With Winter well and truly settling in, what better show to come back to than the cold murder mystery of Erased! Following a good first episode, Erased has been really hyped up over the past few months, and while I did avoid most of that excitment I still needed to see what the buzz was about. So does it live up? Was episode one just a massive trap? Let’s finish watching Erased and decode this Tokyo Transmission.
Erased (Boku Dake ga Inai Machi) – Season One
Genre: Mystery, Psychological, Seinen, Supernatural
Spoiler Warning – Erased is a mystery anime, and as such talking about it is very hard without spoiling something, but I will do my best to not reveal much about the shows mysteries. I will touch on some elements that happen in the first three episodes, simply because I can’t talk about anything if I don’t, but I’m not about to jump out and reveal the killer or anything. If you would prefer to watch the show yourself and read my review afterwards then by all means, come back and discuss your take with me in the comments. Otherwise, enjoy the review.
Having found himself transported back to 1988, the now ten-year-old Satoru has to find out why Revival has sent him so far back in time. In order to save the life of his mother in the future he must figure out who committed the serial kidnappings and murders which began the entire downward spiral of his future. As Satoru begins recalling his past, he starts by trying to resolved his biggest regret by befriending and saving the first victim of the killer, his lonely fellow classmate Kayo Hinazuki. As he begins to realize the darkness hidden in the towns past, can Satoru solve this crime and save not only his own future, but the futures of those closest to him?
I was a surprised that child Satoru is actually quite different to adult Satoru after he finds himself transported back in time. While yes, being a kid once again would be quite jarring, and his body is simply not physically or mentally the same, Satoru is still himself in every other regard. Having a twenty-nine years of life in his head would make any kid different. Yet he is clearly emotionally different, which made me wonder whether or not his Revival had been taken more literally, and undid some of that damage which carried into adulthood, or if he simply lost some of that emotionally stability with his old body. Either way I found the transition interesting, as if Satoru’s character has some subtle exploration of that inevitable mental evolution age gives us all. This aside, Satoru as a character grows in interesting ways throughout the series. Both through giving us a look into that dissonance across time and age, and seeing someone with a dead end life getting the chance to change all his past regrets.
Aside from our protagonist though, the series largely revolves around the characters involved in the crimes of his past. The top of the list being Kayo, the lonely girl in his class that was the first victim of the serial killer. Kayo’s story is one I won’t touch on too much as it would delve into spoiler territory, but I will say her character is largely wrapped around a lot of dark themes surrounding a bad childhood. It doesn’t take much for Satoru to see signs of child abuse on Kayo, and after seeking out their teacher Yashiro for help, it becomes clear that this is an on-going issue in the household. Satoru’s inability to offer assistance highlights more of the important themes in the show, not only is Satoru now hunting a child kidnapper, but he now struggles with being a child and the helplessness that often brings. Both Kayo and Satoru are trapped by their age, unable to defend themselves or be self-dependent, and with very real threats around them this makes their struggles all the more dangerous.
Themes and story aside, the two of them are often joined by Satoru’s childhood friends Kenya, a surprisingly intelligent kid, Hiromi, a feminine boy who was also killed in the past, and…the other two I guess? There are two other kids that make their group of five but they never really do anything, or even get included. This works perfectly fine though as Satoru is back in class now, and short of being a loner, it makes sense to have other people hanging around even if they make little impact on the larger story. Someone with more significance in the classroom however is their teacher Yashiro, a kind and intelligent teacher with a drive to look out for his students. Yashiro later becomes Satoru’s agency for many of the actions his child form simply can’t do, using him to help his own means during this little time hop. But what of the other character we know and…love? From that one episode they were in. Satoru’s mother is indeed alive, it would be rather confusing if she wasn’t, but trading one life for another, Airi no longer exists given the time leap so far back. Sachiko’s intelligence was not simply for plot progress as I wondered before however, the woman is near omnipresent in her knowledge. As important as Sachiko is to the story overall, there’s not much to add without actually talking about what happens. Beyond that though, there are more characters I wish were fleshed out a lot more, but all in all Erased has a decent cast of characters with a lot going on.
