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Erased Vol. #01 Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read

Boku Machi / ErasedThe path to save the ones you love is a dangerous and frightening one.

What They Say:
29-year old Satoru Fujinuma is a struggling manga artist who works part time as a pizza delivery man. But he has a secret ability which he names “Revival.” This ability allows Satoru to go back in time to prevent life-threatening incidents from happening. Now a series of tragic incidents are unfolding before Satoru’s eyes and they may change his life forever…

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language as well as a newly created English language dub, both of which are in stereo and done up using the uncompressed PCM format. The show is one that is largely dialogue driven when you get down to it and there are some neat moments of placement at times thanks to how the dialogue does unfold, but it’s still not a show that’s going to overwhelm in a big way. When there are bigger action moments within it, the mix handles it well with some real clarity and sense of placement as needed as well as impact. The undercurrent of the score itself is pretty strong as that enhances a lot of the scenes in a rich and warm way and makes for a more engaging presentation. Both tracks are problem free with what they do here and the end result is a very pleasing mix that doesn’t try to be something it’s not but also works some nice subtle moments as well.

Video:
Originally airing in 2016, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The six episodes for this set are spread evenly across two discs. Animated by A-1 Pictures, the show uses a nice framing trick to make it clear what time something takes place in as there’s a 1.78:1 framing for the present day and a 2.35:1 framing for the flashback sequence. Both of these look really good with how they’re done as the colors are rich and layered, the details are fantastic in the backgrounds for both periods, and the character animation is smooth. The show has a vibrancy in certain areas that just delivers some fantastic mood and emotion to really drive the connection and make you feel it and the transfer really brings the quality of the work through in such a clean and pristine way that it’s near flawless. While I only skimmed the show during its simulcast and at 720p at that, this just feels like it’s a whole other level.

Packaging:
The packaging design for this release is pretty strong all around as we get a heavy chipboard box that holds everything. The box has a nice layer of texture to it so that the small elements from the show that we do get has a really tactile feeling to it so that you connect with it more, from the backpack on the front to the holding of hands on the back. It’s a subtle cover but one that the fans should appreciate. Within the box we get a digipak that uses the same kind of texture design to it with more hand outlines that works well. The reverse side of the digipak uses full color artwork under each plastic container that has the two main characters as kids in the show, something that blends well into the overall white of the package. The set also comes with two booklets that uses the same textured approach, taken a bit further, where one of them is a standard booklet in that it covers the background of the show, character designs, storyboards, and more. The other has an original manga that was created for the Japanese release as well as some sketches by the original creator. The release also comes with the original soundtrack,something that I haven’t had a chance to really just listen to separately and soak up.

Menu:
The menu for this release plays within the theme well as it uses the filmstrip element idea to play various scenes from the show with some nice movement and action to bring it to life without feeling like it’s just randomly chosen clips. The colors are rich and the activity keeps it vibrant. This does overwhelm the already small navigation strip along the bottom that’s done with an opaque background with white text on top of it. It keeps things simple with episode selection at the top level, easy language submenu design, and a quick and easy to access extras submenu. It’s a solid piece all around that sets the tone for the series and works without any problems as a main menu and as a pop-up menu during playback.

Extras:
The extras included from the Japanese side are the fairly standard type that you’d expect with the clean opening and closing and some of the promos that were used to showcase the series before its original broadcast. What’s welcome here are the new and original extras as there are two commentary tracks with two of the lead actors and the ADR director for episodes one and six. This is a welcome “going the distance” piece to connect with English language fans and are always appreciated.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Kei Sanbe, which ran for eight volumes and ended just as the anime itself ended, ERASED is originally known as Boku Dake ga Inai Machi. The property captured a lot of attention since it began in 2012 and toward the end it culminated very well with this series, a light novel that was released, and a live-action film. A sequel manga series also kicked off a few months after the main series ended by the original author. This series got a lot of attention when it was simulcast and it really is the kind of work that delivers on serialized weekly storytelling, particularly in audience participation by talking and engaging with each other about it as each new little twist, nod, and reveal is unveiled. Watching it in this form, my first experience with it, may not in a sense be quite as rich as what the simulcast fans got. But the show is also a strong performer when watched in this half in one sitting as you see more of the threads all at once. And it really left me wishing the whole shoe was released at once.

