03/28/16 | by Marcus Orchard
| Posted in
Reviews, TV, TV reviews
After a quick twelve episodes, Boku dake ga Inai Machi, also known as Erased, has come to an end. The series is based off of the manga series by Kei Sanbe and while it was faithful to the source material during the first half of the anime, it eventually made some changes in the final few episodes due to being limited to only twelve episodes. Usually altering the source material due to a limited amount of episodes is detrimental, but for Erased, the anime is not lesser than its manga counterpart, just different.
Satoru is a manga artist in his late twenties who has dealt with some trauma as a child. When he was twelve, three of his classmates were abducted and murdered, and the murders were pinned on someone close to him who he knows wasn’t responsible. Satoru carries guilt on his shoulders, believing that he could have prevented at least one of the murders if he had spoken to the first victim the night she went missing.
Ironically, Satoru has the ability to go back in time a few minutes whenever something tragic is about to happen. He would then take the opportunity to prevent something awful from happening, such as a child getting hit by a car. Eventually a murder happens to someone close to Satoru with him being the prime suspect. Suddenly, Satoru experiences a revival that sends him all the way back to when he was twelve to stop the abductions and murders past and present.
The majority of the anime focuses on saving Kayo, the first victim that Satoru learned about years ago. Throughout the series Satoru develops a friendship with Kayo while also feeling a significant amount of pressure to save her. This pressure resonates with the audience well, and every episode carries a harsh feeling of dread along with it. This is juxtaposed with some calm and beautiful moments between Satoru and his friends, as the narrative plays with the viewer’s emotions. When he isn’t saving the children in the past, Satoru is in present day trying to piece what he has missed together in order to have a better chance of saving everyone.
Apparently having children being murdered is not enough for Erased. The show brings along a few extra heavy themes along the way, the most predominant being child abuse. Erased handles the tough subject matter delicately and with grace. The show adds multiple layers to an abusive mother, ensuring that the audience doesn’t just see her as abusive without reason. Most of the characters are handled this way, ensuring that they are all dynamic and interesting. It’s also hard to trust any one character, as everyone seems to be full of motives and various intents.
The production of Erased is stellar, with art that gives characters soft features that make them each relatable. Episodes are full of film reels as Satoru recalls key details from memory, usually with extra details such as the images burning away or faces being hard to identify. The animation is top-notch, with smooth movements throughout, as well as a few truly beautiful spectacles scattered in a few episodes. Young Satoru’s thoughts always remind the viewer that he isn’t simply just a boy, since his thoughts are voiced by his adult self. This is one of the show’s best decisions in regards to audio due to its significant impact on the way the viewer sees Satoru.
The show’s OP and ED are stellar, with great song choices as well as intriguing visuals. Towards the end of the series small details in the OP change, causing anxiety on its own. The OST is beautiful and haunting, yet soft and full and hope when it needs to be.
The series loses a bit of steam during the latter episodes of the series, as the show tries to tie up loose ends. The present day sequences lack the calming sequences of friendship that the past has, but makes up for it with more tension and thrills. Still, due to the lack relatable relationships it doesn’t have the momentum to engage the viewer as much as it could, and with the exception of the final episode, the present day episodes mostly hold the series back from being as good as it could be.
Despite the lack of momentum towards the end, Erased doesn’t have a weak ending. While the last few episodes weren’t as strong as they could be, they were still capable of closing the series out gracefully and with few unresolved threads. The series ends on an emotional note that neatly ties everything together in a satisfying way.
While the series lost quite a bit of steam during present-day episodes, that doesn’t prevent it from still being compelling and full of charm. The characters and their relationships were the show’s highlights, as well as its abilities to handle its mature themes appropriately. It is remarkably human and instantly meaningful to anyone who feels like they may have missed time the way Satoru has. Despite its shortcomings as a mystery, Erased is one of the best series of the winter season.
Story - 7.5
Characters - 9.5
Animation - 8
Erased is full of wonderful moments but falls just short of being a great mystery.