Based on the manga, Boku dake Ini Machi (also known as Erased) is a psychological thriller. Adapted by A-1 Pictures, the series chronicles Satoru’s life and his responsibilities to avert certain events. From the first episode, we see that he is a rather cynical man who seems indifferent about every day events except when there’s some sort of oddity or strange event happening. As one of these events, Satoru encounters a bizarre instance when an unknown man emerges from his neighborhood. This apparently has connections with a series of murders in his community that also includes the death of a family member. I guess it’s easy to tell what comes next as Satoru uses his Revival ability to avert such a tragedy. The problem? The unknown man/killer is very experienced so it takes much more than just time travel to prevent such a tragedy.
Now I have to admit, this series has quite an intriguing premise. The idea of being able to witness events again and being able to fix them sets up a lot of plot planning for Satoru. The first few episodes establishes this as we see how events are constructed based on memories and narratives. What’s interesting to see is how Satoru sees his own past. It’s noticeable because of how the past relationship he shares with his mother is a bit different from the one we see in the future. In essence, Satoru begins to realize how happy he was and attempts to forge a stronger relationship with his mother. This is sharp contrast to Kayo Hinazuki, a lonely girl in the past timeline. Kayo’s mother is the antithesis of a good parent. She is manipulative, abusive, foul mouthed, and treats her daughter like her property. Furthermore, her role in the story seems to be influence Kayo’s personality as she becomes like a hollow shell. Of course, that does change once Satoru appears in her life.
One of the stronger dynamics of the series is the relationship and chemistry between certain characters. Besides Satoru and his mother, Satoru and Kayo easily has the most prominent relationship. From strangers to allies to friends, the two builds trust and a tight connection. At first, it’s not easy because of how other students in the class also ostracizes Kayo. However, Satoru is able to break down her barrier of solitude. This is achieved by standing up to her bullies, treating her with kindness, and even confronting Kayo’s mother as a way to show her wrongful deeds. In essence, this naturally allows Kayo to open up more and show her own cheerful side. At times, it’s easy to see that Kayo’s personality seems to be a bit of a reflection of Satoru in the future timeline. This also brings out Satoru’s character as he realizes his own weakness at times as he feels powerless to stop certain events from time to time.
Another one of Satoru’s important relationships is the one he shares with his friends, most importantly Kenya. Despite being a supporting character, he helps Satoru and is able to deduce certain abnormalities with his cunning mind. His strong sense of justice also inspires Satoru to stop crimes from happening especially to find the crafty killer in both the past and present. Despite this, I do think some relationships suffers. Satoru and Airi’s relationship in the show is less noticeable and seems to be only based on trust. While it share similarity with Satoru/Kayo, it doesn’t have the amount of emotional appeal. Even during one scenario where Airi’s life is in danger, it feels like the show doesn’t really appeal more than just the typical “Satoru jumps in to save the day”. Similarly, Satoru’s relationship with his teacher is also based on trust as he seems to be one of the few adults that he can rely on. In essence, trust is a controversial part of the series as well because in the end, events that happens in the story isn’t always what they seem.
By the time you’ve watched 1/3 of the show, it’s easy to tell that the series is very story centric. Every episode builds on more and more with the construction of events, the descriptive narratives from Satoru’s point of view, and how important events influence one another. Satoru’s revival ability creates opportunities, not just for himself but others too. Unfortunately, the killer is also a very crafty individual so they often plan ahead to strategically carry out their goals. This leads to Satoru’s trouble with the law as he finds himself powerless at times. This is one of the weaknesses of the series. Satoru’s motivation is to save certain people but he is sometimes unable to save himself.
The weakness here is that we may feel that Satoru relies too much on himself rather than others, at least for a good portion of the story. Remember, Satoru only has the pieces of the past that he sees clearly but not always the solutions. Speaking of story, the show is also a bit predictable. Despite being labeled as a thrilling mystery, it’s not difficult to predict who the killer is. On the other hand, there’s also the idea about the motives. It will get the viewers to ask why certain people acts according to their actions. This includes Kayo’s parents, friends, and obviously the killer himself. Also on a technical note, the series is only adapted into a 1-cour so expect a compressed adaptation. There are certain events that is omitted from the manga to speed up the pace while trying to keep the story as credible as possible.
On the visual front, the series has some pretty good quality. There’s a lot of foreshadowing so the show is able to carefully piece together with clever camera angles, in particular with the moving framework. Even the show itself presents itself like a movie cinema, which is a reason why I’d recommend watching the show on a big screen. In addition, character designs are very stellar to create the thrilling mood. The atmospheric feel of the show is delivered by the character expressions to show their personalities from the compassionate mother Sachiko, stoic Kayo, or the casual friend Airi. The killer is the also most noticeable in the show with his red eyes to reflect his dark twisted desires. Another character that stand out part is Sachiko with her signature lips, a distinctive way to show her as a prominent adult in the series.
Soundtrack is another strong dynamic of the series. Yuki Kaijura helms the series composition and is fairly well known for her ability to create a thrilling atmosphere. This is accomplished by the fine details of eerie music especially during suspenseful scenes. Furthermore, there’s the OP and ED theme songs with not just foreshadowing but also elements of mystery.