First Impressions: Active Raid and Erased

winter season

Here’s another 1000-word post about this season’s anime… don’t worry, I’ll get to all of them eventually. And luckily, it seems that I’ve found at least one show to follow earnestly this season.

Active Raid

Active Raid_ Kidou Kyoushuushitsu Dai Hakkei - 0101

No. No. This won’t do. The world-building is non-existent, the active part of the narrative doesn’t happen till two-thirds of the episode is practically over, and the special WillWear suits do nothing for the imagination. Absolutely nothing. There isn’t anything here that you haven’t seen before — no special twist, no ironic jab, no insightful commentary even. Worst of all, it’s one of those shows where constant chatter rains down from some command center. Mediocre anime loves this kind of thing, because it makes up for good writing. Good writing — one that tries to show and not tell — is difficult. So instead, individuals sit in some room and relay every ounce of pertinent information to the audience. Sprinkle in a bunch of jargon — Unlock the Sublimation Mode! — and there you have it: a perfectly forgettable anime for the winter season. What a great way to start off the day!

Boku dake ga Inai Machi

Boku dake ga Inai Machi - 0101

At least Satoru’s not a high schooler, right? Nah, he’s a fifth grader instead. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Our hero has a special ability: if something horrible is about to occur, he gets sent back in time to try and save the day. Early in the opening episode, he prevents a truck from flattening some kid on the road. But why? Who or what is making this happen? Can it be Fujinuma himself? Maybe. It feels like Satoru is mired in depression, so it should come to no surprise that our hero also happens to be a reluctant one. His movement and speech are lethargic. He has a low sense of worth. His coworker Katagiri observes that he opens up to no one and rarely ever smiles. He thinks to himself that there’s no use in getting involved with strangers, because it’ll only make things worse. One of the first things we see is Satoru ripping up one of his works and dumping the remains in a river. Why? Just because one magazine rejected him? In any case, these are all signs of a man who is deeply ashamed of himself.

That explains why he has to force himself to be the hero. Guilt and shame are two very different things. Guilt says that you screwed up, and while that may hurt to admit, you’ll still get through the day. After all, when you admit that you’ve screwed up, you can also adapt: “I won’t screw up again.” That’s the theory, anyway. Shame, on the other hand, says that you are the screw up. That’s a little harder. You can’t be as adaptive when you believe that you yourself are the source of your own problems. In any case, Satoru says over and over that he doesn’t like to get involved, but nevertheless, he always does. And isn’t it what we do that defines us? It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t want to be a hero. As long as he continues to do heroic things, he is a hero. But that’s where shame comes in; shame prevents Satoru from being proud of his accomplishments. He takes almost no pride at the fact that he just saved some little kid. Instead, he breaks out a smile only because he didn’t lose his job.

Boku dake ga Inai Machi - 0102

“I’m not good enough.” “I’m not worth loving.” These are some of the things we tell ourselves when we are ashamed. But what is Satoru ashamed of? When he was in fifth grade, he befriended Yuuki, some older guy in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, Yuuki is really Jun Shiratori, and he was later arrested for serial kidnapping and murder. It is said that Satoru’s classmates were Jun’s latest and final victims. Worst of all, Satoru blames himself for not doing more. He honestly believed he could’ve saved Kayo, the little girl in red who haunts his dreams. He deeply regrets not calling out to her on the night of her abduction, and he is ashamed of that. And it seems all but certain that his supernatural abilities stem from this trauma. His self-dubbed “Revival” abilities typically only sends him one to five minutes into the past. He can’t prevent Kayo’s death, but he can at least save others. At least he won’t have to regret not saving others. But there’s more.

There’s an interesting bit of characterization in one of Satoru’s memories. Yuuki gave him a bit of advice on how to be more popular. The advice itself isn’t important. Rather, this conversation tells you what Satoru’s life as a kid must’ve been like. He wasn’t one of the more popular kids. Connecting with most of his classmates didn’t necessarily come naturally to him. He was different. So imagine being a little kid, not the most popular kid, and finding out that you had befriended a murderer… yes, we later find out near the end of the episode that Yuuki wasn’t responsible for the deaths of countless children, but Satoru doesn’t know that yet. And he’s had to live with this fact for the past 18 years. “I’m the fucked up kid who became friends with a kidnapper and murderer. What is wrong with me?” Shame is linked to destructive behavior. Shame is also linked to depression. It explains a lot about what Satoru has become: an aimless 29-year-old delivery guy with no friends or career prospects.

Boku dake ga Inai Machi - 0103

Luckily, Satoru gets another chance when his mom gets “fridged” like all comic book women are wont to do. I jest, but even so, she is brutally stabbed in the back by the real killer, and this trauma becomes the catalyst that sends Satoru’s Revival ability into overdrive. Instead of going back at most five minutes in time to hopefully prevent the death of his dear (why is she so goddamn young-looking and slim at 52 years of age?) mother, our hero wakes up to find himself back in… fifth grade. Thanks to Revival, I can’t help but imagine that Satoru has been doing the right thing all his life. But now, he gets to save himself most of all. And it’s funny… Satoru can’t make it as a mangaka, but his current story would be perfect for some series. It’s only been one episode, but it’s got potential to be a suspenseful thriller, and as a manga, a real page-turner. In any case, I will keep my eye on this A-1 Pictures production and how it develops. Now, if only we can do away with Katagiri as a potential wife prospect…

Yeah, I only wrote about two shows this time around, but I didn’t expect Erased (I’m just gonna call it that from now on) to take up so much of my time. I’ll do more later today… hopefully.

