ERASED has done the one thing I thought would be next to impossible: it nailed the ending.
After 11 episodes of intense buildup and awesome character moments, ERASED actually nailing the ending was starting to come across as more and more of an impossibility. The better a series is in the buildup to the end, the harder it becomes for it to nail the ending (a status that is shared this season among multiple shows).
For ERASED to have done that is wonderful. Now what makes this finale stand out so much? It comes primarily from the fact that it plays off of all the strengths of the series without indulging in some of the weaker portions.
With the episode picking up right where we left off last time, with Satoru confronting Yashiro, we’re treated to a sequence that, while following many clichés of rooftop confrontations, works wonders due to the strength of both characters and their performances.
The majority of the episode taken up with this confrontation, and the interspersed flashbacks, it relies on the relationships between characters that it has built up over the previous 11 episodes to make this work.
And work it does. As Satoru and Yashiro have their verbal conflict, mixed in with yet another threat to a child’s life – this time the young Kumi who Satoru had interacted with multiple times in the previous episode – the episode manages to play with expectations as to how things will end.
Adding that last line of suspense, now that the series has already played pretty much all of its cards, was excellent and they honestly had me worried that Satoru was going to truly sacrifice himself to get Yashiro caught – something that seemed completely contradictory to his behaviour throughout the rest of the series.
To the episode’s credit, it doesn’t just end with Yashiro’s incarceration. Continuing to play up the character related strengths that have defined the show, we’re given a montage of post-arrest life for all of the kids, now adults, that we had been introduced to.
It’s a great way of ending the series as we’re given Satoru’s views on how his actions, and his “disappearance” as a result of them, were to the benefit of his friends rather than a detriment. It leads up to a wonderfully heartfelt conclusion as, after all he’s been through, Satoru is given another chance meeting with Airi.
It’s a wonderful note to end the series on, and leaves this as one of the great thrillers that I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing.
Overall, this was pretty much the blueprint of how you do a finale. Tie things together neatly, hit the right emotional notes, and land expertly – ERASED manages all of these. Add in the great animation, and wonderfully subtle soundtrack from Yuki Kajiura, and this episode did what many anime only dream of. I could not be more satisfied by the way this series turned out. It’s definitely the best series of the season, and will probably sit as a front runner for anime of the year.
Episode 12 Rating: 10/10