ERASED (Boku Dake ga Inai Machi) is a Murder-Mystery With Heart

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To say that I just finished the Aniplex/Funimation series ERASED would be a very big understatement. I powered through ERASED like it was nobodies business. Which is interesting, considering the fact that I spent most of the show’s weekly scrolling past it on either my funimation app or crunchyroll. This was partly due to the fact that the premise of the show, at least the premise written on the crunchyroll page, lent itself more to a ‘problem’ of the week type of show rather than a show with a strong story. And I could not have been more wrong!

erased-gtrtrThe show centers around Satoru Fujinuma, a struggling manga artist, who in spite of a strong debut, has failed to make a name for himself. But on top of that frustration, even more so, is the fact that Satoru suffers from a condition he refers to as ‘revival’, strange phenomenon where one is transferred back to the moment right before something life-threatening occurs. However, the farthest he has ever traveled back was 2 minutes. He has no idea how or why he has this ability, and has no designs on being a hero, but when he senses a revival he is always compelled to act. That is until one day, when he comes home and discovers his mother’s dead body, and is accidentally framed for her murder. During his attempted escape he finds himself ‘transported’ back to his past, he is now a young boy and he needs to figure out why he was sent back to the past before it is too late.

Now, without the last half of that synopsis in the last paragraph, you (like me) would probably think that this show wouldn’t have a cohesive and overarching story. I thought it was a ‘problem of the week’ show where Satoru would have to battle a new threat, a new enemy, and become a hero. But in reality, the show centers, mostly, around his time in the past and the relationships he (re)builds with his friends. Back in his school days, there had been few missing students and he sets out to not only solve that mystery, but prevent it. He had always been a bit distant from his friends, always acting happy and enthusiastic but, in reality, only going through the motions. It isn’t until her befriends one of the future missing/dead girls does his heart start to open up.

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This show is very much a murder-mystery, Satoru was brought back in time with zero planning or notice so he has no real evidence or knowledge to go on. All her knows is that there is a killer in his town and he needs to find him, soon, before he kills again. He hopes that by doing so, he would save his mother from her future death also. And, while the murder-mystery part of the show is extremely interesting, it is really the relationships that he builds that makes this show a truly heart-warming one. Satoru, though he initially intends on handling things alone, eventually gets help from his friends; people who know nothing of the future but believe in Satoru and help him move forward. Together they make progress and build bonds that end up positively effecting the course of their entire lives.

erased-animeThe town that Satoru lives in as a kid also provides and interesting balance to the show. This is because while the kids are heart-warming and often welcoming, the parents and the town in general feel desolate and cold (with the exception of Satoru’s mother). The entire town feels very unwelcoming whether it’s how well they made the winter look cold as ice or the abusive parent’s who don’t seem to care about their offspring, there is something unsettling about the town that provides an interesting, if not unsettling, contrast with the children.

 

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To make things even better, the animation is pretty solid. Though the colors are often dull, I think to make things feel hopeless, the actual artwork is good to look at. And there are even some extremely colorful scenes, usually when something is happening that you should be in awe for.

But if this show has one flaw, it would be the fact that (in my opinion) the answer to ‘who is the murderer’ became fairly obvious really early in the story. So for me it became less of a ‘who don it’ and more of a ‘how don it’. It didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the show– but the final payoff would have been a little more satisfying. All-in-all ERASED is probably one of my favorite shows in a long time. It’s one of those shows that is hard to STOP watching once you get started and may actually be better enjoyed in one or two sittings rather than being spread out week by week

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