6 thoughts on “First Impressions: Active Raid and Erased

  1. AlvaroH

    Oh, I could tell from literally thousands of miles away that you wouldn’t like Active Raid.

    Yet, curiously enough, I did kind of enjoy it. Yes, it’s mostly standard genre entertainment, but there’s nothing else airing recently with this sort of gimmick. A bunch of the chatter amused me, which I guess is the secret to enjoying this show or at least the first episode. I liked the jabs at regulations and politicians, for example, so for me the talking didn’t feel as long as it took.

    The other, more technical jargon didn’t bother me at all either, because I am completely used to that being a standard inclusion in most mecha shows, both Super and Real. Nothing the audience truly needs to understand. Hey, you want to have a special name for your power-up mode because all the good ones have already been taken? Okay, whatever you say.

  2. Akeem

    I expected you to like erased. I think you’d like Rakugo too even though the premier is 50 mins (including credits) long. Rakugo is pretty different which is the first thing that caught me. About erased though i stopped after the few minutes when he repeated the line ” I’m afraid to get to the heart of my own mind” Hope i got that right. But the first few minutes were all i really needed to give me a general idea of the type of character that he was. Reading your whole thing on shame was quite something. I was more focused on what seemed like a man who became detached after running away from some traumatic experience. Throughout the episode memories came back to him as if he’d been blocking them out for years. The revival ability struck me as some sort of ptsd ( can’t think of a better term at the moment) response to the similarity between the present moment and the past memories. His heroic deeds stuck me as more of him doing them out of principle than anything else. i think he said “any normal person would do that” in response to the girl asking why he saved the boy.

    Then i read a comment that said in the manga the revival ability was something that repeated until he made the right choice.

    Looking forward to your coverage of this and apologize if my comment isn’t coherent enough. Took a break myself and trying to get back into the whole writing thing.

  3. spectreandy

    Yep, Active Raid is pretty meh.

    Maybe it’s because of The Asterisk War that I dropped recently, but I’m just getting some serious fatigue from anime-futurism. Just cascades of soulless tech images just being thrown around willy-nilly. Holograms! Bright screens with Blip-bloops all over the fucking place! Cities that are so clean that it must fucking rain Bleach every morning!

    That first episode was a mixture of boredom and confusion. They’re just throwing jargon and Article numbers left and right. Uh, okay. We, uh, totally know and care about Future Japan’s policing articles because POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY GUYZ.
    Meanwhile, this show’s Ryu and Ken are basically being Ichigo and Ishida. Get it guys? One hero is a wild man of action, while the other hero is a calcuating calm guy with glasses! They’re not terrible characters but, man, they’re pretty cardboard.

    I would continue on with the show, but maybe it helps for a mecha show to have… I dunno, good mecha designs. They just look garish and just over-designed try-hards. It’s fucking Kamen Rider for fucks sake. Only this Kamen Rider show that’s almost like it’s for kids also has bureaucracy and crime fighting Articles thrown in the mix. I don’t think there are any good mecha shows this season.
    Also, main girl needs to cool it with those sparkle eyes the size of Australia and the Engrish. Wow. So quirky I guess.

    Anime Age is a quantum clusterfuck. High schoolers in shounen shows are built like 25 year olds. So what’s wrong with making a 52 year old woman look like she’s fucking 52? All the other shows with parents in them are clones of one another that talk exactly alike. Is it because she has some story value? And if she’s not aesthetically pleasing, the audience won’t care about her? Give her some fucking wrinkles and gray hair like a 52 year old woman. It says something when we have this time-traveling is going on, and the one thing I’m questioning is, “Why does that 52 year old woman looks like she’s fucking 25? Is it the Revival? Is Satoru’s Revival have some kind of residual thing that rubbed off on Mom? Does Dad also look 25? This shit’s pretty dumb.”
    What’s with Mom’s lips? Those are gyaru lips right? To be fair, Satoru should have those lips just based on genetics. That’d be pretty funny.

    But really, this is a better opening episode than most shows. We got the questions, we got conspiracy, and we got crazy magic shit.

    I got kinda tired of Satoru’s inner tsukkomi pretty quickly. Maybe because they’re mostly misses or the tone of his voice. Satoru as a character is pretty flat anyway, along with Katagiri, aka this show’s Token Cute-Girl Because Every Show Needs To Have Some Romance In It.

    Goes to show that maybe the quality of an adaptation has to do with the source material *coughsaocough*. Now, this is A-1 Pictures, so they can royally fuck up in episode two. So cautious optimism.

  4. fgfdfh

    Hey, you are back! Hopefully I can read your post everyday. The better anime premise of this season are: Erased, Rakugo, BBK/BRNK(this one has a strong possibility of falling apart, though) , and Dimension W. I also enjoy Sekko boys, but there aren’t much to blog about it.

  5. mei

    I found it amusing when I was reading this series that the MC’s manga got rejected… but the manga he’s in was nominated for at least two different awards.

    Either way, Erased is really good. (And I also hope they do away with Katagiri as a romantic interest.)


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