Boku Dake ga Inai Machi or Erased, a twelve episode anime series based on a seinen manga. First released in 2012, the series ran for four years before wrapping earlier this year. The anime series, adapted and produced by A-1 Pictures kicked off at the start of the year and wrapped up three months ago.
What’s it about?
Boku Dake ga Inai Machi tells the story of a young man by the name of Satoro Fujinuma. Satoro works as a part-time pizza delivery boy and as a manga artist. For the most part his life is pretty normal although his editor believes his work lacks a personal touch. To anyone watching Satoru nothing would seem too much out of the ordinary but he possesses a strange ability.
Satoru has a sort of precognitive power, he senses danger then travels back in time a few minutes to prevent it. From the start this power appears to be more of a nuisance to Satoru than a gift and even though he saves lives, he doesn’t seem to pushed. For the most part, the young man is just going through the motions of life.
That is until a visit from his mother and a chance encounter unlock childhood memories.
After experiencing what he has dubbed as a ‘revival’, Satoru is unable to spot any danger. Confused, he tries to pass it off but his mother has other suspicions. Acting on them, Sachiko, gets in touch with a former colleague and confirms her fears. By interfering and investigation, Sachiko put herself in danger and winds up murdered. Satoru arrives home to find his mother dead and just in time to be framed at the scene as her killer.
The calamity, fear and distress at losing his mother, catapults Satoru back in time, to 1988, to his childhood. Satoru is now faced with having to solve the murder of three children in his hometown if he is to every put the future right.
Why should I watch it?
Have you ever watched a movie or read a book and your stomach sinks at the turn of the page or a scene fade? Boku Dake ga Inai Machi thrives on backing its characters and audience into a corner. I’ve never been as tense or anxious watching something before. It doesn’t take much digging to see just why either as a very familiar name is attached to the series.
Tomohiko Itō tackles the series as director, best known for his work on Death Note and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. From the outset it’s pretty clear that these pieces have a strong influence on his direction. Death, mystery and a chance to change lives, Itō pours over every single detail to bring the story to life.
Characters develop and change according to the circumstances put in place by Satoru. His ten-year old self possesses the memories and maturity of his future self, giving him foresight to plan every move. His aim, to prevent the murder of his classmate Kayo Hinazuki and two other innocent children. Satoru doesn’t feel comfortable in his role as saviour but with little choice he throws himself at the task. To save their lives, he finds himself having to change his own behaviour and learn to not just tolerate other people. His story and transition from introvert, is compelling and you can’t help but get behind him and hope he pulls through.
The support cast are made up of equally interesting characters. Hinazuki is a fragile young girl who fights back against a cruel world the only way she knows how – apathy. As her relationship with Satoru grows, we see a softer side to Kayo. Their bond and friendship is real tug on the heart-strings.
Satoru’s mother, Sachiko, acts as the antithesis to a lot of the other parental/adult figures in the series. She is kind, caring, understanding and exceptionally intuitive. She affords Satoru just enough freedom to do what he needs to do but all the while watches his and others movements carefully.
Boku Dake ga Inai Machi is an emotional experience and you’ll find yourself connected to these characters.
Eventually you will wind up trying to out think Satoru! You’ll analyse how each decision he makes could alter the future of those around him. Boku Dake ga Inai Machi works so many different angles in terms of the narrative and the characters. The show isn’t content with throwing just one mystery at you! With each episode your theories become void and new ones form.
In terms of animation style, Boku Dake ga Inai Machi uses colour and shadow very well. Red is a key indicator of something important whether it’s the glint in the killers eyes or Kayo’s winter coat. Against the somewhat other bland colour palette, these indicators pop more. As Satoru is about to experience a ‘revival’ he often notices a light blue butterfly flutter before him. This blue is even stronger and more eye-catching than the red, lending more significance to the power of a ‘revival’.
Nothing about Boku Dake ga Inai Machi feels wasted! Every scene and every scrap of dialogue feels like it’s as important as the last. The series encapsulates and surrounds you, pulling you deeper into Satoru’s world with each episode. In the end, it’s all wrapped up quickly and while it may feel anti-climactic to some, I think the conclusion offers what the characters and audience needed; closure.
Interested in other anime series with elements of mystery and thriller? Then I heartily recommend you check out Terror In Resonance, Serial Experiments Lain and Fantastic Children. Already watched one or all of these? You’ll love Boku Dake ga Inai Machi, I guarantee it!
Editor-in-Chief, part-time super villain and hoarder of cats. If you can’t find me writing, I’m probably in the kitchen!