Erased is an anime series with a psychological suspense in its story, which leaves the audience on edge. It makes you think about the occurring events, the characters’ motives, and their formed relationships. Particularly, the most intriguing one would be between the protagonist, Satoru Fujinuma and the antagonist, Gaku Yashiro.
They are not the typical enemies that just opposed each other. They do not just simply hate nor dislike each other. As a matter of fact, their feelings and thoughts towards each other are complex.
Gaku Yashiro Was Satoru’s Teacher
When Satoru was in 6th grade, he has Gaku Yashiro as his homeroom teacher. As such, Yashiro has created a strong bond with his students. He was their main guide, someone they can rely on in their studies. He was supposed to be a second parent, in which he had done so terrifically.
He was also very charismatic and very effective in expressing genuine care for his students. His ability to give comfort and security also enticed Satoru as well. It is important to note that Satoru does not have a father figure. He was raised by a single mom, so it is natural for him to look up to Yashiro.
Satoru has put on a lot of faith and trust on Yashiro so much – to the point he cannot accept that Yashiro was the murderer all along. He even stated that he got blinded to all the evidences pointing towards Yashiro. It was clear that he did not want to think Yashiro as the murderer as he was strongly in denial at first.
What makes it more tragic is that Satoru admitted that he thought of Yashiro as a father figure in the end. Imagine how he felt when he discovered that Yashiro was the one who intended to kill his friends off… It must have been heart-breaking and nauseating.
Yashiro and Satoru Have Something in Common
When Yashiro came clean about his identity, he said that he and Satoru shared the same philosophy in life: striving to fill the void or emptiness. Satoru fills the void with valuing his friends and family close to his heart. Yashiro, on the other hand, fills the void with killing off powerless and vulnerable children.
While they share the same philosophy, they took opposite directions of fulfilling it. Satoru chose to preserve, while Yashiro sought to destroy.
Their upbringing in their childhood have contributed to the choices they have made. Satoru had a good childhood with his mother, while Yashiro was severely bullied by his older brother.
Yashiro’s backstory was not explored much in the anime. In the manga though, Yashiro’s childhood was elaborated. He was the second child who was given a lot of attention and pressure from his parents. In turn, his older brother was neglected and ignored. His older brother abused him out of envy. It has come to the point that his older brother forced him to be an accomplice in his crimes – luring and raping girls.
Even as a child, Yashiro has received cruel acts from his own brother. At the same time, his brother was far from being a good role model to him. This would explain why Yashiro grew to be a messed up man.
Yashiro’s Fascination With A Hamster
The only backstory given to Yashiro in the anime is that he had experimented with hamsters when he was young. He placed the hamsters in a water tank, with the intention to drown them. But miraculously, one hamster has survived. It was standing on top of the dead hamsters. This fascinated Yashiro so much that he named the hamster survivor, “Spice”.
Yashiro viewed Satoru as Spice. Just like Spice, Satoru is persevering and extremely determined. When Yashiro tried to kill Satoru, Satoru did not even die. He was just consigned to a 15-year coma instead.
Yashiro is an individual who sees no value in human lives, and only lives off having the power over the vulnerable. This is to mirror how his older brother took pleasure on making him suffer when he was young. Seeing someone persistently try to survive and ruin Yashiro’s plans with equal cunningness can be a source of intrigue to him.
This source of intrigue can lead to respect, in which Yashiro admitted that he respects Satoru a lot. At the same time, the sense of intrigue can even provide Yashiro emotions he has never felt before. He is an empty person, not being able to process emotions normally as other people do. Faced with an opponent like Satoru can bring thrill to him. It adds ‘spice’ in his life, just like Spice the hamster did.
What can be an interesting interpretation is that Yashiro saw himself as the hamster. He was probably reminded of the time when his brother tormented him. He was just trying to survive just like the hamster. What is actually notable is that he eventually killed his older brother off. This was because his older brother intended to pin down his crimes on Yashiro when the police were investigating them.
Since the hamster can be linked to Satoru, it can be assumed that Yashiro had seen himself in Satoru as well. Most probably Satoru represented what Yashiro could have been if he chose to do good. Or if he never suffered abuse from his brother. Both persevering individuals with a strong will to live, filling the void in better ways.
Satoru summarized their relationship in the last episode: “You cannot live without me, Yashiro.” Yashiro viewed Satoru as someone who gave him a sense of thrill that he has never felt before. A thrill that makes him feel alive. He may have also seen Satoru as a mirror, but a good person. He does not want to let go of that version of himself, because maybe deep down, he was curious if things turned out different.
Read More: Light and L’s Relationship Explained