My Favorite Anime of 2016, Erased: A Time Traveling and Character Driven Delight
I was blown away by Erased, which is called Boku Daki ga Inai Machi in Japan. I consider myself a bit of an author, and I’ve written all types of things from short films to fiction. From a writer’s point of view there is great character development in this anime. You see the main character grow from an apathetic person with little going in his life, to taking in all life has to offer because of his decision to make good choices, although his hand was forced through time travel. The suspense throughout the series is great, and the time traveling is fun and does not distract you from the story.
Often when authors rely on the trope of time-travel they treat it as a deux ex machina, that allows their characters to beat the whim of time travel and simultaneously cover up and glaring holes in the plot. All of the character development may get sidelined in order to have a “cool” ending and an enjoyable “time travelling” experience. . However in Erased the character development is front and center and meshes well with the time travel aspects of the series. This skillful execution of literary tools is why I’d recommend Erased over Stein’s Gate, another anime based on time travel. Instead of bouncing around in a timeline, the story in Erased stays focused on the characters. There is real exploration of human emotions in this anime versus just doing the cool time travel motif.
The story revolves around an unsolved murder mystery. Luckily the main character, Satoru Fujinuma, is capable of time traveling. Unluckily, it is his mom who has been killed along with three of his childhood friends. It’s interesting to see Satoru time travel back to elementary school and watch him remaking his childhood friends. The carefree days of playing with friends and hanging out is definitely a great part of this series. Who doesn’t have fond memories from growing up, and unsaid things they wish they could’ve done over. In Satoru’s case even with all those things going on in his head, he still has a mission.
The one drawback of Erased I’d say is it’s slight predictability. Though it takes until the halfway mark of the series, I could eventually guess who the killer was. You will most likely figure things out. Beyond that there is a slight twist at the end that makes what seems like a foregone conclusion worthwhile. This is a great anime for anyone into solving mysteries, Sci-Fi, and just a fan of anime in general. I’d give it five out of five stars, and it’s my favorite anime from 2016! Let’s see what 2017 brings us!