Welcome back readers, for it’s time for another Anime review for the month of June. Appropriately for my favourite season, this show takes place during Japan’s snowy winter for a chilling tale. Coming right out of the comedic and light Myriad Colours, I thought it was time for a different kind of show this month, so I went straight to the much hyped murder mystery known as Erased. Was it worth all the hype, or do I wish I could go back in time myself? Let’s decode this Tokyo Transmission!
Genre: Mystery, Psychological, Seinen, Supernatural
Satoru Fujinuma (Shinnosuke Mitsushima) is a struggling twenty-nine-year-old manga artist dragging himself through life. Slowly giving up on his dreams as he settles into the humdrum of life, his world suddenly turns upside down when the past he tried to forget returns to haunt him. After finding himself caught up in a police investigation and fearing the worst, Satoru suddenly finds himself transported back in time to his middle school years (now voiced by Tao Tsuchiya) as he must change his past regrets and alter the future.
Unable to put his heart into his work and failing another job interview for his dream career as a manga artist, Satoru Fujinuma returns to his routine life working in pizza delivery. That is until he experiences another “Revival” his self-named ability to travel back several minutes in time to whenever something is about to go wrong. After managing to stop a traffic accident and save a life at risk of his own, Satoru ends up in hospital but with minor injuries. His co-worker Airi begins to get closer with him after witnessing his act, and her words cause him to reflect on his use of Revival, unsure why he acts out this need to help solve events despite it rarely ending much better overall.
After coming home to find his mother, checking up on him after the accident, and making herself at home in his apartment in the meantime. Something she says makes him begin to think back on his childhood and the many regrets he left in the past, including the loss of several friends due to a serial kidnapping blamed on his older friend of the time. It’s not long however before dwelling on his past brings a dangerous reminder when he experiences another Revival around his mother, causing her to witness something that Satoru misses. As she begins to investigate this bad feeling she can’t shake, events from Satoru’s past start returning to haunt him, and when the worst begins to happen it’s up to Satoru to get to the bottom of his past and figure out what Revival has in store for him.
Satoru is the kind of character that I feel many people in their late twenties can relate to. Once an aspiring manga artist, Satoru never managed to break into his dream industry and now continues through life with the realization that his dreams as an artist are probably over for him. This coupled with a solitary life as he approaches his thirties, and a troubled past with many regrets, turns him into a sadly realistic character in today’s society, someone whose aspirations simply never succeeded. Despite this Satoru has a drive to prevent misfortune to others, partly due to his ability to go back a short period of time, and partly due to some event in his past we didn’t see explained as of yet. While Satoru’s time jump ability, which he calls “Revival”, is unexplained even to him, it does make for an interesting show mechanic.
With a character like Satoru having so many unfulfilled regrets of his own, it’s almost as if he has this drive to prevent misfortune or even tragedy to others when given that chance, even at the cost of his safety it seems. Part of this reckless desire clearly stems from his childhood, as going further back it’s even revealed that he once missed the possibility to save the life of a classmate, with an older friend of his being wrongly accused of her murder. All of this leads us back to the present, as we have a man both tired of his own existence heading towards a life of unfulfillment, and deadened inside from his failures and regrets of what could have been. So basically my future. Sort of joking aside, Satoru feels like a someone you could meet in reality, and this makes him interesting given both his powers and backstory, yet real enough to feel possible.
The only other characters we met in the first episode are Satoru’s mother, Sachiko Fujinuma (Minami Takayama) and his co-worker Airi Katagiri (Chinatsu Akasaki). While we don’t get a ton of time with the characters, both of them felt like interesting characters to explore. Airi starts getting to know Satoru after she witnesses him save a life due to his powers, and seems to attach to him as an older brother type role model, at least I hope, as he’s much older than the high schooler. His mother on the other hand comes off as fairly easy going, as she swings by for a visit and openly uses this as an excuse to sight see and crash at his home for a while. Despite this she turns out to be surprisingly sharp and intelligent during one of Satoru’s time jumps, and clearly understands enough to listen to his feelings when something is going wrong. While it’s not clear if her continued investigation into one of his failed time jump preventions was speaking more of her character, or was simply done to get the plot quickly sorted and set in motion, it was a nice touch of depth to the character I didn’t think would do much for the story at first.
