My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I had seen Erased on some of the ‘best of’ manga review lists then spotted it at the library. Had to have it. I will say at first, I didn’t like the art style (proportions are not always right) but it grew on me. The story grabbed me right away.
Satoru Fujinuma is something of a twenty-nine year old failure. He’s still working as a pizza delivery boy and is a wanna-be mangaka. The opening chapters with him lamenting how hard it is to break into writing, the criticisms of his work, of how his debut flopped, I know first hand how this is (well with writing. No one wants to see my art). He’s working with a lot of high schoolers and is really feeling that ‘I’m a failure’ thing, especially when dealing with the inquisitive high school girl, Airi Katagiri (especially when some people, including his mother thing they’re an item, which given their age gap creeps him out).
Satoru is special though. He has this phenomenon surrounding him that he calls ‘revival.’ When something goes wrong, usually with tragic results, like the death of a child (which is the first time we see it), he relives the moment again and again until he notices the event that kicks off the tragedy and stops it, something that usually ends up with him in trouble or hurt. Our first look at revival is him saving a child, ending up a hero, a hero in the hospital after his pizza delivery scooter collides with a truck.
Compounding his problems, his mother moves in with him (along with her big personality) until he’s on his feet and Airi has begun to notice that there is something strange going on with Satoru. But there’s always been something strange going on with him. As a ten to eleven year old child, Satoru was tangentially associated with three murdered children and the young man convicted of being a serial killing pedophile. Kayo Hinazuki, the first murdered little girl was his classmate and Hiyomi was a boy Satoru played with, a very effeminate boy who was probably mistaken for a girl by the killer. Satoru’s mother and the other parents tried hard to make them forget the incident but it’s been there in the back of Satoru’s mind.
Then came a revival that swept up his mom and Airi in it. It took me a while to warm up to his mother who was once an investigative reporter. She noticed quicker what the problem was than he did. This revival thwarted what would have been another tragedy regarding a kid. The incident kicked off something far worse for Satoru, a tragedy that has him begging for a revival. He gets it only to find his twenty-nine year old self in the body of his ten, nearly eleven self. He realizes that he has a chance to save Hinazuki, Hiyomi and the others but can a little boy really do that?
Satoru takes a bit of time to warm up to. In some ways I think that’s intentional. From the descriptions of his social awkwardness I have to wonder if he has a mild form of Asperger’s syndrome. When he goes back in time, there is a lot of sweetness to him though, a true desire to help people. Satoru is a good guy. You want him to save Hinazuki (who has problems of her own). You want him to get back to the modern day having changed the future. You want him to finally have his story as a mangaka and become successful. There are a few weird, sort of annoying things like him thinking something then immediately saying it and going ‘did I say that out loud’ (I kept thinking there was a reason for it that I just didn’t see other than kids have no filters) or the wide mouth big eyed gape whenever he was embarrassed but that’s minor stuff. Somehow I thought this was a one shot but it is not. Now I’m anxiously awaiting more.
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