Winter 2016 was a strong season in anime with fantastic worlds, hilarious comedies, and some of the finest storytelling I’ve beheld in a while. With this knowledge it should come as a surprise then that it was so very easy for me to pick out my number one show of the season. Erased blew most of the other shows out of the water this season with some of the most sublime storytelling I’ve witnessed in a long time. Dark, mysterious, and ever calling out to our inner detective this winter anime left me wanting more week-to-week, and concluded in one of the most perfect endings I’ve ever seen. If you’re using this review to gauge whether or not you should watch it, you need not scroll down to the superfluous rating. Go watch it now. However, if you’re here to get my opinion on this anime then please enjoy my review on…
Erased came to the anime viewing public this winter from the acclaimed studio A-1 Pictures. The animation style is certainly in keeping with the lauded studio, and the gravity of the show is in keeping with A-1 Pictures winter show of last year (Your Lie in April). From episode one it was clear that this wasn’t going to be a show to sleep on week-to-week. The pace of the show left me in awe, and the constant cliff hangers at the end of just every episode left me on the edge of my computer chair. The “who-done-it” type mystery is not at all new to the anime genre, but the addition of serious issues really gives the show punch. Subjects like child abuse and bullying are complimented by a dreary color scheme that really makes Erased stand out as one of the greats in the mystery genre.
[Opening Spoilers] The story of Erased begins with an unassuming man named Satoru Fujinuma, who has an odd ability to time travel. Unlike other time travelers in fiction, Satoru is only able to do so when something bad happens, and only for a few seconds in the past to correct it. This ability he calls revival. In the first episode we are introduced to Satoru’s mother (Sachiko), and his co-worker (Airi Katagiri). In this time line, a murderer from Satoru’s childhood returns to torment Satoru, but Sachiko recognizes him and attempts to finger him for his past crimes. However, before she is able to contact authorities this unknown person kills her. Satoru comes home to his mother’s corpse, and is instantly identified as the primary suspect. When the police approach him to take him in, and his hysteria is at it’s peak, Satoru finds himself traveling through time with revival again.
[Spoilers Still] Satoru wakes up in 1988 as a 10 (almost 11) year old boy. He realizes that in order to save his mother in the present, he must first save his classmates in the past, and to do this he’ll have to expose the murderer. With this knowledge Satoru moves quickly to attempt to befriend Kayo Hinazuki, a little girl who was the first victim in his original timeline. Through a little compassion, and the help of his friends, Satoru is able to slowly erode the walls around Kayo’s heart to make her a friend. Was he able to save this girl? Could he save the other two victims? Well I’m not telling you, go watch it!
Yes, dear reader, I am taking a different approach here and not telling you how this anime ends. After all if you haven’t seen this anime, and you’re simply here to see whether or not you should watch it (you should), then all you need to do is scroll to the bottom for my rating. If however you have seen this anime, then you have no reason for me to tell you what you already know. Instead I will elaborate on this shows strengths and weaknesses as I see them. After all I’m not here to narrate the anime to you. You’d have to pay me for that, and I don’t come cheap.
If you have listened to the Anime Arcade podcast (and you should), or read any of our social media posts (and you should), you’d know that this show was a major topic of discussion for us this season. Mystery shows by there very nature are conducive to discussion, but Erased was a cut above the rest. Every episode ended in a cliffhanger that left us guessing at the next week’s events, and the subtle hints dropped in each episode only stoked the flames of fan discourse. The emotional scenes of the show call out to your paternal/maternal instincts, and they have driven many an anime fan to tears with their simple beauty. All these factors are compounded by the well illustrated backgrounds, and the mood setting soundtrack to pull you into the show episode-to-episode.
This isn’t to say that Erased is completely without its flaws though. For starters the 12 episode format somewhat hampered the story in my opinion. The story focused the most on solving the issues with Hinazuki, and the other three murder victims were given small parts of episodes that saved them from their impending deaths. I would have liked to see a little more story about the last potential victim, and why it was that she was that she was always by herself. The other problem I have (looking back) is that the show really didn’t give us many potential killers to go off of. If the person they chose wasn’t the murderer, then there was a VERY small pool of potential other candidates. Still, for these small discrepancies the show still shined in it’s time, and I’m still willing to call it the best show of Winter 2016!
TL;DR If you’re looking for a near perfect mystery anime, then you need look no further. Erased will keep you on the edge of your seat each episode, and leave you with an incredible sense of satisfaction at the end. While it might not be an anime you’ll return to often, it’s one that you won’t soon forget. Seriously, watch this show.
Recommended Audiences: I’d say that this is more of a teen to adult show. While nothing explicit happens, the themes of this show might be a little too difficult for kids to handle. Plus the violence in the show might bring up some awkward questions from a younger audience.
Erased uses revival to retain a pristine 5/5 HP!
Watch it today on Crunchyroll!
What’s your take on Erased? Love it, or really love it? Let us know on our various social media pages (new Facebook page coming soon), or in the comments below! Only two more reviews coming from me, but look forward to more from the Anime Arcade crew as well as a new episode of our podcast. Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you enjoy Erased! It really is a fantastic show.