WARNING: I SPOIL EVERYTHING! If you have any intentions on watching the anime Erased, I would recommend pausing your life right now, do that, and then resume your life back here on this page. If you like murder dramas (and this show gets very dramatic at times…) I would recommend giving it a quick watch over on Crunchyroll, or where ever you enjoy watching anime! It’s only 12 episodes long, each being less then 25 minutes. It is only in Japanese, so you’ll have to read subtitles, but it’s worth the watch. Or ya know, if you don’t care about spoilers, just go right ahead and read on my friend… But you have been warned :3
What would you do if you had the power to save your mother from being murdered in your apartment? What if that power involved you going back in time, 18 years to be exact, and work your butt off to prevent the abduction and murder of, not one, not two, but THREE – potentially four – children? This is the story of 28-year-old Satoru Fujinuma. He was living his mundane life in 2006 as a struggling manga artist/pizza delivery man when an old murder case creeps its head back into his life.
Now Satoru has a special ability called “Revival”. Don’t ask me how he got it. I don’t even understand it, so just work with me here. This Revival allows Satoru to go back in time a few minutes, right before a life threatening event happens nearby. Obviously, he does the good citizen thing and saves lives without asking for anything back in return… But when he finds his mother bleeding from a stab wound on his apartment floor, the Revival sends him back a bit more than just a few minutes. He finds himself back to 1988, to the 5th grade, days before the abduction of one of his classmates Kayo Hinazuki, an event he feels gravely guilty for having seen her in the park alone the day she was kidnapped. He has been given the chance to save someone he has always regretted not saving, and maybe, just maybe if he can save Kayo, that will save his mother.
Now what can a 10-year-old really do to prevent a kidnapping and eventual murder? He doesn’t have any super powers that can fight off bad guys, not like those super heroes on television or in the comics. He doesn’t have any awesome karate moves, but he realizes that these children have been targeted because they are always alone, so he fights back with the obvious remedy. He decides to give the only thing a young child can really give the loner girl in class: his company.
At first it starts with just following her and ensuring that she is never alone. When that wasn’t enough, his plan turns into standing up for her in front of the whole class when everybody wants to blame her for a petty crime she didn’t commit, and then into an invitation to a birthday party, and then an invitation to the museum. Satoru extends not only a form a protection for Kayo, but friendship.
He learns about Kayo’s abusive mother. He notices the bruises and scratches on her arms and legs, and gives her a safe haven with him and his friend group. He even invites her to stay for dinner at his house. He walks her home every night, and walks her to school every morning. It starts as a way to keep an eye on her and her potential kidnapper, but there is a change in Kayo. She becomes warmer and more social with her classmates. She even becomes a bit braver, surviving out on her own in an abandoned bus while hiding from her mother.
Satoru not only saved her life literally, but he gave her the courage to keep going and to smile.
Now moving on to the other victims of this serial killer, Satoru uses the same strategy. He befriends all of the children who were kidnapped, or would potentially become kidnapped (because he changes history, but not enough to stop the abductions… at first). He welcomes them to his home and into the group’s secret base after school. It’s remarkable to watch the change in the “victims'” confidence after becoming almost pestered by Satoru’s never-ending onslaught of company.
If you watch carefully, you will also notice a change in Satoru’s demeanour. He’s more open with his friends. He seems to be a much more social being than the grumpy 28-year-old pizza guy who only really spoke to the teenaged girl that worked with him, and even then those conversations were not really his choice to be a part of. At the beginning of his Revival, he tries to save Kayo alone, only for the abduction to happen a few days later. It isn’t until he opens up to his friend Kenya about wanting to help Kayo and the others and opening his heart to his co-worker Airi does he finally succeed.
When he attempts to save a victim alone, he fails, or even worse, winds up in danger himself and in a 15-year long coma (Okay, seriously, you can’t be mad about the spoilers because I gave you ample warning at the beginning). He insists on doing everything alone, but Kenya (in 1988) and Airi (in 2006) keep pushing through his own barriers. He learns that he can’t do it alone. He needs their help to look out for Hiromi (in 1988), and to help him escape from the police (in 2006). Even in the end of the series, when he comes face to face with the murderer, he needs the help of his friends to bring the proper justice.
Opening himself up to his friends brings happiness and success to all of them in this new future. Kayo has grown up and married their friend Hiromi, who was also one of the murder victims in the old Satoru-the-Pizza-Guy timeline. They even have an adorable baby. Hiromi, who was always timid and unsure of himself, went to med school and is now a doctor who wants to him people who have fallen into prolonged comas, just like Satoru. Even Satoru finds his own little success in becoming a professional manga artist. His friends’ open hearts give him the strength to keep going, to never give up on saving Kayo and stopping the murders even when it seems his attempts are futile, and to also pursue his dream with all his heart.
Now I know this sounds really kitschy: friendship has the power to change and even save lives. Erased is a great example of this at work. There are several studies relating to living in a supportive environment can lead to a safer and happier quality of life. Children who spend a lot of time alone, and without a lot of interaction from other classmates, will grow up with a more pessimistic view of the world while children surrounded by supportive friends and family will live with a more optimistic point of view.
Loneliness and isolation is one of the easiest ways to lower the quality of life without the person even noticing. It becomes exponentially more difficult to interact with others the longer a person isolates themselves. Humans are social creatures. We crave to be with others. And when we are denied this craving, sadness creeps into our hearts and we become more susceptible to sickness, or mental illness, and even dangerous situations. And c’mon, it’s also the most logical thing for a serial child killer to target the child that is constantly alone.
Please. Don’t be afraid to be someone’s friend. Don’t be afraid to be kind to another person, especially if they look like they need a friendly face.
We must support each other and reach out to those who may be hurting inside and outside. When we open our hearts to each other, we can feel the friendship and connection with that person becoming stronger. We become stronger. And when we are stronger we feel more confident to be brave, take risks, and protect and help each other in rough times. In these times, it’s easy to get frustrated with feeling like you can afford to give your loved ones the thing they need, but it doesn’t cost a lot to go for a coffee or even take a walk around the block.
All this ten-year-old did was ensured his friends were never alone in their struggles. He supported them, and stood by their side. He took that huge bullseye target off their backs, making it difficult for the killer to act even if they wanted to. He freed his schedule for the people he cared about, and gave them the courage to face their demons and insecurities. In return, his friends cheered him on and held their hands out ready to catch him when he fell. They helped him heal physically, and encouraged him to become the superhero he wanted to create. And seriously, all he did was ask if they wanted to hang out after school.
Was there anything I missed in my little think piece about Erased and the power of friendship? Leave a little (or large, your preference) comment down below! I love hearing from you guys!