Note: Tl;dr at the end for the lazy ones.
*MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS*
Boku dake ga Inai Machi, or Erased in English, is clearly the most popular Winter Season Anime of 2016. With it's sky rocketing popularity and rank on myanimelist in such a small amount of time, Erased has successfully caught the attention of the crowd and everyone has probably watched it or thought of watching it soon. Here on myanimelist, most of the reviewers are filled with negativity and are over-exaggerating the negative points of this anime. It is not that bad as most of the reviews are indicating here. So here I'm writing a honest and positive review of Erased.
Erased narrates the story of Satoru Fujinuma, who is a 29 years old and works as a pizza delivery boy. He posses a strange ability called 'Revival'. This ability, 'Revival' sends him 2 to 5 minutes back in time, without his consent, whenever something dangerous happens around him. He usually tries to figure out what is wrong in his surroundings and tries to prevent that dangerous thing from happening. When he was wrongfully accused of murdering his mom, in the first episode itself, he is sent 18 years back in time when he was 11 years old in 6th grade where he tries to solve one mystery of serial abduction and murder going around the school to prevent his mother's murder in the future as they seemed related.
I feel that the initial story (from first to fourth episode) is the reason why Erased became so popular and highly rated! It's thrilling! The suspense will really eat you and will left you wanting for more. You will probably want to binge-watch the show or jump onto reading the manga to know more.
But after the first half of the show, I feel that the story starts moving in a wrong direction and it sort of becomes less thrilling. The studio was clearly rushing a bit to complete the anime in 12 episodes only.
There are many things which are left unexplained. For example, Satoru's ability of 'Revival'. So yeah that's the reason why I have rated the 'Story' section 8 instead of 10.
Erased clearly flaunts it's art in many ways. The backgrounds and scenes, like the Christmas Tree scene which was made using the stars in the sky, successfully delivers warm and entertaining moments. The way 'Revival' is portrayed by showing a blue butterfly across the screen and the way history or the future is compared with the timeline using movie reels makes Erased more interesting to watch. The suspenseful atmosphere which Erased is able to create, and the facial expressions which arouses suspicions on various characters are perfectly executed which supports it's mystery genre incredibly well.
Being a fan of Asian Kung-Fu Generation, I loved the opening of Erased, "Re:Re:" right off the bat. The ED "Sore wa Chiisana Hikari no Youna" by Sayuri is a beautiful song indeed. The OSTs are carefully played at crucial moments and is able to set the suspenseful mood very nicely.
Coming to the voice actors, they have done an incredible acting. The way Satoru uses his adult voice to show his real mature self is interesting.
There are some characters whom I really liked. And there are a few for whom I don't give a damn.
Satoru Fujinuma, as an adult, is a very boring character. But he has a really good side which forces him to save people whenever 'Revival' is triggered, and sometimes he even hurts himself in that process. On the other hand, Satoru, as a kid, seems more interesting. His boring side is removed and he's got determination, sense of humor and a really cool and gutsy side which makes him a likable character.
Kayo Hinazuki, the girl whom Satoru is determined to save from being the victim on the serial murders, gets a good amount of screen time and development. The circumstances which she is going through like being abused by her mother or bullied by her classmates makes us sympathize her.
Sachiko Fujinuma, Satoru's mother, is another great character. She has been portrayed as a very honest, caring and courageous mother with high willpower. She cooperates with her son in saving Hinazuki from her mother's abuse and nursed his son for 4 hours daily for 15 years which emphasizes mother's love.
Apart from these three characters, Airi Katagiri (a coworker of Satoru in a pizza shop), Kobayashi Kenya (smartest childhood friend of Satoru) etc are a few people who get a little amount of screen time but are still likable.
On the other hand, I never became much attached to Nakanishi Aya or Sugita Hiromi (other two victims of the serial murders) and most of the other side characters.
The idea of putting a supernatural ability like time travel is not a new one. I have seen Steins;Gate, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Higurashi: When They Cry, Charlotte etc in which the character goes back in time to save his friend again and again. Erased, is actually different than all these titles above. It has a dominant mystery genre which is centered around realistic and old school mystery of serial abduction and murdering which makes it enjoyable. If you are into mystery and detective shows then this anime is pretty much recommended.
In the initial episodes, the pacing was excellent. The show does an excellent job in creating suspense and leaves us wanting to know more. But in the second half, it starts to feel a little rush, but still it is able to maintain the the quality of it's genre.
Erased maintains a good sense of humor which makes it fun to watch. For example, Satoru, in his young form, often speaks something out loud while thinking it which puts him into embarrassing or awkward situations.
While Erased is a very enjoyable anime, it still is far from perfect. There are many things left untold, for example, the origin behind Satoru's ability 'Revival'. And it makes even lesser sense in the whole Erased world that Satoru is the only one having this ability. Infact this ability is the only thing which makes this anime a part of Supernatural genre.
Many realistic and thought provoking philosophical themes are offered by this anime. For example, mother's love for her child, child's love for his mother, frustrated parent's abuse on their child, loneliness in youth age, bullies in school, human's tendency to run away from problems, human's tendency to help other's in need, parent's situation whey their child is in a permanent bed rest for years, and I can go on and on.
+Very interesting and engaging premise
+Great art and animation style which is suitable for a mystery anime
+Main characters are realistic and interesting
+Great OSTs, OP and ED, excellent voice acting
+Lots of philosophical themes
-Story becomes a little monotonous in the second half
-It starts to feel a little rushed, especially in the last quarter
-Many characters got a very little screentime and character development
-Many things, including the ability 'Revival', are left unexplained
-Sometimes it becomes predictable
Erased is an anime, which you must watch this year. Though only one season has ended, I can guarantee that Erased is going to be one of the best, if not the best, anime of 2016. So if you haven't watched it already, then go for it!