Anime Hajime is Proud to Feature:
Original Run: January 8, 2016 - March 25, 2016 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Drama, Mystery, Supernatural Based on the Series Created By: Kei Sanbe
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Erased. Reader discretion is advised.***
29-year-old manga artist, Satoru Fujinuma (voiced by Shinnosuke Mitsushima), has a unique ability he calls “Revival,” which sends him back a few minutes in time, often before something bad is about to happen. This allows him to inspect his surroundings and stop a tragedy from occurring.
But suddenly, Satoru finds himself in deep trouble after being falsely accused of murder. In desperation, his “Revival” activates. Except, instead of just a few minutes, he travels back 18 years, reverting to his 10-year-old self (voiced by Tao Tsuchiya).
Once there, Satoru quickly realises the infamous – now contemporary – missing persons case of his classmate, Kayo Hinazuki (voiced by Aoi Yuki), might connect to the murder of the present.
Erased follows Satoru’s mission to uncover the truth of these tragic events and prevent them from ever happening.
Right from the moment this series introduced Satoru’s “Revival,” Erased had me hooked.
Time travelling is not a new concept, but it was quite interesting that this ability didn’t actually tell Satoru what was gonna happen. Instead, he only got a sense of foreboding, and it was up to him to figure out what it meant.
While this show didn’t use it often, due to the large-scale ”Revival” that made up the majority of this series, trying to figure out what had gone wrong was quite fun.
What I enjoyed the most from Erased was Satoru’s character development. Voiced by Shinnosuke Mitsushima, his adult character came off as incredibly bland and detached, which his monotonous way of speaking perfectly reflected. But as the series progressed, though slight, his adult voice became more animated and tinged with emotions, mirroring his child voice. In the same way he regained the memories of his childhood, he also seemed to regain feelings that he lost due to the regrets of his original past.
Satoru’s characterisation makes me wonder if his 10-year-old mind influenced how he solved the mysteries of the kidnappings and murders (e.g., befriending Kayo). While retaining his 29-year-old memories, was his slightly roundabout approach to these cases due to the fact his psychology had reverted too? Or was he just a very awkward adult? The childlike tendencies Satoru portrayed during his “Revival” period makes me think he was also finding his ‘self’ again.
At the same time, the maturity other young characters, especially Kenya Kobayashi (voiced by You Taichi), carried was captivating to watch. We often underestimate children’s ability to understand complex situations while they keep an outlook of wonder and amazement.
While this story’s culprit was not as big a mystery as I had hoped it would be, I found the storytelling gripping and nicely paced. The timings of the hints, clues, and other key mystery elements dropped throughout this show were well done; they helped break up Erased’s cuter, more slice-of-life moments.
I’m not the most observant person, but I’m a sucker for symbolism, and Erased had plenty.
This series represented Satoru’s “Revival” skill with a blue butterfly, which is Japanese symbolism often associated with rebirth and resurrection, as well as a guide for spirits.
The beautiful art and sceneries of Hokkaido perfectly complemented the mysterious air the show was going for. Snow was a consistent motif in this series, which I found worked really well. After all, snow restricts one’s line of vision, erases tracks, and while it looks incredibly beautiful, it is also dangerous. Thus summing up the show’s primary concept.
Kayo’s iconic red coat – with red being the colour of fate – also looked amazing against the white snowy backdrops. It was an interesting contrast to Satoru’s more subdued design, hinting at the reversal that would happen later on.
I thought the revelation of the title’s meaning, both in English (Erased) and Japanese (Boku dake ga Inai Machi), was quite cool, too. Whether it was referring to Kayo or Satoru, I like it when titles are basically spoilers, but ones that only make sense near the end.
Now, this show doesn’t come without its flaws. There were a few things this series made a bit too convenient for its plot.
Why was the culprit in Chiba when the old cases were in Hokkaido? Why did the initial murder happen prior to Satoru’s “Revival” and not before the tragedy occurred the first two times?
For that second question, I can guess that this part was balancing out the ‘negatives’ explained at the start of the show. For instance, since Satoru’s mother had prevented a tragedy, it, therefore, became a ‘negative’ for her. In which case, if the negative had gotten cancelled out, why would the “Revival” then trigger again?
This series only loosely explained how this ability worked, so it felt like it wasn’t thought out very well.
Not Enough Context
This drives me to complain about the lack of context for “Revival.” How and when did Satoru gain this ability? What were its boundaries and limitations? Why, for some reason, did Satoru manage to come back a second time to the same period for a do-over? I disliked this inconsistency; it was like using a cheat code in a game.
Not Enough Mystery?
As mentioned previously, the villain was pretty obvious from the start. Even my dear mother, who’s unfamiliar with this type of anime, could deduce who the culprit was early on. The lack of diverse adult characters made the mystery easier to solve, and we already got a general idea of what the suspect looked like from the first episode.
I did hope this show would have thrown some curveballs here and there. Instead, Erased mainly focused on Satoru’s relationship with Kayo and his mission to befriend everyone and not creating an elaborate mystery.
I also found the culprit, aside from being Mr. Obvious, to be poorly designed. This person had a modus operandi, as seen from the cases in 1988. Yet, for plot convenience’s sake, this changed to stabbing, arson, and staging suicide. The lack of depth and consistency for this person didn’t really make him a very convincing villain in my eyes.
Being a 12-episode series, I can understand the limitations of building up a mystery and then proceeding to solve it.
While I wished this series had had more depth, the atmosphere created by its art and animation and the convincing way the story introduced its concepts make Erased a recommendation.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Erased? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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