Satoru has spent so much of time doing good and he will never get that back.
Title: Erased (Boku dake ga Inai Machi)
Publisher: Kadokawa Shoten (JP), Yen Press (US)
Artist/Writer: Kei Sanbe
Serialized in: Young Ace
Translation: Sheldon Drzka
Original Release Date: November 7, 2017
A review copy was provided by Yen Press.
Writing a review for a mystery is never an easy thing but it’s especially hard to write about a mystery when this is your second interaction with the story and you’re actively looking for foreshadowing. In the anime adaptation of Erased it was painfully obvious by this point who the serial killer was if you were genre-savvy, and I honestly can’t say if it was as obvious here in the manga or less so.
I do think that there are two points in the manga’s favor that were not present in the anime however. The first is that, due to more generous amounts of time than the anime had, there is more “downtime” for Satoru in-between the predestined murders. It’s not truly downtime for Satoru, since he is still trying to make sure that all of these isolated children won’t be at risk for kidnapping, but these periods do allow for even more characterization of the side characters. In a surprising move, Kayo actually returns to the story and rejoins him and the others at their school, something which did not happen in the anime. This actually makes a lot of sense. In the anime I had wondered why Kayo still seemed so close to her elementary school classmates years later but realizing that they were probably together through high school explains this perfectly.
All of these quieter moments help make the part where Satoru comes to the end of the road feel even abrupt and sudden. The readers know that Satoru will eventually have to confront the serial killer but, looking at it another way, would any new reader to the series expect it to happen when Satoru is still so young and helpless? There is a chilling, thematic sense to this however; it’s been established that Satoru will snap back to the present once he has saved the life of the child previously in danger, but this time he needed to save his own life so he’s still in the past. And, well, it turns out to be a lot harder when his own life is targeted and his present diverges from his past.
This is when the series oddest time skip happens: Satoru ends up in a coma following his near-death experience with the killer and Satoru only awakens 15 years later. The timing is a little odd — Satoru still hasn’t returned to the date of his mother’s death when he wakes up and this change from the usual routine suggests that this truly was his last revival. Instead of being returned with supernatural measures, Satoru had to simply live out his life, moving through normal time instead. While Satoru was sleeping, the manga also takes advantage of the empty time to provide a little more background on the killer; the anime had only provided a very condensed version of the killer’s motivations and this extended flashback provides more context for the horribly twisted person our villain is. This longer backstory doesn’t seek to humanize the villain, rather it aims to show more motivation on the killer’s part and to affirm how deeply disgusting they are.
Both this and the chapters concerning Kayo’s return are two instances where I understand why the anime cut those aspects due to time constraints but I found myself enjoying the manga’s original pacing and story-telling much more. I do think that it’s a shame since this volume was far stronger than the anime episodes it corresponded to. I personally felt like the anime adaptation of Erased lost some of its steam in the back half but here the story is still going strong. The additional time spent with all of the characters was put to good use, and the very last few pages of this volume reveal that the anime made a strange adaptation choice indeed, one that I’m very interested to see how it plays out in the final omnibus volume.