Satoru Fujinuma is a 29-year-old manga artist and pizza delivery driver at Oasi Pizza. He's not a very nice guy, though he's intelligent and talented. He just needs to apply himself more. He's special, though, in more than one way. He possesses a special ability known as "Revival."
At several moments throughout his life, he sees an apparition of a blue butterfly in front of his eyes, which indicates that he's about to be taken back in time to prevent some awful event from happening. It's happened a few times in his life, including right before a car accident where he's able to save a young boy's life. But it's never taken him back in time all the way to childhood.
That's where Satoru is transported back to after he discovers the grisly murder of his mother, which takes place in his own apartment, of all places. Who would want to kill his mother, and could it have anything to do with the harrowing murder of three young girls from Satoru's childhood? That's the mystery viewers stick around to unravel in the anime series Erased.
Many incorrectly (and ignorantly) assume anime is rife with only schoolgirls and giant robots, with no shred of excellent storytelling or interesting characters. It's impossible to tell them otherwise, that is until they've found a series they can't stop watching. For some, however, it's difficult to sway them because they simply won't give a series a try: "It's too weird," "It's too sexual," "I don't like the art style," they complain. Erased is the perfect antidote to claims from the anime naysayers in your life, in that it could have been a Western primetime drama any day of the week.
Granted, as a primetime drama, it would have been millions of times less engaging, too, with cringe-worthy dialogue and awful effects. That's why it had to be anime – it feels perfect for the medium, with excellent English voice acting, cinematography, and an overall atmosphere that makes you feel as though you're watching a movie play out in multiple parts rather than a series that aired on Japanese television.
In fact, it feels very much like a series that would release via Netflix or another avenue and then be touted at various outlets as "binge-worthy," and as cringe-tastic as that word is – it's true! Digging into Satoru's past 18 years ago to figure out what went into the planning and murder of innocent children is some of the most addictive storytelling I've seen in any show recently, animated or otherwise.
You see two sides of Satoru: His adult, "normal" persona who seems as though he may have failed later in life after giving up, and his child side, who's bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, intelligent, and rife with friends – even romance. Going back in time isn't just a chance to save his mother, as he finds out, but it's an opportunity to completely change the landscape of his childhood. It's a landmark, life-changing experience, and as it plays out with Satoru's cunning and desperate planning (even one dire failure) we all yearn for a similar chance to reconstruct and reshape our childhoods, even without traumatic events that we may want to forget.
In that, Erased is one of the best possible shows you could introduce a non-anime fan to, though to be fair it's an excellent and unforgettable experience for anyone. But if you're looking for the perfect "gateway drug" that doesn't feel like another your friends or family will balk at, this is it. Look no further. Get them hooked with the drama and addictive mystery of Satoru's "Revival" powers, and then hit them with a one-two punch of one of the other hundreds of amazing series out there. Hopefully, they'll come to their senses about how ridiculous they've been without anime in their life.