I finished watching ERASED (or Boku dake ga Inai Machi).
I have to admit that it was one of the best television shows I have ever watched. (I would say anime, except that I’ve only watched 3 different anime.) The amount of story and character development they managed to pack into a series less than 5 hours long is impressive.
Personally, I gave it a full 10/10, or 5 stars, or whatever the best rating is in the television world.
Why? Well, I’ll tell you.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD. (Oh, and for those of you who have no clue what ERASED is about, you can learn about it here. For those of you partway through the story, you can read my earlier thoughts here. Or you can spoil it and read on.)
I think the show’s central theme was basically read out in the final minutes of the last episode, where Satoru was reading the essay he wrote for the student composition back in 1988, “My Hero”.
I don’t have the courage to take that first step. That’s why I don’t have any good buddies.
Guess what? At age 10, Satoru identified why he didn’t have close friends. Because of his lack of courage. 18 years later, at age 29, nothing has changed. The only people we see him actually spending time with are his mother Sachiko and his coworker Airi (whom he admits he doesn’t know very well). It’s obvious that he still hadn’t taken “that first step”.
But things begin to change the moment the story begins. Satoru gets into a motor accident within the first ten minutes as he has a “Revival” and he tries to save a child’s life. This is sort of his “first step” in becoming friends with Airi, as she sees his heroic, selfless side.
However, the major “first step” that sets of the rest of the plot in motion happens after his leap back to 1988. Except this time, he knows that three children in his town, Hiromi, Kayo and Aya, are going to be killed. He had two options: act the way he did the first time round and let them die, or take the “first step” in courage and go out of his way to protect them.
This time, he decided to step out and give his all in trying to save the three of them, which certainly was an uncomfortable experience (he had several awkward moments with Kayo and Aya accused him and his friends of being childish).
His actions did not go unnoticed. His friend Kenya, too, had been worried about Kayo (she had visible bruises from being beaten by her mother), but had been too cowardly to act. However, once Satoru stood up for her, Kenya realised that Satoru had changed. He was taking the high road, and Kenya wanted to join him.
The other people felt his courage, and little by little, became buddies with him.
As he goes out of his way to protect Hiromi too, and to make friends with Aya, his other friends begin to notice. Slowly, they become closer.
Of course, his growing relationship with his friends (and indeed, anyone) is abruptly cut off when Yashiro, his teacher, attempts to drown him. Satoru lives, but ends up in a fifteen-year coma.
In the end, even when it looked like he was going to lose to the bad guy, he never stopped believing that his pals would come to the rescue.
It wasn’t over for Satoru. His mother took care of him and kept him alive, while his friends, including his onetime enemy Misato (whom he had been trying to protect when he was kidnapped by Yashiro), raised funds to pay for his medical fees.
It made me wish to have true friends, friends who trust each other, when I get bigger.
Yes, this was written in the original world line (to borrow from Steins;Gate) and was still only a dream for Satoru at age 29; however, in the changed world, his friends are there for him and even help him survive his final battle against Yashiro by placing the huge airbag on the ground for him to land on. By taking the first step out in courage, his wish had come true.
That’s the central theme of the story, but there are other parts I would like to cover.
ERASED had quite realistic relationships and interactions. Satoru and his friends aren’t witty (at all), and they still have a secret hideout, as Aya points out. Basically, they’re acting their age. Generally, the rest of the class, too, act like a pack of immature eleven-year-old children, with everybody going crazy when Satoru tells Kayo that she’s pretty.
Satoru’s relationship with his mother, Sachiko, both in the 2003-2006 time and 1988 time, are realistic given Satoru’s respective age. Sachiko is very straightforward and frank throughout the series, however, she is much more careful and protective of Satoru at age 11, and is careful not to bring up dark subjects. In 2006, however, she treats him almost like an equal, and talks openly about the murders of Hiromi, Kayo and Aya.
Then there’s Satoru’s power, “Revival”. Unlike in other shows, his power isn’t really explained. Ever. We just know it’s going to happen when a blue butterfly flies by him. But it doesn’t need an explanation. It’s not the crux of the story, after all. It’s just a device that enhances the amount of character development and story development that can happen.
One last thought. The story does a great job of wrapping up all the loose ends. In the last few minutes, we see Satoru’s entire group of friends having dinner. We see him shaking hands with Yuuki, now married. They even resolved his problems with being a manga artist.
But the one I thought really wrapped up the story was Airi. She did appear sporadically throughout the episodes, but in the last few, there was basically no mention of her. She didn’t meet Satoru in 2006, as he did not become a pizza delivery man. However, at the end, he finds himself standing underneath the bridge where they he and Airi had hidden years before (technically only 4, but in Satoru’s timeline, 22) and he bumps into her. I think it wraps up the story well, as it started by introducing him and Airi, and it ended with the two of them.
This was a brilliant show that is worth re-watching (I mean, it only takes 5 hours). What are some of your thoughts?