Anime · Uncategorized

Erased: A Mystery Anime, or a Coming of Age Story

Disclaimer:  Major Erased spoilers will be below!

 

There’s a reason why I generally don’t review anime, and it’s because I have a hard time talking about it other than “I liked this a lot!” or “It was ok/eh it sucked”.  But when there’s a certain show that has really interesting themes and some deeper topic I can dissect that isn’t just a straight up review, I tend to want to write about it.  I found that in Erased, so time to dive in!
Erased was super popular in Spring of 2016, and I had always planned to watch it but never got to it.  I watched it this weekend with a friend, and wow was it amazing!  I was watching on Twitter when the show was airing and seeing all the hype, and after watching it something in particular from seeing people talk about the mystery falling a bit flat stuck out to me.  I saw a lot of “The killer reveal was lame” or “The mystery wound up being blah” comments but after watching, I came to this conclusion.

 

This show isn’t about the mystery.

 

 

This show is so much more than a crime drama, find out who the killer is anime.  This show, when you look past the mystery, is about the connections we make as people.  Look at Satoru, pre-revival:  he was detached, just going through the motions of life because he had to.  Not working at the job he wanted, not knowing about his old friends, just a shell of a person.  When he hops back to 1988 the first time, he feels like he has to do everything alone because that’s just how he’s lived his life.

 

Jump back to 2006, and he’s changed a bit.  Willing to take Iri’s help, willing to go to other people.  It may bite him in the butt at times, but when he wants to go back, he goes back because he genuinely cares about the people in his past and wants to go back and set things right.  And, after going back, he is willing to take help from Kenya and his other friends because after banging his head against the wall trying to go alone, he realizes he can’t do it.

When I first saw that the timeline that was going to stick was the one where Satoru was in a 15 year coma, it seemed so bittersweet.  He had lost years of his life because of some jerk of a killer, but seeing how that effected his friends, how just living the life he had before the fact the way he did it in turn effected them.  Because he didn’t isolate himself like he did the first time through, they loved him enough, and were genuinely effected enough by his accident because of how much he cared for everyone around him, that it didn’t matter he wasn’t there, and was in his coma:  because he never was truly gone, he was always with his friends.  And in the end, that care, that love is what caught the killer, because they all still cared about each other, and continued to do so after the fact.  They were willing to help Satoru with anything no matter what, because he had fostered such genuine, sincere relationships with them before, and in the end, that is what caught the killer.  It had nothing to do with outsmarting him, but simply was boiled down to Satoru had friends who cared and wouldn’t let him do something of that magnitude alone, and the killer was the exact opposite.

 

The mystery in Erased is flawed, sure.  I figured out who it was within the first few episodes.  But the show isn’t really about that.  At its core, it’s about the subject of loneliness, and how someone thinking they’re better off alone is usually false.  It’s a way to protect themselves from getting hurt in the end, and lowering those barriers truly are what make your life worth living.  Because everyone is flawed, everyone is hurting, and no one should truly be alone in their misery.  You truly can’t live without caring for others, and in turn having them care for you.

 

I love this anime.  It’s a beautiful coming of age story, underneath the guise of a murder mystery.  The themes of self-worth, trusting others, and overcoming your insecurities is so prevalent in this anime that in the end I don’t even think the writers were focusing on making the culprit  unobvious.  It was more about Satoru’s journey.  It’s a great anime that if you haven’t seen, I highly recommend you do, it’s a lovely story.

 

Have you watched Erased?  Would love to know your thoughts about the series in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “Erased: A Mystery Anime, or a Coming of Age Story

  1. I have kind of a complicated relationship with Erased.

    On the one hand I thought it was a good show. It did do a good job of showing how it was important for Satoru to rely on his friends and his mom to help him save Kayo and the others when he couldn’t do it himself. While this aspect of it didn’t come through as strongly for me when I watched it the first time, reviews like yours help me see how this was really the central theme of it all along.

    What gets me is that despite the mystery not being the point of the story, the show acted like it was for 10 episodes. Like any decent mystery there were a lot of red herrings, but was the plot itself one of them?

    It tries its hardest to look like a mystery, complete with the “suspense gong” at the end of many episodes. I covered some of this in the Final Thoughts section of my own review for this show, but to summarize: this is what made the show such a big hit while it was airing. No one watched episodes 1-6 thinking “there is some really meaningful development with Satoru.” The mystery sold the show, then we got the “switch” part of “bait & switch.”

    I’m not saying the overall message was bad. It’s a good moral that feels thematically appropriate. It was the execution that I scratch my head over. What was the point of the hamster story and the story about the spider’s thread? No one was stepping on top of others to ensure their own survival as far a I could tell. The killer was simply preying on solitude. Plus, if they didn’t care so much about making this a mystery they could/should have done more to contrast his mindset with Satoru’s prior to that last 10 minutes of the series.

    I can fully accept and appreciate the positive sides of Erased, but that jarring shift makes it hard for me to feel like the direction was the most well thought out process.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah I totally get that. I was watching it with a friend and after we finished we started talking about the show and we both agreed that they weren’t even trying ot hide who was doing the murders at a certain point in the story and were focusing on the more human aspects of things. I’m way more into character pieces than mysteries so I didn’t really notice the shift as much but I can see that being jarring. I wonder if they had showed a bit more of the motivations of the killer early on it would have been more effective? One of my bigger complaints was the motivations of the killer were just so basic, I was hoping it would have been more psychologically based but it really was just heeeey I’m a serial killer cuz…crazy. I agree it would have been way more interesting if we had the killer as a foil to Satoru, or maybe some sort of cautionary tale that wasn’t just thrown at us in the last 3 episodes haha.

    I heard the whole spider parallels were something to do with Japanese folk lore? But once again it really didn’t make much sense even after looking up some backstory from the manga lol. That was the clunkiest part of the show for me tbh, like I really wish we could have had an episode dedicated to the psyche of the serial killer or something to flesh it out a teeeny bit more, but that’s what we get with 12 episode anime sometimes sadly XD

    Liked by 1 person

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