What They Say:
“I’m not gonna quit until I find the true culprit!”
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).
The series finale that ends with a shocking yet emotional twist…
Contains episodes 7 to 12 with both the English dub and the original Japanese track with English subtitles, presented in collectors packaging.
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 animation has 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 packaging for this test release; however, the Blu-Ray release has collector’s packaging.
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.
With the conclusion of the series there are quite a few extras – we do have the textless opening as well as the episode 12 clean ending and some trailers for a number of series – Aoharu x Machine Guy, Rampo Icitan: Game Of Laplace, Shinometa (urgh) and Snow White With The Red Hair (wuv)
The big extras are 4 commentaries in English – all of them follow the same pattern bar the last one with the director Alex speaking with the VAs and asking similar questions. We have episode 7 which features Erica Mendez (Kenya), Christine Rica Cabanos (Hiromi), Ryan Bartley (Osamu) and Bobby Tong (Kazu) – basically the Satoru’s friends group. The questions are very similar in all of them as said, like how they make the relationships come alive, how everyone has got into voice acting, reactions to the show, commenting on the more disturbing content, if the actors watch the show previously, how popular it was, etc – with a few rookies with their first commentaries (Ryan/Bobby) as well as the first time playing the opposite sex to their own (Ryan).
Commentaries after that follow a similar pattern – episode 8 gets Stephanie Sheh (Kayo) and Michelle Ruff (Young Satoru) – both of these ladies are veterans of anime (directors mentions first time worked with Ruff was 2005) – this one is amusing as it was apparently recorded during Halloween and Stephanie was in a Halloween Cookie Monster costume/kirigumi so the show had to bleep out all the trademarks….
Episode 11 have Sarah Cravens (Sachiko, a.k.a. best mom) and Ben Disken (elder Satoru) – which is fun for the simple fact that Ben has his dog with him and dog’s make everything better the unique thing is basically that it was Sarah’s first anime role but has been in VO work for a while with video games and they all gush just how awesome a character Sachiko is.
Episode 12 has the final commentary with the big reveal as we have Michelle and Ben return but (MASSIVE SPOILER)…
….we also have David Collins as Yashiro, a.k.a. the killer. A lot of the commentary is focused on how David had to adapt to the character as he wasn’t told in the initial scripts that he was the killer, just a teacher with an unknown past so when he found out about it he had to adapt some of the mannerisms of earlier episodes with that in mind and considering how complex Yashiro is as a character yet hidden within the psychotic nature he actually has, it is quite in depth and how he has to focus, especially in the final two episodes when he returns…
Erased was one of those series that hit all the buttons for me, and indeed, quite a lot of people when it came out in 2016 – it was one of those series that drew you in and kept you going and the first half hit a cliffhanger and a half when Satoru returned to his original time, is finally caught for the murder of his mother and despite Anri’s protests, he seems to be caught…until he catches the eye of the real killer watching from afar. With sheer willpower and rage we leave the first half and return with one last chance of Satoru changing the future. How does they do that and how does it conclude?
Satoru manages to return back to the past and speaks to Kenya as the one friend he truly trusts, about Kayo’s home situation and why he is doing what he is doing (though doesn’t tell him about the whole past/serial killer thing obviously) – from this Satoru begins to make a plan to make sure everyone survives and the killer is truly discovered. First, he throws a rock through Jun’s window so the police are around to give him an alibi, then he tries to injure Kayo’s abusive mother – fortunately Kenya manages to stop him and give him a better idea…Satoru ‘kidnaps’ Kayo and they make a hideout in the old abandoned bus near the school. However, someone enters during the night…
…fortunately they don’t discover Kayo but the stuff the person left behind (restraints, chloroform, etc) suggest that this is the serial killer and this is his base. Satoru tells his teacher Yashiro who gets in touch with Child Consultation/Support to investigate Kayo’s house (with Kayo’s mother obviously hiding away from them) whilst Satoru realises the murders could still happen so Kayo stays at Satoru’s house (with best mom Sachiko knowing exactly what his son is up to as adult Satoru believes she is a witch – probably the best running gag of the show) which leads to such a heartbreaking but sweet moment when Sachiko cooks Kayo a proper breakfast after months of stale bread or just money, Kayo cries in happiness and it is hard for the audience not to go along..
The plot thickens when they confront Akemi, and she is caught when they reveal Yashiro and the CCC also are there. Here, it leads to a sequence which for me is brilliant – Akemi is so unlikeable that when her mother (Kayo’s grandmother) appears to say that it isn’t her daughters fault, it was due to her husband leaving as he was abusive to her, it screams like it is giving Akemi a way out to why she is, which doesn’t forgive her actions but it feels like you are expected to. However, brilliant, both Satoru and Kayo mirror the audiences reactions when the two are sobbing…neither of them buy it and still hate her, which is perfect because I feel too many shows do give a convenient excuse and try to sympathise with the villain, but Akemi was so abusive, conniving and hateful that our reaction is we don’t buy it, and glad Kayo doesn’t forgive her.
