Sunday, February 18, 2018

REVIEW: Erased (live action TV series)

Erased is a mystery series based on the manga by Kei Sanbe.

This review includes slight spoilers.


When I first heard that Netflix was adding Erased to its streaming lineup, I was thrilled. I thought they were adding the anime, which, at its current cost of at least $15 per 25-minute episode, is way outside my preferred price range (yes, I realize it's available for free on Crunchyroll, but I try to use that site as little as possible). I was less excited once I realized that what they were adding was actually a live action TV series, but I figured I'd watch it anyway.

The story: Satoru is a loner who'd like to create manga for a living but whose work keeps getting rejected. His one special skill is this thing he calls Revival: an ability to travel back in time and alter events that originally got someone killed. He doesn't seem to have any control over it, and he's only ever gone back a few minutes in time. However, when his mom is murdered and he becomes a suspect, he tries to consciously use his ability to save her...and ends up 15 (?) years in the past. It's a time in his life when several children in his town were kidnapped and killed. With nothing else to guide him, Satoru assumes that this must mean the kidnappings are tied to his mother's future murder. If he can find and stop the kidnapper, he can save his mother.

This TV series was my first full exposure to the story. I had seen a gorgeous (and spoiler-filled) anime AMV featuring clips from the anime, so I already knew who the killer was. Thankfully, that didn't spoil my enjoyment of the episodes prior to the big reveal, and the spoilers didn't tell me much about how things were going to work out. Although the acting was occasionally unconvincing, I enjoyed seeing how Satoru tried to thwart the killer. He was mentally his older self, but physically a child, and there were limits to what he could do and say.

One of the things I really liked about the show was that Satoru's efforts to stop the killer required him to go outside his comfort zone more and actually make friends. In his original timeline, Satoru had no one but his mother and Airi, a high school girl who worked at the same place as him and who seemed determined to be his friend. In his new timeline, Satoru deliberately befriended loners in order to protect them from the killer - kids with friends would be harder for the killer to single out and grab.

The pacing was occasionally a little off, but for the most part I really enjoyed the show once the mystery got off the ground. Where it began to falter, for me, was during Satoru's last time through the timeline, after he woke up. It was interesting seeing how things had changed, but I figured that this new "present" wasn't how things were going to be in the end end...except it was.

I maybe would have been okay with that, except for how things played out in the end. For one thing, there were the beards. A couple characters had very odd and very similar beards, which left me feeling confused about what was going on. Had I actually mistook one actor for two separate people throughout the entire series? That answer was no, I hadn't, but that stupid beard threw me off for a while, for no good reason.

For another, the concept of a "true" timeline really bugged me, especially since it took Satoru multiple times to get it to happen. As a sci-fi/fantasy fan, it really bugged me that no effort was ever made to explain the existence of Satoru's abilities, and the hand-wavy explanation for why they went away in the end annoyed me even more.

I also had issues with the way things played out in the "true" timeline as far as Satoru's mother went. In the original timeline, she seemed to have an actual life outside of her son, even though viewers didn't get to see much of it. In the "true" timeline, however, her life revolved around Satoru. Okay, so she was alive and everybody was happy, but it still bugged me.

All in all, this series had some really strong moments but fell apart at the end.

1 comment:

  1. I saw both the anime and the live-action series. I liked the anime better, which I rate as one of the best ever. I also had some confusion over the two similar appearing characters in the live-action series.

    The anime and the manga hinted that Satoru's abilities came from his mother in that several times in the series Satoru's mother did something spooky, to which Satoru always responded by calling her a yōkai or demon.