I had no idea what I was getting into when I first started watching Erased. Once again, it's a show that I would recommend that you go into blindly, but only if you can handle some pretty intense psychological drama and mysteries that take the whole series to solve. Also know that although I really enjoyed this show, the final episode kind of sputtered out, and all the tension that built up over the previous 11 chapters just kind of dried up before the final credits rolled. Not that the ending was godawful or terrible, just that it didn't quite match the power that had been building all the way up till that point.
Erased's plot is pretty unique, and very addictive. Things start out with a late 20-something aspiring manga author named Satoru Fujinuma delivering pizzas on his little moped, when he experiences a time-slip that takes him back to a street intersection that he just passed. Satoru's experienced these "revivals" throughout his life, and they always occur when something life-threatening is about to happen, typically giving him a minute or two to figure out who's about to die, and barely giving him enough time to try and save them.
This time, Satoru saves a boy from getting flattened by a semi-truck, but the experience puts our reluctant hero in the hospital for his efforts. This then causes a chain of events to take place which brings Satoru's mother (Sachiko) into town, a coworker of our protagonist at his pizzeria to become closer to him, and an old murder mystery to reawaken and pull Satoru back into its clutches.
When Satoru's mother comes to the city to take care of her wounded child, she helps him through one of his revivals when she notices a man trying to kidnap a little girl. The man notices her noticing him, and he abandons his prey, but Sachiko is reminded of the time, 18 years earlier, when their small burg was terrorized by a serial child-kidnapper and murderer. Later that night, Sachiko is murdered in Satoru's apartment, and he is set up to take the fall. In his run from the police, Satoru becomes stressed out and triggers a revival of his own for the first time, this time going back in time to when he was 10 years old, right before the serial killer began to menace families in his hometown.
Armed with the knowledge of the extra 18 years that he originally lived through, Satoru makes it his mission to save the three kids his age that were killed in his initial timeline, and therefore, hopefully, save his mother's life in the future.
As I stated before, Erased is super addictive and very intense for most of its run, but then the final episode happens, and all the tension just slips away like trying to hold a handful of mayonnaise in your grip while squeezing your fist as tight as you can. What you're left with is just a slathering of greasy remains that aren't enough to top your sandwich, let alone enough to start some kinky sexual foreplay involving leftovers in the fridge.
My point is that the anime team didn't seem to know how to wrap up their version of the story with only one episode open to them to do so. Erased is only 12 episodes long, but by the 11th episode it is only at around the 2/3rds point of the original manga narrative.
SUPER SPOILERS START NOW
I really don't recommend that you read this section any further if you haven't already watched the anime or read the manga, as I will totally spoil the shit out of it for you. I find that the anime is totally worth watching, despite its semi-flaccid ending.
Okay, so after two reset attempts, Satoru finally saves all the kids in his town from being murdered, but in doing so he exposes himself as a target for the killer, and he is trapped in a car and dumped into a frozen lake to die.
Then, he wakes up from a coma 15 years later, and finds that he has no memory of the attack, nor of who the killer is. The murderer is still in circulation though, and together with his friends that he saved, and some new acquaintances, Satoru must remember everything, and stop the bad guy once and for all.
Sounds promising, no? Well, the anime then leaves one episode for the final confrontation between Satoru and the evil douchebag in which they match wits... But Satoru is still wheelchair-bound from his 15 year coma, and his way of getting the villain to concede and stop killing people is to throw himself off the hospital roof (wheelchair and all), in order to get the big bad to admit that he can't live without Satoru, as if his own "Moriarty" was just a shadow of Satoru's "Sherlock Holmes." The fact that Satoru lands on a stuntman's inflatable bag at the foot of the hospital (somehow hastily assembled by his friends) just made the scene that much more surreal and fucking silly.
It's retarded, it's ill thought out, and it made me and Cupcake laugh out loud when it happened; it totally deflated the intense pressure that was built up to that moment. I was disappointed with the anime writers' choices, and so decided to check out the manga to see what the real author had in mind for the culmination of his pretty great story.
It turns out that the anime is a pretty solid translation of the manga (with the manga expanding upon a lot of ideas that the anime just didn't have time for), up until the point where Satoru gets driven into the lake. The time after he wakes up from his coma then goes on and on and on for like 15 fucking chapters where the poor guy just learns to walk again, and try to regain his memory, while his attempted murderer watches with glee from a distance, writhing his hands together maniacally, planning Satoru's assassination again. This time for reals.
The manga's last act was definitely better than the final chapter of the anime, but whereas the anime's finale is too brief and retarded, the manga's final third is itself too drawn out, and it's missing all of the charm and intensity of the first 2/3rds. And the way that Satoru and company trick and catch the murderer in the manga is only slightly better than how they did it in the anime.
