Satoru Fujinuma seems like a misguided millennial: he’s a 29 year old pizza delivery boy (man?) who also draws manga, but with little success commercially. Aside from his rather mundane day-to-day life, he does possess a unique ability: to go back in time just before a negative incident would take place and attempt to correct it. He calls the ability “revival”, and uses it to prevent tragedy whenever he can. After a particularly devastating tragedy in his own life, his revival ability transports him back 18 years. Now, in his younger body, he must attempt to get to the bottom of the kidnapping and murder of two of his classmates.
From the start, Erased does a fantastic job of establishing the viewers relationship with our protagonist, Satoru. His opening dialogue resonated with me in particular, maybe because I’m close to his age and can understand some of his musings on his life and passions. Regardless, it’s a good sign when the show would be interesting enough without throwing in the supernatural concept of time-travel. Yes, Satoru is a dry character…he’s not a boisterous and arrogant hero, and that’s okay. I especially appreciate the fact that he’s a bit older, as it’s a refreshing change of pace from your run-of-the-mill high school heroes.
The depth of Satoru’s character that they’re able to reveal in a single episode is impressive. Following the reveal of his ability, Satoru finds himself in the hospital and confides in a co-worker that there’s nobody worth calling about his injuries. Ok, so he’s a loner. Oh wait, the next scene introduces his mom, and right away we can see where Satoru gets a lot of his personality. The relationship doesn’t make you feel warm and fuzzy all over per se; it’s a very real relationship, and the dialogue does a lot to build it up in just 5-10 minutes.
If Satoru’s character development wasn’t enough to hook you, the construction and execution of the story will absolute finish the job. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details, but in the case of Erased, the details is what makes this show stand apart. Faces caught at a glance, names that are familiar but distant, brief shots of characters you otherwise think are unimportant…these are nuggets and crumbs of a larger story that seems much more purposeful in its design. The mystery elements are certainly strong, but the scenes that make it a thriller are even more expertly crafted. I’m sure in the forthcoming episodes there will no doubt be scenarios that Satoru finds himself in, now in a much smaller and vulnerable frame, that will have our stomach in knots as we sit on the edge of our seats.
Overall, Erased is a fantastically paced thriller that builds its foundation purposefully and with great skill. Its effectiveness as a thriller is matched by its terrific animation style and notably impressive voice acting. If you only have time for one show this season, Erased is the show to watch.