Erased (Winter 2016) – Murder Mitten

“Erased” is a tale about loss, revival, and the butterfly effect. To quote Jimmy Gator from “Magnolia“: “we might be through the past, but the past isn’t through with us”. It’s another story for Shinnosuke Mitsushima as Satoru Fujinima. He can travel back in time but not many people know maybe except his mother. He can travel back to the past to the future with the help of a fragment of memories. It’s a blue butterfly by the way. The protagonist can correct the mistakes he has made in the past. In essence, he got a miracle that is the second chance. His ability to travel in time is a unique power but there is a consequence he must maintain as well. Whether his friends, family, himself, there is a bet on the table.

To begin with, this is a psychological thriller by A-1 Pictures. It’s a tale about the protagonist’s life and responsibilities to such an event. He is a cynical guy but behaves normally in general. However, such a strange event can make it intense yet so curious. The first episode concludes this very well. There is a fragment when he successfully prevents an accident. After that, he found himself, and his mother, killed by a psychopath. Awakened consciously, the ratio of the screen changes, noticeable that this is the past. The psychopath connected with his past as well as he found himself in his graduate school.

In terms of storytelling, this is one of the unique shows. It’s a combination between “The Butterfly Effect“, “Donnie Darko“, and so many more. The first to three episodes introduce how an event, memories and narrative can work. It’s interesting for a story theme like this and this show did it well. It’s a tale about family relationships especially between the protagonist and his mother. Then you get an important character, Aoi Yuuki as Kayo Hinazuki. She is a lonely young girl where she died in the current timeline. In addition to the protagonist relationship, the show introduces the main protagonist and heroine relationship. You also know that Kayo’s mother is abusive and manipulative.

To conclude my honest feeling, I love this show. But, the problem of the show lies in an overreacting from the characters. Yes, time-travel isn’t something new. But, there is a line why people appreciate it the most. In this show, everything is completely random. It allows you to predict how comes the protagonist chooses his decision or where it goes in the future. To compare with “Primer“, one of the most ambitious films about time travel, both of them are subtle. “Primer” never shows how the pay-off clearly until you have to watch it closely. In “Erased”, clearly when the theme is only able to develop the protagonist and all the characters to improve more. Simply because we anticipate more outcoming rather than making a change into the direction and narrative.

For instance, the protagonist can prevent various events from creating a new timeline in the future and past. Maybe because the protagonist never made a mistake. Maybe the manga has more things to do with the protagonist. It’s rather than he did everything in one try. In this show, it’s so apparent with the protagonist’s decision. So, to conclude, the protagonist can only take one choice he already knows is wrong. The choice is to protect Hinazuki. Not others or not prevent such terrible events in the current events. I know everything leads between Hinazuki, the psychopath, and the current events. I mean, it’s not a noticeable mistake.

Another issue with this anime is the purpose of the protagonist. We know that Satoru is another typical otaku protagonist. He snuck into the past to prevent terrifying events in the future. But, it’s just the protagonist sneaking into the past with no clear goal. We know in the first episode to prevent the psychopath from killing his mother. Turns out, the story drives the protagonist by his circumstance. The show probably has a good romance, especially between Satoru and Hinazuki. It’s too narrow when try to tell another space. Yeah, I know. It’s because everything has a red thread from the first to the last episode.

I don’t want to be a guy who knows everything from the first episode. Yeah, we know who was the mastermind behind all these scenes. The psychopath feels like didn’t do many things besides we saw all these in the protagonist’s mind. Yet, it’s another great one-dimensional villain. In terms of the decision, the antagonist picks the worse decision in so many ways. You also see a lot of foreshadowing and hints in every scene. But, the point of the show and the center is probably the stoicism girl, Hinazuki. It’s a nice development when she transforms from soulless characters into the most kind of person. Except for the ending which many people pissed off. But, I get it, I get it because that’s how humans are.

One of the best things about this show as well as the animation and the soundtrack. The animation portrayed very well the current event and the past. It’s like watching a movie in a cinema. The art portrays different states of our feelings and physical conditions of the characters psychologically. The expression is genuine as for the design characters. They don’t show the antagonist directly either. And the opening and ending theme songs are the best especially the Asian Kung-Fu Generation one. The score fits with its moment and scene. It’s sad, thrilling, melancholic, etc. A well-crafted aspect, offering us with its themes because of these aspects.

“Erased” has so many things to talk about, has potential at the beginning yet fails from its premise. Not the majority of the issue but instead, it’s another take to a minor issue. While the direction of this anime is strong, I also enjoy the show. On the other hand, it’s just lacking any of the key elements like the characters, the story, and the theme. An interesting take with its theme would be better if more complicated. I mean, I don’t hate the ending personally. But, this is another ride and experience of the rollercoaster.

3 out of 5 stars.

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