Are you ready for the wild ride?
My body is ready.
Boku Dake ga Inai Machi is high-quality. Or ERASED, if you prefer its spiffy-sounding English title. I stopped following the manga a while ago and so I’m nowhere near caught up, but I’ve read enough of it to know that it’s really, really good. And really, if you’ve watched this pilot episode you’ll probably be inclined to agree. On top of that, the stars themselves seem to have aligned for this adaptation – both figuratively and literally. It’s being produced by an Aniplex-backed A-1, and is airing on noitaminA. Itou Tomohiko (SAO, Silver Spoon) is directing with Kishimoto Taku (Silver Spoon, Haikyuu!) screenwriting. Kajiura Yuki (SAO, Madoka Magica, Fate/Zero) is composing the music. Asian Kung-Fu Generation are even re-recording their song Re:Re so that it can be the OP for this adaptation. Bokumachi is the anime equivalent of a baby born to a rich upper-class first-world family. It has all the money, industry all-stars and source material it needs to be a success, and I have a feeling it knows exactly how good it is.
The voice cast is perfect too. Adult Satoru is probably the best of them all – Mitsushima Shinnosuke may be a first-timer to voice work, but he’s also a live-action movie veteran, and it really does show. He actually reminds me of Hosoya’s voice. Satoru’s voice alone teaches you so much about his personality, and adds so much depth to it – you can really feel that he’s a disgruntled, slightly awkward man who has issues with expressing himself, and who has perhaps experienced a little too much of harsh reality a little too fast. I’m not too sure why he ended up as a manga author if he’s someone who’s emotionally stiff, but then again that explains why he’s struggling – and perhaps it was a dream of his from a long time ago. Speaking of which, he’s pretty much lost those too, along with his hopes and ambitions. My memory is very fuzzy, but from this episode alone it’s already been implied that the abduction incidents during his childhood were very influential in shaping who he is today, even if he can’t quite remember it – and by time-travelling to that childhood, he’s being given an opportunity to re-confront his regrets, undo his failures and rediscover his identity. It’s actually a real pity that so much of this anime will be focused on Satoru as a child and not an adult, if only because I’d love to hear his grown-up voice as much as I can. I guess it’s balanced out by the presence of the main heroine Hinazuki Kayo, voiced by my eternal seiyuufu Yuuki Aoi. You’re probably tired of me worshipping her by now, but how could I not when she’s so perfect? I would like nothing more than to marry Aoi(‘s voice), and then have hot, passionate sex with her (voice) every night.
Okay, so we’ve established that watching Bokumachi is like being blissfully slapped in the face with a thick bundle of banknotes. As for the episode itself, I was surprised by how much they managed to cram into this first episode. They addressed so many things – from Satoru’s growing relationship with Airi to the dynamic he has with his mother, alongside an explanation and multiple demonstrations of his forced time-loop ability. I particularly liked how A-1 animated those small, everyday scenes that Satoru desperately had to scan for an anomaly in order to prevent a tragedy occurring – of course, the second time it happened outside the supermarket, the audience’s first reaction was to join Satoru and his mother in searching for what the root of the issue was. I don’t remember reading anything on how Revival works, and it’s possible that it’s just an unexplained mechanism that exists just to facilitate the story – but of course, it’s also possible that the man who murdered his mother is involved in something supernatural too, if his red eyes are any indication. I think it’s pretty clear that the murderer is the same man as the serial child kidnapper, whom the police have wrongly identified as Shiratori Jun. Less well-established is exactly why this murderer has gone to all the trouble of targeting Satoru’s mother, long after the Hinazuki Kayo case has already closed. How did he know she’d start investigating him? If his true goal is Satoru himself, then is Airi-chan in danger too? Most importantly, what the hell should Satoru do now, stuck decades in the past as a young boy? Is the condition for returning to his time to save Kayo? How can he accomplish that while still a kid? How deep do his regrets go, and what exactly has forgotten? And even if he does return, will the big hole he’s dug himself into still be there?
It was a perfect first episode. I knew everything that was going to happen, and yet it was still so intense. The entire episode built up the surprisingly comfy relationship between Satoru and his mother, for the express purpose of hitting us with that final scene – the two had a really genuine dynamic, especially for a mother and son who are now both well into their adult lives. They loved each other deeply, and Satoru’s tragic expression when he found her murdered proved just as much. It might be terribly irrational to have bolted, but rationality was probably the last thing on Satoru’s mind when the police somehow immediately came to his doorstep and found him covered in blood. And if the murderer was well-resourced enough to be able to kill someone and disappear into the night without leaving any evidence, Satoru would probably have been incriminated had he not run away – he’s the only one at the crime scene after all, and I’m sure that hysterical neighbour would only be all too willing to testify against him. Now that he’s safely in the past, he has all the time he needs to work out what he should do from now on, and how he should use the opportunities in front of him. Or does he?
If you haven’t read the source material but are interested in doing so, I would advise against it. There’s a lot of suspense and thrill in store for you, and it’s best to keep the experience as fresh as possible. I’m not going to revisit the manga, either. I’m going to hop on to this wild ride and embrace the feels as they come, and you should too! Everything has gone right so far, and I’m praying that everything continues to go right. If it manages to sustain this level of self-assurance all the way to the very end, then future generations of anime fans might just be asking each other, ‘where were you when Bokumachi saved anime?’
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