So with Kayo now safe with her grandmother, Satoru now focuses on the other children who were killed – his friend Hiromi and a girl named Aya from another school. With reveals of the contents of the bus removed, the killer is on the move so Satoru moves things into overdrive – there is a scene where Yashiro gives his mom and him a lift after shopping which seems just there but it does become more pivotal as we soon find out…
So needing to make friends with Aya (leading to some fun scenes where she seems standoff ish but then is intrigued by Kazu and does join them), Satoru is also making sure Hiromi isn’t alone, but then also starts to worry about the girl Misato, who was the girl who tried to frame Kayo of stealing money before. He follows her to an ice rink where Yashiro and other kids are there – suddenly we see a truck which belongs to Jun and with Satoru worried he might be at the scene of a potential kill, he goes with Yashiro to chase him. He opens up the glove compartment of the car he was in before which had sweets to calm him down…
…and then sees sedatives.
Yep, indeed – it is Yashiro who is the killer and he began to realise that Satoru was somehow foiling his plans (though doesn’t understand how) so he is using a different car to before and drives it to a frozen lake to drown Satoru. As he leaves though, Satoru screams to him ‘I KNOW YOUR FUTURE’ which seems to resonate him with, after pretty much psychotic smirking throughout…
…cut to 2003. Satoru is still alive but was in a coma since that day – however thanks to an alive Sachiko, he has been kept alive and in shape, but has lost his memories. All his friends are grown up as we see Kenya and Hiromi as a lawyer and a doctor respectively, but the big one is Kayo who is the wife of Hiromi and has a child (of course, a lot of people were disappointed that Kayo didn’t end up with Satoru, but again, this is brilliant brought up as Kayo was wondering if she had the right to be happy with someone else and basically was given their blessing). The big thing is that Yashiro, now a politician under a different name knowing he has lost his memories comes to visit. The initial question is…how come he didn’t kill Satoru whilst in a coma, surely he would have had plenty of chances…well, he now tries to frame him for a potential death of a young leukaemia patient named Kumi…only to discover that after Kayo visited, Satoru regained his memories. So in a wheelchair on the roof and the two alone…
We see Yashiro’s motives as simply being the need to kill was for fulfilment – he is basically a clever psychopath and to be fair, the anime doesn’t really describe this as well as the manga (though in the anime’s defence, the character is a lot more conniving with his evil, the manga he is blatantly obvious) but the confrontation is interesting as it is clear that whilst Yashiro had chances to kill Satoru, he never did because he never figured him out, and thus couldn’t kill him – as he ‘completes’ him. Again, not the best explanation which maybe why the ending is a bit weaker than I hoped as he stops Satoru from going over the roof, but when he accidentally drops him, Yashiro prepares to take his own life. However, this was all planned – his friends were there to save him, Kumi was saved as well and Yashiro is finally arrested. We see the epilogue and a nice finale where Anri meets up with Satoru for the first time under the snow with a hint that the two may renew their friendship and more…
The show definitely has an impact to it – the feel of the solving of the mystery whilst trying to keep hidden his powers gives it an edge to it – sure there are some funny moments as well (Satoru’s mind reminding him he is 29 when his 11 year old body is saying otherwise) but the darkness and atmosphere of the show gives it a gripping edge. Satoru’s willpower both as a child and as an adult (when he’s learning to walk again and the way he ‘beats’ Yashiro) make him a very likeable protagonist and whilst he seems to suffer, the fact it doesn’t bother him when Kayo is with his friend, and congratulates her and that the epilogue suggests his life is much better than in the opening episode (he is a successful manga author compared to a failed one and works for a pizza place) means it feels like a good happy ending in the end. I am aware there are some deviations from the manga but it still works…for the most part.
I say for the most part as I did feel the reveal of the killer was one of those ‘it’s so obvious that it couldn’t be’ but Yashiro’s motives were definitely just mostly for the evils. Granted, he was a convincing character so he is still memorable – crazy, evil but also intelligent and the fact Satoru’s ways to stop him he could never get over so he couldn’t even kill him in his comatose state – it works to a degree but still feels a bit weak. That said, the fact Satoru was still one step ahead of him works on a meticulous level and whilst it was weaker than I hope, it still works as a conclusion.
The other bits were still excellent – Kayo’s mother getting what comes to her, Kayo crying over the breakfast, the fun bits looking after Aya, Satoru staying with Hiromi, (Kenya in particular is very likeable) the flashbacks of moments where Yashiro is getting frustrated – they all link together and you can see them from rewatching the series how it all connects. I still put this as one of the higher series of recent memory despite the slightly weak ending – Kayo in particular gets a ton of character development in the short time the series is from alone and aloof, to loving and sweet, and when you see what she has been through, you just wanna give her a hug….
Erased is not for everyone – I’m huge into mystery series as you probably have guessed by now so it hits my buttons – but I still would give it a shot as it draws you in, has likeable characters (Sachiko in particular rivals Sanae from Clannad as best mom in anime) and really gives you reason to believe in the cast. The killer reveal was surprising yet not, and whilst I think the motives could have been better, it still works and still highly recommend it.
Erased is one of those series that really is fantastic for most of it but you maybe divided on the ending as it finished a tad weak. Personally, I still liked the finale but it was what stopped it being an A instead of an A-. Everything else however clicked perfectly in the resolution of Kayo’s situation, stopping the murders, the reveal of the killer, and Satoru’s wake up from his coma. It is still one of my favourite series though the short length and price may deter some people from getting it, I still recommend to give it a shot.
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: A-
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Anime Ltd
Release Date: May 30th, 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.