Monday, May 10, 2021

REVIEW: Erased (anime TV series)

Erased is a mystery/psychological thriller with time travel aspects. I watched it on Netflix.

This review includes spoilers. I don't reveal who the killer is, but I do mention other details that could be considered spoilery.


Content warning for this series: child abuse, murder, animal cruelty/death (hamsters)

Satoru is a loner who wants to become a manga artist but is currently working as a pizza delivery guy. The only people in his life are his mother, a former journalist, and Airi, an optimistic teenage coworker of his. Satoru has a special skill that no one knows about: occasionally he experiences something he calls "revival," in which he's transported a few minutes backwards in time. When this happens to him, he finds himself instinctively looking for details that are out of place. Sometimes he's able to avert a disaster, and sometimes he's not. In quite a few instances, his actions negatively affect him, so he's not entirely sure why he bothers.

Then one day Satoru's ability helps his mother prevent the attempted kidnapping of a child. Satoru doesn't think anything of it, but his mother's journalistic instincts kick in and she realizes that the kidnapper may be the same person who killed several children at and near Satoru's school when he was little. Unfortunately, her realization leads to her murder. Satoru finds himself on the run, under suspicion of being her killer. "Revival" gives him a chance to make things right, somehow transporting him all the way back to his childhood to stop the killer when he and Satoru first crossed paths.

I watched the live action version a while back and enjoyed it well enough, but the anime is overall much better. I haven't read the manga yet, but when it comes to watchable versions of this story, if you only have time for one, go with the anime. That said, there's value in watching both. Although the killer is the same in both the anime and live action versions, the way things are handled, especially in the second half/last third of the series, is very different.

This is one of those series I'd even recommend to anime beginners: it has none of the usual anime cliches that might turn newbies off or confuse them (no sweatdrops, no boob grabbing jokes, etc.), the psychological thriller aspect has broad appeal, and in general the series was filmed in a way that I think would feel comfortable to someone used to live action shows.

Even though I knew how things were going to turn out, I loved watching it all play out. The animation was great, and the story was tighter than I recalled the live action being. Also, some of the things that bothered me in the live action were less of an issue here. Although Satoru's mother was still an awesome lady and high on my list of great anime moms, for some reason the way the last third of the series was set up didn't feel quite so much like she'd been cheated out of a good professional future - maybe there was less focus on her work in the anime than in the live action? I'm not sure. I also wasn't quite as bothered by how things turned out in the time jump, but maybe that's because I knew not to expect Satoru to be paired up with anyone.

I did have a few issues with the series. The way things were resolved with the killer came off more like a fizzle than a bang. It was odd for the killer to just...give themselves up like that. Attempted suicide would have been more believable, considering the emotional beats the series was hitting at that point. And the way Satoru handled things was enormously risky - sure, he had a plan, but it relied heavily on things going a very specific way. If this hadn't been a TV series, he almost certainly would have gotten himself killed.

Also, I really wasn't a fan of how things went with Kayo's mother. The only good thing about that portion of the story is that there was no sickeningly sweet "forgiveness" scene - that would have been enraging, considering what Kayo's mother did to Kayo in the various timelines Satoru experienced. Still, I did not appreciate the attempt to make the audience sympathize with her. Okay, so Kayo's father used to abuse her. I really don't care. That's not an excuse for abusing your daughter every Saturday.

All in all, I highly recommend this series and hope it one day gets an affordable Blu-ray/DVD release. It looks like it might not be available anymore, at least on Right Stuf, but I know that when it was, it was being sold for well over $100. It'll be a sad day when Netflix removes this gem from their streaming catalog.

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