There were a few things done differently in the manga: including more possible murder culprits (especially gentle Yuuki's dad); Kayo Hinadzuki coming back to the class after moving in with her grandma; Sachiko's old crime-reporter boss playing a much bigger role in Satoru's world in the past, and then the after coma chapters; a MUCH deeper look into the real killer's history and psychosis (including finding out how he learned to lure his victims, going so far as to get engaged to a child psychiatrist in order to do so more effectively); and finding out HOW Satoru survived drowning on the initial attempt on his life. Oh, and most pleasantly, Satoru's friend in the present, Airi, plays a much bigger part in the story after the poor guy wakes from his coma.
Other than the rather lame ending, the other thing that kind of bothered me about the manga (well, just a little) was the fact that the last 1/3rd of this entire story had nothing to do with Satoru's amazing time-travel ability. In fact, he was never able to use it again after he woke from his coma. Now, from a story-wise standpoint, I can see how they couldn't allow Satoru to do that anymore (it would take away all the drama if he could go back in time again, after learning who the killer was, and stop him in the past), but from my perspective, it took away the most unique aspect of the tale. I am still of the opinion that a talented writer could have come up with some way of keeping both the drama and the time travel elements intact there in the last act.
Oh, and honestly, while watching the first half of this thing my imagination was amped up, and I was expecting an "Evil Leaper" of sorts to pop up, countering all the good that Satoru was doing. There was never an explanation for how our hero was able to jump back in time (Not that one was needed), and so I still think that an enemy with the same power would have been a good addition to the story, and made a much more intricate cat and mouse game than what we ended up with, but alas... earwax.
SUPER SPOILERS OVER
Erased has a whole lot going for it. Great characters, great plot, great heavy drama, great mysteries, and really great opening and ending songs (the changes made to the opening animation of episode 11 were incredible too). The animation was totally hit or miss though, with a C-Studio doing the choppy drawings once every 3rd or 4th episode, but its bearable.
In the end I have to say that I really did enjoy Erased, but just thought that the final wrap-up episode was a bit of a letdown from the awesome roller-coaster ride we'd been allowed to take a spin on up till then. I still recommend this anime and/or manga. And maybe, if you're better prepared for a softer ending than I was, you might enjoy it's conclusion more than me.
Sometimes I wish that I could jump back in time to the days of my youth. No, there weren't any kidnappings or horrendous murders of my classmates that I need to "set right," as it were... No, I just want to be able to go back in time to when I was 10 years old and NEVER had to worry about a paycheck, rent, my car breaking down, food, paying for dates, car insurance, medical insurance, and all that jazz.
Fuck being an adult... If I could just have my life loop around and around from when I was 10 to 15, that would be glorious. Oh, and if I could relive the first time I realized I could "butter my own bread," well, that would be amazing too.
This Erased show was okay, but that ending... Really? That was the best they could do? They had magical time travel as a plot device, but just having Wheels roll his wheelchair off the hospital roof was the best that they could come up with? Sad, that.
Once, when I was a Time Chef recruit, I had a temporal accident caused by a fellow student during a routine training exercise that caused me to transfer my 25 year-old mind back into the body of my 8 year-old self.
Normal people from your time might hear that and think, "Well, that's not too bad. Even if you were stuck there and never pulled back to your original time, that's only like 17 years, right?" Well, good sir, I am here to tell you that people like me — genetically engineered to become a Time Paradox Surfer — are born in tubes and raised in vats, being fed our education and nutrients via tubes. The problem with leaping back into oneself when one is in one of the modifying vats is that if you've already learned everything being fed directly into your brain by the education fiber-lines, you are no longer required to be in forced hibernation, and in fact, you can indeed "wake up" and experience a living, silent hell while one's body is still being altered over many long years, prepping you for the physical stress and strain of time travel.
12 years, to be exact.
When I got out of the vat on my 2nd 20th birthday, I was half mad, but oh so ecstatic... But then I had to go through 5 years of psych evaluations once they realized what had happened. Then I finally got to go into training again. Then, during a routine training exercise, I had my mind transfered into the body of my 27 year-old self, skipping the most intense training sessions that recruits need to go through, and missing the final 2 years of the most in-depth and demanding physical and mental testing anyone in the corps. ever has to go through.
I am honestly just winging it now, and I hope to high holy hell that nobody ever figures out that I don't know the difference between an event horizon triggered singularity and my own butthole. Jumping around time, and making right what once went wrong is fun though. It's a living.