~ updated 03/24 ~
English is not my first language so I'm doing my best writing this review, sorry!
Spoilers of the first episodes ahead!
✧ Introduction/the story:
Someone travels through time to save a person he/she cares for. I've already seen this. Madoka Magica, Steins;Gate, Higurashi. No creativity in that aspect, and in the case of Erased it's even worse because the time travel has no explanation at all. This is not a deconstruction and does not present something we have not seen before. This would not matter if the premise was well executed, but this isn't the case either, let me explain why.
✧ The characters:
The MC is a cold, edgy guy that is good on the inside, I'm not saying this is a bad thing, but it makes him cliche and boring. He is also terribly written, acting like the story needs him to act, he goes through traumatic situations as he goes to work every day. This would be excused if this was a fighting shonen, but we are talking about a seinen with mystery and drama. The main character even acts irrationally running out of his house when a neighbour saw him near the body of his mom and thought it was him who killed her, which is quite impossible too, why would he worry about being accused of homicide if there are some little things called inspection of the crime scene and evidence?, of course the MC has no absolutely no reason to kill his own mother, which poses the question: is the police brainless in this world or something?
In spite of having a 29 year old mind, he still acts like a child most of the time. The excuse given to the viewers is that he wants others to like him (which is kinda contradictory too, because on the first episode he's cold with everyone), for example, instead of asking for all the help he can when he travels to the past, he thinks he can do everything on his own, which is childish and illogical. Nevermind that he is only a bit surprised when he travels 18 years on the past, when he should be extremely confused and overwhelmed by the situation.
The other characters act like soulless robots too, especially the ones that talk to the MC about the murder of his mother like they were talking about the weather, they are also forgettable because most of them act like passive observers.
The actual kids doesn't talk or act like kids in this show, which takes away all the credibility. For example, there's even a little boy who suspects that the MC is up to something, and when he decides to talk with him, it's like he just read the MC's mind. We are talking about a 10 year old kid, not about a private detective.
✧ Satoru's power:
It's supposed that he "applies" his time travel powers to save his mom, but instead of focusing on that, he tries to save a girl he barely knew. Why would he care about her instead of worry more about his mom and his friend? I know the disappearance of the girl and the murder of his mom are kinda related, but there is not a direct factor between the two events, I mean, yes, he can save his classmate, but the kidnapper could abduct any kid they wanted and the events would end up being the same or simmilar.
Also, if the MC's mind applies the time travel like in the first episode, why didn't this happen when he saw her full of bruises? the time travel has no rules or explanation so the writers can make up anything that is convenient for the plot. You can see the inconstancy of his power only on the first episode.
✧ The script:
This anime also presents some themes through the dialogue, such as depression, or even existentialism, but never explores them properly, it feels like they were put there just to turn the dialogue into something "out of the ordinary"
The show also presents pretentiousness by showing how a girl is hit by her mom, which is not even necessary and it's shock factor, only there for people who get emotionally manipulated easily.
And no, the abuse is not there to delve into the psyche of the girl, it's just there to victimize her. These themes need to be explored with more delicacy and should not be thrown in your face like this. If you remove those scenes, the story would remain the same, just implying it with the bruises would have been enough, but no, you need to feel bad for a character about which you know literally nothing more than that she is a cute, but abused child. We can only conclude that this series also fails miserably on the psychological aspect.
Erased also fails as a mystery series, because the murderer ends up being really obvious and they don't give us the opportunity of using our minds or feeling excited about the mystery itself because the way that is developed is very hard-set and they never give it too much importance.
The drama on this anime is also forced and ridiculous sometimes, to the point that they want to convince us that a reason for a divorce could be something as improbable as an accusation of stealing a chocolate bar. And the viewers are supposed to take that seriously and feel bad for the characters. This was also an external excuse for the MC to have an ally.
✧ The villains:
Another aspect in which Erased fails with its writing, are clearly the villains, we have two villains, Kayo's mom and the murderer who killed Satoru's mother and the kids.
First, we're going to talk about Kayo's mom:
At first, the show never gives any reasons for the abuse and Kayo's mom even looks happy while beating her own child. You may say that these things happens in the real world all the time, but that doesn't make them realistic or relatable, because not only was the girl murdered by a psychopath, but she was also abused by her mom with no motives at all.
There's always a motive behind such acts in real life. For instance, does her mom have a mental illness? in other words, on why her mom hits her and not only on the act of abuse.
Then, when it's already late for delving into real problems or motivations, the show explains in literally two minutes the "reason" of her being a abuser, this is presented very superficially and in a way that her, Kayo's mom, ends up being victimized too.
Now, the main villain:
I'm not going to say who they are, but their "reasons" for killing little children are also very bad excused through a very morbid metaphor. We never get to know him enough to know his true motives.
People who are bad just because, are a big problem.
✧ Production values:
This anime has a very good animation with delicate shadows and a soft color palette that mix perfectly with the bittersweet feeling that the story wants to transmit. It's also very interesting how they put 2 voices on the MC to differentiate between his old mind and his young body.
The music is on point with the feeling of the characters and it mimetizes perfectly with the way that the characters interact.
The cinematic effect that shows the memories of the MC is very nice and interesting, but they could have taken more advantage of it. It doesn't fit the story altogether.
This anime is bad, it has poor theme exploration, it's full of conveniences, plot holes, fails on its psychological aspect and creating a good mystery, the tension and the drama are meaningless and the only good aspects are the production values.