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|“||The essence of good deeds and evil deeds is the same. They’re both no more than a person’s actions to make up for a defect in themselves.||„|
|~ Gaku Yashiro's about the duality of good and evil.|
Gaku Yashiro is the main antagonist of the manga and anime series ERASED. A respected teacher and later politician, Gaku Yashiro is also a serial killer who mainly targets children. He is the archenemy of Satoru Fujinuma, the main protagonist.
Gaku is initially presented as a kind, friendly and charismatic teacher who is popular with his students and is always willing to help out. He also tries to defend his students when they are wrongly accused, such as when Misato accused Kayo of stealing her lunch money. He even helps out Kenya, Osamu, Hiromi, and Kazu with their birthday scheme by making Kayo and Satoru stay late at school, so that the group could be preparing surprise.
However, beneath this façade laid a deplorable, sadistic and heinous person who enjoyed murdering children. He was very civil, orderly, and methodical, ensuring two conditions were met: first, that he had someone he could frame, and second, there would be a portion of time where the child was alone.
His desire to murder children seemed to stem from his childhood along with an experience where he drowned a group of hamsters and saw one live among the corpses of his fallen brethren. Gaku plans out all of his murders and ensures no evidence leads back to him while distancing himself from the incident in one town before moving to a new one.
Yashiro was also very careful and circumspect, as he thought out his plan that he killed Hiromi, a feminine-looking boy, to make it appear as if the dangerous and violent killer was only interested in females by mistaking the boy for one.
Gaku appears to be in his early-to-mid-thirties. He has a generally broad build, and is of average height. He has fair-medium skin, black hair, and brown eyes. Gaku tends to wear suits and in his later years a hat and sunglasses, possibly to obscure his identity.
As a child, Gaku Yashiro was obsessed by things like psychology and people's reactions to specific situations. As he grew older, Yashiro became bored with his everyday life, where nothing interesting ever happened. One of Yashiro's favorite books was "The Spider's Thread", a tale of a man named Kandata who, after falling into hell, was given a chance to climb out on a spider's thread. On his way up, Kandata kicked down any other sinners who tried to climb up with him, claiming it was his, and only his, chance to escape. The thread then snapped, plunging Kandata back down into hell for eternity.
One day, Yashiro's abusive older brother convinced him to lure a young girl to a shed, at which point Yashiro stood guard as his brother raped the girl. Yashiro then used kind words and presents to manipulate the girl into remaining silent about the incident. Yashiro and his brother made the process a monthly occurence, where Yashiro's brother would get to rape young girls monthly, while Yashiro himself would get the "thrill" he wanted out of his life by getting the chance to manipulate the girls, which also appealed to his intrigue with psychology. One day, Yashiro was approached by one of his classmates who had accidentally come into possession of a box of baby hamsters.
Yashiro told her he would deal with the hamsters for her, at which point he went home, dumped them into a jar of water, and left them to drown. Returning hours later, Yashiro was thrilled to find one of them had survived, decided to keep it as a daily reminder of the incident and the thrill he experienced, and named his new pet "Spice".
During one of the monthly rapes of Yashiro's vituperative and abusive brother, due to Yashiro's own negligence, the boys' mother came very close to the shed where the rape was happening, and Yashiro's brother (attempting to keep his current victim from screaming) accidentally strangled her to death. Yashiro and his brother tried to revive her, to no avail, so they hid the body, though Yashiro quickly realized his brother planned to frame him for the murder. Yashiro then realized he could now see a spider's thread attached to his older brother's head, resembling the same thread from his favorite book. At some point, Yashiro's hamster died, and while Yashiro felt a sense of loss, it wasn't out of care for his pet.
It was because he now had nothing to entertain him in his day-to-day life. Refusing to be framed by his brother, Yashiro planned to murder his sibling, then make it look like the boy killed himself out of guilt for raping and murdering the young girl from before. Succeeding in his plan, Yashiro found the new "thrill" for his daily life: Getting away with murder and manipulating innocent people. Everytime Yashiro found a "victim", he would visualize a spider's thread attached to their head, and, when he murdered them, it was as if he was "cutting the thread." At one point, Yashiro noticed he himself had a thread, symoblizing his own vulnerability.
Over the years, while keeping the image of a polite, just and civil man, Yashiro's homicidal and sadistic traits worsen.
He eventually became an Elementary School teacher, and began trying to lure neighborhood children to isolated areas so he could murder them. Something would often go wrong, ruining his attempted killing. Yashiro would note these failures mentally in order to become better at his plans. Becoming engaged to a child psychologist, Yashiro used her knowledge to gain a better understanding of children, which ultimately lead to him beginning his killing spree. When confronted by his fiance, who believed Yashiro had something to do with a recent child death, Yashiro pushed her out of a window and made it look like she killed herself from too much stress. Yashiro continued his killings over the following years. Becoming a teacher at Mikoto Elementary School, Yashiro targeted the 10-year-old girl Kayo Hinazuki, who was regularly abused by her mother.
Kidnapping Kayo, Yashiro took pictures of her half-naked body, threw her into a freezer, then sprayed her with a water bottle until she slowly froze to death. Yashiro later kidnapped and murdered Aya Nakanishi, a student at a different elementary school. Realizing the police are closing in on him as a suspect, Yashiro murders Hiromi Sugita, a student of his who looks like a female, knowing that, since the police believe the killer solely targets girls, they will believe the true murderer mistook Hiromi for a girl, effectively eliminating anyone who personally knew Hiromi was male from their suspect list. Yashiro then successfully pinned the murders on a local food delivery worker, Jun "Yuuki" Shiratori, getting the boy arrested and put on death row.
