Jul 1

Erased: My Favorite Anime

By Jack McDonough, 2021 prospective JET

Kayo and Satoru under a starry sky.  You can find Grace’s art here!

Think of something you regret; one thing that gnaws away at you; if only you could change it. What if you could? What if you had that chance to go back in time and change the past? Now imagine that your choices concern life and death matters, and you can only go back in time when someone is dead or dying: specifically the deaths of your mother and childhood classmate are riding on matters that are seemingly benign. Erased explores that reality.

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi (“The Town Where Only I am Missing”) is a mystery/thriller manga written by Kei Snabe and published by Kadokawa Shoten from June 2012 to March 2016. Erased is the anime adaptation that follows Satoru Fujinuma and his “revival(s)” (called “rerun” in Japanese), where Satoru is sent back in time involuntarily when someone near him dies; he sees a blue butterfly, and his consciousness is sent back into the past. Despite his power, Satoru is a failing mangaka who works at a pizzeria and lives alone in a cramped Chiba apartment; his only friend being Airi Katagiri, who is his coworker at Oasi Pizza.  Out of the blue, his estranged mother, Sachiko, comes to visit him. After leaving his mother in his apartment, he comes back later and finds her murdered. A blue butterfly flies in front of him and he is sent back to 1988; back to his 5th-grade self. 

Erased has a lot going for it in addition to the interesting plot. The soundtrack for the show is perfect and Satoru’s determination motif is reason enough to binge the anime. The music, written by Yuki Kaijura, adds an air of mystery, wonder, and sorrow that is unlike anything else you’ve heard before. Asian Kung-Fu Generation performs the intro song to the anime, which is one of the best openings to an anime out there. In terms of direction, Director Tomohiko Itou’s masterful attention to detail turns every scene into an art piece. Now that I’ve convinced you to watch the show, look out for the scene between Satoru and Kayo in the park. Every interaction between the characters offers more than mere plot progression or comedic relief; the depictions of friendship, family, and despair feel real and will hit you where it hurts. 

Erased is my favorite anime. The show has a controversial place in the anime community: some think the plot was too generic and that the ending was unsatisfactory. I disagree, but I do see why they have that opinion. The anime and manga do differ in their endings, so if you do wish for a different ending, you can always check out the manga.  Without spoiling the ending, while I wasn’t particularly surprised, I felt that the mystery is just the hook; the real meat of the story is Satoru’s relationship with Airi, Sachiko, and Kayo. Erased is more than just a time-travel mystery, it’s about a man who failed in his relationships, whether in small choices or big acts and what he does when he gets the chance for reconciliation. Satoru gets to go back and spend time with the people he loves the most; he gets to relive those precious, little moments that we all take for granted. He learns that he should’ve stopped and appreciated those times. You can’t go back in time. You can’t relive those moments, so learn from Satoru’s mistakes and cherish every minute.

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