Day 6 – Boku Dake ga Inai Machi

It actually feels kind of good to type out the Japanese title for this anime, for once. I’m surprised that I even remember the Japanese title, given how much the localization has erased any mention of its original moniker. Because back then, I actually had hope that this show was going to be good. Memorable, even. Now it’s cemented itself as an ambitious thriller that failed to stick the landing and pissed off the wrong kind of shippers.

I think I got pulled off of the positive reception at around the same time everyone else did: episode 10, when it’s revealed that the killer is none other than Satoru’s home room teacher. My issue wasn’t the fact that he was the killer, nor was it even an issue that that anime did a poor job of unfurling that revelation from an audience’s perspective, but instead what pissed me off about this whole thing was that Yashiro is a cartoon villain. A banana-grin, cackling Disney villain without any good songs to sing along with. And that saddens me. Erased turned out to be a simple good vs. evil conflict without any of the nuance that it appeared to demonstrate in the first few episodes.

The biggest mistake this anime made was that it supplied Satoru’s time leap power fantasy with an actual villain to play hero with. The show had set up my expectations for the events to turn out differently than what actually happened, and it certainly did not entertain me with the direction it did take instead. I just wanted the anime to acknowledge that Satoru’s way of thinking, the very same one that led him into a vastly unfulfilling life, is childish. That some of the bad things that he remembers, the bad things that happen to him again, are indeed a product of how he believes the world is run. That nuance began and ended with Hinazuki’s involvement in the anime, which basically means, I lost a lot of emotional investment in this show when the last third rolled along.

I have a personal issue with the black and white storytelling decision in this case because the hero/villain narrative that Satoru and Yashiro share did not need to be so blunt in execution, because that’s simply not true to life and certainly betrays the earthy, collective mood that the show’s quieter moments had going for it. The story implied a certain nuance in its execution and turned up empty when it mattered the most.

I realize by now that I’m just typing the same sentence over and over and switching around the words, because I’m trying really hard to explain my personal justification for thinking that this show disappointed me. It mostly has to do with Sword Art Online, an anime that shares the same director and treats its villains the exact same way, and it also has to do with my stepmom, who is the main reason I got kicked out of the house near my university. But it’s simply not in my nature to bad mouth her actions or her character, even if I’m on an honest streak at the moment and feel like airing out all of this year’s grievances. 

I will say this about her though: she’s not evil. She’s just dated. Traditional. Perhaps a bit ignorant of how the world works now. I understand it too well for me to just dismiss her as someone who’s just plain wrong. I do this with my mom, too. She said to me once that Hillary Clinton is not fit for president because women think differently than men do. I don’t know anymore what I should be doing to keep these relationships healthy, other than to stay quiet and not speak up about it. They’re both great people so long as you don’t ask them about their politics or how they think kids should be raised. Where am I even going with this?

Maybe I’m just tired of it. The partisanship. The whole Us vs. them dichotomy that’s been plaguing how we speak to each other as American citizens, that really pisses me off about Erased. This does mean that my reasons for not liking this show are not 100% the show’s fault, but it should help you understand a bit more as to how my priorities are just incongruous to what the show ended up doing.

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