Erased

erasedI’ve said this a few times, so at the risk of annoying people with repetition, “favourite” and “best” don’t have to be the same thing.  I wouldn’t describe Erased as my favourite anime television series, but I do think it is the best I have ever seen.  I am not yet a sufficient expert to make any more claims than that, but it must surely be a strong contender for the greatest anime series ever made.  Erased is phenomenally good, an incredibly exciting and compelling thriller.

The main character is Satoru Fujinuma, a 29 year old man who has the ability to go back in time moments before a life-threatening event.  He calls this gift “revival” and uses it to save lives, often at the cost of his own wellbeing.  All of this is set up very quickly, and we soon get to the main thrust of the plot for the entire series.  Satoru’s mother gets murdered, and he is thrown back into the past, not mere minutes as usual, but right back to his childhood, retaining his adult memories.

The time he returns to is significant.  Although he had virtually blocked it out of his memory, three children in his neighbourhood were murdered when he was a child.  Their murders are somehow connected with the death of his mother, so he has a chance to put everything right: save the victims, save his mother.  The first victim was a lonely girl in his class.  Satoru befriends her, tries to save her… and fails.  Catapulted back to the present day, he is the chief suspect in the murder of his mother, and the only person who believes in him is a work colleague who is attracted to him (it’s subtle).

Satoru has to find a way to try again.

I can’t tell you how uneasy this series makes you.  The first victim is a quiet girl named Kayo, who is being violently abused by her mother.  Satoru might have the mind of an adult (although the impression I got was that it is not entirely as simple as that), but he has the body of a child.  How can he protect Kayo from her abusive mother and the mysterious murderer who is trying to abduct and kill her?  Each time he seems to have succeeded, everything seems fine and happy, but as a viewer you can’t help but feel on edge, waiting for the next thing to go wrong.  Is it enough to just keep her alive until the end of the day that history says she was murdered?  No.  History keeps changing around him, thwarting his every move.  But, little by little, poor, abused, miserable Kayo’s life gets better.  She gets to enjoy a real birthday celebration.  She has friends for the first time in her life.  It’s incredibly emotional, and this anime really makes you care about the characters so much.  Then there are the other victims to think about.

The only slight criticisms I can level at Erased are these: firstly there is only really one possible candidate for the murderer, although (a) that in itself becomes something of a red herring – surely it can’t be him? and (b) I found one of Satoru’s school friends a major red herring as well, because he seems too good to be true, and oddly adult in his speech and intelligence.  Secondly, there is a lovely little romantic thing going on with Satoru’s work colleague in the present day, but there is not time for this to really go anywhere by the end of the series, which quite rightly focusses on the fascinating strategic battle between Satoru and the killer.  It’s not completely ignored, but it feels like an afterthought, despite being beautifully set up earlier in the series.

But really I can’t recommend this highly enough.  It will keep you feeling on edge for 12 exciting episodes, and the artwork is beautiful, melancholy and atmospheric.  If you only ever watch one anime, make it this one.  It’s an incredible piece of work.   RP

We will have an episode by episode detailed look at Erased starting in January 2020.

About Roger Pocock

Author of windowsintohistory.wordpress.com Co-writer on junkyard.blog Editor of frontiersmenhistorian.info
This entry was posted in Anime, Entertainment, Reviews, Television and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Erased

  1. Karandi says:

    The lack of other suspects is definitely a problem for the mystery part of this story, however I really enjoyed watching the characters work toward overcoming the situation so even though the mystery part kind of fizzled, I still found Erased quite an enthralling watch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Roger Pocock says:

      Exactly. There’s really no time to be disappointed by the revelation of who the killer is because in that moment the key thing is Satoru’s life being in danger. The whodunit aspect is in the end a relatively minor part of the series. Great series. Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

    • DrAcrossthePond says:

      I do not have nearly the background with anime that you and Roger do, but Roger got me to watch this and my intent was to write about it as I watched. Suffice to say, I will need a second viewing because I was SO enthralled by this superb story that I binged it. Perhaps there are better, but this one is top notch!
      ML

      Liked by 2 people

  2. 7mononoke says:

    I love Erased as well! It’s definitely up there on the list of well-made short anime series.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Roger Pocock says:

      I’ve only been collecting anime in a serious way for about a year but I’ve seen a lot in that time and I do think Erased is the best one I’ve seen. Is there anything you think would challenge it for the top spot?

      Liked by 2 people

      • 7mononoke says:

        These are two very different anime lol, but Baccano and Angel Beats are a little higher on my list of well-made and surprising short anime series. Kyoukai no Kanata (Beyond the Boundary) and Bloom Into You are good ones, too.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Roger Pocock says:

        I’m watching Bloom into You at the moment – halfway through and enjoying it very much. I’m sure I saw Angel Beats in a shop recently so I’ll try to get that if it’s still there next time. Beyond the Boundary rings a bell but I’ve not heard of the other. Will investigate them all! Always looking for recommendations 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • 7mononoke says:

        Baccano is still rather obscure but it’s amazing.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. scifimike70 says:

    I am deeply saddened by the heinously tragic arson attack on the Kyoto animation studio that I just learned of this morning that has left over 20 people dead. I send my prayers to the victims and my thanks to the Junkyard for all its thoughtful reviews on Japanese animation classics. 🙏🏻

    Liked by 2 people

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