Before going into the post, I think I should properly introduce myself to the BAYOG audience.
I’m Minty, and I’ll be writing posts on “real people stuffs” (as Nick puts it) for BAYOG.
I consider myself an Asian film and drama veteran. I’ve watched them for as long as I remember, but got really into Asian dramas around middle school. I will admit that I usually stuck to the more girly kind of series; Be it manga, anime, dramas, or movies. Most of the popular dramas and movies are in fact based from manga and webtoons (and novels as well). They’re typically shoujo stories: very sweet, romantic, and aimed towards younger girls. As I’ve gotten older and matured, I’ve delved into other genres. I’m a romantic and still enjoy cute and sweet stories, but the -overly- saccharine and naïve make me cringe. Like I feel like I got diabetes from all that… Some people have a book club, and I have a drama circle. We basically break down and analyze characters, complain about lack of common sense and logic, and complain about issues regarding the plot.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the main topic of this post! Today I’ll be talking about Erased (Boku Dake ga Inai Machi, or “The Town Where Only I Am Missing”), specifically the live action movie. Based on the seinen/mystery manga of the same name, this movie was released in March 2016. The title may be familiar as the anime adaptation aired from January to March 2016. Netflix decided to do a live action drama that has been released December 15, 2017. I really enjoyed the manga, so I was excited for the anime and movie. I enjoyed the anime, though not as much as a manga. I was a bit disappointed by the movie, although I have high hopes for the Netflix adaption. I plan to talk about the Netflix adaption, but I honestly needed time to watch the series. Therefore, I’ll be talking about the live action movie in this post, and the Netflix series in my next post!
The plot is basically the same as the manga and anime. The story follows Satoru Fujinuma, a 28-29 year old aspiring mangaka who works part-time as a pizza deliveryman. He somehow has the ability to suddenly go back in time, moments before life-threatening incidents. It basically allows him to prevent the incidents from happening. He calls this phenomenon a “revival”. Things take a turn when his mother is murdered by an unknown assailant. Satoru is suspected of being the murderer, though there seems to be a connection to a serial kidnapping and murder case from Satoru’s childhood. The revival phenomenon kicks in. However, his ability has suddenly sent him back to his childhood years as his elementary school self. With this revival Satoru works with his childhood friends to try to not only prevent the tragedies of the past, prevent his mother’s murder, set things right, and get justice.
As far as the movie goes, the first half wasn’t that bad. I wasn’t loving it, but I didn’t have any problems with it. It was actually a pretty decent depiction of the original material. As expected though, it did have some things cut out. I first watched the movie on a flight back in October 2016. I honestly didn’t remember much of it, but I did remember not exactly loving it. It’s December 2017, and I’m re-watching the movie for this post. Now it’s been a while since I read the manga and watched the anime, so the details are a bit fuzzy to me. I decided to watch it while such details were fuzzy, just to be fair. I wanted to see how the movie might’ve been for someone who was unfamiliar with the manga or anime. It’s understandable that film and drama adaptations cut things out in order to make everything fit. However, I absolutely hate when -key- things are cut out and I’m left wondering “WTF just happened?” It’s like you immerse yourself in this story, but suddenly get taken out because of utter confusion. It ruins the flow when you get confused and are like “Did I miss something???” Not to mention it cuts the depth the characters and really weakens the story.
I also want to mention that adult Satoru Fujinuma was played by Tatsuya Fujiwara. He’s been in several famous works like Battle Royale. Being a drama and film addict, all I could think was that this was the dude who played Light in the Death Note movies and Shishio in the recent Rurouni Kenshin movies. Tatsuya Fujiwara is a good actor, but I felt he just looked a bit old since he is in his mid-late 30’s. Still, everyone’s acting was pretty good.
With child actors, there’s a risk of the acting being mediocre and ultimately ruining the movie. However, the child actors here did a fantastic job. I really liked the little kid who played young Satoru. The kid was an adorable little marshmallow. I don’t like children (though children love me). I thought this kid was just so pure and sweet! I’d want him as my nephew or younger cousin.
The girl who played Kayo also did a great job as well. There’s a scene where she stays over at the Fujinuma’s and wakes up to a warm, homemade breakfast. She looks stunned and cries as she eats. She did such a great portrayal of a neglected and abused child that suddenly felt a kind, warm gesture of love. I admit it, I teared up a bit for her.
I also loved Kasumi Arimura who played Airi Katagiri, Satoru’s co-worker from the pizza place. I loved Kasumi from the SPEC series (basically my other favorite Japanese drama and movie series). She was really adorable here, and I thought her portrayal of Airi was great. She was kind, upbeat, and always on Satoru’s side. She fit exactly how I had imagined Katagiri to be. Though I wished there was a bit more of Airi in the later half.
Warning: Some Spoilers Ahead
I felt like the end was a mess. Remember when I said I hated being suddenly confused when key things are left out and ruins the flow? Yeah. That’s what happened several times. One key thing I was disappointed in was that they cut out the part about Satoru having been in a coma. Originally he figured out the culprit and thwarted his plans. The culprit then attempts to kill Satoru in a freezing river. He survived, but ended up in a coma for several years. This is how he wakes up to the present time. In the movie, he wakes up to the present time after a small car accident. He seems to have lived just fine between that time and the present. In other words: there was a plot hole regarding the timeline between the attempt to kill Satoru and the present. It just led to a bunch of questions, such as “Why didn’t anyone bother catching the bad guy during that period???” Speaking of the culprit, I felt that his backstory and excuse was pretty weak and almost non-existent. I felt like much of that character was cut and everything was crammed into 30 seconds. It felt very shallow, especially when compared to the original material. I also felt like the friends weren’t really as involved as the original series. Sure Kenya plays a bit of a role still, but he wasn’t as invested in everything like the manga and anime. His role in the movie seemed so brief and minor. The other friends were honestly just background characters. I liked the characters and wished they had played bigger and more involved parts in everything. Their roles and involvement were nonexistent or just little blips. They really built up Satotu and Kayo’s relationship, but didn’t really bother with everyone else. It’s a shame since friendship played a big role in Erased.
The movie also cut out the depth of the relationship between Satoru and Jun Shiratori, the innocent guy framed for the murders. I think he played a big role, but the movie chalked up his presence to such a brief appearance that I almost forgot about him. Its a shame considering the effect and role he had on Satoru. What I had enjoyed about the original story were the relationships between the characters. I liked seeing character development, and seeing how Satoru’s actions impacted everyone who had been affected by those incidents. Sure the anime had some things cut out too, but the movie lacked so much more than it’s anime counterpart. There were some other changes and things I was really unsatisfied about; particularly the actual ending. I’ll refrain from going into that though, because I don’t want to spoil too much. I will admit that after watching it a second time, it wasn’t -as terrible- as I had remembered it. I just felt like there could’ve been more. Especially during the end. Overall though, I just felt that the ending was inconsistent, half-assed and unfulfilling. Honestly, if not for the ending I would’ve thought it was actually a decent live adaptation. If you decide to watch it, just be warned that you may not like the ending either.
When I heard Netflix was making a live action drama of Erased, I wasn’t sure how I felt at first. I was one of the people who felt (hella) disappointed in the Netflix adaptation of Death Note. However, I saw the trailer for Netflix’s Erased and changed my mind. It actually looked pretty good, at least better than the movie. So I’m looking forward to the drama, and I’m looking forward to reporting about it to you guys in my next post!