Based on the manga, Erased is a fantasy/thriller anime that keeps its viewer on the edge of their seat for twelve captivating episodes. The story follows twenty-nine-year-old Satoru, an aspiring and slightly-depressed manga artist who has the uncontrolled ability to go back a few minutes in time to prevent accidents (E.g. car crashes). He occasionally gets injured in his attempts to ‘save the day’.
However, one of the disasters he prevents result in his mother being mysteriously murdered, and the police suspects him of being the culprit. Before he is arrested, his time-travel ability activates, sending him back in time further than just a few minutes, all the way to when he was ten-year-old. From this major jump, Satoru realises that his mother’s killer is somehow connected to a mysterious case in his childhood, where three kids were kidnapped and murdered. With his adult mind in his ten-year-old body, Satoru takes it upon himself to save the three kids and to uncover the identity of the psychotic perpetrator.
One of the main reasons why this anime is so brilliantly thrilling is that we are given enough information to be ‘on the lookout’ for the plot’s antagonist from the very beginning. While Satoru is seemingly unaware of the killer’s identity, the show provides us with subtle clues, such as a few basic physical features and that the killer somehow knows the main character. However, this is how the show is slightly flawed. With every episode, more clues are unraveled, which gives us a greater chance of figuring out the murderer’s identity before the ultimate reveal. Nevertheless, we are unprepared for how events play out, which is one of the anime’s major strength, as it constantly leaves us in suspense.
Another feature that makes Erased worth watching is the character development within Satoru. At the beginning we see him as cynical man going through the motions, participating in very little activities in life. When he is not saving people with his time-jumping ability, he works at a pizza place, or is brooding at home about his absent manga career. However, he begins to change when given the purpose to save the kids from his childhood. He becomes more engaged, as he develops a social circle and ultimately finds himself caring about more than his own misery. This development encourages us to care about Satoru, and hope that he succeeds in his life-threatening mission.
While the element of time-travel traditionally falls into the sci-fi genre, it characterises Erased as a fantasy. There is no apparent reason for Satoru’s ability to jump time, nor does he have any control over this power. It looks as though every journey in time is triggered by some force in the universe, for Satoru sees an unnaturally-blue butterfly as a warning before he travels time. Since it can’t be properly explained, the show takes away the headache of finding logical loopholes and inconsistencies of the time jumps. Ultimately, time-travel is used as a useful tool in this anime, rather than being a part of a theme.
Overall, Erased is a great anime for anyone interested in an original story with top-notch mystery. The show constantly keeps the viewer investigative, emotionally invested in the characters, and in suspense. It was released in January 2016, and is available in English dubbed and subtitled.