Boku Dake Ga Inai Machi is a show you’ve definitely already caught up on, produced by Studio A1 Pictures and directed by Tomohiko Itou. I literally cannot think of a sentence that could possibly turn me off of a show faster than that one, but does this massive hit break all expectations, or does it fall victim to the legacy of its creators?
In the character department, Erased has a very small cast. Really, there are only two characters that have gotten any fleshing out. Let’s start with our MC: Fujinuma Satoru. He’s a shut-in mangaka who has trouble outwardly displaying his emotions, and often shuts down in situations where he needs to confront that fact. The mental battle between his 30 year old man self and 10 year old boy self is intriguing, though rather vague. Is his younger self taking over? Is his adult mind in full control? They haven’t really explained. I’m assuming from context clues that it is the former, but a little more pushing in one direction would go a long way.
Our other character, Hinazuki Kayo, is... basically the same character. A shut in who has trouble displaying her emotions, and learns to be more open about herself and her feelings through her relationship with Satoru, just as he learns the same through his relationship with her.
Speaking of their relationship, it is shockingly cute and the way it develops our protagonists is palpable. Admittedly, if Satoru’s 30 year old self is in control, then it gives off some bad vibes, but I doubt that is the situation, and it’s a stretch to begin with. As it is, their romance is adorable and really does seem relevant to their development, instead of being random fodder to shove in more elements into the series (Unlike that other series Itou directed!)
A lot of the dialogue in the series flows rather well. Literally none of it has been exposition, which is a god-send in anime these days. It can be rather comical as well, which is a nice touch.
There is a massive fjord between the quality of the narrative, and the quality of the cinematography. Weird considering Itou directed a show I have a rather adamant distaste for. Said show having looked very average, Boku Dake’s visual quality is a plot twist within itself. It is shot very cinematically, giving it an interesting feel. Often, the camera will take time to show the falling of snow or pan across snowy buildings. I have a particular (Almost infamous) love for the use of snow for atmosphere and symbolism, and Boku Dake is basically pornography in that regard. The subtleties conveyed through the use of not just snow, but shots regarding height, barriers between souls, and bare skin as a symbol for open expressiveness are all extremely impressive. Shout out to hardcore ripping off my favorite A1 Pictures show, and then having such a masterful scene around it that I don’t even care.
However, in some scenes, particularly regarding Kayo’s home life, all subtlety goes straight out the window, and we get some of the most cringeworthy things I’ve seen in anime, possibly ever. It wouldn’t be so bad in most shows, but because of the contrast to most of the shots, it is laughable. I hate to use this word, but one or two scenes come off as edgy and kinda trash-y.
I’ve never really noticed bad voice acting in anime before. While I’ve seen a lot of good voice acting, I can’t point out what is bad most of the time. Well, until I watched Boku Dake. Everyone in this show, including the adults, sounds like an anime character. You know the voice where it is like they just inhaled 30 pounds of helium? Except for one character. That being, the inner voice of our protagonist, Satoru. He sounds like a totally normal dude. The problem comes in here. It clashes awfully.
Can’t think of a segue, but many of Satoru’s fellow classmates feel exactly the same. While, in a story like this, I expect all the characters except the main two to have very 1-note personalities, these classmates have none to speak of at all. Which, once again, clashes with the superb development of our two leads, along with even the strength of the other side characters, like Satoru’s mom, for instance. There is one other character that is poorly written however...
Kayo’s mom is front-runner for worst character in a good show I’ve seen in forever. She’s a 0-dimensional character. Pure evil, with no redeeming qualities, or anything of the sort. The only saving grace of her character is that, as of this writing, only 4 episodes are out. Which reminds me of... MAJOR SHIGATSU SPOILERS Kousei’s mom being a terrible character at first, but later being revealed to be rather sympathetic, and almost lovable. Could happen here? END OF SPOILERS
The first episode is also kind of garbage. It doesn’t have any of the cool cinematography tricks, and is rather bland. Get to the end of episode 3 before deciding on if you’ll finish this one.
Boku Dake Ga Inai Machi is a great show. While I don’t feel it totally deserves its MAL rating (My opinions on “deserving the hype” is something I have to expand on later, but I can tell you right now that I am a relativist when it comes to art) I can certainly see it becoming my favorite work of the studio. It gets an 8 from me. I’m excited to see where it goes, and where the general opinion of it goes. I literally just spent more words writing about a random seasonal show that’s 4 episodes in than I did reviewing my second favorite anime, which says something about me, but I’m not sure what it is. That’s it for today, I’ll see ya next time. - The Ghoul.