I’ve always considered myself a light anime viewer, usually going for the more popular stuff like Dragon Ball, Cowboy Bebop, etc. I never got into the ‘winter anime season’ and usually don’t keep up with the most current shows. Last year in 2016 I kept hearing more and more about winter anime and why they were so good. While I was glad to see the medium getting enjoyed out of it’s homeland, I didn’t care too much. One title I heard much about in particular was Erased. Welp, after being a year late I can safely say no show has intrigued me quiet like Erased in a very long time. Let’s take a look why.
*Light spoilers from the first of twelve episodes. This is a review but I’m also trying to get readers interested in watching this amazing show. If you want to go spoiler-free, do so because I recommend it. But if you need some convincing, keep on reading.*
Erased is a show that that should immediately relates to 99% of people. By that I mean our main character, Satoru Fujinuma is an adult man filled with regret and failure. He keeps on telling himself “if only I did this when I was younger”. Let’s face it, who hasn’t had that very thought echo in their head multiple times?
Satoru (for quite some time apparently), has an ability he dubs as Revival. Revival sends Satoru back just a few moments before a death that would occur near him; thus giving him time to prevent said death.
Without spoiling too much, Satoru experiences a Revival so strong and personal to him that it sends him back to 1988, thus making him eleven years old once more.
Satoru gets what many of us had hoped for; a second chance, thus keeping the viewer immersed and most likely a little jealous. But it isn’t all sunshine and rose petals for our hero; he must interfere with a very long chain of events in order to prevent a death in the current day (2006). What results is a see-saw of nostalgic themes and moments of dread.
What really intrigued me is eleven year old Satoru still keeps his mind and emotional capacity of his twenty-nine year old self. Being a child is kind of like a colorful blur which is fun but at the same time you don’t really understand what’s going. One scene that illustrates this perfectly is early in the series when Satoru comes home from school and sees his mother feverishly cooking dinner. He realizes (through his adult mind) that he never fully appreciated his mothers hard efforts and love, so he thanks her unlike any other child. It’s a scene that I have no other words to label it but ‘beautiful’, and it’s not the only one.
Satoru recites that in his previous childhood he was a bit socially-distant. He had friends but never opened up fully emotionally, thus preventing his relationships to grow. Not only does he change this but he gets involved with people he never did before, like one such Kayo Hanazuki. Satoru and Kayo’s relationship is quite heartwarming and made me smile more than anything in the past few shows I watched.
Even though there are only twelve episodes, characters change as more gets revealed about them and as Satoru “reroutes” his history with them. Kayo specifically changes and it’s very satisfying to see that unfold.
I’m keeping many elements vague in this article; there are many characters I’m not mentioning and for good purpose. Erased is an emotional show because it links two things not easily connected- present day and childhood. It’s something that anyone can relate to, especially through all the sheer detail and heart that went into crafting this animated wonder.
I freaking loved hearing the Japanese school children in the background talk about their progress in Dragon Quest III; which actually did come out in February 1988, the very month the show takes place in! In fact just like the Persona series of video games, it taught me some things about Japan, the school system and daily life.
It’s the simple concept of the shows adventure which gripped me. I adore the fact that at one second I could be smiling like a giddy child, fist-pumping in the air because Satoru did something right- but at the next second be scared and pissed because of some surprisingly dark and intriguing themes. Like I said; nostalgia and dread.
Erased is a mystery/drama show at first glance, but at heart it’s about relationships with people, courage and living life. From beginning to end it’s a thrilling emotional roller-coaster that stimulates both the child and adult within us all. While I do believe there are a couple (two to be exact) plot points that could’ve been fleshed out more; it is a magnificent story I believe everyone should give a try. Erased single-handedly changed my level of appreciation for anime, and I won’t fall behind this winter season.
Thank you for reading and let me know your opinions on Erased and other anime down in the comments!