The premise is one very familiar to a lot of fans as it revolves around a twenty-nine year old man named Satoru Fujinuma. Satoru’s your kind of everyman in a way, a decent guy that hasn’t quite found his place in the world and is struggling with that. While he wants to be a manga creator he’s found himself in the position of being too old to work certain magazines and his material isn’t quite what they’re looking for. He’s doing various jobs to get by, such as delivering pizzas, and he has a simple apartment that lets him exist. He’s a quiet, almost dour, introspective kind of guy that just comes across as someone who because he hasn’t found the right connection to life or someone else that’s just kind of trudging through life. You like him because you see the potential but you also feel sympathetic toward him because if not for any particular twist in your own life you’d be just like him.

What really separates Satoru from everyone else, however, is that he has an ability that he’s called Revival. This creeps up from time to time where he gets a sense that’s something wrong and he ends up moving back in time between one to five minutes. We see that early on as he stops a truck from running over a kid where the driver died from a heart attack. There’s also another instance where things get turned around as he potentially discovers a child abductor and because he’s hyperaware the second time around to try and find out what’s wrong it causes the guy to leave the kid and just move on. These are interesting ideas and we see that it may run in the family as his mother, an exceedingly young looking fifty-two year old woman, has come to take care of him for a bit after the accident with the truck driver. The two have a decent enough relationship but you get that sense that there are some unresolved things on his part that stick, keeping him from being as close to her as he might be otherwise.

Into every story there must be a twist and this one comes when a mystery man in a dark suit comes to kill his mother and frames Satoru for it. This plays out very well in the present day time period as he’s on the run, gains a friend and ally in the seventeen year old coworker Katagiri, and tries to figure out what happened and who is behind the murder. It’s a strong story just from this alone but it’s not the primary story for most of this set. It is, however, a compelling story because of how it unfolds and the way it can be fixed thanks to his Revival ability. The ability seems to pick the right place for him to go back to in order to change it, hence it being a few minutes, but to save his mother (as he believes the ability is allowing him to try and do), it sends him back eighteen years to 1988 and into his own ten year old self.

That presents its own fascinating storyline that’s more dominant here in this set as he discovers that his goal is to save his childhood friend Kayo, a victim of child abduction that was going on at the time with many kids having disappeared. There is a lot to like within this framework as we see Satoru getting drawn into reuniting with long lost friends, connecting with his mother in a new way since he’s his older self in this younger body, and doing his damndest to save Kayo – especially after discovering that Kayo’s mother abuses her and the system is having a hard time stepping in to stop her from doing so. There are a lot of layers here to it and watching it unfold and waiting to see if it makes an impact on the present is highly engaging. It’s also open to a whole host of possibilities, including my favorite in that Kayo’s death has her being reborn as Katagiri, hence her being drawn to Satoru in the present. That’s not really in it but it’s another way that things can be looked at in an alternate take on the property.

In Summary:
I had no idea what to expect going into this series, especially with the strong critical acclaim that it got, so I’ll admit I was trying to keep my expectations in check because of that alone. What I got was a series that works a familiar concept to anyone that dabbles in science fiction and time travel material that’s executed so perfectly and with such strong animation that it elevates the whole work. It’s haunting and beautiful, making an impression and causing you to think of numerous routes as to how it could all unfold. Aniplex USA put together a very strong release here – one that we’re getting just six months or so after it finished airing in Japan – with a fantastic box, some great pack-in extras, an English dub, and a beautiful encoding. Fans of the show will love the end result here as it’s definitely got the potential to be a crown jewel release if the back half of it has the right amount of payoff to it.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English 2.0 PCM Language, English Subtitles, Audio Commentary by Ben Diskin (Satoru), Cherami Leigh (Airi), and Alex von David (English Voice Director & Script Writer), Trailer Collection, Textless Opening, Textless Ending

Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: October 18th, 2016
MSRP: $114.98
Running Time: 150 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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