After a what seems like an immensely long and heart breaking journey, Satoru Fujinuma, has beaten the odds. Anime has a funny way of bringing out emotions, strong emotions that we are never quite used to feeling or understanding. These anime can take these emotions and blow them up to such proportions that we often find ourselves wondering what exactly is happening to us as we lay on the floor, huddled up and balling. Okay maybe not to that extent but it still is a pretty good example of how impacting certain anime can be. Boku Dake ga Inai Machi (Erased or The Town Where Only I am Missing) is an anime that is like nothing else I have ever seen. When I often go into an anime, I do not carry high hopes for the title whatsoever. In fact, I actually compare it to my three anime staples. It has to be able to meet the impacting nature of, Spirited Away, it also must be able to keep me entertained like, Cowboy Bebop, and lastly it has to take me by storm like, Kill la Kill. ERASED did all of that and more. It made me completely destroy my list of top choices. It made me realize just how impactful and meaningful and anime could be. It now is the defining title for what I feel an anime should meet and be. Now we just need to provide you all with an explanation of why, by reviewing said anime.
Boku Dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED) is the story of a man named Satoru Fujinuma and his ability called, “Revival” This ability allows him to go back a few seconds or minute in time to help avert a potentially dangerous situation. But when his latest revival ends with him in the hospital and his mother, Sachiko Fujinuma, coming out for a visit, his past begins to resurface. During her visit with her son, she notices something off about a man walking with a young girl and as she digs deeper into the situation she discovers a sickening truth. A man who was kidnapping and killing young girls was still at large and the wrongfully imprisoned scapegoat was actually innocent. Upon discovering this, Sachiko is murdered and Satoru framed. In his haste he has a revival that sends him back to the eve of the disappearances in 1988. He now has a chance to make a difference and give these lost souls life again. Now I understand that time traveling is an overused idea and easy toss away concept. ERASED uses it to give Satoru a chance or a brief pause almost, to go back and figure out how to change the future events that have happened in his current timeline.
He changes his current timeline by first befriending Kayo Hinazuki. Once her side of the story was solved then he moved on to two other classmates. However he while in the process of trying to help the third potential victim, he is grabbed by the killer, Gaku Yashiro their very own teacher. While we are lead to believe that Satoru drowned in that icy river, we come to find out that he has actually been in a coma for the duration of 15 years. Upon awakening and regaining both his strength and memories, Satoru finally confronts his former sensei and ultimately triumphs over the individual and regains the life he lost and gains lifelong friends from which he never knew existed. The anime carries many themes and one of which is redemption. The chance to redeem the lost lives of those who had little time to live and enjoy themselves. The chance he was able to give them is a chance that not many individuals are able to give. I can also say that this anime has a very deep connection to exploring the issues of both child abuse, abduction and death. While it is not a particularly violent anime, I would strongly advise young children and maybe those who may have had a prior experience in child abuse. These topics are definitely strong topics and frankly I can relate to at least one of the topics in question and it was frankly hard to watch. Kayo was a character that I could relate to an extent. While I did not suffer as much as she did, it still is quite painful to watch her experience the amount of physical and parental trauma that she endured. It was bittersweet to see Satoru doing his best to make sure that she shared a happy moment in life and I was literally cheering like crazy when they finally managed to take Kayo away from her abusive mother. I am happy that there is both an anime and manga that explores these themes in such detail and is not afraid to skirt from the difficulties in talking about these delicate topics. Unfortunately as I have not read the Manga, which was penned by Kei Sanbe, I feel that A-1 Pictures has done a faithful job in keeping with the actual manga story. How much was kept remains a mystery for myself.
