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 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.
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.
The packaging design for this release is pretty strong all around as we get a heavy chipboard box that holds everything. The black 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 when it comes to the webs and the spider itself on the back of the box. 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 adversaries of the series in the middle while the left and right works in the spider and butterfly elements.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, interviews, 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 second original soundtrack, something that I haven’t had a chance to really just listen to separately and soak up.
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.
The extras included from the Japanese side are the fairly standard type that you’d expect with the clean opening and closing being it. 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 eleven and twelve, where things really take some dramatic turns. 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)
The opening half of Erased was definitely that special kind of show where the details and attention paid to them felt like a few steps above other shows. The use of the widescreen aspect to showcase the past was a definite treat for me and it served as a good marker so that you knew where you stood easily enough within the transitions, even if the bulk of the show does take place in the past. A lot of foundations were laid down and our basic understanding of how the time travel side works and the impact of it made clear but it wasn’t bogged down in it with a lot of technical jargon or anything. It was more focused on the human element but paid enough attention to the other aspects so that it didn’t feel weak or tacked on.
With Satoru captured in the present for the murder, he’s in full panic mode especially as he sees who he believes is the killer watching him from the sidelines, driving him further to reaction. It’s a good moment of emotion that sets him off in the past again as he’s intent on changing things there that even if they make his own life worse will at least help him save Kayo. He’s so singlemindedly focused on this that it may seems obsessive but it’s the kind of motivation that works well as a driving force. You understand why Satoru is this way with everything that’s happened from his future self and that reconnect to the past that he’s made has caused it all to be a lot more tangible than he thought it would be. He’s fully connected now to it all, though he’s still trying to do it all alone.
Which is a nice change here as it’s picked up on by others, notably with Kenya, as he sees how far Satoru is going to protect Kayo. So far, in fact, that he’s ready to kill Kayo’s mother in order to stop the bullying and change the place where she’ll be so that the unknown killer won’t find her. Events do change here over the first few episodes as Satoru and Kenya and the others work to protect her, but there are some wonderfully dark moments where you almost feel like the hands of fate are working to claim Kayo, that her death is a must in this world and will not be denied. That Satoru and the others do change things is a welcome thing because you’d hate to see so much effort for naught and it causes Satoru to work to try and save the other two girls that he knows about so that he can do as much good as he can here. Between that and seeing how he works with his mother to save Kayo from Kayo’s mother is really well done, full of the right kind of emotion and closure.
Where this set becomes truly engaging is when the killer is revealed and we watch the unfolding of events in 1988 as he exacts his revenge on Satoru. That it was Yashiro isn’t exactly a surprise, though you kind of felt like it was a red herring as you halfway expected him to strike up a relationship with Satorou’s mother. But watching this unfold as he takes advantage of some luck to acquire Satoru and set it in motion to drown him in a car in the river is terrifying. Knowing that Satoru has the faculties of his adult experience but trapped in this way really does him in and seeing how he tries to bargain his way out of it only to fail is one of those cliffhanger moments that in serialized form would have had me screaming, even though you know there’s going to be an out. What becomes intriguing is that the show shifts gears by putting him in a coma for fifteen years, awakening in 2003 and slowing having it all come back to him.
That period alone is ripe for exploration as his mother has kept him healthy and as fit as can be throughout it, and his friends have moved on with their lives but have kept in contact over it because of the bond they shared when so young. The changes in all of them leaves you wanting more episodes to explore their lives but it’s shifting the focus to how Yashiro has kept a close eye on him all these years, waiting out the statute of limitations, but not taking any chances should he awake. Things do get a little convoluted here as it plays out with what Yashiro is doing in his new identity but also that of Satoru as he comes across as almost working things in the way that a kid would. But, in the end, it’s all very satisfying as it comes to a close and the cycle of time with the coma coming into play with the series original name and his “erasure” from things during it is intriguing. I also really like that even though he lost those fifteen years he’s still younger than when things started and he never lost those life experiences, so it’s only a loss in a sense to those that know him but not his situation.
Erased is a series that will definitely benefit from not only a marathon session but multiple viewings as well. A lot of shows are fun to watch and forgettable afterward, providing a good experience that you don’t need to repeat as it all floods back quickly. But this series is one that has a lot of tangled webs that you can explore – and talk out with others – that makes for some compelling time to deal with. Especially with the whole “what if?” aspect of what could be done differently. The back half makes for some good adjustments and doesn’t just play the repeat cycle as it explores new avenues with what it can do and how the changes impact things. This is a solid series from start to finish that’s in a great package and looks absolutely stunning throughout. Fans of the show will thoroughly love it and the overall presentation here as a crown jewel type of release.
Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English 2.0 PCM Language, English Subtitles, Audio Commentary by English cast & Alex von David (English Voice Director & Script Writer), #11 & #12 Textless Openings, #12 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: January 24th, 2017
Running Time: 150 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
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.