What They Say:
I’m gonna do what I didn’t the first time to change everything!
Erased is a sci-fi thriller series based on the award winning manga series (2014 Manga Taisho Award) by Kei Sanbe. The dream production staff includes director Tomohiko Ito (Sword Art Online), character designer Keigo Sasaki (Blue Exorcist), composer Yuki Kajiura (Sword Art Online, Fate/Zero, Madoka Magica), and animation studio A-1 Pictures (Sword Art Online, Your lie in April, Blue Exorcist).
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 Satorus eyes and they may change his life forever
The audio has a 2.0 release in English and a 2.0 in Japanese – I watched the disc in English as was familiar with the Japanese via its Crunchyroll release –, there were no other issues regarding sound quality, echoing, synching with subtitles, etc – the quality is high overall, but you always wish for the 5.1 for what it could have been, especially considering how atmospheric this series is…
Similar with the audio, the video is set in full screen format via NTSC transfer to PAL format with the show combining animation with excellent clarity considering the switches of style from the snow in darkness to the school in day, and the switching of styles when discussing the murders and many instances of what the killer does, it comes out incredibly well defined and in your face with the animation with no real problems with the subtitles, the sound synching in either language, no pause lag or in general, it is a quality release, definitely in the top tier of Blu-Ray releases.
There was no packing for this test release.
The menu does clips of the show on film reels like Satoru’s ‘Revival’ ability, and it changes occasionally to photo style and then to full screen clips – very cinematic and one of the few menu screens I have waited to watch till it returns back to the beginning (feels more like a trailer than a menu) – the selections are on the bottom with Play All, Episodes, Set Up and Extras – all easy to select and have a pop-up menu from the show (bar extras), it is probably the best menu screen in terms of presentation I’ve seen. Top notch.
Along with some promotional videos, and the trademark clean opening and ending, we do have a couple of dub commentaries. Episode 1 commentary consists of Alex Von David (the director), Ben Diskin (adult Satoru) and Cherami Leigh (Airi) – the guys mention this is their first commentary whilst Cherami is the veteran despite playing the younger character, they talk about the different style of character they play especially the contrast between Satoru and Airi, yet are of a similar spirit, their past (Cherami mentioning she worked from independent film into voice acting), keeping to the original Japanese but still adding a few touches here and there, the challenges and the reputation of the show and how they had to work with that as Erased was one of the bigger shows of 2015.
All three return for the second commentary in episode 6 where Airi has a much more important role considering the turn of events as they discuss their initial suspects prior to knowing the series (don’t worry, they don’t give anything away as the killer hasn’t been revealed yet – that is for Part 2) – they talk about a lot of the moments that make the series, like the opening, the music, the atmosphere, some of the concepts (like red vs. blue), the complications of the murders, the cleverness of the series, the approach they had to take (having to do research) and the subsequent preparation, definitely a more in-depth commentary than some of the more comical ones have listened to recently.
Erased (Boku dake ga Inai Machi) is one of those series that just seems to get intrigue just from the premise, and whilst there are other series like this, it definitely got a fan base – with manga, anime and live action works all done (and an apparent web drama on the way), there is a lot of interesting stigma of it, both good and bad depending on if you read the original or not. I am judging this based on the anime without knowledge of changes from the manga, so keep that in mind.
Because mystery series are pretty much my bread and butter, and this one definitely has its big share of mystery to say the least…
Set in 2006 (this is important) our lead is Satoru, a 29 year old manga artist who is a bit dead in his career and is working a part-time job as a pizza delivery boy. He seems rather bored or uncaring on life but he has one unique thing – an ability called “Revival” which allows him to send him back in time a few seconds, which usually only activates when something really bad is going to happen. And sure enough, we see him save a boy from being run over, which gets him a closer friendship with his cute co-worker Airi. His mother Sachiko visits him in hospital (who in her 50s doesn’t look more than 30 – damn anime genes…) and feels things are happening similar to an incident 18 years ago. In turn, Satoru when leaving the hospital again gets a revival but is unsure what the problem is…but his mother notices a man apparently leading a child away. This gets her old reporter brain back in the game, and believes this man is also responsible for several kidnappings and murders so she gets to investigating, but just before she can send information of her thoughts…the man manages to get into her apartment and kills her.
Which Satoru immediately sees her body and when going over to her, the neighbours get the wrong idea, and Satoru whilst understandably, also stupidly runs away as the killer gives a smirk in the distance. We don’t know who it is as of yet but we get hints of his position and authority and what happens next may also help because in a fury of panic, he hits a ‘revival…’
…and wakes up in 1988, back when he was 11 years old.
The series doesn’t really explain how he’s able to get back well (apart from extreme stress and situation) but it sets up the plot. Sachiko mentions what was happening now is similar to this time period, and Satoru now has to try and change history. Here, 3 children were all kidnapped and killed by a mysterious killer and with Satoru’s 29 year old mind now in an 11 year old body, he attempts to change things (though obviously happy gets a chance to see his mom again as he realizes this is connect to Sachiko’s murder). The main classmate he focuses on his a young girl Kayo, who was one of the victims who was a bit of a loner, but also clearly has problems due to various bruises on her body suggesting abuse. Via his friends (including a very intelligent young man named Kenya), Satoru slowly becomes friends with Kayo to make sure she isn’t alone.
