Book Review: Erased Volume 5

Erased Volume 5 cover.

I hope that everyone is having a good, and are looking forward to a fun night, if you celebrate Halloween.

Things have been going pretty well, even if I almost had no break before preorders arrive and new episodes of simulcasts go up, and I can still do the things that I enjoy.

Speaking of preorders, the last two titles that I have been expecting to arrive this month finally came, and it is time to get my butt in gear, before things have a chance to pile up dramatically.

Today, I will be reviewing one of those titles, which is called Erased Volume 5 by Kei Sanbe.

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

With Hinazuki away from the danger of both the serial kidnapper and her abusive mother, things seem to have come to an end, as Satoru and his friends can now have a peaceful life, or so Satoru's friends believe.

However, knowing that the case is not over yet, Satoru starts to make a move to prevent the other victims from falling prey to the same man who killed his mother in the present, even if it means putting his own life on the line.

Well, I have to say that I really liked this book.

Just like many of the other volumes in the series, I found myself so engross with the volume that 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 out there.

In works of fiction, including those that have works that span multiple installments, like this series and many other manga, this is usually done by piggybacking off a cliffhanger or just easing right into things, like what can be seen in many of the installments of the Spice & Wolf novels, and seeing as the previous volume ended with a happy ending for Kayo Hinazuki, the fact that this volume started off slow, while reminding the reader that the incidents of 1988 were not over yet.

While Kei Sanbe does deserve some credit for doing something right in these beginning chapters, by not letting things end after the events surrounding Hinazuki were resolved, thereby not confusing the readers or making this look as terrible as the anime turned out to be, the real credit goes to Kadokawa Shoten or whoever they had compile the chapters into these volumes that Yen Press are releasing digitally and print, via the two-volume compilations that seem to allow a relatively decent pacing of this series.

If things had not started here, they might not have quite as bad as my experience with the 63rd volume of Detective Conan, which caused me to grow bored because the cases that started it off were rather dull, but I do not think that I would have been quite as interested in reading this as I was because the way installments begin and end plays an important role in how much enjoyment a reader can get out of it.

For example, even though the first volume of Yoshiki Tonogai's Secret was not that bad and did give me a few incentives to read, my interest in it waned because the first murderer was revealed and they confessed, before having him jump off, thereby creating one of the worst ways to end the first installment of a series.

However, the way that the eight volumes, or if one is following this series via the printed compilations that Yen Press releases, four installments, have been put together, my interest has yet to falter in this, and not just because I am a fan of series, and the fact that the people who put these volumes together are able to stay consistent on a regular basis makes me feel like giving them a major round of applause for doing something that is not quite so easy to do over and over.

Hopefully, this consistency can be maintained over the course of remaining three volumes of the series, the last of which are expected to come out in February of next year, according to the product page on Amazon, because that is the only way that this series can end as well as I remembered it.

Then again, everyone involved in making our favorite manga titles and getting them out to the public are only humans, so I do have to keep in mind that things could go downhill quite quickly too.

I also liked the funny moments in this volume.

While they were not that unique to the series, or even manga and anime in general, things were executed well enough that they still ended up being funny.

One of the best things about this series is how the children here come across as actual children, with the same thought processes and behaviors that many children would have, especially Satoru, who is pretty much doing a bad job of keeping his true age underwraps, and that has allowed the series to have quite a few fun and memorable moments, in spite of the fact that this series is targeted towards adults.

And because the current cast of characters are mostly children, I kind of expect to give a few good chuckles here and there, so that I know that I am following actual people and they are not the stereotypical children that are seemingly more capable of solving problems than adults that would be found in these kinds of scenarios.

Fortunately, Kei Sanbe recognizes this important element for the story and includes a few moments that made me feel like laughing out loud.

The funniest of those events happens when Satoru and the gang try talking to the criminal's next target.

After Satoru and the gang figure out the girl's schedule, and determine when she might be the most vulnerable, they try to strike up a conversation that does not go anywhere other than what could be considered small talk, seeing as they fail to keep the conversation going, which does create a few moment where I found myself chuckling, and then Aya finally remembers that the boys are the same ones she sees going in and out of building and calls them childish, when they realize she can see their hideout, suggesting that they should do something that sounds more childish to them, and finally tries to leave after saying that boys are quick to berate girls, but then gets stopped by Kazu saying that hideouts are a boy's dream.

