Erased is a 2016 live action film based on the hit anime of the same name by writer Taku Kishimoto. The story revolves around Satoru Fujinuma, a manga artist who experiences moments of flashback in time allowing him to change the course of events. He coins the phrase “Rewind” for these moments. He doesn’t know what he has to change but time keeps looping until he fixes what he’s there for.
During the early part of the story, he suffers a terrible tragedy which results in him having a revival moment, waking up and living a large part of his childhood as a ten year old trying to avert a spate of murders of young children in his area. He needs to stop these from happening as it affects the tragedy he suffers as an adult. The film closely follows the events of the anime, for the most part, and even mirrors some of the scenes, shot for shot.
The film stars Tatsuya Fujiwara as Satoru Fujinuma and Kasumi Arimura as his close friend, Airi Katagiri. Tatsuya might be known to audiences as playing the role of Light Yagami in the Death Note movies. First off, full disclosure, I was a huge fan of the anime and went into this expecting to be disappointed. I’m pleased to say that I definitely wasn’t disappointed and was in fact, quite the opposite. Both leads give great performances which always helps to carry the movie along. Tatsuya is a standout as he doesn’t always know if what he’s done is enough to prevent a tragedy and you can see the anguish and anticipation in him as he, like us, hopes for the best. Kasumi lights up the scene whenever she appears, she gives such a delicate performance as Satoru’s best friend and confidante. A special notice must be given to the two young child actors who play the roles of Satoru and his childhood school friend, Kayo. Tsubasa Nakagawa as a young Satoru literally steals every scene he appears in, he’s such a charismatic and talented young actor and likewise with Rio Suzuki as a young Kayo. The chemistry these two child actors have is astounding and really makes the film something special.
The cinematography is fantastic with locales from suburban Tokyo to the tranquil riverside shots. Anyone familiar with the anime will admire the attention to detail, in particular the house where Kayo lives has an amazing level of detail in comparison with the anime. I’m always a sucker for movies filmed in Japan as it’s genuinely hard to take a bad shot in Japan, no matter where you are or the time of year. The film doesn’t have much in the way of a musical score or if it did, I wasn’t aware of it but that’s possibly because I was so sucked into the film. However, Erased still carries itself nicely no doubt due to the excellent storytelling, performances and on screen drama. Now that I’ve mentioned the storytelling, I just have to say that there is a massive change towards the end. No spoilers so don’t panic but when I saw which way it was headed, it surprised me. I wasn’t disappointed and I could see at the same time why the story was changed to accommodate the different medium for the story.
All in all, I loved it and not just because I would love it even if it was bad. I was a tad nervous before the viewing as I am with all anime’s that receive the live action movie adaptation. It doesn’t take much to turn a great anime into a stinker of a film but I’m happy to say that that wasn’t the case here. What the director, Yūichirō Hirakawa, has managed to do here is tell a story that weaves drama, heartbreak, suspense, love and a sense of childhood nostalgia that really pulls at your heart strings and yes, keep your tissues ready. There are a couple of scenes that’ll have you sobbing a bit. definitely one of the better live action movie adaptations which I highly recommend to anyone who was a fan of the anime.
Final score: 8.5/10
Thank you to the Japanese Film Festival for arranging a screening!