There may be spoilers in this post. Sorry.
At the beginning of the winter anime season, I didn’t have many shows I was looking forward to watching. Not wanting an idle season, I asked what people were looking forward to for the season, and every single person mentioned an anime called Boku Dake ga Inai Machi (or Erased if you want a simpler name I guess). A quick Google search told me that it was a mystery, and because a mystery anime sounded like something I would have been hella into, I added it to my Crunchyroll queue and waited for it to become available to the poor plebeians like myself.
The week I waited for the episode was a tempting one. All over my Twitter feed was hype and praise for Erased, people talking about how the first episode left a pretty solid first impression. People talked about a murder, a hot anime mom, and some sort of time travel. When it finally came time for me to see what I thought of Erased for myself, I thought it was pretty good. (Even though Satoru’s mom isn’t even that hot like what the hell guys.) But because I waited a week for the first episode, that meant everybody else got onto episode two before me, and they were talking about how the show was already twice as good. And episode two was indeed even better. And it just kept improving. The claims that “Erased is the best anime of the season, maybe even the year” seemed justifiable then.
But I guess that not all that’s gold can last, because the show lost a lot of steam in the fifth episode. The show was really intriguing while Satoru was a kid and interacting all of his friends and working to save Hinazuki, but Satoru reverted back to his adult life, and everything became a lot less pleasant. There was so much more drama to it after his first trip back to 1988, it started to pull all the way toward becoming the mystery drama it was meant to be. But just because they took the direction they intended to take, it didn’t make it as enjoyable as the first four episodes, which were essentially just Satoru working to becoming close to Hinazuki, who has isolated herself from everybody else because she didn’t feel like she belonged with anybody. Watching her finally allow herself to open up to somebody was fun, cute, and pretty touching, but when we were taken back to watch Airi’s house burn down and have her character thrown to the side, things started to feel less tightly wound, less cleverly written.
Up to this point, there were already a few things I didn’t like all that much, but they weren’t enough to make me think it was anything less than a great show. Most notably probably, all the kids felt too mature for their age, which was a bit irritating, oddly. Of course, Satoru was understandably mature, seeing as he was 26 in the body of an 11-year-old, but all of the other kids felt like they had to have been a lot older than 11 as well. They thought and interacted in ways that were just too unjustifiably adult. I think it’s important to maintain some childhood innocence in child characters. Kids that can stitch together a mystery as well as these kids do just don’t feel like very natural characters in my opinion.
After the stumble Erased took in the middle of it’s airing, it didn’t recover quite as gracefully as I was hoping. Instead, the stakes were raised, and Erased’s relatively humble vibe it had shown in the first third of the show never came back. Everything became ultra-serious, and, unfortunately, the identity of the killer became a bit too obvious a bit too soon. A lot of built suspense and mystery was depleted once I realized who it was, and it made everything a lot less fun. I looked forward to each upcoming episode less and less, and I even started to look forward to new episodes of Phantom World more than Erased.
However, it never became bad. There were still some touching moments, some beautiful shots, some alright music. Even if the way the show wrapped up wasn’t my cup of tea, I still appreciate the fact that they took a shot at a twist as large as a 15-year-long coma. Even the bit at the very end where Airi was reintroduced was pretty good. I don’t like the opening or ending themes as much as everyone else does, but I still like them quite a bit. However, while it does a lot right, I think it’s sort of disappointing to think about what could have been. But this is all just my opinion. Do you think Erased deserves to be ranked as the 17th greatest anime of all time according to MAL?