- Genre : Time travel, Murder mystery, Grade school action
- Episodes: 12
- Studio: A-1 Pictures
Satoru is in his late 20s and works at a pizzeria. He is stoic, jaded and disconnected from pretty much everything. He is also definitely not a pedophile. He is just aimlessly drifting through life when his boring little world gets suddenly turned upside down. After getting hit by a car he transforms into Sam Beckett, only not really cause he can only revert back into himself, and realizes he has the chance to set right what once went wrong. Also there’s a psycho child killer.
I don’t actually have many friends who like anime (I do have friends, shut up) and as such I often feel a little disconnected from the anime community and sometimes, I have a skewed perspective on a show’s reputation. From a distance though, Erased seems pretty divisive. Reviewers and fans alike all seem to have individual opinions and a general agreement has yet to be reached. I could be wrong. In any case, I liked it.
I’m a sucker for a time travel story but they tend to be almost unavoidably messy. Once you start getting into grandfather paradoxes and butterfly effects it takes a masterfully crafted narrative to hold everything together. Erased doesn’t handle it perfectly but it does a pretty good job. By keeping the story fairly restrained, concentrating on a single major event and its ramification on a fairly small group of friends, it manages to avoid a lot of the common pitfalls of the genre and doesn’t make your brain bleed too much. The time jumping also allows us to get to know the characters at different times in their lives. I love when the after-credit scenes show us what happened after the store and this show seemed to weave those types of scenes throughout the actual narrative. In my opinion, it was well done. By allowing you to fill in the blanks of the missing years to explain how the children became the adults they are, the show tricked us into feeling like there was a lot more character developments than was actually shown. A smart move considering how many people we had to get to know in only 12 episodes.
The murder mystery part of the story is equally well handled. They only reveal the killer fairly late in the series giving you plenty of time to suspect everyone. I thought I knew who it was but then I changed my mind and then I changed it again, and again… You can, and probably a lot of you will, figure it out fairly early on but there are a lot of red herrings thrown in to keep things fun. And unlike some shows, the red herrings make sense. Besides, even when the mystery is completely cleared up the show remains quite suspenseful and the tense atmosphere is very well sustained throughout most of the series. Unfortunately, the final confrontation is a bit lackluster as the killer seems to have grown sloppy and lazy with age.
The shows weakest point, and the aspect that seems to be the source of most of the differences in opinion, are the relationships between the main characters. These are indeed a mixed bag. For instance, I think Satoru’s relationship with his mom is pure awesomness. His implied relationship with his coworker is, potentially illegal…. A lot of people believe that the heart of the narrative is the relationship between Satoru and Kayo and were therefore disappointed by the fact that they don’t ultimately end up “together”. On the other hand, I thought that conclusion was not only perfectly logical but also just better. He was not rescuing some damsel in distress and then claiming the prize, he was saving a friend, because that’s what good guys actually do. Moreover, the story is told from his point of view, and to him, their relationship was not really about “them” it was always about “him”. Satoru certainly cares for Kayo, he wants her to be happy and in fact, he’s willing to sacrifice almost anything for that, but that’s because she is his goal. Kayo represents his purpose, the idea of saving her finally gives him some badly needed direction and that is what is principal here: Satoru must save Kayo, everything else is just variables.
To me, to real beating heart of the story was his relationship with Sachiko. We do not get to explore the mother-son dynamics in detail very often in anime and when we do it’s usually more Psycho than anything else. Sachiko is the best, she just is. She’s a chain smoking smart mouth full of faults and weaknesses which she carries with grace and strength. She never fails to be exactly what a parent should. Her courage comes from fear of the worse, her determination from desperation and her understanding from…being the best…. As one of the great benefits of the flexible time jumping premise, we get to see how Sachiko interacts with Satoru under some very different circumstances. We see them as she tries to push her lackadaisical grown son into doing something, anything with his life. We see them as she watches her little boy go to school and start coping with some very serious issues by himself, trying to figure out just how much she can let him go and how much she should shield him. We see her desperately taking care of a bedridden adult child that might not wake up, never giving up hope because the alternative is simply unbearable. And what’s more, we see all of this through his eyes. This is both special and beautiful.
Defenders of this series will often say that there is no stated romantic relationship between Sachiko and Airi, and it is a purely platonic friendship between a cute 16-year-old girl that has a stated interest in him, and a 29-year-old man. I dunno guys – I certainly got the sexy times vibe and I’m not usually prone to seeing romance where it isn’t made obvious. Honestly, why would you even think of those nice basketball boys doing those things? The fact that this is dropped in the latter half of a series that is so vehement about the importance of protecting children from predators left me with a sour taste in my mouth. It was a sore spot in an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable show.
Favorite character: Mom of course but honorable mention goes to Kenya.
What this anime taught me about myself: I don’t call my mom enough
“I feel bad for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.”
Suggested drink: Second chance
- Every time Satoru what he’s thinking out loud – take a swig
- Every time wonder guy is mentioned or his mask is shown – take a swig
- Every time you suspect someone of being the killer – take notes
- Every time Kayo asks if someone is stupid – take a swig
- Every time Kayo fails to react – take a good swig and don’t make a face
- Every time Sachiko is a magnificent badass – call your mom
- Every time Kayo is wearing red – take a swig
- Every time Satoru jumps in time – check your watch
- Every time someone says mata (ja mata – mata ne…) – take a swig
- Every time we see an adult version of the kids – take a swig