Book Review: Erased Volume 3

June 20, 2017

Erased Volume 3 cover

I hope that everyone had a good weekend, regardless of how
it was spent.

Things have been going fairly well, now that I have a rough
estimate of when my situation will turn around, and I can still do what I
enjoy.

A while back, I preordered some titles from Amazon, and the
last two books finally arrived, which means that I cannot just sit around and
do nothing.

Today, I will be reviewing one of those titles, which is
called Erased Volume 3 by Kei Sanbe.

As I have given a series synopsis in an earlier
post
, I will not go over it again.

In spite of everything that Satoru has done, Hinazuki and
the others still end up dying, and Satoru blames himself for not doing more.

However, when he is back in the present, Satoru learns that
Hinazuki's date of death changed, and his hope is renewed, but his true enemy
is lurking in the shadows, trying to tighten the noose around Satoru's neck.

I must say, I really liked this book.

From the moment that I first opened up this book and started
reading it, I did want to put it down for any reason, though I do have to take
care of the same needs as every other human does.

Now, Kei does not have any problems keeping his readers
engaged, like many other writers out there seem to, especially considering that
the series still has not reached the halfway point, though those who got the print edition would be reaching the halfway
point, since Yen Press is releasing this series two volumes at a time, but this
is still pretty amazing because it has been four months since I read the last
two volumes, or the last installment, if
one only focused on Yen Press's print releases, and I am following quite a few
series to boot, one of which I have yet to receive a book for because Barnes
& Noble takes their sweet time to ship, and being able to keep me this
engaged is a sign that things are still looking good for this series.

Writers and mangaka might pour out their blood, sweat, and
tears to produce works like this, just like I do in taking the time to write my
own stories or these reviews, but, ultimately the reader is the one that
decides if a book is any good, just as Weston Kincade brought up in the interview
I had with him in 2013, and if the reader cannot become interested in a work
within the first few pages, then the book may not be considered great, even
when it has all of the sophistication and complexities that many of our grammar
and written language teachers and so-called experts of literature think make
many of the classics good, which is why readers, or any other consumer of works
found in the creative fields, do not care how much effort the writer or creator
puts into a work when it does not meet their expectations, let alone fails to
show that effort in the final product.

Fortunately, Kei does not come across that way yet, because
he is still quite capable of making things seem interesting and mysterious,
unlike A-1 Pictures, who did a worse job than Kei at hiding the criminal in
plain sight in the anime adaptation, and that makes me want to give him quite a
bit of applause.

If this keeps up, I have no doubt that the ending of this
version of the series would be as interesting as I remembered it to be when Yen
Press releases the fourth compilation in
Feburary of next year, which will feature volumes 7 and 8.

Then again, I have to keep in mind that Yen Press might mess
things up as badly as they did with Judge
Volume 6
, so there is still the chance that I could be walking away from
this series with complete dissatisfaction, even if Kei did things right.

I also liked how believable Satoru's disappointment in his
failure was.

While Satoru did feel a bit disappointed in episode
5
of the anime, his disappointment and minor depression just felt like a
passing thing, when it should have been more prevalent with how much effort he
put into trying to save Hinazuki, the first victim of the 1988 kidnapping
incidents, and that kind of put a damper on my enjoyment of the episode, though
not enough to make me as disappointed in it as I was with the Yu
Yu Hakusho
movie
.

In this volume, however, the pain from failing to accomplish
his goal felt much more realistic and believable because of the things that
were presented in this volume, but were not in the anime adaptation.

For example, when Swada was talking to Sachiko, Satoru went
out to the park with the hope of seeing Hinazuki there, but he realized that
she would never come and we are shown Satoru reaching out to the image of
Hinazuki fading into nothingness.

This made Satoru's guilt and disappointment for not saving
her feel a lot more sad than the time skips that A-1 Pictures put in, because
it actually felt real, and emotional moments like this is what is needed as
this series has made it clear in both the manga and anime that changing the
past would be much more difficult than we believe, as well as makes me wonder
what Satoru would do, much I was left wondering how Kenshin and the gang would
be able to handle Enishi when Kaoru was thought to be dead in the final volumes
of Rurouni Kenshin.

Regardless of whether the protagonist is a broken, yet
normal, individual like Satoru Fujinuma or as cruel and unlikable as Tanya von
Degurechaff from Saga
Tanya of the Evil
, fans of fiction want to see their characters struggle
both internally and externally until they either accomplish their goal or
completely and utterly fail, because it helps us connect with the right characters
and/or makes the story that much more interesting, and Kei Sanbe seems to
really understand the importance of this in many of the works that I have read
from him.

If Kei was not able to do this much, I would have written
off this series, like I gave up on even thinking that A-1 Pictures adaptation
could be any good after the tenth
episode
, especially because I am already nearing the halfway point.

However, because he did what he did, I want to give him a
big round of applause, as it makes me want to continue on reading the other
five volumes, in order to see where things are going, even though I do kind of
remember how things will end.

Another thing that I kind of liked here was how Sachiko was
shown to be more concerned with Satoru's well-being than finding the truth.

