ERASED has officially hit its first stumbling block. After four episodes of absolutely top notch direction and storytelling, episode five sadly does not manage to maintain the highs of the previous episodes.
While far from being a bad episode, this one doesn’t manage to hold the same emotional weight that the previous episodes have due to some interesting decisions on the part of the team behind it. In specific, the almost emotionally vacant feel of the entire episode does little to help keep the viewer as invested, with the only major emotional beats coming from Satoru’s horrified discovery of Hinazuki’s mittens in the trash, and Airi’s outburst at their manager in the “present” day.
Actually, it was really interesting to be returning to the present day after Satoru’s failure to make huge waves in the past. It honestly reminds me a little bit of what Steins;Gate covered with the concepts of divergence, and the differences that little changes can, or can’t, make.
Returning to the present, Satoru discovers that things have changed, although not in the way that he was expecting. Instead of anything major happening for the sake of his mother, it all comes out in a small alteration to the information on Hinazuki in the book that he had been going through at the start of the series.
No longer claiming she died at the age of 10, Hinazuki’s image reveals her to have died at the age of 11 instead. It was an extremely small change that was brought upon by all of Satoru’s hard work in the past.
Despite the plot heavy nature of the episode, plus the few new red herrings that are thrown our way, the main thematic point brought up in the first half of the episode is sadly left hanging rather than focused on. In an attempt to buck Satoru up, his mother attempts to convince him that there was nothing he could have done to prevent Hinazuki’s disappearance/death. Due to the fact that Satoru actually has an ability that allows him to take responsibility and attempt to change things, it clashes spectacularly.
The fact that this idea is not dwelled upon for long, and is actually dropped relatively swiftly, is disappointing, but it does provide another facet to Satoru’s personality and how this ability has defined him.
Overall, despite some hiccups in the pacing, plotting and animation for this episode, ERASED is still the strongest series this season, and this episode was still good. While it may not have hit the same highs as previous weeks, it’s still going strong as a thriller, leaving us with another major cliffhanger until the next episode arrives.
Episode 5 Rating: 8/10