The past, has been erased; the present, forgiven; and the future, redeemed!

What the eyes had seen could not be erased

 Frank Herbert, Dune Messiah

Title
Erased (2017)
Also known as
Boku Dake ga Inai Machi   &  The Town Where Only I am Missing
Genre
Crime, Fantasy, Thriller
Written by
 Tomomi Okubo & Kei Sanbe (manga)
Directed by
Country of Origin
Japan 
Episodes
12

oh! … brief

Satoru Fujinuma is a struggling manga artist so he delivers pizzas part-time. His mother, Sachiko, stops the abduction of a young girl and because of her interference, she is murdered. Satoru is set-up to take the rap for his mother’s murder. Just as the police are about to catch and arrest Saturo, he travels back to the past where he tries to unravel the identity of the person abducting and killing children who he also suspects is the person responsible for his mother’s murder.

In Hokkaido, he finds himself once again a young elementary school student, but more informed and able to investigate alongside his friends the mystery surrounding the disappearance of school-aged children in cities surrounding Hokkaido.

But the investigation is not straightforward and consequently, Saturo suffers a terrible injury.

oh! … talks drama

This jdrama was an unexpectedly fascinating story. Based on the manga series “Boku Dake ga Inai Machi” by Kei Sanbe, first published in 2012 by Young Ace Magazine, Erased, is a unique time travel tale that spans 18 years.

Tomomi Okuba crafted a solid script from the original manga series where the leading character, Satoru Fujinuma experiences ‘revivals’ which help him to solve the abductions and murders of the past and catch the criminal in the future.

Tomomi Okuba is faithful to the original manga story but develops his characters with significantly more detail. While it is easy to uncover the mystery of who the killer is, Tomomi Okuba created adequate suspense throughout the series and an unexpected twist to Saturo Fujinuma’s personal fate.

The very nature of drama is such that it can offer a more substantial telling of a tale than a manga allows and therefore character development is more detailed. Tomomi Okubo paid a lot of attention to the details of Saturn Fujimura’s life, so you learn more about him. He is not successful as a manga artist so supplements his income by delivering pizza. He doesn’t have a girlfriend and prefers a solitary existence because he finds it hard to open up to people. This may have to do with the past that he seems to have forgotten, no thanks to his mother who appears to have conveniently kept some truth and fact of his childhood to herself. Even as I’ve described him as Tomomi Okubo has portrayed him as a character, the audience can still see that he is a compassionate and kindly soul.

For me personally, Tomomi Okubo succeeds in maintaining the dark, intriguing allure from start to the very end of his script. The suspense created is tangible without becoming too grim, so this is a jdrama that will certainly appeal to a teenage audience. I think it was insightful to portray Saturn Fujimura as an ordinary man, with little to offer the world, when truly he is a hero. I appreciated that a lot of the script involves the younger Saturo Fujimura and his friends and that Tomomi Okubo didn’t create this as a jdrama that could only be appreciated by adults.

There is some social commentary attached to this jdrama. I see you rolling your eyes. Yes, I do look for hidden messages or issues that can open dialogue or discourse on social issues. Not with every drama or film I watch, some are purely entertainment and can be appreciated as that, but there are others that open the doorway for further discussion. In this jdrama, the importance of community is essential. Without community and people within a community keeping a watchful eye and opening their homes, many children would suffer abuse and neglect. That essentially leads to dialogue about abuse, physical or emotional and also neglect both physical or emotional. The back story to Kayo Hinazuki’s situation in this jdrama really is eye-opening if you’re willing to take the time to go that direction. The character represents just one of many children the world over who are being physically and emotionally abused by a parent(s). It’s a sad situation and this story gives one rendition of the consequences that this kind of abuse and neglect can take.

Also, Erased carries a strong message that friendship and strength of numbers can help overcome bad situations. This is an important message to children, particularly in this day and age, where friendships have evolved to 145 character tweets, Facebook posts, memes, Instagram messaging and the odd and extremely rare in-person interaction outside the classroom.

There is a distinct difference between animated emotion and live-action emotions. I personally prefer live-action, but having written that, I have watched the animated version of this and I relished it in equal proportion. I didn’t watch the film, however, but that exists too!

Ten Shimoyama was the director for the Netflix’s Original Erased and I was extremely impressed. I felt that he perfectly captured the script with his visual rendition. Almost scene-for-scene if you compare it to the animated version. Of course, with live actors and actresses, there is far more to capture with human emotion and voice.

Not to mention the visually stunning cinematography captured in Koshi Kiyokawa’s camera lenses. Koshi Kiyokawa filled the screen numerous times with stunning yet tarnished looking sunrises and sunsets, dazzling snow scenes, and the ever-smoking factories of Hokkaido, to mention a few things to look for. This suspenseful story is beautifully captured in 4K resolution and the pigmentation is absolutely stunning.

