Getting a second chance to prevent something bad from happening when you don’t even know what the bad event is, makes for an interesting premise. The hero in this anime ‘Erased’, is Saturo Fujinuma, 29-year-old loner and weirdo delivering pizzas and aspiring to be a manga artist. While his life may seem miserable and boring at first, we are quickly shown how his power, ‘Revival’ as he calls it, works. Occasionally, he is transported back in time a few minutes without his control during which he is given a second chance to prevent something. He uses this power to save people from accidents and other petty (but heroic) stuff. The real story begins when he is framed for a murder and while escaping from the police he has a revival. This time, he is transported 18 years back.
Any other writer would use this to write a whodunit with Famous Five type kids solving a case. The maturity of this writer lies in the fact that he boldly decides to focus on the emotional and psychological aspects of the story and not just make it a killer chase throughout. The hero who is 29-year-old man living in the body of his 10-year-old self, must prevent something that had happened then to prevent him getting framed in the present. All he has is his fragmented memory of his schooling (how many of us remember anything remotely significant from our 10-year-old days). If you’re sent back to your childhood what would you change? The show beautifully conveys how an adult would react when he can restart his life. He starts to appreciate the little things he couldn’t when he was young. He starts to understand the adult life even when he is child because he is practically an adult himself. His actual childhood composed of him being a loner due to which he grows up to be a dark horse and lonely. But this time, he is even smarter than his teacher. How his entire life is reconstructed in a new way because he chooses to appreciate relationships with his mother and friends is shown in a subtle but profound way.
Fear not, for this is not some drama that deals with children, no, this is a taut psychological thriller gripping throughout the 12 episode length. The stakes are high and the air of thrill peaks at every episode. After a point, you forget you are watching a time travel story, that is the kind of realistic thriller I am talking about. The characterization is flawless, the way it deals with dark themes like parental abuse in an uncompromising way is beyond brilliant, the exceptional music adds to this dark psychological thriller in a hauntingly beautiful way and of course, the art is fantastic. This show is totally dark but has its own feel of light humor placed at perfect moments without disturbing the tone. The tone is the foundation upon which the theme of abuse and ruined childhood is built upon. There are some moments where people who are prone to cry will break down for sure. At every moment of the show I was left in awe at the maturity with which the events have been dealt with. We grow fond of the hero as the show progresses at how much he struggles to save the people around him. We see one of the best mother characters ever written across all TV shows. This woman treats her kid like a 29-year-old when he is 10! She is smarter and stronger than all the characters in the show and these are shown through myriad subtle moments and some strong moments. The cheesy message of how love can heal broken hearts is conveyed in a way we want every other show to convey their own cheesy messages.
But there is a major drawback in this show, I must warn. If you’re not new for the whodunit genre, then you’ll figure out who the villain is, halfway through. The brilliance they show in the emotions and psychological aspect of the show that is entirely neutralized by this blunder, makes me feel, the point was never about who the villain was, but about how they fought against him. The journey, the feel and the thoughts make this entire show. I am sure you’ll never be disappointed, but those who watch this expecting some mystery thriller on the lines of Death Note will feel this is overrated.