Now, the manga, unlike the anime adaptation, did a good job
of making Sachiko's death feel sad because she was not only a good mother, but
also because the mother and son bond that should have been established was, but
it did not feel like she was ever interested in finding out who responsible for
the 1988 incidents, in spite of her previous occupation, though she did say
that she was concerned at the time because Satoru and the other kids were in
danger.

Here, however, when Sawada meets with Satoru, Satoru finds
out that his mother was aware that the criminal Satoru is after now had
committed crimes before the 1988 serial kidnappings, yet chose to tell Satoru
that his friend really was the criminal because she did not want her son to be
in pain over his regrets or to possibly endanger him in the process of
continuing to go after the true criminal.

While the criminal's modus operandi was discussed in episode
6
, and made things a bit more interesting, since it suggested the criminal
had been responsible for other crime, like the conversation here did the same
thing, it made me feel even more sorry for the fact that Sachiko had died
because it showed how much she cared for her son beyond the memories that were
shown as she died, and made the criminal seem to be a lot more dangerous than
how he was presented in the anime, which would make sense if things end like I
remember they do.

As a result, I kind of want to forget about what will happen
in the future and the fourth and fifth volumes right now, even though volume 5
will not be released until October, according to the product page for the third compilation on
Amazon, and that makes me want to give Kei Sanbe a good round of applause.

This series may not be a mystery series, but Kei Sanbe is
still doing a good job in making me think that it is mystery series, while
delivering things I wanted to see from John Grisham's The Whistler,
and that is all that I wanted to see.

The thing that I liked the most though was how this volume
ended.

While this volume ended at around the moment that the sixth
episode did, the way that this volume ended actually felt like more of an end
to the series than those same events in the anime.

If I had to say why, it is for two reasons.

First, Satoru does not seem to give up as easily as he did
in the anime

In chapter 18, the final chapter of the volume, Satoru tries
to make his ability activate because he still has things to do, and his
sentiments of wanting to keep fighting were clearly expressed in the chapter,
yet nothing happened and he seemingly gave up, as he passed on some words to
Airi, before what seems to be his ability kicks in, whereas Satoru never tries
to activate revival and only Airi seems to have been devastated by the fact
that he was taken in.

Satoru's struggles in this series are both internal and
external and, like the events surrounding Hinazuki, he did so much to try and
get on the trail of the true culprit, so I was expecting something like this
occur, while Satoru maintains a calm demeanor, but he just accepted it all in
A-1 Pictures adaptations.

Fortunately, Kei Sanbe remembered that humans can become
frustrated and try lashing out mentally, even if they cannot do anything
physically, and it made me wonder if his ability would really activate, when it
usually activated on its own, and it led to one of the reasons that this ending
was so great.

The second reason this stood out the most though has more to
do with who originally put the volume together.

Even though writers of prose fiction have a lot of control,
though I would not say complete control, unless the book is self-published,
over how their books will end, even if it is just an installment in a series, manga
artists do not have too much control because the editors at places like
Shueisha have a lot of creative control, according to Kristina Pino's interview
with Hope Donovan, editor at Viz Media, on Book
Riot
, and can influence the series for the better or, in other cases, such
as Bleach, according to John Walsh in his video
talking about its downfall, can make things worse, if the editor and artist are
not on good terms, and manga volumes tend to have a consistent amount of
chapters for most of the series run, whereas chapters have much more variation
in prose fiction works.

As such, the people responsible for putting the volume
together in Japan have to be given the credit for having the volume conclude
here, unless Kei Sanbe had more freedom than I suspect he does.

After all, if they had chosen to end it as horribly as the first
volume
of Yoshiki Tonogai's Secret, I would have been disappointed
because the staff responsible for publishing the series would seem like they
did not understand the importance of ending on the right cliffhanger.

Here, however, because the volume ends right when Satoru's
revival takes place, I kind of want to start reading the next volume right now,
which I would have if I had gotten the print edition, even though I would then
have to deal with possible issues caused by how close things are to the spine,
and this is the kind of thing that I wish to see in any series, and makes me
want to give those people a nice round of applause.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else
that I particularly liked, at least that would not spoil things much more than
I already have.

Because my interest was captured quickly and held throughout
the duration of the book, Satoru's disappointment and guilt were more
believable, things were fleshed out a bit more, and this volume did a much
better job at fooling me into thinking it was the end, this was a fairly decent
read.

Although I did like the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from things too minor to talk about, such as
typos, and one issue that I thought was there, but on second look did not seem
to be that bad, nothing really bothered me too much.

As a result, I would have to say that there is nothing worth
mentioning.

Considering that a lot of things were done right and the
only issues present are those that are not worth talking about, this was
definitely worth reading.

I recommend this to fans of Kei Sanbe, Boku Dake ga Inai
Machi
, and those that enjoy a little mystery, as those are the ones that
will enjoy this the one most and the mystery element has not yet been ruined.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, but
because of how manga is usually published and this series is not so friendly to
newcomers, it would be better to read the previous volumes first.

I you liked this review and would like to see more, please
consider supporting me on Patreon
or buying the volume from the Amazon link provided at beginning or, if you hate
digital books, buy the print edition of
Yen Press's second compilation for the series, so that I can continue following
this series and find other worthwhile reads for you guys, and doing whatever
you do when you find something that impresses you.

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