Ten Shimoyama succeeded in directing his cameramen and in setting up every scene to its best. The best wardrobe was found for each character. The best props were used in each scene. The best musical accompaniment was found. While there will be many critics, I found this jdrama was well-produced and I got my fair share of entertainment, along with a rounded dose of pretty, dark, suspenseful, and thrilling moments.

The success of any production, be it film, drama, or theatre always rests on the strength of the script, the visual narrative and of course, the acting. Ten Shimoyama chose a balanced cast who did a great job of interpreting their roles and delivering strong performances.

Reo Uchikawa played young Satoru and was by far my favourite for this production. Reo Uchikawa amazed me with the depth of his acting skills. I’ve not seen him perform in anything before but I’ll be watching and waiting for other productions he is in as he grows older. I was captured by the charm Reo Uchikawa brought to young Satoru. He used good facial expressions to deliver his emotions and feelings and he completely inhabited the role. It was an excellent performance!

Likewise, Rinka Kakihara who played Kayo Hinazuki was equally amazing in the young version of the role. I was impressed with her interpretation of Kayo’ Hinazuki’s austere and guarded emotions. Together, Rinka Kakihara and Reo Uchikawa shared tangible chemistry and the scenes of them walking along holding hands were emotional, given that the audience understands that in a different universe one of the two was dead, if not both. I really was taken by Rinka Kakihara’s performance.

Yuki Furukawa played adult Satoru and I think he did a good job with the character. As an adult, Saturo is vastly different from his child-self. The character is aloof and a loner and there is a vulnerability about him that Yuki Furukawa captured perfectly and portrays well for the camera. Yuki Furukawa used bland facial expressions and few emotions, but his body language can easily be interpreted. I enjoyed the performance and think he did a good job but I do believe his performance could have been stronger.

Tomoka Kuratani played Sachiko Fujinuma, Saturo’s mother. Tomoka Kuratani has great screen presence and I was held captive with her small performances. She really delivered a strong mother figure in this role. I think it’s the kind of mother most children would want for their own. Tomoka Kuratani’s performance was solid. She emoted well, delivered her lines naturally and evoked for me, good vibes and genuine sentiments.

Shigeyuki Totsugi plays Gaku Yashiro, the friendly school teacher who has a deadly secret. Shigeyuki Totsugi did a fine job with his role, wasn’t much room to develop his character as this jdrama was more soft suspense than actual horror and more about the thriller aspects than blood and gore. But the evil monster lurking in the flesh and bones of Yashiro were displayed in the minutiae of Shigeyuki Totsugi’s performance. He did a fabulous job of both hiding and displaying his evil intent.

oh! … sidekicks

Supporting performances worth mentioning include:

  • Jin Shirasu played the adult version of Kenya Kobayashi, Saturo’s best friend growing up. Jin Shirasu gave a strong performance in this supporting role. Jin Shirasu’s genuine delivery of Kenya Kobayashi’s undying faithfulness to his friend was endearing.
  • The mysterious Sawada, an investigative journalist friend to Saturo’s mother, was played by Hidekazu Mishima. It’s funny, Hidekazu Mishima’s interpretation of the mysterious Sawada was just a tad creepier than Shigeyuki Totsugi’s interpretation of Gaku Yashiro. I liked his performance!

oh! … that’s a wrap

Erased is a fast-paced, jam-packed journey through an unusual time-travelling tale. The script was a well-built story with the mystery unravelling slowly with lots of suspense and a fair bit of thrills. The story touches on bravery, friendship, caring, community and looking after the people who fall outside of the fringes of society – the abused, the neglected, the homeless, the lonely etc. The cinematography is quite breath-taking at times and the acting was decent.

If you enjoy crime, mystery or thriller genres with the added touch of fantasy (perhaps sci0fi) then this jdrama will appeal to you because it delivers exactly those aspects.

I will likely watch this drama again because of the appeal of suspense and mystery, being a horror, thriller and all things crime fan. Would I add it to my list though as something to keep for future years? I’m not sure about that!

oh! … tidbits

This is the second time that Kei Senabe’s manga series has been the subject of a live-cast adaption. Firstly, in March 2016, a film directed by Yuichiro Kirakawa, with Tatsuya Fujiwara in the role of Saturo Fujimura, and then this Netflix Original in December 2017 (at least in Canada).

Erased anime version debuted in 2016 with a substantial popularity and is considered one of the greatest anime productions of all-time.

If you noticed the use of flip-phones in the production, understand that the show is set in 2006 and that is why the phones used are flip-phones.

Netflix Original, Erased, was filmed in Hokkaido’s Tomakomai City, the setting of the original manga.

oh! … soundtrack

I couldn’t find the soundtrack that accompanied the actual dorama so I’ve included here two tracks from the anime series while I search for the original music.  Enjoy!

 

oh! … gallery

 

oh! … trailers

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