When I talked about Erased on Monday, I said I wanted to cover the OP separately for a couple of reasons. The first of which is because there’s a lot there to talk about. The second is that to properly cover it, I have to spoil big chunks of the plot.
Mostly, though it’s because I really am finding it challenging to find OP’s worth talking about this point. While any shows OP may be good, not all of them really set the tone as well as they could, or even at all. This leaves me reaching a point where this weekly discussion starts getting kind of challenging in terms of finding material to cover.
There’s a ton of shows that I love, with OP’s that I wouldn’t pick to cover here because they just don’t meet the requirements of doing a solid job of selling the show. Which means at some point, I’m gonna have to figure out how to handle this moving forward.
I’ll let ya know when I come up with something, but trust me, I’m putting it off to the last possible minute. Procrastination is the way to go, when I can get around to it.
One of the really clever aspects of the OP for Erased is that it actually spoils the entire plot of the show, you just don’t realize it until you get to the last couple of episodes. So, spoilers ahead for anyone who hasn’t seen Erased and wants to keep their viewing virginity.
Though, really, it’s 2017. Viewing virginity is so 2007. Shed it, and become one with the interwebs spoilage, as both the parent and child that results from such a union.
That… was kinda creepy and deep.
Right off the bat, the OP introduces us to an almost rough sketch of a movie theater as Satoru, both as his adult self, and his ten year old self, enter and take a seat. On the surface, this is a neat way to set up the time travel aspect of the show, but if you really look at it, it’s also a clever introduction to Satoru himself. The black and white, unfinished feel of the theater is so him. There’s something missing, and that something is passion, a problem he’s had sine childhood. Both are content to sit back and watch the story unfold, but make no effort to be involved, much less interacting with what they are witnessing.
That is just amazingly well set up. I love it so much.
What follows is a serious of nostalgia laden scenes of Satoru and his childhood friends interacting in completely normal ways. What gives it that sense of nostalgia is primarily the way Satoru himself, as an adult, watches all this from the window of a classroom. That simple moment of reflection as he looks back at his past with a new point of view, symbolized by it being from above, is what the whole show is really about.
This is followed by a flood washing through the school. That part baffled me until the last couple episodes, when I finally got it. The killer tries to drown Satoru as a child, and the flood washing towards him was telling us that this was coming.
More than that, however, was how it implies the tidal change that Satoru is creating by saving the lives of people who would have died. It washes away the world he knew, leaving it changed in ways he can’t predict or even understand. It’s a nifty visual metaphor that has a lot of heavy meaning for how the show ends.
The next bit shows both adult and child Satoru as he wrestles around with the cinema reel metaphor for time. Various characters flick across, with their eyes covered, making all of them suspicious. This creates the scenario in the show where Satoru doesn’t know who to trust, or how to tackle the problem he faces as a child, since most of the faces we see are of adults.
As the show progressed, those markings covering the eyes were removed, revealing the true nature of the various characters, as Satoru either came to trust them, or learned what their true nature was and how they fit into the mystery surrounding him. That’s not the only element of the OP that changed across the run, either, making the entire OP a must watch every episode, as his actions in his own past affected his future.
In the next set of images, Satoru’s mom, Airi, and Kayo, are all shown with Satoru hovering in the background, his back mostly turned, as they are suddenly shaded in red and black. The three people in his life who’s survival is most important, and who the killer is targeting in both the past and present, indicating the role they will play in his attempt to alter history. There’s also a blink and you’ll miss it hint to the identity of the killer in there.
The bridge he and Airi talk under, images of the people he must save, blood flowing, the grim reaper, and ticking clocks all tell what he is up against, and how every thing is stacked against him. This little bit of clips does an amazing job of setting up the stakes of the show, and giving it all a lot of depth.
Not as good as the next bit, which shows child Satoru walking into the wind. He’s trying to alter history, so yeah, walking into the wind is an apt metaphor. Even more significantly, is that if you look closely, it appears that where he is walking is the entrance to the park where he last saw Kayo alive in his original time line. That’s the first step, the first point he must change, is to not just leave her there alone.
The fire in Airi’s house follows, another hint that the killer will take anyone to protect himself and isolate Satoru. Then Satoru screaming at the sky, trying to deal with so much, and the sheer impossibility of saving so many lives. The bullet and the clock, inferring the hurried nature of time, and his slowly declining chances.
And finally, his run across the rooftop, and the fall from it. That’s literally how the show ends. With a fall from a rooftop, as he faces the killer, and challenges him one final time. It also gives another hint to the killer, as you can see is face for a split second in the shattering glass.
All of it tells you the entire story in both giant hints, and metaphorical images, that slowly come together as he fights against the tide of time to save the lives of many people, most of whom he’ll never know, by stopping a killer he doesn’t even know the identity of, and discovering himself in the process.
The biggest part of Erased is the emotional narrative of Satrou, and how he chooses to abandon his dispassionate life, the things that he discovers about himself and those around him in the process, and the sheer beauty of his awakening to who he was always meant to be.
The song, Re:Re, by Asian Kung Fu Generation, sells that part of the story the best, with it’s both optimistic and nostalgic tone. All through the lyrics, it’s there, the story of Satoru, and how he discovers who he really is, while trying to save people that will never know the lengths he went to for them, not really.
Erased is the story of how one life can change others, by simply choosing to, and as an OP, this sells it brilliantly.