He learns from his memory of the past when Kayo will be abducted and we get another bit of the story mentioned briefly in the first episode, that the man convicted of the killings was named Jun, who was an adult friend of the kids. Here, little things are cleverly done as it was mentioned that Jun had magazines and such suggesting he was a pedophile, but when Satoru is over his place, the book are girly and porn magazines, but nothing suggesting the worst. Satoru is certain Jun is innocent, and via conversations with him, his friends, his teacher Yashiro, and Kayo – they learn about her abuse and pretty much becomes her bodyguard/friend/potential love interest (there is a strange thing of the 29 year old Satoru getting embarrassed in his 11 year old self being attracted to Kayo which seems controversial, but the body is going through puberty and he always reminds himself of the situation).
Kayo gets protected by him and his mother, they go out on days outs, dates, and he realizes that things have happened before and with him and her both having the same birthday, after the due date she is kidnapped, the fact she isn’t alone seems to show that he saved her and he has changed history.
Cue the day after the alleged day…and she doesn’t turn up at school.
Needless to say Satoru is upset that it only prolonged the agony, and when another girl gets abducted and the abusive mother throws out some stuff of Kayo’s, it snaps Satoru back into his 29 year old self and on the run. This in turn, allows the only person who knew that Satoru loved his mother and would never harm her to help him out in Airi, when even his boss is suspicious and tried to turn him in. Unfortunately the killer seems to always be one up and nearly kills Airi in a fire, but Satoru and his boss (after a change of heart) save her and he keeps quiet. Airi leaves a vital clue to Satoru, which leads to him calling an old colleague of Sachiko’s named Sawada, leaving Satoru to research Kayo’s death (noting not only has the date changed, but another friend of his Satoru, a very feminine looking boy was also abducted). Airi and Satoru meet up as they exchange information, but eventually the police catch up to him and arrest him. Just as it looks like it’s all over, he spots the man who left the apartment and killed Sachiko with another smirk…
Cue end of set. DAMMIT.
The concept of time travel to change the past of course is nothing new, but here it is done in a way that is quite engaging. The fact the first time he uses revival and it does change both victims and the date Kayo is killed (her age clearly changes to a date after her birthday instead of before it) means that the set up which almost certainly will happen after episode 6 is that he will be able to use it again to make one more attempt. With more knowledge from his first trip, this should set up the saving of the children as well as more information on the killer, and whilst there are obvious hints set up, it isn’t 100% clear at the moment and you know we’ll get to that in the second half of the series.
The lead character Satoru, is set up to being incredibly sympathetic – not just at what happens to him, but what has happened to him. He is a struggling manga artist and is basically seemingly done with the world. But you later learn this was suppressed memories via his mother, because of the tragedy that happened in the past – you see his humanity recovering via Airi’s interactions and his searching for the killer especially with what happened to his mother, and these thoughts increase when he returns to being a kid. Now you could argue that his mind vs. body motions and thoughts can sway you off the character but without spoiling the second half, this isn’t to be and it is pretty funny how he accidentally forgets he is talking when saying his thoughts out loud, leading to a few surprisingly comic moments.
What helps is how well Kayo develops – the first victim and seemingly also quiet and alone, Satoru makes it his mission to help her, which develops both him and her as she becomes friends with him and others, whilst Satoru’s mother Sachiko is probably the best character outside of the lead, both in the current and in the past with her mamma bear tendencies to Satoru in all ages and with Kayo once she discovers her abuse. Airi as well turns from cheerful girl to being quite intelligent and a very good judge of character and whilst we don’t know if this will change their relationship after the cliffhanger of episode 6, it will be very interesting if Satoru changes the future if this changes anything in their relationship…
The first half of Erased is a strong opener and then some. With intrigue, drama, development and even some comedy, the show is one of those gripping shows which made you wish there is more. Sadly, this is the one problem I have with the release and it isn’t even to do with the show – the series itself is only 12 episodes and we get a 6 episodes Blu-Ray/DVD release which is £44.99 (to be fair, the DVD only release is a more reasonable £19.99) on Amazon – considering the collectors set isn’t on something like Nadesico level (soon to come and is 26 episodes), even someone like myself who is a huge fan of the show would have to be a bit ‘ehhhh’ with that price. The full series, maybe but only 6 episodes is definitely a head scratcher. I’d say definitely get it but see if can get it for cheaper or just take a shot at the DVD version, because it is worth seeing so go for it if you can.
Erased is one of those sleeper hits that comes out of nowhere and blows you away. Great animation, atmosphere is superb, the clash between 11 and 29 year old Satoru is a real conflict, the only weakness being no real reason why he has this ability and how he eventually can travel that back in time – it feels like just enjoy the awesome as the tragedy continues to hit and you pray he can get out of the situation. A huge recommendation…just maybe not at the price it is at the moment.
Promo videos, clean opening/ending, Dub commentaries
Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: A
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Anime Limited
Release Date: August 7th, 2018
Running Time: 150 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.