Duel Between Yashiro and Satoru
By 2006, Yashiro had not only married the daughter of a politician, then killed said politician to steal his position as County Lawmaker, but had also murdered dozens of children over the years, always framing someone else for his crimes. During one of his attempted kidnappings, Yashiro was spotted by Sachiko Fujinuma, a reporter who investigated the 1988 kidnappings, and the mother of one of his former students. Ditching his planned victim, Yashiro, knowing Sachiko could incriminate him, follows her home, where he brutally stabs her to death, and gleefully watches as she slowly bleeds to death. Waiting for the woman's son, Satoru, to return, Yashiro frames the young man for his mother's murder.
Satoru, trying to avoid arrest, is flung back in time to 1988 by his "Revival" ability, and is given the chance to stop Yashiro's serial kidnappings. Back in 1988, Satoru attempts to foil Yashiro's plans, and, while prolonging the lives of Kayo, Aya, and Hiromi by a few days, he is unable to save them from death at Yashiro's hands. Returning to 2006, Satoru, with the help of his teenage co-worker, Airi Katagiri, avoids the police chasing him for his mother's murder, and further researches the crimes Yashiro has committed over the years.
Yashiro, now going by "Nishizono Manabu", leads the investigation trying to capture Satoru, and, in an attempt to further incriminate Satoru, tries to roast Airi alive by setting her house on fire while she is inside. Satoru rescues Airi, and, after being tracked down and arrested by the police, is once again sent back to 1988 for one final attempt to save his friends. Back in 1988 once again, Satoru uses his knowledge of the past to successfully save the 3 children this time around.
Believing The Murderer will next target a young girl named Misato, Satoru seeks help from his homeroom teacher, Gaku Yashiro, in pursuing her in his car. Yashiro then reveals the horrifying truth that he is the real killer to Satoru, and, after gloating about it to him and claiming murdering is an act to "fill a void of happiness in his everyday life", locks him in his car, then pushes said car into a frozen lake, hoping to drown Satoru. Satoru survives this attempt on his life, though he is plunged into a coma from which he may never wake. Due to Satoru's saving of the children, all of his friends grew up to live happy lives. Yashiro, meanwhile, grew bored with killing children due to how "thrilling" his rivalry with Satoru was compared to ordinary police, and as a result, eventually stopped murdering children due to how dull it became. However, this didn't stop him from murdering anyone who got in his way throughout his life. Yashiro, now going by Nishizono Manabu, hears that, after 15 years, Satoru has finally woken up. Thrilled at this, Yashiro begins stalking Satoru and his new friend, Kumi, a young girl who is a patient at the hospital Satoru is recovering at.
Using his political position, Yashiro arranges an outing to nearby campgrounds for every patient at Satoru's hospital, and, disguising himself, attends the trip as well. Arriving at the campgrounds, Yashiro steals Sachiko Fujinuma's cell phone, and uses it to text Kumi to meet "Sachiko" at a nearby storehouse, where he seemingly plans to murder her and frame Satoru for the crime. This plan fails, however, as Satoru and his best friend, Kenya Kobayashi, having learned of Yashiro's intentions, rescued Kumi before Yashiro could get his hands on her, effectively leading him into a trap. However, this was all part of Yashiro's plan, as he tricks Kumi into drinking a drugged drink that puts her to sleep, at which point he puts her on a slowly-sinking canoe drifting along the river.
Yashiro then plans to lure Satoru to a bridge where he will have a clear view of Kumi drowning, at which point Yashiro will set the bridge aflame, killing Satoru and dooming Kumi, while simultaneously removing any and all evidence of Yashiro's villainy. Satoru, however, realized Yashiro's plan, and confronts him on the bridge before he has a chance to set the explosives. There, Yashiro taunts Satoru about both his inability to be catch him, along with Kumi's inevitable death.
Satoru then reveals not only that Kumi has been saved by his friends, but also that the reason he's been a step ahead of Yashiro for so long has been because of his "Revival" ability. Yashiro, realizing he's been caught and refusing to be arrested, sets the bridge on fire while both himself and Satoru are on it, hoping to kill both of them in one fell swoop. Satoru, however, tackles Yashiro, sending them both into the river below, where they are both saved by nearby law enforcement.
As Yashiro is arrested, he sees, through his reflection in the river, that his own "Spider Thread" has been severed, signalling that he has been truly and completely beaten.
Kenya visited him in the prison after confessing his crimes include murders of his older brother, fiancée and his father in law.
His defeat in the anime is quite different. There he instead takes Satoru to the hospital roof. He follows to also explains his psychology and how Satoru is so important to him. He also reveals that he swapped out Kumi's sedative with some sort of poison and she will die soon. Then Satoru drives his wheelchair towards the edge. Gaku is shocked by this and barely manages to hold on to the wheelchair. Satoru laughs at this attempt and Gaku concludes that they shall both die together here. He lets go of him and then prepares to jump as well. But he sees that Satoru landed in a giant inflatable cushion prepared by his friends. Gaku has to laugh and sees the spider thread over his own head. He is then arrested for his attempted murders, but with a somewhat satisfied and psychotic smile. Kumi was able to be saved in time.
The list of his victims he killed in the series:
- His older brother
- His unnamed fiancée
- His father in law
- Unnamed hamsters
- Kayo Hinazuki
- Aya Nakanishi
- Hiromi Sugita
- Sachiko Fujinuma (original timeline only)
- In 1988, he admits he quit smoking three years ago and switched to candy, implying a sweet tooth. His driver seat has a compartment stored with lots of candy, which he tells Satoru and Sachiko to keep secret. Though, it's possible it's just a cover and that he actually uses the candy to lure children.
- The name Gaku means "study, learning, science" (学) and his surname Yashiro means "eight" (八) (ya) and "generations" (代) (shiro).