Why was the end of ERASED so controversial?

Why was the end of ERASED so controversial?

Created by Kei Sanbe, "Erased (Boku dake ga Inai Machi)" is a well-loved manga that received an anime adaptation when it was still in publication. As with many anime that air simultaneously with the source material, the endings don't match, because the studio couldn't predict what Sanbe had in mind for the conclusion. That made the conclusion of "Erased" controversial.

"Erased" can be seen in a single weekend, more than enough time for fans of the manga to question the plot of the anime. In the manga, Satoru can travel back in time to fix a tragedy. Before the main conflict of "Erased", it mostly goes back a few minutes in time. However, this changes after the death of his mother, and the 29-year-old is forced to return to his elementary school days to avoid the murder of a classmate. Both the manga and anime follow these guidelines until Satoru returns to the present. It is then that the two versions diverge significantly.

Both the "Erased" anime and manga were quite popular, and the franchise spawned multiple iterations. The anime is perhaps the most well-known of them, but it is also incredibly controversial due to its ending. Although the manga and anime of "Erased" had quite similar conclusions in some aspects, the punctual changes in the story displeased fans of the original material.

Why was the end of ERASED so controversial?

Waking up from a 15-year coma, Satoru goes to physiotherapy, where he meets Kumi, a young woman suffering from cancer. His memories of Yashiro - the killer - and his life before the main events of the manga are also locked up until he is reunited with Airi. It is then that Yashiro returns to the fore with a plan to "kill" Kumi and frame Satoru.

Luckily, Satoru, Kenya, Sawada, and Sachiko come up with a plan to keep Kumi safe while they are camping. For several chapters, Yashiro and Satoru set traps for each other until their final confrontation on a bridge, in which it is revealed that Yashiro did not plan to murder Kumi, but simply wanted to lure Satoru to kill him. After Satoru tells Yashiro how he got ahead of him, his former master sets fire to the bridge. His intention is to die with Satoru, but Satoru jumps off the bridge with him, sending them plummeting into the lake, where Kenya, Sawada, Sachiko, and Kumi await them in the finale of the anime "Erased".

Why was the end of ERASED so controversial?

In the anime "Erased", the confrontation between Yashiro and Satoru is limited to the hospital. After progressing in his physiotherapy, paparazzi try to take photos of Satoru, but Yashiro destroys the images. He also addresses Satoru directly, rather than watching him from afar. Later, Yashiro takes Satoru to the rooftop and Satoru reveals that he remembers everything. The audience also learns that he told Kenia and Marta that the murderer is Yashiro.

Yashiro demands to know how Satoru knew her future, and tells Satoru that he sabotaged Kumi's operation, to make it look like Satoru had killed her. He also plans to push Satoru off the roof so that people will think he has committed suicide; however, Satoru deduces that Yashiro has not yet killed him because he needs him in his life, which Yashiro confirms before dropping him. Prepared to commit suicide as well, Yashiro discovers that Satoru has organized everything. Satoru survives, Yashiro is arrested, and Kumi is rescued, thus ending Yashiro's game in the anime "Erased".

Why was the end of ERASED so controversial?

Although the key points are the same in both versions of the "Erased" finale, with Yashiro being brought to justice before he can kill anyone, key deaths averted, and Satoru living a fuller life, the anime hastened its ending. The adaptation has only 12 episodes, and dedicates two to the return of Satoru and his final confrontation with Yashiro. Meanwhile, the manga has 44 chapters, and Saturo's return to the present begins in chapter 33, while Yashiro does not return until chapter 37.

This allows the "Erased" manga to focus more on Satoru's rehabilitation, make the return of his memories more organic, and establish some of the key variables for the final showdown. It also expands on the showdown, offering audiences another game of cat and mouse between Satoru and Yashiro. In short, the ending of the "Erased" manga shows how smart these two characters are, while the ending of the anime is more revealing.

Also, the way Yashiro uses Kumi differs greatly. In the manga, Satoru believes for several chapters that Kumi's life is at stake, and works hard to prevent it. The anime, on the other hand, reveals that Kumi's life is indeed in danger in the midst of the final showdown. The manga's approach highlights Satoru's heroic side and Yashiro's scheming side more than in the anime.

Why was the end of ERASED so controversial?

The ending of the "Erased" anime takes a lot of liberties, but it was actually necessary at the time. As with the "Soul Eater" and "Fullmetal Alchemist" anime, the anime was produced while the manga was still in the publishing phase, so when the anime had to end, the conclusion of the manga was still unknown. The anime had to create its own conclusion, which may work well for those who haven't read the manga yet, especially since it continues to give Satoru a happy ending and addresses the complex relationship he has with Yashiro in a short time.

However, for some fans of the source material, seeing this such condescending murder mystery didn't do justice to the plot of "Erased." In addition, in 2017 a live-action Netflix series adaptation was created that many readers considered more faithful to the manga than to the anime. Not only did it provide more development to some characters and scenes, but it greatly improved the overall pacing because the episodes were longer and there was more time for certain plot elements to evolve.

Another reason why the "Erased" anime did not please fans revolved around the romantic partner that Satoru ended, or rather did not end with. The anime does nothing but hint that Satoru and Airi have a future together, but he was also several years older than Airi. Other fans held out hope that Satoru and Kayo would end up together after everything he did to protect and save her, but she didn't wait for him while she was in a coma, and rightly so. When it comes to fan ships, there are few things that the fandom forgives, and the "Erased" anime didn't provide the ending everyone was hoping for.

©2016 三部けい/KADOKAWA/アニメ「僕街」製作委員会 ©Kei SANBE 2015/KADOKAWA