Given Satoru’s time jump it will be interesting to see what happens to the two, as his mother will clearly be around, but will obviously see Satoru as nothing more than a child. Airi’s story seemed to have some meaning but given his jump through time, she probably doesn’t even exist now, so that happened. All the characters so far felt interesting and worth watching, how the time travel affects that remains to be seen, but I get the impression we’ll learn more about them and their pasts going forward. It usually works that way.
Despite being the first episode, Erased quickly got into some interesting territory with Satoru’s past. Not only does the poor guy feel haunted by choosing to not reach out to a girl who was killed later that night, but the crime was pinned on his kind-hearted older friend. I will admit that it is kind of weird these days for a ten-year-old to be friends with a young adult stranger in his twenties, but it’s sadly the point. Yuuki as he was nicknamed, was a shy man with a stutter who befriended many of the local kids due to his soft heart and hobby with paper airplanes. So naturally people jumped to conclusions and he was imprisoned then executed after several kids went missing. Coupled with knowing some of the missing kids and the blame being placed on his friend, it’s no wonder Satoru became the way he is. It opens some interesting questions about how the show will pan out since we already know it’s a murder mystery, but it has the potential to get pretty dark. Couple this with time travel and the possibility with being able to investigate the case in multiple time periods, there’s certainly been a solid foundations laid down.
Right at the beginning we find out that part of the reason Satoru can’t find success despite his decent skills, is because he can’t express himself, or put himself into his work. Given what we find out about him, this becomes more than simply being a character struggling in the shitty world of job hunting, but a man damaged by his regrets. I’m certainly curious to see how this ties into his Revival power, and exactly how the show changes the poor guy. If anything I wonder if the circumstances around his past could be tied into the time travel aspect, and if more is at play here.
Art and Voice
I can’t really voice any complaints in the art department, Erased is a nice looking anime for the whole ride. You can notice some specific minor details lacking quality anywhere near the rest of the normal work in backgrounds or crowds for example, but these are clearly saving time on things that seriously don’t matter, and I personally have a hard time begrudging that. There’s some nice effects done with Satoru’s Revival as well, with the butterflies and film reel aesthetic you can see playing across the screen as if Satoru’s memories are rewinding like a film reel that give it an interesting little touch.
The opening and ending credits aren’t in the first episode, but I have watched them and they continue with the film aesthetic, even to the point where old and young Satoru start off in a cinema together. I don’t know why but I really love that touch too, you see the old, jaded, worn down adult just slump into the chair and settle in for a time killer. Then young Satoru is bouncing to the chair in excitement as he sits on the edge of the seat in wild excitement. It’s sad really, seeing that version of the character die somewhere along the age difference in just that scene alone. It’s really cool to see that theme carried into some of the visuals too, as it seems to represent Satoru’s life as a galaxy made of film reel, as if his existence is being shown as simply memories and information across the timeline.
Both the opening and closing are fairly artistic looks into the show itself, but the closing clearly leaves more up to interstation with block colours and changing imagery keeping everything as a looser look into the themes behind the story. I honestly liked both a lot, the songs in each are quite good too, something about them just makes you want to keep listening until the end.
The voice acting itself once again doesn’t really have any particular room for complaint, I enjoyed the performances of the characters involved so far. Many of the actors have a fair list of work under their name, although it was kind of a pain in the ass looking into Shinnosuke Mitsushima. I saw one or two comments saying he was a bad pick, but I honestly thought he did a good job. Adult Satoru, while not uncaring, is sort of dead inside a little, so lacking some of that emotion was kind of the point in my eyes and Shinnosuke brought that across quite well. Lastly this was the Japanese subs if you couldn’t tell from the actors, as I’m pretty sure a dub doesn’t currently exist.
Did I like it?
Erased opened strong for sure, not only completing the checklist of backstory fulfillment without simply feeling like exposition, but introduced us to an interesting world and characters. Episode one was clearly the set up episode, so going forward may well be quite different for all I know, but I have a pretty good feeling this will turn out to be interesting for sure. Based on what I’ve seen, yeah I would definitely say check it out, so far so good.
Thanks for stopping by again everyone, I feel like a tone change is important occasionally when reviewing shows, otherwise things start to feel kind of samey after so long. What did you guys think of Erased? I really hope the show doesn’t drop off as it goes on, because so far, the hype seems accurate. As always you can find me at drenik74 on facebook and drenik_public on twitter for news and updates on my front. Until next time.