(Erased – The Town Where Only I am Missing)
Erased is an anime adaption of a manga illustration by Kei Sanbe, which ran from June 2012 to March 2016. As an animation, it began airing January and finished in March 2016.
The story focuses on the protagonist, Satoru Fujinuma, a twenty-nine-year-old that aspires to be a mangaka (Japanese comic book artist). As a character, Satoru is reserved in personality, often retreating into his thoughts, where he can hold others characters at a distance.
It quickly becomes apparent that Satoru is a character without friends, with his only significant relationship being with his mum, Sachiko Fujinuma. The only other characters that initially appear in his life are his co-worker, Airi Katagiri and the manager, where he works as a part-time pizza deliverer.
However, Satoru is far from ordinary. He has a power that he calls revival, the ability to travel back in time a few seconds or a few minutes that he can’t control.
Throughout the show, we only ever see the protagonist selflessly using his ability for the benefit of others, which is the first insight we have into his mind. In this insight, the audience becomes aware that the protagonist is hiding from himself.
“I’m scared to get to the heart of own mind.”
At length, this is a story where Satoru’s mother’s murdered, and through a revival, Satoru travelled to his child and is forced to confront his past.
I will begin by stating without, this is the animation with the best story this season. Erased reads as a murder thriller with a hint of romance. Although the story itself doesn’t sound particularly fascinating or reads like a novel idea, its story was certainly more than I expected.
There were some serious plot twists, and unlike some mystery shows, nothing came without merit; in hindsight, there were hints and subtleties leading everything unexpected.
There are no plot holes and the themes exist throughout the entirety of the show and the ending was superb.
It is well-paced for the drama and the themes it tackles; being exploratory enough to provide depth, but not so much as to detract from the thriller genre tag. Each episode also ends in a cliff hanger which does an incredible job at keeping the audience wanting more.
As an aside, this show would rate maybe for Mature Audience (MA) under American Television Content Ratings.
I don’t intend this warning this lightly either; it is somewhat graphic, and the protagonist’s mental state permutes the show.
The animation of Erased is spectacular. The director, Tomohiko Itō was fantastic; I don’t think words do it justice.
Some scenes fascinated me, and I found myself rewinding them; purely due to the angle shots were taken, it was like art in motion.
I won’t mention them specifically, but instead leave those who watch to discover them on their own.
The atmosphere of the environment cannot be overstated. It is perhaps the most realistic school environment I have come across where school settings play major environmental roles. Satoru’s first interaction with his class through his past self was particularly harrowing; contrasting his mature thoughts with the children’s banter.
There is a symmetrical organisation to the school desks, a tidiness to papers and documents. There are the individual difference between rooms, with classrooms being particularly open and teachers’ offices crowded and unkempt.
The hallways are a little untidy, and that’s just the school. The hospital is clean with plenty of lighting and the atmosphere quiet.
There are plenty of small details to take in and more to miss. I have rewatched the earlier episodes three times now, and each time the vibe and consistency of the environment has impressed me.
Symbolism also permeates the animation, but it isn’t overdone. They make subtle appearances in scenes; the way shadows divide light, or the paintings, or scrolling shots that would change the focus from Satoru’s happiness towards a thoughtful and dreaded tone.
The music score pulls into the animation incredibly. It is my second favourite aspect of Erased and sets the tone for the show.
The music in itself is a low budget and simplistic arrangement abused to great effect. Due to its simplicity, the music is introduced first in scenes of suspense or emotion, which allows the audience to anticipate the emotion of coming scenes.
The director manipulates this to use music that would otherwise have a happy and romantic feel to instil feelings of dread.
There are many characters I fell in love within this animation.
Kayo Hinazuki is perhaps the most memorable of the characters outside of our protagonist. She’s well-voiced, appearing both secretive and forlorn. Satoru’s future knowledge works to further the audiences’ interest in the mystery of her fate.
Kayo is a child that has a difficult time at home and school. Her behaviour was well-researched, and she shows many visual cues to her abuse. These range from the method of her dress to her body language and choice to remain aloof.
Despite this, Kayo reads like an open book. We often see glimpses of the feelings she struggles to hide and her cries for help.
Her character develops throughout the plot, and it was a joy to watch her learn to trust and confidence.
Satoru Fujinuma is our protagonist. He is a character that comes across as wise and mature, no matter his physical age; this doesn’t mean he’s capable of childlike innocence when he’s younger, but rather holds insights that attract the other children towards him.
He is a broken character, but one that tries his best to erase his past, and save his friends.
Sachiko Fujinuma is the protagonist’s mother. She’s a loving and supportive mother who is willing to go to great lengths to help Satoru. The appearance of her within a scene lightens scenes with a doting innocence; the absence of her generosity and humour in some scenes creates surprising tension.
Airi Katagiri first came across as a naive character. Initially, I thought her little more than a supporting cast, however as her screen time increases, she transgresses towards a character of rare insights, loyalty and determination. Similar to Satoru, she would do anything to help those around her and it is this which initially attracted her to him.
What did you think? Leave your thoughts on the show below.