Time travel stories are extremely hard to tell well. It’s one of those mechanics that’s easy to use but will wreck your story if implemented poorly. If you don’t believe me then tell me an anime series or ANY form of entertainment that does this well. Normally this is where I would tell you “I’ll wait” and give you a moment to look but there is no need. You will not find one. Many can argue that Steins; Gate was the best series to handle time travel but let’s talk about one that made a valid attempt. Erased.
Erased centers around our main protagonist, Satoru Fujinuma. He is a 29-year-old manga artist that works as a pizza delivery driver to make ends meet. I may have forgotten to tell you that he occasionally saves people with a special ability called Revival. I know what you are thinking but no this is not at all similar to Subaru’s Return from Death ability from Re: ZERO. Revival gives Satoru the ability to go back in time with no real control over when the ability is triggered. When Satoru is wrongfully accused of murdering someone close to him Revival is triggered, sending him further than he has ever been, 18 years into the past. Satoru soon learns that the murder of his loved one is also connected to abduction and murders of many of his classmates. In order to save someone close to him, Satoru must stop the murders that happened 18 years.
If you have not watched this series, move forward at your own risk.
There are spoilers ahead! You have been warned.
One thing I do want to talk about first is Revival itself. This ability is very interesting and holds this story together for many reasons. As I mentioned in the beginning of this review, time travel stories are extremely hard. The reason why this series is more successful than most with time travel is the lack of explanation. Revival takes him back in time and is triggered randomly. Specific events trigger it with no effort from Satoru. It just happens. Do they ever explain how it works? No. Not at all. This is good. If this was any other story I probably would have been extremely annoyed but it just works. For you to take on a time travel murder mystery, how are you going to fit in the time to explain how Revival works? You just place it in the story and let the murder mystery aspect take priority.
As a murder mystery time travel story this series is great. The beginning of the series will continuously leave you with cliffhangers that become very infuriating. A sign of success in the murder mystery genre. I don’t know about you guys but I am a huge fan of Detective Conan and you know what always pissed me off? The damn cliff hangers! At least with this series you don’t get a hint at the end of the episode that will help you identify who the murderer is. The last thing you would want to see is Satoru shooting a detective in the neck with tranquilizer darts from his watch and pulling out a voice changer bow tie to solve the crime. I am straying from the point. Erased is a great murder mystery time travel story mostly because there are not many to compare it to(if any).
As a murder mystery, however, this is a bad series. As I mentioned before, huge Detective Conan fan here. What makes a murder story or murder case? The victim(s), suspects and motive. With a lack of suspects, this series is extremely predictable. The only time this is okay is a locked room murder, and that is a stretch because it is no fun if there’s only one suspect. In one of the later episodes, they make an attempted to clear suspicion from the only suspect in the series. This completely flopped since they did not introduce any other suspects and even failed to give enough screen time to the only other options available. This was extremely lazy and constantly made me question if the writer thought I wasn’t smart enough to put together a puzzle with only two pieces.
While this series may have flaws, it also has many redeeming qualities. There are two extremely well-executed scenes that make the flaws forgettable. One scene was nominated(completely robbed) for an award during the Crunchyroll first annual Anime Awards. The cinematography, initial pacing and use of film strips to represent revival and time are what make this series great for first time anime watchers. Also the use of Asian Kung-fu Generation’s song “Re: Re” was brilliant. The majority of the time, anime studios just get whoever is popular at the time to create the song for the OP and take scenes from the series to animate it. The studio even went out of their way to make changes to the OP to reflect what was currently going on. Well done.
I believe it is time to wrap this up. I do strongly recommend watching this series. It is a well-made anime with minor flaws. I can even recommend purchasing the Blu-ray(If it drops in price). The series will age well and years from now, you will be able to show your non-otaku friends a series they will enjoy. Thank you for reading this article and let me know what you think about “Erased” in the comments below!