Hey guys, it’s been a while. I’ve been busy with school and stuff, but I was more than willing to give you guys my opinion on what was most likely, the best anime of last season. “Best” could be taken in a lot of ways, does the anime being the most popular make it the best? Does the interesting premise make it the best? I’m here to answer all of those questions, as I give you my review on Boku Dake ga Inai Machi also known as simply, ERASED.
Boku Dake ga Inai Machi a.k.a. ERASED was originally a fantasy, mystery, thriller manga, written and illustrated by Kei Sanabe. It became adapted into an anime by A-1 Pictures and started airing in January this year. ERASED attracted a massive following and quickly became a critically acclaimed gem in the anime community. ERASED won over anime lovers with its interesting premise and its ability to emulate real life values in a fictional context.
ERASED is a story of a 29 year-old man named Satoru Fujinuma. When a disaster occurs he has the ability to be sent back several minutes before the event occurs so as to prevent it. Satoru has taken advantage of his ability to save many lives, but is drawn into turmoil when someone very close to him is killed. Satoru is sent back only to realize that instead of being sent back a few minutes, he is sent back 18 years. Upon realizing the death of his loved one is connected to the abduction and murder of his classmates, he uses that opportunity to set things right.
As far as mystery goes in the anime world, there aren’t many shows that do mystery in the traditional way, whereas the main character is tracking down a guilty party or the cause of some event. Most anime use mystery as a sub-genre to the main plot, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, I can’t help but feel like there aren’t enough anime that take advantage of the genre. That being said, mystery is definitely one of my favorites, and ERASED undoubtedly did the genre justice. As with most anime nowadays, I went into ERASED with low expectations, and I was more than impressed by both the premise, and the route that the anime took in terms of plot.
ERASED is a melting pot of emotions and psychological manipulation. The story touches on very dark themes such as child abuse and depression, as well as personality disorders and social anxiety. While they may not hit you in the gut as hard as say, “Welcome to the NHK” the themes are still there nonetheless and force the reader to really think about these topics. The mystery aspect of the show also contributes heavily to the thought provocation throughout the story. As with any mystery, the viewer is sure to be predicting what’s going to happen next. While the mystery aspect may not be as strong as maybe, “Death Note” the low points of ERASED are definitely out-shined by the extraordinary climatic points in the story.
A-1 made several changes to the original story, including the very climatic ending. These changes generated a lot of negative feedback, but in my (and many others) opinion these changes were very appropriate, especially considering the episode count. And if you ask me, the anime did a better job in concluding the story.
One outstanding opinion that I’ve heard several times about the narrative is the obvious revelation of the antagonist. In my opinion, ERASED did a good job of drawing attention away from the character in question. I viewed it as, “too obvious to be true” and kept guessing. And maybe this is just me, but near the end Satoru stated very logical reasons as to why he couldn’t figure out the culprit. I won’t reveal them for the sake of anyone who hasn’t watched the anime, but one who has seen it should consider that scene before making any statements.
As far as characters go in ERASED, I can honestly say there wasn’t a character I didn’t like. The episode count may have contributed to the shallowness of some characters, however this did not in any way take away from the enjoyment of the show. Satoru as an adult is presented as a very monotone, depressing character. From the beginning viewers get the idea that Satoru is very dejected. But small glimmers of hope shine through when Satoru experiences his “Revivals” as he calls them, and is sent several minutes into the past. In these moments, and several more later on, Satoru demonstrates his passion for justice and it’s as if he slowly transforms into more of a main character as the show goes on.
Kayo Hinazuki is a gloomy, and dejected little girl. As a victim of child abuse, she constantly seeks to separate herself from the world with all her troubles. She is much like Satoru as an adult, and this is most likely why he is able to help her so willingly. Satoru may seek to save her but theoretically he is also saving his future self.
Satoru’s mom is probably my favorite character in the show. Looks aside, Sachiko Fujinuma is able to see Satoru for who he really is, and demonstrates several times throughout the story that she has the same sense of justice that Satoru has. Sachiko essentially serves to bring out Satoru’s real personality. Other notable characters include Ken’ya, who serves as the logical counterpart to Satoru’s unrealistic way of thinking. Ken’ya, like many others is drawn in by Satoru’s iconic personality.
Now, ERASED is a beautiful looking show. The directing is great and the art style is very pleasing to look at. While that may not come as a surprise in 2016, that’s not to say there aren’t bad looking anime nowadays. With modern technology anime should be pretty by default, but that doesn’t mean an anime has to look good to be good. I can name several poorly drawn anime that have still managed to find huge success. It’s similar to the video game situation, whereas many enthusiasts value the amusement over how a game looks; but that’s another article altogether.
Something that has eluded me in these reviews is the influence of the animation studio on the final product. As a long time anime lover, the plot is usually the main factor that influences me to watch an anime, after that the characters and action sequences (where applicable) keep me watching. But animation studios usually have the ability to deviate from the manga, and put their own twist on the narrative and art style. My point is that while the author may be responsible for the original story and art, the studios obviously play a big role in the final production. A-1 has made several series that I loved, and ERASED was no exception. While the directing wasn’t flawless, many interesting shots were used to create a more appealing effect. The art style and colors used also did not disappoint. One aspect that I particularly enjoyed was the use of the cosmic film reel effect. During certain scenes they added much depth to the idea of time travel. Overall, ERASED had great visuals, while they aren’t flawless they still managed to stand out.
Another intriguing aspect of ERASED to consider is the opening. The opening “Re:Re:” by Asian Kung-Fu Generation is the best anime opening I’ve seen in a while and not just because the song is great. The wave flooding the school was excellent foreshadowing. Again, I won’t reveal the meaning, but that is definitely something to consider after watching through the series.
In conclusion, ERASED was a fantastic show, I’d recommend it to just about anyone. From the captivating premise, to the in-depth characters, great visuals, and fantastic story-telling; ERASED is definitely deserving of all its glory. I will admit that ERASED doesn’t quite measure up to some of its counterparts, but that doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the anime itself. Definitely check it out.