Erased Vol. 1 Review

Title: Erased Vol. 1
Author: Kei Sanbe
Publisher: Yen Press
Language: English
Format: Hard Cover
Pages: 384
Genre: Mystery, Drama
Publication Date: February 27, 2017

The Story

Erased (Boku Dake ga Inai Machi in Japan) centers around a 29-year-old manga artist named Satoru Fujinuma. Satoru is struggling with his manga because his characters lack the emotion they need to bring themselves to life. This is because Satoru, himself, has no emotion inside of him due to an incident that happened in his childhood. For eighteen years, he has been blaming himself for the kidnapping and death of a classmate, Kayo Hinazuki. Satoru felt that if he had just said something to her on that fateful night, she probably could have been saved. It wasn’t just with Hinazuki, though. His friend Hiromi was also a victim and he had another opportunity to reach out, but he didn’t. He blamed himself for not being able to prevent their deaths ever since.

Satoru makes ends meet by working a part-time job as a pizza delivery driver. One day, while on a delivery, Satoru’s uncontrollable ability triggers. He calls it Revival and it allows him to travel back in time in one to five minute intervals. He ends up saving a kid from getting hit by a runaway truck in which the driver was dead behind the wheel due to having a heart attack while driving. Satoru ends up getting into a traffic accident as a result, but manages to survive. During this time, he begins to get close to a girl named Airi. When his mother comes to visit him after the accident, she thinks the two of them would make a great couple… despite the fact that Satoru is 29 and Airi is still in high school!

While out shopping with his mother, Revival triggers again. Airi is there this time, but they can’t seem to figure out what is out of place. Being a former news reporter, Satoru’s mother does sense that something was off. She caught a glimpse of an attempted abduction and it immediately triggers the memories of the kidnappings from when Satoru was a child. She goes to look into the matter, but the attempted kidnapper recognized her and decided to do something about it. While Satoru is at work, the kidnapper enters his apartment and ends up murdering Satoru’s mother. Satoru comes home and discovers his mom. Revival triggers, but it’s while his mom is still dead. He sees the alleged suspect and gives chase, but the commotion causes his landlord to call the police. Satoru is now mistaken as the culprit!

While escaping capture, Satoru experiences Revival once again, but something different happens this time. Instead of going back one to five minutes, Satoru travels eighteen years into the past; all the way back to 1988! With his entire life’s memories intact, Satoru must now relive his life to clear his name and protect those he couldn’t protect eighteen years ago.

We all wish we could have a second chance. There is not a human walking this planet who does not have at least one regret deep down inside of them. Granted, the circumstances in Erased are a bit on the grim side to serve as a reason to go back and do things over, but Satoru gets that second chance to set things right. This is a murder mystery series with a sci-fi twist to it. It does follow the laws of time travel in its basic sense, but doesn’t really go too deep into them, but the manga was self-aware enough to keep everything consistent from chapter to chapter.

The story itself is absolutely amazing so far. There is a great balance of storytelling and character development and the relationship that Satoru and Kayo begin to build is absolutely adorable. While the murder mystery is just beginning, the fact that Satoru made some great progress is a good sign, but then that final page throws a huge monkey wrench into everything Satoru has done and is one hell of a cliffhanger to end the first volume on.

Characters

While the story was VERY well written, it was only enhanced with amazing characters that each had their own personalities that enriched every bit of the story with a myriad of emotion. Let’s take a look at some of these characters.

Satoru is a pretty amazing main character. You really get to see the change in Satoru almost immediately. He went from this young adult who was dead inside to an energetic kid filled with compassion that wanted nothing more to save his friends, but I couldn’t help but think that Satoru was also doing all of this for a bit of self-validation. Yes, he wanted to change the events of the past to save his friends and to save his mom from getting murdered, but what was never outright stated was that Satoru needed to do this for himself. It’s a little nuance I picked up on that maybe… just maybe… I’m reading a little bit too much into it.

