(Originally written on April 10, 2018)
If you could travel back in time to prevent terrible things from happening…would you?
In the anime series Erased (aka The Town Without Me), this question is what drives the narrative. The main protagonist, Satoru Fujinuma, has the uncanny ability to travel back in time mere moments before something life-threatening happens (either to someone else or himself). Being the 'noble' guy he is and after he travels backwards in time, Satoru finds himself frantically searching for any clues or hints in order to prevent any potential terrible situations from occurring.
It is when he becomes framed for a crime that his ability unexpectedly kicks into overdrive, sending him back in time not minutes or hours, but years. Satoru finds himself at the center of a mystery that continues to unravel the more he plunges himself deeper into it. Sharing any more than this would only spoil the rest of the show.
Erased is a show filled with mystery, consequences, and the drive to present a story that continues to pique one’s curiosity about where it’s all headed. With its various characters and plot threads, the show does an admirable job of keeping you engaged. Almost every episode ends with the feeling that something is still unresolved, but in an effective way that leaves viewers wanting to continue watching.
It also does a great job introducing many supporting characters who bring some moments of levity in an otherwise serious story. Every character presented (except for maybe one or two) has a purpose within the narrative. Though some have larger roles than others, they all combine in a cohesive way.
I was impressed at how much storytelling was packed into only 12 episodes. It was able to incorporate an ensemble of characters, a plot that isn’t always straightforward, and other elements that tie it all together. Though there is a heavy atmosphere surrounding the story as it explores things like abuse, broken relationships and possible disappearances, the positive side is also present with themes such as justice, lasting friendships and wanting to save people.
In a way, the parallel of how Satoru and the plot both dive headfirst into these circumstances to find a proper resolution to prevent a horrible outcome, is intriguing.
If you’re looking for an anime to watch that isn’t all about big action or outlandish characters, I highly recommend you watch Erased. It doesn’t matter if you watch it in Japanese or English, just as long as you watch it legally. Support the things you enjoy!
- A. Shin