「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.
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!