaina will not carry this
        to the next episode because the series hasn’t really shown any
        strong growth in her character thus far. Of course, I could be wrong…

        mac65
  3. This episode left me speechless. I never thought this show would go this far. It definitely was NOT appropriate for younger viewers and I hope this makes it clear the demographic this show was really intended for.

    Also, apparently Elaina is still 18 years old at this point, in our world she just technically reached the legal age for some countries. ALSO, science has pointed out executive functions in our brain anatomically and physiologically mature and are formed by 21 years of age. If this anime’s human physiology is similar to ours then it would mean Elaina is still immature as heck and this event will probably scar her for the rest of her life and influence her decision making in the years to come. She was so obviously shocked at these events that yes she left a mentally broken, physically hurt and bleeding witch colleague, including a mountain of money behind her so she can just cry and let it all out.

    Other than that, I already had a feeling who the antagonist in this episode was and that it would complicate things, I just didn’t expect how badly it would turn out. I do wonder what kind of encounter Estelle did when young Selena caught her off guard and attacked her. It was shown off-screen and it was better that way. But God, a decapitation in this anime? That was something. I will never look at this show the same way ever again.

    MMX3
  4. What is your Duty? To serve Emperor’s Will.
    What is Emperor’s Will? That we fight and die.

    What is Death? It is our duty.

    What is your Duty?

    What is your Duty? To serve Emperor’s Will.
    What is Emperor’s Will? That we fight and die.

    What is Death? It is our duty.

    What is your Duty? …

  5. I think Estelle will die out of stab wounds suffered during the time travel.
    Though this might be a better fate than to live with memories of your childhood friemd being destroyed by the fact she was already a ruthless killer at heart.
    Elaine running away from her is another blot on our Ashen Witch record.
    First aid? Any helaing spells? No just run away and leave your companion to die.
    At least she admits she is just an inexperienced teenage witch with no ability to solve problems. First step to improvement is acknowledging your deficiencies…

    ewok40k
    1. I already mentioned this above, but no there is no new “blot” on Elaina’s record. She got back to the present time emotionally distraught. I imagine her only real thought is to get the hell out of there instead of spending even more time with the witch she’s known for only a few hours that has now probably given Elaina trauma.

      If Elaina was in her right mind then she would most likely help. Problem is she is far from being in her right mind. Everyone needs to try to see things from her perspective instead of instantly labeling her.

      Avalon
  6. 12 letters
    3 words
    1 message

    El Psy Congroo

    For all the moralistic debate going on in the show among its viewers thus far, I actually love that the show is not all fluff and happiness. It’s interesting to see how we as observers respond. Truth be told, if I was in Elaina’s shoes… I might react the same way as her.

    It was very humane for Elaina not to take that bag of gold on the table after they got back. Though if she did, it would certainly be an interesting development and I’d like to see the comments section raze to the ground.

    That aside, the ending reminds me of Nier Automata Route C where A2 was given the choice to either kill Pascal or erase Pascal’s memories. There was how ever a third option to take and that is to walk away… To which Elaina made the same decision as I did for that chapter in Automata.

    My reasons for walking off? I do not know. I do not and will never truly know if Pascal killed himself or erased his memories. It’s something that I as a player would have to accept. Yes after that chapter I did feel horrible like what Elaina did. But, I am nothing but a passing Android.

    Henrietta Brix
  7. So I also had mixed reactions to this episode but for different reasons. For one, I thought this show was providing commentary on the nature vs. nurture debate. I think Estelle’s fatal mistake is that she assumed Selena was a victim of circumstance and thus “nurtured” into becoming a serial killer. The episode doesn’t really resolve that issue. Was Selena born as a serial killer or was she really abused which turned her into one? I just found it suspect that she used the same reason twice to justify the murders (killed her uncle due to abuse, also murdered her parents because of abuse). I thought that was really convenient or maybe just an excuse to cover up for the fact that she’s just born psycho. More evidence to this is that Estelle was fooled by her “innocent act” which really devastated Estelle because their friendship was essentially rendered meaningless. But once again, was Selena made or born that way?

    If there is a morality tale to be had here, I think it rests on Estelle’s decision to “rectify” the past and despite her best intentions, sometimes there are consequences and externalities that don’t necessarily guarantee the intended result. In the end, Estelle did what she did for selfish reasons, and instead of accepting her fate, she tried to tamper with the past. I’m sure a part of her wanted to save Selena but I wonder if her actions wasn’t more to assuage her guilt. For example, if Selena was executed by someone other than herself, would Estelle still be motivated to travel to the past?

    Finally, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop with Elaina. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if it ever would. It’s the same expectation I had when watching Kino where I was anticipating her to take a moral stand or choose sides but in the end, Kino was a nihilist or at best, an agnostic.

    So I was genuinely surprised when we get Elaina at her most vulnerable. I think a lot of misunderstood Elaina since the beginning of series, taking her for vain and unsympathetic. But that doesn’t seem to be the case at all, in fact, she’s only too aware of her weak agency or lack thereof.

    The only reason why I differentiate Elaina with Kino is because Elaina is a witch and therefore endowed with special powers which puts her at an advantage over normal people. Understandably, this devolves into “superhero” or “villain” trope but when I think about what are the intended purposes of being a witch, it’s either to help or hurt people but Elaina doesn’t really do either. She seemed more like a reluctant helper who was more set on her own agenda and using magic for her own convenience or self-interest. I think that’s what made her somewhat culpable but in this episode, we get more insight into her inner thoughts.

    Masurie
  8. Visually quite stunning, the anime continues to miss a couple of notes here and there that could easily be explained or mentioned.

    For this episode in particular: Estelle’s dead. You don’t recover from a dozen stab wounds and sever blood loss in an anemic patient, and Elaina is not exactly a healing specialist even if she were in the right mind to toy with the human body.

    I find the choice to put these two episodes so early on to be a bit suspect, the changed order is leaving me wondering if the final storytelling punchline will hit properly.

    cryum
  9. Another ridiculous episode, but this time to receive one about fetishes we got a weird time travel episode where they go back in time to save a sadistic serial killer in where you’re supposed to take some kid’s word that she was abused, so it’s a-ok to kill them, but if you edited out just ten seconds of the episode, all that justification would have been gone.
    It’d be way more belieable if they made it so she was always a crazy murdering lunatic, without needing to be diddled.
    As for the character of Elaina…. if there is something worse than a potato harem lead, that is an arrogant useless, she calls herself inexperienced and useless for not being able to help, but she’s the one who didn’t try until it was too late also she ran out of the house while the other witch bleeds out, not even getting help for her.
    I don’t understand how the authors always use a main girl who is supposed to be a prodigy in situations where she is humiliated, while the MC boy who has a disadvantage shows in the first arc that he is the only useful character in the whole series, for example in mahouka or classroom elite.

    Fede

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