This is part of a series of re-posts of older reviews on 100 Word Anime. The original review came out in August 2016 and can be found here.
I first watched Erased when it aired and it was an anime everyone was talking about. Being apart of the conversation was fantastic particularly as it was a bit of a mystery so we all got to sit around on social media speculating about where it was going. That said, there was a lot of hype going on at the time and there was also a wave of enthusiasm around it.
Going to be honest, I loved this anime then and I still really like it now. But it was an anime that benefited from going in cold, having to wait each week and being able to mull over what you’d learned and where it might be going and to engage in those conversations, and it also just benefited from the community behind it. In the absence of those things, Erased ends up being good enough, and still tells a fairly good story with interesting characters, but a lot of the ‘magic’ is kind of gone. The live action series is fairly solid as well though if you’d like to try the story again but a little bit differently (apparently it follows the manga closer or something like that).
Though, it is a mystery anime which makes any kind of review hard. Particularly a re-visited review. There’s only so much you can say without giving the game away, particularly in a mystery like this one where it already seems pretty easy to figure out where things are going. Ultimately, mystery is a poor label to give this one. While technically the main character is playing ‘Whodunit’ the audience can figure it out far too easily and while the reveal is still very worth the price of admission, if that was all there was to Erased it would be a fairly easy to dismiss.
The plot however works well. The tie-in of the mystery with Satoru’s ability of revival is well managed and while they don’t explain the phenomenon, it almost doesn’t need to be. It is established that he can and does jump back in time and they use it appropriately as a vehicle to keep the story moving. Any explanation would have been pretty silly anyway so passing on that and just letting it go was actually the better option. And it does allow for a compelling story with a villain returning after a considerable length of time and seeing adult and child Satoru attempt to overcome his schemes with limited knowledge and at first few allies.
I’m not changing this next paragraph because I stand by it entirely from the original review.
“With Erased, it is the characters who sell the show. And even then you couldn’t point to anyone character and say that character is amazing. A lot of people liked Satoru’s mum but I found her one of the least interesting characters because she really didn’t seem like a realistic mother and was more a plot device that existed only to Satoru the advice he needed when he needed it, cause him distress with her death in the original timeline, and filled in any parts of the plot that you really couldn’t expect a child to succeed at overcoming. The friends Satoru has as a child are also a little off and at times serve no purpose. The first potential child victim is interesting but not overly believable as a character. However all of these characters complement each other perfectly and create a show that has a lot of heart and at times emotional depth. Even if they don’t shut up and like to endlessly articulate things that really don’t need to be said.”
Erased is a fun story. It isn’t an edge of your seat thriller but it will get you caught up in the mystery even after you figure it out and the characters will warm your heart. The OP is amazing so be sure to listen to it, and some of the visuals are really beautiful. Ultimately, Erased is an anime where lots of small details and moments add up to something that feels great to watch even though there are some issues with pacing, the ability to believe the plot, and the overall mystery falls a little short. Still, two years on I would still firmly recommend this anime for those who have never seen it.