Book Review: Erased Volume 4

Erased Volume 4 cover

I hope that everyone is having a good week, regardless of whether you are on break or putting up with the monotony of the working life.

Things are still going fairly well, as I wait for one more title to arrive this month, and am still grateful that I can do something that I enjoy.

Recently, I received copies of the two books I was anticipating the most this month, and I have covered one of them, which leaves only one more title.

Today, I will be reviewing that last remaining title, which is called Erased Volume 4 by Kei Sanbe.

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

After being arrested by the police, Satoru's ability kicks in and he once again finds himself in 1988, and he determined to do things a bit differently, in order to get the result that he wanted, based on the revelation he found in the present.

However, somebody has noticed that Satoru is not the same he was when 1988 was the present, and Satoru is going to need their help if he is to have any chance at finally getting the future he wants and bring the true criminal to justice, starting with rescuing Hinazuki and establishing an alibi for jobseekers his friend on death row.

While the last volume had a lot to like, I am very well aware that things will eventually decline, so I cannot give works of fiction too much slack.

And, after reading this volume, I can say that I kind of liked it, though not as much as the previous volume.

Like the last volume, the moment that I opened up this book and started reading, I did not want to put it down for any reason, though I do have to satisfy the same needs as every other human being.

While the previous volume was this way because of Kei's ability as a writer and how well he executed things, I think that the real reason can be traced to two things.

First, the people over in Japan that put these volumes together ended the previous volume in a way that made me wonder what exactly had happened after Satoru saw the face of what is most likely his enemy, though nobody knows for sure at this point in the series, other than those that went through all the chapters like I have, since I did put a list up on my personal wiki that details which episodes adapt which chapters and some small notes if things were vastly different between the two.

The hardest thing about creating a series, and why I do not really care to produce stories that cannot stand on their own, is that it is difficult to determine where to end one installment and begin another, because if the writer is not careful, the reader would have lost interest in the series relatively quickly, just like how Secret Volume 1 disappointed me because the only mystery I was left with was whether the first murderer died or not.

For this reason, I brought up in my review of that volume that not only are cliffhangers necessary to give the reader an incentive to continue on with a series, it is also important to have that cliffhanger happen at just the right spot, which avid readers and the professional editors at the various publishing houses are most likely able to detect.

Fortunately, Kadokawa Shoten or whoever it was they had make decision when compiling the 44 or so chapters of this series into volumes, was able to notice the right place to end the third volume, and it helped to make this volume a bit more interesting by beginning on the right foot, and does make me want to give them a good amount of applause.

However, I think that the real people that deserve credit for pulling this off is Yen Press.

Even though the publishers that take our favorite manga that was published in Japan have little to no creative control, according to the interview that Hope Donovan had with Kristina Pino, which I first linked to in my review of the previous volume, I do not think that I would have been able to enjoy the series as much as I have if Yen Press did not decide to release it here two volumes at a time, instead of doing what most manga publishers do and release only one volume at a time.

Some of you guys might be saying that I am giving Yen Press way too much credit, forgetting that I was quite angry with them about what they did to Judge Volume 6, and that I might be blinded because I am a fan of the series, but, as I brought up numerous times, including my review of episode 3 of A Certain Scientific Railgun S, there are things are not going to be that interesting if too much time passes between the moment somebody watched or read something and the time that they get a continuation of those events, and the people at Yen Press seem to understand that, just like every other publisher or television studio executive should.

After all, the only way writers, publishers, and all the other people putting books together can only make money is if readers, their customers, can get the maximum enjoyment out of a work, which can only be guaranteed if things are delivered in a timely manner and with as few flaws as possible, and Yen Press has been doing that quite well so far.

Nice job, Yen Press. You certainly deserved my continued patronage, and I hope you guys do not disappointment me as badly as you once did, even if I know that everyone at Yen Press is only human.

Another thing that I really liked was how Satoru ended up doing things differently this time around.

While Satoru did not do exactly everything he did when he really was a child at the time that he got to relive his elementary school days, he tried to take on everything himself and only talked to Yashiro about his suspicions and such, not mention that he was too confident that things would work out, which is something that no human should ever be confident about.

