It’s not often an anime like ERASED comes along. A series that blows all expectations one could reasonably have for an episode of television out of the window, one that so thoroughly reshapes the entire landscape of the medium so much so that it is immediately the benchmark of excellence that everything else is to be held up against. ERASED does that in its all too brief yet utterly breathtaking 23 minute pilot episode, an episode I believe will be held in high regard in years to come as one of the all time best first episodes in anime.
ERASED follows Satoru Fujinuma, a down on his luck manga artist who has become disillusioned with the world around him and struggles to explore the heart of his own mind for fear of what may be waiting for him. He has the burden of being subjected to a phenomenon he calls ‘Revival’ which forces him to relive an event until he alters fate in one way or another. How this happened to occur to him is a mystery to both the audience and our protagonist, all that is for certain is that Satoru has a second chance and the value of that is immeasurable.
Satoru has mostly used the Revival up until this point to help others, often reluctantly and has at times even saved lives. It is his inherent regret that seemingly has caused this phenomenon to manifest and it is a regret that spans back to his childhood. At a young age, several children in Satoru’s town were abducted and murdered and he holds it close to his heart that he could have done something, that he could have saved them, yet he did nothing.
That past ultimately comes back to haunt him and the series really kicks into gear with a mystery of great intrigue. Information arises that the man who was put away as the supposed killer may in fact have been innocent all along. This is where ERASED turns things up to eleven, setting the stage for the twists and turns that are sure to follow.
The idea of wishing desperately to have a second chance or to undo the wrongs that have been done is something that is an inherent part of being human. That second chance is always just out of grasp for us but in the case of Satoru that redo is a genuine possibility. If you had a second chance, what would you do with it? That is the central question ERASED raises and through Satoru we see that changing fate isn’t just a possibility, it is a necessity for him.
With high stakes, a worth mystery and superb character development and emotional beats, ERASED is like poetry in motion, at times feeling like a modern take on a Shakespearean tragedy and an exploration into the very psychology behind human regret.
I couldn’t help but be swept up in its story and find myself almost immediately attached to these characters and while a lot of ground is covered in this first episode it never feels incomprehensible. The show knows how much to tell you and how much to keep to its chest. With deft pacing the show never feels like it is moving too fast to feel or too slow to care, it hits the perfect sweet spot and manages to tell a lot in its 23 minute run time.
Also I must say, surely I am not the only one absolutely chuffed about legendary J-Rock band Asian Kung-Fu Generation rerecording their classic song Re:Re for the series opening. It is literally the perfect song for this series and I couldn’t be happier to see one of my favourite J-Rock groups back in the anime song scene and especially for a series of high a caliber as this.
This kind of anime doesn’t come by often, truly profound and affecting viewing and when it does it often flies under the radar unnoticed. There aren’t many anime studios out there that have the courage to produce a series like this, one that treats its viewers with a level of intelligence and challenges their perceptions at every turn. ERASED is easily the best damn thing this season, truly captivating and compelling anime at its finest. This is a series that we will be talking about in years to come, mark my words. ERASED/Boku Dake ga Inai Machi is a very special anime series and an honest to goodness masterpiece. If you’re not watching it, you’re missing out.
You can watch ERASED on AnimeLab here.