It’s difficult to talk too much more about the setup of the show past what I’ve said already, but I will say that Erased certainly has a great atmosphere at play. With time travel throwing Satoru around and causing him to face his regrets, a cold snowing winter town as the setting for a future series of kidnappings and murders and the confrontation of some of the darkness from his past, Erased definitely sets up an interesting premise. While most of this is fleshed out well, I do feel like the series as a whole needed some more episodes to truly pull everything together with the attention it deserved. I can’t say where it was needed, but there are certainly elements I felt needed expanding on, even if only a little more.
The time travel itself was threaded into the story well, yet oddly wasn’t really a main driving point of the story. Erased is first and foremost a crime mystery. While time travel is part of that narrative, it’s used to enhance the tale it wants to tell without actually being “a time travel story” and delving into the old tropes of paradox’s and time manipulation, which honestly was kind of refreshing. Time travel stories can be great sure, but sometimes it’s nice for the entirety of time to not screw itself over because someone coughed in the past that one time.
I don’t feel like this is a spoiler, since it’s purely my speculation, but if you don’t want to worry about that possibility then skip this paragraph. Like I said before, time travel is merely a mechanic to the show and not the focus, so I honestly didn’t mind that the Revival power simply exists with a real explanation after the end. Based on a few things I kind of took it to mean that Revival was less a magical power he possesses, and more a manifestation of his regret. Whether or not this is true, it’s interesting to ponder, as Satoru’s character is a curious mind to dive into even if he’s not ultra-complicated. All in all, there’s a lot to ponder over in Erased, both thematically and story wise, and I think they did a great job with the setup.
Art and Voice
I don’t have much to add from the last review in terms of voice and art, as the quality of both remained fairly consistence throughout. Adding to the main cast however are Kayo Hinazuki (Aoi Yuki), Kenya Kobayashi (Yo Taichi), Hiromi Sugita (Akari Kito) and Gaku Yashiro (Mitsuru Miyamoto), though they often shift between feeling like main characters to side characters or vice versa given the nature of the story overall, plus the time travel. There are other minor characters as well, some I wish were fleshed out more, but overall the whole cast preformed quite well. There are some characters in particular I would give a shout out to, side or otherwise, but I couldn’t really say why without some level of spoilers.
One thing that did stand out to me though was the use of the black bars during the young Satoru sections, mostly because…I didn’t really like it. I understand that the bars were there deliberately as part of the film reel aesthetic, as if the viewer, or Satoru himself was looking back on his past through the Revival’s “film galaxy” we see. I took it to mean we were watching this past through the power, like a film reel of memories. I just…didn’t see the point really. If that is also the case, then it doesn’t make any sense since Satoru clearly made changes to the timeline, not watched his past. I didn’t hate it or anything, as I got used to it pretty fast, but it just felt unnecessary to be there which made the whole thing more annoying after a big transition from present to past. Maybe you’ll agree, or simply feel it adds a unique flavor to the show, but I would have rather it work its way in for a few minutes’ post jump and fade away as he got his bearings again.
While I won’t actually say what happens, the is a special version of the opening that shows up in only one episode and it kind of gave me the chills. It was a really clever twist on the show itself and the recent events of the episode before it, and honestly, I thought it was a pretty damn cool touch. Otherwise there’s little else to cover about the opening and closing beyond my last review, though many of the jumbled scenes do make more sense as the show goes. It does actually do a decent job of showing snippets across the season without spoiling anything, yet giving you a second look at their meaning once you get it. While I liked both songs for the intro and outro, I have to admit the outro grew on me a lot more as I watch. This is almost sad however, as Erased often left me ravenous for more and I skipped ahead to the next episode as soon as the credits started rolling.
Did I like it?
Erased was certainly a ride I enjoyed taking, it had great atmosphere, story, intrigue and characters. There are elements I honestly think needed more fleshing out, and the show could have used one or two more episodes to that effect, but I certainly still enjoyed my time with it. Erased was hyped up as something truly amazing, and while I’m not sure I’d quite go that far, it’s definitely a great show, and well worth a watch.
Thanks for the read for those who did! I mentioned taking tonal breaks last week, and to continue that tradition I’ll probably look at something less child murder themed this time. Did you guys like Erased yourselves? Did it live up to the hype for it in your mind? Let me know how you felt. Once again you can find me at @drenik74 on facebook and @drenik_public on twitter for news and updates on my front, or check out my hub at https://drenik.wordpress.com/. Until next time.