Review: Boku dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED)

Deja vu?

ERASED cover

Boku dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED) or BokuMachi as it’s shortened form, is a mystery manga that aired over the winter season, and it’s a strong contender for anime of the year. What does the Inverseman think of it? Find out!

Satoru Fujinuma is a 29 year old aspiring manga artist, rather bitter with life as he can’t break into the industry and pulls a day job as a delivery man. However, Satoru has the strange ability to involuntarily go back in time minutes before a tragedy and prevent it. After the murder of his mother, Satoru is sent 18 years into the past, determined to uncover the conspiracy surrounding a rash of serial killings and ultimately save his mother and the victims.

BokuMachi coworkers for dinner

Yes, we have a time travel story on our hands, but unlike other stories, BokuMachi takes a different execution path by being more “realistic”. There are no special powers, world lines, or jargon to tangle you up with so you can focus more on the story and characters. Some might complain about the lack of detail behind the Revival, but I’m actually glad we never get into the mechanics of Satoru’s Revival. This isn’t “Steins;Gate”, “Madoka”, or any other time travel where the mechanics deserve some Kinoko Nasu level of explanation. You don’t particularly get one because in a story like this, you don’t particularly need one. This isn’t the kind of story that has magic or sci-fi running all over the place, so this little magic trick of Satoru’s is what it is, you accept it. I will grant though that while you don’t need to know how the trick works, you are left wondering why it happened.

BokuMachi protecting

The drama of the story is the real reason why you watch BokuMachi. You seriously get into Satoru’s head as he tries to save everyone with his second chance at childhood. The juxtaposition of a child with a more mature, if perhaps slightly jaded, self is a curious event. Then there’s Satoru’s friends and family, particularly Kayo Hinazuki, who go through some of the most heartbreaking events. The best part is that you get to see Satoru grow as a person as he relives his 11 year old self and impact the world around him. Without being too heavy-handed, you start with a relatively aloof individual and see him open up in his resolution to protect the ones he cares about, and it’s executed convincingly. Ultimately, you find Satoru’s determination so admirable you can’t help but root for him every step of the way.

BokuMachi flashback

The story and cast are strong, but it’s not entirely perfect however. The first arc of episodes are some of the rawest emotional ones you’ll watch, you feel Satoru’s struggle, but after a certain pivotal plot point where you feel a surprising sense of closure, the story gives a “wait, there’s more” type of event. This small arc before the final stage of the story feels watered down and takes from some of the punch of that first stage. If anything, it makes Satoru’s efforts feel more rote.

BokuMachi party

The other struggle the show has is its somewhat predictable nature; you could see a certain plot point coming a mile away. To its credit, the final moments are still suspenseful as ever; you wonder exactly how it’s all going to happen. I feel as if the original manga expands on the latter parts of the story more, and the anime had to rush to the final act of the story. Still though, in spite of the story, it remains compelling because you’re so invested in Satoru anyway.

BokuMachi Christmas Tree

The animation is fluid and expressive, capturing the dynamic feelings of the cast and illuminating special moments in the cold winter. In the sound design, the soundtrack is rather ambient but turns to a dramatic pitch with Satoru’s determination.  Solid performances come all-around from the cast, with just a tinge of the northern accent out of some of them, but not overbearing (granted from someone who cannot speak).

BokuMachi intro

For anyone who wants an emotional thriller and The Feels™ or simply wants to see one of 2016’s stronger anime, “Boku dake ga Inai Machi” will be up your alley. I highly recommend it. The drama will take you for a ride, even if you know what’s going to happen, and at the very least you might even feel nostalgic for your own childhood. I give BokuMachi a 4.5/5, a solid A-. Join me next time when I make friends with a bear.

Pros

– Amazing character development

– Solid story execution

– Strong animation and acting

Cons

–  Rushed second act

–  Predictable plot arc

Rating: 4.5

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Inverseman

The Inverseman is an evil overlord from an alternate dimension representing humanity's anti-existence who wound up becoming a modest civil servant.

Inverseman

The Inverseman is an evil overlord from an alternate dimension representing humanity's anti-existence who wound up becoming a modest civil servant.

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