What They Say:
Episode 8 – Purple Dawn
After her experience in Virtual Reality, Nishinosono remembers that Saikawa was with her after her parents’ death. The lab attempts to reset the non-functioning Red Magic system, and as the lights go out Saikawa finds a clue.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Nishinosono, having been taken from the virtual reality capsule, recounts her experience to Saikawa-Sensei and Sanada and reveals that she almost certainly saw Dr. Magata within the walls of the virtual world. The possibility seems ludicrous to Sanada, who jokes about it and suggests that it could be a prank and a compilation of voice activations and interviews until she’s forced from the room. Saikawa seems more thoughtful about the situation. He and his student wander outside into the pre-dawn darkness, with Moe attempting to tackle the logistics of the situation and Saikawa appearing more thoughtful and aloof. The two watch the sunrise as Moe apologizes for breaking Saikawa-Sensei’s glasses after her parents’ death so many years ago.
As the two reenter the lab, they learn that Yamane is attempting to override the Red Magic system, deactivate it, and run the lab on UNIX instead, giving them more control over the lab’s functionality. He theorizes that a Trojan may have been the cause of the earlier malfunctions and believes that it will take several more hours to figure things out.
As Saikawa-Sensei and Nishinosono wait out the reset in the dark, Saikawa becomes preoccupied with the “F” concept that has confounded them thus far. Moe begins to spitball ideas but Saikawa is content to locate the path to the answer and follow it to its logical conclusions. As he’s struck by a barely-coherent set of thoughts, focused on imperfection and the mention of Magata’s gloves, he becomes convinced that it wasn’t Dr. Magata that Nishinosono saw inside the Virtual Reality system. As he begins to speak, the lights come back on and the system is restored. Moe contacts the mainland and asks her butler to get her Uncle involved in the murder investigation right away. The two detectives decide to take their own paths to the answer that lies in waiting for them.
I think by now I should be more wary about expecting anything in particular from this series, because every time it appears as if it’s about to make some major reveal, it pulls back and does its due diligence fleshing out its main characters and their relationship. This doesn’t quite abandon the more philosophical aspects of the previous episode, but it does set them aside for most of the half hour in favor of offering a different, more concrete perspective on human beings and their relationships via the two main characters. In an indirect way, this almost serves to counteract Magata’s compelling beliefs about humans and their fundamental separation from one-another by providing an example of a bond that’s messy and “impure” in its complications.
While it’s difficult not to be a little cynical about money-saving animation techniques in anime, in spite of its long single shot of the characters not moving, I think the most important scene in this episode is probably the one where Moe and Saikawa-Sensei talk to one-another as the sun slowly rises. The conversation meanders between the details of the case, Moe’s memories immediately following her parents’ death and her interactions with Sensei, and how, come morning, the two of them will both become liars if they hide the details of the case from the police. At some points, the two are almost playful – one of my favorite lines comes after Moe starts speculation on multiple murderers with multiple motives happening to pick the exact same time to commit their crimes at the lab – a bit of a stretch and kind of a strange thought. Sensei, for his part, asks her if they should “ban weird or strange opinions.” This seemingly offhand line is actually very thoughtful, since it’s often the crazy ideas that might prompt a new way of thinking about something, and specifically here might bode well for Moe contributing to the solution of the murder mystery.
I also appreciated the importance played to physical proximity, because as interesting as it may be to connect to someone over virtual reality, there simply is no replacement for seeing someone’s face or holding their hand, at least in my opinion. Moe may not be entirely invested in the case itself anymore, but she simply enjoys being able to spend time close to Saikawa-Sensei and interact with him (even if their interactions are purely platonic and she constantly wishes it were more. Alas!).
There are other nods towards this opposing school of thought throughout the episode, including Sanada’s humorous comments about how Sensei takes his tea and how lovely his fingers are (as if those physical aspects define part of his essential self – as someone who is familiar with visual character tropes in anime and manga, in some sense they just might!) and the characters’ speculation on whether or not Miki will be able to pass as her sister, being physically dissimilar and possessed of a completely different air. It would seem as if this episode offers a different opinion on what makes us human, and that opinion doesn’t restrict us to just what exists in our mind – on the contrary, it might be more accurate to say that humans are a combination of our brains and our bodies, and as “impure” as that might be, the essential messiness of that blend is preferable to the sterility of ourselves as pure data.
I’ve given up attempting to comment on the scenes of Shiki’s life that appear throughout but mostly near the end of episodes, because I find them interesting primarily as a narrative on their own rather than necessarily something that is directly related to the meat of each episode. Also, these little snippets seem to portray her as sinister, perhaps sociopathic, which is likely the color given by the narrator, an individual who is obviously not disconnected from the events of fifteen years ago. I’m curious to see where these little bits of backstory eventually meet up with the rest of the main story, however.
For every tense inhalation of breath this show offers, it also provides an exhalation of relief once-in-a-while. A thriller that’s nothing but suspense dooms itself by being too one-note. It’s the quiet moments between the noise that can make or break a series, and this one has done a good job of giving us that moment of contemplation we need between each of the big reveals. Now that we are likely leading into the climax, I wonder how the remaining few episodes will work to juggle these moods and continue to cultivate all the different reactions I’ve been having with each new installment.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Samsung Galaxy S5 running the Android Crunchyroll app at 1080p