Here, however, he was able to get help from the adults, like his mother and Yashiro, but he even got a few of his friends to help out, one of whom has already been confirmed to be among the victims of the 1988 case back in the previous volume, and he seemingly got further along in his goal to prevent the deaths back then, though nothing is guaranteed at this point.

Now, realistically, I would expect Satoru would once again repeat his mistakes, because people are not really going to be able to change what they want if there is some way that we could relive the moments that we regret, but because the 1988 case and the events of 2006 have been established to be connected and Satoru's initial failure told him that he could change the past, the story would not have been as interesting as it could be and would have made terrible enough to not consider this a good thriller series.

Fortunately, Kei Sanbe understands the importance of this part of his story, unlike John Grisham, who no longer seems to be able to create a good thriller, and, as a result, I am still getting the same feelings of a work in the thriller genre, which I mentioned in my review of The Whistler.

Not too sure about you guys, but the halfway point of this series seems to already be going the way that it should, and I feel like giving Kei Sanbe another nice round of applause.

Hopefully, things can stay like this for the last four volumes, because this series is still just as interesting as when it began and I want it to go out with a bang, but I am aware that things could get worse, since there are people who were not entirely happy with the final 20 or so chapters go.

Still, Kei Sanbe has been able to do a good job so far in maintaining a consistent quality up to now.

The thing that I liked the most though was how the volume showed that children can be very observant.

Around the time that Satoru returned to 1988, right at the point where he went to the museum with Hinazuki, Kenya asks Satoru if he read the book that he lent him, to which Satoru replies that he had not read it yet, while clearly stating in his thoughts that he does not remember receiving a book, but Kenya later says that there never was a book and that he was only testing him.

Now, Kenya has been quite observant throughout the course of the series, as he notices quite a few things, but people tend to think that children are not that reliable and that things can be hidden from them, when, in actuality, they see and hear a lot of things, even if they do not understand what it is they are seeing or hear, which is why Arthur Hayward told his son to watch Josephine because a child's eye is the best evidence, even though it does not stand up well in court, in chapter 12 of Crooked House.

Yes, Crooked House is among my least favorite books from Agatha Christie, but even the most disappointing works in the detective, mystery, and crime fiction genres have some grain of truth, and, in the context of this particular series, the fact that a child noticed something others did not is one of the reasons why I am grateful that I do follow all of society's normal behaviors, otherwise I would not be able to know as much as I do today.

Kei has been trying hard at making the children in this series come off as actual children, and if he forgot about how observant they can be, I would have been very disappointed in the way things were going, even if the parents of some of Satoru's friends in 1988 seem to be irresponsible, and it makes the story a bit more enjoyable, as his current allies could help further if and when the series returns to the present, which makes me want to give Kei Sanbe another good round of applause.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that would not spoil the events to come in the next four volumes.

Because I my interest was captured and held throughout most of the volume, though it had more to do with the fact that the last volume ended just right and Yen Press's decision to release two volumes at a time than Kei's writing ability, Satoru actually did things a bit differently this time, and that Kei Sanbe remembered that children can pick up on things others cannot, this was a fairly decent read.

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

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, such as typos, and one or two things that initially seemed like problems, but either were not there on second look or might be important later, if I am remembering things correctly, nothing really bothered me too much.

As a result, I will have to say that there is nothing worth mentioning, at least until the future volumes prove whether I was right to be bothered by the things that I had written off.

Considering that there was quite a bit to like, even though Kei was probably not responsible for contributing towards the positive too much, this was was definitely worth reading.

I recommend this to fans of Kei Sanbe, Boku Dake ga Inai Machi, and thriller stories, because they would be able to enjoy this the most, and the thriller genre seems to be much more appropriate for this series than the mystery genre at this point.

As for everyone else, it might be worth giving a try but it might be better to read the other volumes first, otherwise it might not be as interesting as it was to me.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please considering supporting me on Patreon or buying the reviewed book from the link provided towards the beginning or, if you prefer a physical copy, buy Yen Press's second compilation from here, so that I can continue following this series and even find more worthwhile reads for you guys, and do whatever you do when you find something that impresses you.

Use an app on your phone (e.g. Scan for Android) to capture the image above. If successful, you should be taken to the web version of this article.

Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.