Erased (S01E12) "Episode 12"

And there we have it folks, the end of Netflix’s live-action adaptation of the anime Erased – how well did the finale hold up against expectations, and did it deliver a satisfying conclusion to Satoru’s story?  I’ll get to those answers in a moment, but first here’s a summary of the episode’s events:

Satoru finally confronts Yashiro, and their ideologies clash, with Satoru also revealing the multiple lives he’s lived. There is a brief display of fireworks (beautifully done) and then Yashiro, who declares that the only way for this story to end is for both of them to die together, sets off an explosive device on the bridge. Satoru is knocked back, and Yashiro then explains that he is only evil by society’s standards, and that he rejects the standards that tell him he is wrong for acting upon his desires. Much like how in the past when Yashiro left town in exchange for Satoru’s life, this time he is willing to rid himself from the world, so long as Satoru perishes with him. Satoru, however, stands up without his crutches (once again demonstrating the tremendous capacity of the human will and its capability to defy expectation and explanation), and charges Yashiro. They both fall from the bridge and land in the water below, where Sawada and Kenya have called police and set a trap.

Yashiro is apprehended, and we then jump five years into the future (2010) –  Yashiro has been sentenced to death, Kenya is a successful lawyer, Kayo and Hirumi’s child has grown some, the other friends from Satoru’s childhood live their adult lives, and most importantly: Satoru has become a successful manga artist; with his own team, and an anime adaptation for one of his manga in the works. It’s a fitting conclusion to his story. Before, he was a struggling artist as he could never develop a compelling hero or story, but after all he’s been through, and because he and Kenya have themselves become heroes, his works thrive. We are then witnesses to one last treat – Satoru returns to the bridge he has so often visited, reflecting on all he’s been through and contemplating his younger self, when an older Airi takes refuge under the bridge to escape a sudden snowstorm. Reunited by what can only be fate, the series ends on their encounter, suggesting an optimistic and romantic future for Satoru and all those around him.

I’ll concede that it was a fitting conclusion, and while more or less the same final product as the anime, the majority of this ending (including the entire second coma and camping affair) were drawn from the manga. My only disappointment in this episode was that I never felt much weight or tension to the final confrontation. There was obviously history between the two on the bridge, and I did quite enjoy their dialogue, and the firework sequence was breathtaking and perfect, but I never felt like there were any true stakes to the bridge encounter. Firstly, and this is kind of a plot-hole, but if Satoru were in any true danger he could have just crawled to his edge of the bridge. Mainly, however, the audience was never led to believe that Satoru had been caught off guard or was at any real risk – it kind of seemed that he had a plan all along, and one could predictably guess that Satoru would come out alright and get Yashiro apprehended. There was never a moment where I doubted this, and I would have liked it if they had built some suspense.

All in all though, I feel as though there was perfect closure to this finale. There were no loose ends, and the viewer is left feeling comfort, which is reinforced when Satoru states that he has experienced no more ‘revivals’, implying that he has reached the true and intended timeline. It’s a book that we can all close with a smile.

Looking back at the series as a whole, I enjoyed it, but it never felt like it truly triumphed over the anime. There were some highs, and some scenes that I preferred in the adaptation, but for each high there was more than one low, or moment that the anime had done better. The adaptation was consistent with the themes and drama of the anime, and I really felt attached to some of the characters. I think on average the actors were good: some of the children were relatively meh, but most of the adults played their parts well – specifically the actors for Satoru’s mom Sachiko and our resident psychopath Gaku Yashiro. Each setting felt like it was directly taken from the anime and manga, and certain set-pieces were so well matched that I still wonder whether the manga was drawn based on certain real-life locations. The music was also on-point and some motifs became memorable, but I think the anime generally had a better soundtrack, and the ending theme (while good) just couldn’t match the opening theme of the anime.

Series Verdict: 7/10

Note: One thing you’ll notice is that I don’t usually rate episodes individually, but rather a series as a whole. This is primarily because I believe that if a show is great (like Game of Thrones which I’d give a 9/10), a 6/10 episode will rarely ever deter someone from watching the series or skipping the episode; but if the series itself has a 6/10 rating then some might avoid the show altogether. I just don’t think episode scores influence viewers that much, but they do give people an idea of whether the next episode they watch is going to be amazing, or average. Thus, I like to rate a series by the time it has reached it’s end, so that future potential viewers can use that to aid their decision.

However, I do also recognize that if someone want to watch a show as it comes out, they can’t really wait until someone else has watched it all and reviewed it – as a result I also concede the importance of initial impressions’ and ‘midseason reviews’, which I will certainly make use of in the future.

Obviously some shows like Black Mirror (which I’ll be reviewing soon) not only have very few episodes per season, but are anthology series with each episode being independent – which means that people can choose to skip episodes that don’t appeal to them or have low ratings. So when I review Black Mirror Season 4, I’ll be rating each episode individually, but generally for normal series that won’t be the case.

On that note, I just want to thank everyone who has been reading or staying up to date with my Erased reviews! It’s the first full series I’ve covered on good ol’ TV Series Hub, and I hope you’ll stick with me and the site in the future. My next focus, as stated, is Black Mirror S4, and next year I’ll be doing a bunch of things. I’m hoping to cover some mainstream shows, some anime, and maybe some unique things every now and then – have a great new year, and you’ll hear from me soon!