For seasonal anime fans, Erased, a twelve-episode suspense series, has already been deemed one of the winter season’s best. Following a standard thriller-suspense format, Erased follows human emotion and impulse in a very genuine way. Even if it’s just a cartoon, Erased feels human. It’s animated beautifully and tackles serious issues without compromising its practicality.
Twenty-nine year old Satoru Fujinuma has a power that everyone thinks they would love to have: he can go back in time to prevent things that he knows will happen in the future. It sounds great hypothetically, but when Satoru is brought back eighteen years to prevent three former classmates from getting murdered, it’s up to Satoru to figure out how to save everyone. Intense sequences where Satoru tries to save the victims give viewers a relentless sense of unease, leaving them on the edge of their seats throughout the episode. Nearly every episode of the season ends with a cliffhanger that makes viewers anxiously anticipating for the next week’s episode to come out.
The first half of the show focuses on Satoru desperately trying to save a former classmate named Kayo, not only from being murdered, but also from suffering under an abusive household. The greatest thing about Erased is how real it is. I’ve seen actual victims of child abuse comment on how genuine its portrayal of abuse between Kayo and her mother is. Small niches in Kayo’s characterization and animation are some of the most poignant nuances in the show. Erased understands and wants to acknowledge serious issues like child abuse and assault, and prompts viewers to question why they exist. Although it’s already known that child abuse is evil, Erased asks us what brings people to attack their children or how casual cissexism can be so easily tossed around.
Tragically, the show left its greatness from the prior ten episodes when it entered its finale in episode eleven. The show’s finale was so anticlimactic and completely betrayed everything that was going for. It left on such a bitter note, trying to make viewers sympathize with the villain, which gave it a strange pedophilic feel.
This consequently undermined Erased’s original marvel, and left me feeling extremely let down.
While the first ten episodes of Erased can pretty much be described as masterpieces, I, along with many other fans, felt like we weren’t given what we had hoped for. These episodes were beautifully crafted, harvesting suspense and emotion at every turn. It’s a shame that they let all of that go heading into the finale. Putting the finale aside, Erased is an unforgettable show that’s both gorgeous and provoking, and it’s definitely worth giving a try.