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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Erased is a live-action adaptation of a Japanese comic book story; like the original manga, it's in Japanese (with English subtitles). The series centers on the murder of one character's mother and a series of child murders. One murder takes place on-screen: A woman is stabbed while she gasps and cries. Her blood flows and pools as stabbing noises fill the soundtrack; later, her son discovers her body and screams "Mom!" Other disturbing images show children in danger: A strange man leads a young girl toward a van, and children are alone and vulnerable in snowy, empty fields. A man in a car accident flies through the air (he's not seriously hurt). Other than the violence, this drama contains only one "damn" and no sexual content. But a woman drinks multiple beers, and a villain wakes up in bed with half-empty liquor bottles and a full ashtray beside him. Some culturally specific messages may mystify Western viewers, as when a young boy is urged to make friends by imitating the popular kids in his class.
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What's the story?
Adapted from the manga series of the same name, ERASED catches up with Satoru Fujinuma (Yuki Furukawa) as a 29-year-old pizza deliveryman and struggling manga artist who has a strange power: He experiences what he calls "revivals," in which he travels back through time just a few moments, long enough to sometimes prevent tragic accidents. But when one of Satoru's revivals causes his mother (Tomoka Kurotani) to notice a kidnapping taking place nearby and she is later murdered, he is returned to 18 years in the past. That's when an incident occurred that has haunted Satoru his whole life: the disappearance and murder of three of his fifth-grade classmates, including his friend Kayo Hinazuki (Rinka Kakihara).
Is it any good?
Dark and intriguing, this tale of an ordinary young man with out-of-the-ordinary powers is meaty, suspenseful, and fascinating, if too grim for young viewers. Satoru, all staring eyes and blank expressions, is a difficult hero to get close to, particularly at first. He barely speaks to his fellow humans; even ebullient coworker Airi Katagiri (Mio Yuuki) has trouble getting more than a few words out of him. But we already know his secret: As he tells us in the first moments of the series, Satoru is "scared to find out I have nothing to offer the world." In his dreams, he's a great manga artist who touches emotions with his work; in reality, he's a pizza delivery guy who lives alone in a dank apartment on a dead-end Tokyo street.
But unlike most guys in dead-end apartments, Satoru has a little something extra. But though what he calls a "revival" always returned him just a few minutes into the past before, now he's gone hurtling back 18 years. It's 1988 all over again, before Satoru's classmates were killed, and before his childhood friend was sent to death row. There's something Satoru has to figure out, something he has to fix before terrible things happen. Satoru does have something to offer the world, it turns out -- and to offer viewers who are willing to give this twisty drama the time to let things play out. Erased doesn't move quickly, but it does cast a spell, and it's deliciously different from a bright, brash Western superhero tale. Anime fans take note: This is one live-action adaptation worth a look.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Erased's setup. Characters who have supernatural powers are common on TV shows and in movies. Why? Why are viewers attracted to this type of narrative? What is the appeal of extraordinary powers for ordinary people?
This show was originally a manga, then a Japanese animated TV series, then a live-action movie. Have you seen any of the other adaptations of this story, or read the original manga? Do you think that would deepen or lessen your appreciation for this version?
Female characters often don't fare well in superhero tales -- they are killed, raped, attacked, or otherwise harmed, which gives male heroes a reason to fight with villains. Are the female characters in Erased given more depth? How many female characters are there compared to male characters? Are their roles as central?