He’s gone through eighteen years of his life regretting every breath he took because he knew he could have done something to save Kayo and Hiromi. Now that his mother’s life is in his hands as well, Satoru knew that if he didn’t save them, not only would they be lost once again, but he would have fallen deeper into depression and despair. There was no telling what kind of person Satoru could have become. He had to prove to himself that he could not only change the past and the future, but also prove to himself that deep down inside, he still cared. He wanted to show those feelings to the world and I think they came through loud and clear through our next character…. Kayo Hinazuki.

Satoru may be a brilliant character, but Kayo was the one who really made this volume enjoyable. The amount of emotion you got from this one character is insane. You felt pity, you felt sympathy, you felt like you wanted to reach out and give her the hug she, most likely, never received in her entire life. Then there are times you felt happiness and joy that moved you because you realize the warmth she begins to get surrounded by. You could tell her genuine happiness after being invited to Satoru’s birthday. She finally found something that had been missing so far… compassionate friends. It makes you want to see how this translates going forward in volume two!

Airi, so far, is a fun character. It is a bit disturbing to think about the 29-year-old Satoru possibly entertaining a thought about dating her since she’s still in high school. It was pretty hilarious telling her to watch out for cops when he gave her a ride home after she spent dinner with him and his mother. I’m wondering if we’ll get to see more of her in the future or if this character was just a one and done deal since are spending all of our time in 1988.

Satoru’s mother and friends are all playing minor roles right now. His mother seems to be getting the bulk of the attention as she’s being as supportive as she can for Satoru. She seems like a great character so far and is standing above all of the other supporting characters. That tells me that she will have more important roles to play as the series progresses forward! Kenya seems to be getting the most attention out of Satoru’s group of friends. He seems really analytical and mature for someone his age. Something tells me that sooner or later, Kenya might be someone who will figure out what is going on with Satoru. How much he will figure out, that I cannot say, but I have this nagging feeling he will be the one to connect the dots before long.

Final Thoughts

Before I sum up I thoughts, I just want to say that I was really excited about the quality of the physical book. It featured a nice white hardcover with a white jacket sleeve. While the sleeve was really rather plain, the spine on the actual book featured a nice silver embossing.  The opening color pages are absolutely stunning. I know Yen Press likes to add color pages to the beginning of a lot of their manga volumes, but these were exceptionally well done! I tip my hat to Yen Press for the amazing job on the book!

I am a sucker for time travel stories. Steins;Gate is one of my favorite series and it’s hard to imagine something coming close to it, but Erased, so far, is giving it a run for its money. It is doing a fantastic job of setting up a lot of characters that you can connect with and care about. While Satoru and Kayo are getting the most attention, they don’t seem like they are overshadowing the rest of the cast. It seems like everyone has their part to play, no matter how big or small and that is a good thing when it comes to balance. Many series have failed because they leaned too heavily on a couple of characters and treated the rest of the cast as mere afterthoughts. Erased is bringing a nice harmonious balance to its cast thus far and it makes each one of the characters enjoyable.

The story is extremely interesting and it takes the notion of second chances and brings it to a whole new level. The murder mystery aspect is intriguing and rather deep. The fact that the story is using a child to solve the mystery is a great approach as well. Even though Satoru really is 29 years old, being 10-11 years old is the perfect cover as he can analyze things in a way where no one would suspect him. The entire personality change with Satoru from the start of the volume to the last page is almost like night and day as well. It really is like they are two completely different characters.

One thing I also noticed was the way they handled flashback scenes in the manga. Anything that was considered a flashback was set inside of a completely black page.  Where as we would normally have a white page with manga panels, all flashbacks were done on a black page.  I like this as it makes it really easy to tell when you’ve entered a flashback scene.  Not a lot of manga do this and I thought it was a very nice touch!

I can’t really say enough good things about this series. Whether you are a fan of science fiction, time travel, murder mystery or just a great story in general, Erased comes with a very high recommendation! Needless to say, I am beyond anxious for volume two!

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This item was provided for review by Yen Press

About The Author

Josh Piedra

Josh (or J.J. as some have come to call him), is a long-time geek culture enthusiast with a deep passion for anime, manga and Japanese culture. Josh also has a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and is a creative writer who has created original content for over 20 years! He is also the author of the original English light novel Final Hope.