Erased (stylized ERASED), is an anime based on the manga Boku Dake ga Inai Machi, or The Town Where Only I am Missing. I can safely say that it is one of the greatest anime I have seen in a long time, perhaps the greatest. I recently finished it after falling off anime for a few months (I’m a bad anime fan, I know), but during the first part of its run it was the highlight of my week. Erased is a mystery thriller, with a huge emphasis on story. As such, I’m going to leave my usual spoiler warning here, with the increased warning that this is one anime I simply cannot talk about without delving into story spoilers. If you’re only going to be wary about spoilers in one Afro Talks Anime, let it be this one.
Erased follows the character of Satori Fujinuma, a twenty-nine year old manga artist who works part-time at a fast food restaraunt. Satori possesses a special ability which he coins “Revival”, which takes him a few minutes back in time to before a life-threatening or tragic event. At that point he must discover the event, and stop it from happening. At the start of the series, for example, he saves a child from being hit by a car after the driver dies of a heart attack. His mother comes by to check on him after the event, which put him in the hospital. When they are purchasing groceries together after he is released, Satori once again experiences Revival, and with the help of his mother is able to stop a child abduction. The would-be abductor meets eyes his mother however, and later kills her in Satori’s apartment. Satori becomes a suspect in the murder, and in his grief and confusion runs from the police, causing him to fall from the apartment’s balcony. Before he hits the ground, Satori experiences Revival, but this time he is taken eighteen years into the past to 1988, when three young children were kidnapped and later found dead. Summarising that his mother’s murder and attempted child abduction in 2006 were in some way related to the 1988 murders, he works to find the person responsible and bring them to justice, so none of the murders would take place.
One of the best things about Erased is the artistry of the show. Not necessarily the art style, which though high-quality, is pretty simple. There is however, far more to it than that. Outstanding use of camera angles throughout show characters and scenery in ways other shows may not. The snow upon the ground mirrors the chill that runs throughout the story, and falling snow creates a sense of darkness and coldness in dark scenes, of which there are many. Music and imagery are mixed beautifully throughout the series, especially in the themes. The opening theme begins with a young Satori playing with his friends on the school playground, before changing to adult Satori watching them with a smile from a classroom window. Adult Satori is quickly disturbed by something, and a torrent of water suddenly bursts through the school hallway, the music simultaneously picking up. The rest of the opening then consists of quick cuts of silhouettes and suspects with their eyes blacked out, while film reel used to symbolize the passage of time before the murders runs over top. It’s an excellent theme that I suggest you check out in the article header if you haven’t already.
Most of Erased follows Satori’s efforts to save Kayo Hinazuki, his classmate in 1988 and one of the three children murdered that year. Many suspects are presented, and clues throughout allow the Sherlock Holmes-iest of viewers to figure out the culprit before they are revealed through the plot. The first suspect is Jun “Yukki” Shiratori, a lonely man in his twenties who will play with lonely elementary students. Yukki was originally convicted of the murder of Kayo and the other children, but many including Satori believed him to be framed. The second suspects are Satori’s abusive mother Akemi and her boyfriend, who routinely beat Satori so hard on the weekends that she does not come to school until the afternoon on Monday, the morning spent hiding her bruises. The final suspect is Gaku Yashiro, Satori’s homeroom teacher and father figure after his real father abandoned the family when Satori was a baby. Yashiro at first seems on the level, even working with Satori and his friends to protect Kayo. However, as the series goes on he becomes more and more suspicious, for example when Satori finds a large amount of candy in the glove compartment of his car.
One of the greatest things about Erased is how real it is. It’s an excellent starter anime, not containing any anime tropes that often scare newcomers off. Yes, there is Satori’s power to go back in time, but it’s presented as an uncontrollable superpower he has. It’s the kind of thing that could just as easily be found in western media, and anyone avoiding Erased because of anime-esqe magical elements should give it another look. It’s also not afraid to show controversial topics. Kayo is shown being beaten, and after her death there are shots of her frozen body in a snow bank. We don’t see shadows of the beatings or the body like we would in many other shows, Japanese or western, we see them outright. The show is full of emotional scenes, and I’ll freely admit that I teared up at a few of them. Erased is great at making you care about the characters and then hurting them in some way. It’s amazing at producing suspense as well, every episode ends on a cliffhanger, and none of them feel contrived.
One thing I disliked about Erased is its length and pacing near the end of the series. It feels almost too long and too short at the same time. Satori saves Kayo fairly early in the series, only to have her killed a few days later than she had been the first time. He is sent back to 2006, but is able to trigger Revival all on his own, a feat he had never accomplished before. He is this time able to save Kayo, exposing the abuse of her mother and getting her put in the custody of her grandmother, and away from the kidnapper’s grasp. This takes much of the series however, and leaves little time for him to save the other children. It’s understandable, as the show is largely about Satori and Kayo, however the lack of time spent saving the other children makes it feel a bit tacked on. After all three children are safe, the kidnapper is revealed–Satori’s homeroom teacher, Gaku Yashiro. Robbed of his victims, Yashiro attempts to drown Satori in a frozen lake, which instead sends him into a fifteen-year coma. Upon waking, we find the opposite of how most of the series played out. Through most of the show, we saw Satori in the body of a child, however he was still an adult and thought in his adult voice. After waking from his coma however, that’s all gone. Now he is instead a grown man with the thoughts of a child, not remembering anything that happened during his revival. Even when Yashiro reveals himself to Satori (now using a pseudonym), Satori is unable to remember that he is the kidnapper. It is revealed in the last episode that Satori remembered what had happened fairly early on, and worked with his friends from school to entrap Yashiro, but it feels very drawn-out. During the recuperation from his coma, Satori befriends a girl with leukaemia named Kumi, whom Yashiro intends to kill and blame Satori. This was a very interesting touch to get around Yashiro not being caught, but it once again feels poorly paced. Little time is actually spent getting to know Kumi, with most of it focusing on Satori’s recuperation. Again, this feels like a dropped ball for something done pretty well in the rest of the series. We don’t get to know Kumi or the other victims two very well, even though one of the original victims was a friend of Satori. So much time is focused on Kayo and other characters that the audience can really feel when something happens, the rush in the end of the series feels especially out of place.
All in all, Erased is great. Yes, it suffers from a few problems in the end, but like I said most of it is so good it’s secured a place as one of my top anime. The story wrapped up very nicely, and while it would be interesting to see some more Revival stories, this is not a show that should continue. I can’t find a lot about the eight-issue manga, however according to Anime News Network and other sites, it has no more story than the anime. So as much as I’d like to see more from this world, I’d much more like to not see more, and it fortunatly appears that’s going to be the case. Erased is set to get an English dub, and the sub can be watched in its entirety to Crunchyroll premium subscribers. And if anyone wants me to publish my old Afro Talks Anime, which are now lost to the forum, just ask! I still have access to them.
Have you watched Erased? What did you think of it?
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