A murder mystery with time travel; that’s how I would define Erased. Also, add some beautiful friendship in the budding that grows into something close and special. I suppose that is how you can look at it. This isn’t gonna be a review, it is just some short thoughts on the issues I had with the anime.
MAL describes it as following:
When tragedy is about to strike, Satoru Fujinuma finds himself sent back several minutes before the accident occurs. The detached, 29-year-old manga artist has taken advantage of this powerful yet mysterious phenomenon, which he calls “Revival,” to save many lives.
However, when he is wrongfully accused of murdering someone close to him, Satoru is sent back to the past once again, but this time to 1988, 18 years in the past. Soon, he realizes that the murder may be connected to the abduction and killing of one of his classmates, the solitary and mysterious Kayo Hinazuki, that took place when he was a child. This is his chance to make things right.
Boku dake ga Inai Machi follows Satoru in his mission to uncover what truly transpired 18 years ago and prevent the death of his classmate while protecting those he cares about in the present.
First of all; I like it a lot. It is a nice little story about a man who travels back in time to save two of his classmates and an, to him, unknown girl from being murdered by an unknown perpetrator. It’s a good premise I think, not that original of course but who cares, it is time travel. That can’t go wrong. Well, it can but I don’t think it does in this anime. Anyhow, he comes back as this 10 (going on 11 because in the middle of it all he turns 11, which in itself has its importance) year old although he is still 29 years old in his mind and he thinks just as one too. Already here begins my issues with the anime; someone must notice his sudden change in behavior. He can’t himself remember how he acted when he was this age so he is just guessing. Only one person question him, another 11 year old classmate. Not even the teacher seems to notice any changes in him.
Ah, the teacher yes. Such a nice, young man. I knew who the killer was in episode four or so. Another problem with this anime; it doesn’t give you many options as to who the killer actually is. The focus is too much on the teacher in each episode so there can hardly be anyone else to suspect. All other grown ups are secondary. The only thing I ponder about during the episodes is wether there might be an accomplice or not. Not that I can pinpoint such a person. It could be the boyfriend to one of the victim’s mother but then again, we see him once, very briefly, and then they mention him like twice in the context of him assaulting the first victim. It could be the victims mother but then again, why would she kill the other two? It could be the original suspect, because there is this one man who is incarcerated and placed on death row for the murder of these three children our MC saves, but that is dealt with straight away since MC is so adamant it isn’t him and to be honest, he is the typical innocently judged character. So yeah, not many options.
I love how the kids are teaming up and trying to solve the crime even though they have no idea what is going to happen or what the MC is trying to prevent from happening. A friendship that was mostly shallow and fake in the original timeline is growing into something real and beautiful when our MC realises that friends are a good thing. What I think is a waste of time though, or rather a badly disposed time, are the episodes when the protagonist is back in the present. It’s kind of messy and it doesn’t really move the story forward. It would be the perfect opportunity to build the suspense and make us even more eager to find out who the killer is. A great opportunity to mess with our brains. All it manages to do is mess with the MC; frame him of murder and arson, and get caught by the cops. It doesn’t mean anything. At least not to me because I know he will go back and fix it anyway. Spend that time on making the mystery even bigger instead.
I might be nitpicking and in the end I love the story; I can look past the above. I enjoyed it even though I knew the killer so early on. I found it interesting to watch how the mystery would unfold. One thing I am a bit confused about is the antagonist though. In the end, did he ever kill anyone? Because in my world, if you are a serial killer who has the lust for killing and that is a drive in you, you just don’t let one kid beat you like that. And also, they (the teacher and the MC) talk about how the MC is supposed to catch the antagonist for the murders that happened during those 15 years he’s been in a coma. The problem is that the antagonist isn’t supposed to know anything about that since they never happened. So, why does he talk as if he does? And why are they trying to catch the teacher in the first place? He didn’t kill anyone. Well, he tried to kill the MC but that is barred. And sure, he was a creep with an intent to kill young school girls. It still doesn’t explain why they all behave like he actually did kill someone back in the past. I know I am way overthinking this now so I better stop while I am ahead of myself. It is after all fiction, as my dear husband told me when I tried to discuss it with him. I suppose he is right, it is TV logic.
Anyway, I like Erased, that’s what I am trying to get to here. I had some issues but not so many that I don’t like it. I think that I might have had a problem if I had watched this on a weekly basis though but now I binged it during two days and I never had the time to think too much about the flaws or forget about what happened during the previous episode. I could just overlook a lot of the confusing things because in the end, my confusion got straighten out. Well, almost at least. I still don’t get the whole string theory thingy but that’s for someone else to deal with. (I do get that that’s what made the teacher not kill after the MC ended up in a coma because for some reason he was tied to the MC and what not but still, I am not sure I fully get it and to be honest here, it just made things more confusing. A good old murder mystery had been perfectly fine without involving dead hamsters in red wine.)
Do I recommend Erased, you might ask? Well, yeah, of course I do. It is a damn good anime. Well made, with some strong characters. Especially the antagonist is super creepy and I imagine that is exactly what it would be like in the real world too. It rarely is the odd ball who is the [serial] killer, it is the one closest to you; the kind teacher, trainer, neighbor who is the bad guy. The protagonist is brilliant, especially when he goes back in time. This 29 year old in a 10 year old boy is written very good I think. How would you react and act if you ended up in your 10 year old body? I’m not sure I would pull it off and he is on the line a couple of times, which he realises himself too. That makes it even more awesome I think. So yeah, if not for anything else then I think the characters make this anime worth a good watch.
My two cents on this little anime. Now I’m gonna go watch the live action adaptation.