Ouch, this episode hurt so much. Despite his intentions to be the hero and change everything, nothing that Satoru has done manages to work out the way he wants it to.
The fact that his, supposed, maturity is called into question numerous times throughout the episode also helps to further develop Satoru as a character. Whether it was his failed attempt to convince Hinazuki’s mother to let him join him at the science centre, which had to be solved by the convenient arrival of his mother, or his classmate’s rebuttal to his “cool” advice, the 29-year-old in a 10-year-old’s body was shown how far he, as a person, still has to go as well. It’s a neat connection to the disillusioned man from the start of episode one, and really ties things together to make the further progression of this story far more appealing than it already was.
Overall, this episode flowed nicely, and was full of heartbreaking moments. Every time that Satoru and Hinazuki were together, this melancholic feeling of hope hovered over them; and when it all falls apart at the end of the episode, it was like a wave of utter despair came crashing down. And the direction and framing of everything this episode made it work so well.
For that I have to give major props to the production studio on this episode. Everything they did for this one was pitch-perfect. The animation, the audio, the framing, the direction, it all worked to make this the best episode so far for this series.
I can’t really discuss what this episode did right without discussing the voice work again. While everyone in the cast is doing a spectacular job, with both the voices of Satoru doing wonderfully for their first voice acting roles, the prize for best work once again has to go to Aoi Yuki. Her performance as Hinazuki continues to be the show stealer, as every little bit of emotion that she feels is portrayed so perfectly, it’s hard to remember that she’s probably never gone through the situations this girl has herself.
The only hiccup I have with this episode is the fact that a few events seemed to be a little too convenient. Even in the grand scheme of things, they seemed to just happen. Add in the lack of resolution to episode three’s ending scene with Satoru’s friend Kenya and their teacher, and it feels like something may be missing, or be left for the grander mystery.
Other than that hiccup, this episode was another exceptionally strong addition to the series, and it definitely maintains its status as the best series airing this season. With everything falling apart for Satoru again in 1988, next episode should be an interesting experience to see where he goes from there.
Episode 4 Rating: 9.5/10