This anime and its various themes are nothing without proper character development and actual characters that a person can relate with. This anime develops the character so magnificently that I have a really hard time arguing against how the characters develop. While there are a few hiccups here and there that I could nitpick about, I would chose not to for the sake that I simply love the characters of this anime. While I was able to relate to the shaky past of Kayo, I can very much connect with Satoru and his feverish passion and drive to be the hero that he knows he can be. He doesn’t give up on those around him and I feel like this is a central part to his character. While Kayo is portrayed as the exact opposite however, she slowly starts to open up and is able to actually show some joy in a life that was void of any at all. When she sees a home cooked breakfast for the first time and starts to cry, that is just so bittersweet and downright depressing to watch. You just want to hug her character and let her know that everything will be alright. That being said the voice actors lend a major hand in bringing every character to life. After all, Satoru is being the hero he has struggled to envision for many years.
I cannot stress how phenomenal every actor and actress is in this anime. Even the voice actor for Gaku Yashiro, while I hate the smug man for all he did, his character was so real and full of vibrancy in his personality that it was hard to not be impressed by the man and the voice actors performance. I honestly have not watched an anime with the quality of voice work that this anime has had behind it. The studio behind this really needs to win some awards for the voice work I mean, watch the anime or maybe some previews for it and then you will understand. They are on an almost entirely new level when it comes to this sort of work. Maybe I just also have not listened to a quality voice over before? Who knows but all I know is that I am in love with the work that was put into this anime voice wise. Sound wise, the audio is on par and the music is phenomenal. Asian Kung-Fu Generation even went back into the recording studio to remaster their 2004 song, Re: Re:. I mean that is dedication and the remaster is absolutely on point. It matches the anime perfectly and I am a bit mad that it has not hit the U.S. iTunes store yet! Aside from the opening the general composition is on par and is absolutely fantastic on many levels. You have dreadful and terrifying tones and you also have light melodies and uplifting tones to match. While I am not particularly blown away by the general composition it still is a great addition to an equally fantastic opening.
The animation is also on point with everything else in this anime. The letterbox type cut adds to the overall cinematic quality of the anime and it just feels very lived in. This is something I always loved about a Miyazaki film. A world that felt lived in and real. ERASED matches this level of detail so well that it is hard to find any gripe with the style. In fact it adds more to the realism side of life than any other anime that I have seen before it. If I had to compare the level of detail to another anime I would look to Mushi-shi for a comparisons of detail. The character details are also very nice. Children in anime have often looked a bit derpy to me at times. It’s sort of like kids in video games, they are really just shrunk models and it bugs me when I can see that. However this anime manages to bring us characters that, while looking mature, are children at heart and are carefree in their manners and lives. The general movement animations are fluid and there is no noticeable dip in transitions between action. While many anime are not as choppy as they used to be, thanks in part of the rise of digital editing, some still flop in this department. Thankfully, ERASED does not.
Now as far as thriller anime go, this one is up there. Is it the best thriller ever? No, Another is a very intense thriller but that anime is on a whole other level of thriller. ERASED focuses on the thrill of chasing after a person that is hardly scene, with the hope and wishing to change the future for the better. The biggest complaint voiced by the ani-twitter community is the fact that this is a very light thriller. However, genre issues aside it is hard to not see the quality of story that is right here before us. Is it the best for everyone? No but, for me this anime is personal. For me this anime told a story that was so compelling and thrilling that I couldn’t wait for the next episode to either build upon the previous one or to tear everything down. That was the joy about this anime. Once you felt like all was right and calm, the last ending minutes of the show would do it’s very best to leave you with a sense of, “What the hell!” I do not know of any other anime that is capable of this level of work. Ultimately we strongly suggest that you give this anime some consideration. Even if you feel like it is not much of a thriller at all, still consider watching this anime.
If you have already given it both time and consideration, what were your impressions of this title? Did you like the pacing? Were you able to guess the killer by episode 4 like we did? Feel free to leave a comment down below or visit our Twitter page to engage with us there! For those that were waiting to watch this anime in one go, now is the perfect time to, bear in mind though that for free Crunchyroll users, you will have to wait a couple of days for the last episode to be available. ERASED was available for viewing on Funimation and Crunchyroll, we however utilized Crunchyroll.
Watch ERASED on Crucnhyroll: https://www.crunchyroll.com/erased
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Purchase the opening theme: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/sol-fa/id971060555