Review for Erased Part 1 - Collector's Edition
Aniplex! In case you’re wondering at the episode count, and having a double-take at that price point, you’ll completely understand when I tell you that Erased is an Aniplex title. However, value for money is not the reason why I am feeling a little uncertain about reviewing Erased right now. Erased is a sci-fi title, a show about time travel, which is normally right up my alley. This is a show that I should be squeeing about, should be rubbing my hands with glee at partaking of the first episode, diving into another mind-bending, paradox infused slice of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey. Only coincidence has it that I’m currently re-watching Steins;Gate, which when it comes to anime owns the time travel genre. Erased is going to have to be pretty special to compare.
Satoru Fujinuma is a 29-year-old manga writer with a unique ability. He calls it Revival. When something bad happens, some kind of accident, he leaps back to an earlier point in his life by a few minutes, enough time for him to spot what went wrong and correct it. Sometimes there’s a price to pay, as in when he saves a boy from being hit by a truck, and gets hospitalised himself. When he is framed for a crime that he didn’t commit, he leaps back with a chance to prevent it. But this time he leaps back further than ever before, back to when he was ten years old, back to when his school was traumatised by a series of kidnappings and murders.
The first six episodes of Erased are presented on this Blu-ray from All the Anime.
1. Flashing Before My Eyes
2. Palm of the Hand
6. Grim Reaper
Erased gets a gorgeous 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer, shifting aspect ratios to 2.35:1 when Satoru is in the past. The image is clear and sharp throughout with no signs of compression, aliasing or digital banding. There is usually an upside to Aniplex sourced transfers and the image quality is it. It’s an excellent animation too, detailed and fluid, with memorable character designs and a world design with an eye to realism. The animation is evocative and enhances the dramatic nature of the story.
The images in this review were kindly supplied by All the Anime.
You have the choice between PCM 2.0 Stereo English and Japanese with optional subtitles and a signs only track. The audio is fine, no drop-outs or glitches, at least not in the Japanese version that I listened to. The subtitles are in a nice, thick white font, accurately timed and free of typos, although the location on screen varies according to the on screen action, with a tendency not to overlay the mouth of whoever is speaking. The music suits the show well, if not exactly memorable, while the action comes across adequately given the stereo. What little I sampled of the English dub seemed more than acceptable, although I only watched some of the modern day segments, and can’t comment on the casting of the children.
Erased is an All the Anime/Madman co-author. The disc presents its contents with an animated menu. Missing from the disc menu are the episode titles, and missing from the episodes are the next episode previews.
On the disc you will find 5:02 of Promo Videos, as well as the textless credit sequences.
There are two commentary tracks on this disc on episodes 1 and 6, both feature ADR Director Alex von David, Ben Diskin (Satoru), and Cherami Leigh (Airi).
I haven’t seen the packaging or the physical extras to comment.
£10 an episode! No anime is that good. Of course you’ll get it cheaper with a retailer discount, but still, that R.R.P. exceeds the height of the original bubble, back when 3-episode DVD volumes were retailing for £20. Anyway, that’s the obligatory whinge about the price point out of the way. And now to the important question of what Erased is actually worth...
I really shouldn’t have watched it back-to-back with Steins;Gate. Erased pales in comparison. But you shouldn’t be looking at Erased for pop-culture references, quirky characters, and the kind of complex temporal mechanics that require both audiences and protagonists to draw flowcharts and timelines. Erased is a completely different animal, a murder mystery, a thriller which adds a layer of complexity by throwing in some time travel. There’s no technobabble here either, as it uses the expedience of hand-wavium to explain Satoru’s Time Leap ability. It’s something that he can do naturally, has no control over, and apparently only happens when he has a chance to change things for the better. It’s a bit like Quantum Leap, only he’s leaping into an earlier version of himself, and then only by a few minutes.
Erased has a good story to it, with Satoru framed for a crime in 2006, which is connected to a serial killing spree back in 1988. Once again, hand-wavium is used to explain just how he can suddenly leap back 18 years where his usual limit is a few minutes. While he’s on the run and panicked in the ‘present’, he has the time and clarity of thought to do something in the past to prevent the future from unfolding, and that begins with saving the life of the first serial-killer victim, Kayo Hinazuki. He thinks that all he has to do is prevent her from being targeted by the killer in the first place, giving the isolated loner girl some friendship, but it turns out that there were aspects of Kayo’s life that Satoru never knew about.
The animation is great, top notch, while the way the story unfolds, the quality of the writing can’t be faulted. I quickly grew to appreciate the characters too, the somewhat pessimistic Satoru of 2006, and his enthusiastic co-worker Airi. His school life back in 1988 is also very watchable, although I did feel that more could have been made of the time-travel culture clash, and that Satoru had a pretty impressive memory of when he was ten years old, especially given that he’s been repressing the trauma of those events as well.
The trouble is that Erased feels quite derivative. That’s a problem that comes with being a sci-fi fan and having watched as many time travel movies and TV shows as could since the day I first watched Doctor Who. It’s a continual game of “what did that remind me of?”, and Erased doesn’t do enough to establish a sci-fi identity of its own. The second thing is that I have the villain pegged. A few minutes into the second episode and I believe I have it figured out. A little too much ominous foreshadowing, a rather obviously layered vocal performance, and I know for certain who the serial killer is. Which means that instead of wholly enjoying the show for what it is, part of me is going to be sitting there for ten episodes, daring it to prove me wrong, probably blaming it for wasting my time when I turn out to be right. The best I can hope for is that it’s a red herring, a distraction from the real killer, but then, I’ll still have been partially distracted through the series anyway by my own sleuthing.
As I said, great animation, great characterisation, and solid story-telling are all positives to Erased, but it feels somewhat lacking in certain areas, and the way that it sets up the serial killer is a little too obvious, with too much portent. It leaves me hanging in a way that makes me want to skip to the end of the book, and given that Part 2 of Erased doesn’t come out now for another three months, that itch is going to be too tempting not to scratch. That price point! That release schedule and format! Thank you Aniplex!