Book Review: Erased Volume 3

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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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.