Even though this exchange did happen in episode 10 of the anime, and was kind of funny there, I found it funnier in this volume because it seemed to be closer to that of a kid's argument and felt like it had better timing than it did in A-1 Pictures' anime adaptation.

If things like this were not included, I would have been mad, because things would not have felt as realistic or believable, because the kids here are actually children in every respect, and that would have shown that Kei Sanbe forgot about what made this series truly stand out.

Fortunately, he did not forget any of that and was able to dissipate the tension, while still allowing the story to continue on its path, which makes me want to give him a big round of applause.

Another thing that I liked was how there were some true moments of happiness in this volume.

Even though the story is obviously not over yet, since the criminal has not yet been revealed, it is nice to see moments where characters can get to experience some joy, as it allows the audience to relieve themselves of the tension, and possibly make them less aware of anything that might be suspicious.

After all, there cannot be a good thriller or mystery, if the readers are constantly paying attention to the details that a work presents.

In the case of this volume, that feeling of happiness comes when a character that even I thought was never going to show up again, especially with my knowledge of events that are to come, returns to Hokkaido.

While Satoru was going about, trying to figure out how to get Aya Nakanishi, the second victim in the 1988 incidents, off the criminal's hit list, he looks over at a bus stop and sees Hinazuki and tries running towards her, which gave off the feeling that things were the way that they were supposed to be, as Hinazuki starts hanging out with everyone again and tells Satoru that she admires him as her hero while thanking him for what he did.

Seeing these events playing out, I truly felt like Satoru and the gang were finally achieving their goal and it made me a little less aware of the possibilities that may end up occurring.

I might hate society's constant focus on positive thinking and expecting the good to happen with little to no reason, because it makes people blind to all the bad things that can happen, yet are preventable, but I still enjoy seeing happy moments, especially when it is a happiness that was earned and deserved, as opposed to a happy moment that was put in for the sake of having a happy moment.

If these moments had not happened, I might not have been too upset about it, seeing as things the way things were going was still quite well before Hinazuki reappeared, but I do not think I would have been as impressed by the best thing about this volume, as it really threw me off guard.

Kei Sanbe might not have made this series a good mystery series, as I still would not consider it a mystery series, but he sure knows how to get the audience to lower their guard enough to make a good thriller, and that alone makes me want to give him another good round of applause.

Speaking of how the happy moments played a role in making the best moment of the volume even better, the thing that I liked the most was how this volume ended.

Just like how episode 4 of Wit Studio's anime adaptation of The Ancient Magus Bride ended so well that I was looking forward to seeing the next one, the way that this volume ended made me want to start reading the next volume of this series, even though I already knew what would happen in the future, which I thankfully do not need to wait for, since Yen Press releases this series two volumes at a time.

After Satoru finds out that Misato, the girl who accused Hinazuki of stealing money back in volume 2, may be somebody that he and friends may have to help, from his conversation while walking home with Hinazuki in the penultimate chapter of the volume, Satoru and Hinazuki spend the time in the final chapter of the volume trying to get to Misato before the kidnapper can and Misato seems to take a long time in the bathroom during a hockey game, which worries him and eventually forces him to ask for help from Yashiro, who just shows up.

However, while trying to track down the vehicle that may Misato, and Satoru, while conversing with Yashiro, decides to get out candy, he finds out that he is not in Yashiro's car and Yashiro starts showing his true colors.

Now, some of you guys might be mad that I just now revealed the identity of the criminal, seeing as there might be some reading this series for the first time and/or have not seen the anime, but this is something that everyone should have been able to see, as there were no other good suspects and everything surrounding Yashiro was pointing to him being the criminal, enough so that people thought he might be a red herring.

In the case of this series, however, which is obviously not a mystery series right now, this reveal felt like it was on a whole new level, because Kei Sanbe did a good job of not making the criminal be so obvious by not raising my suspicions too much, as well as making the possibility of him being criminal be too obvious to be the right answer, that it actually surprised me, even though I already knew he was the one.

Not only was the fact that Yashiro turned out to be the criminal surprising, seeing as he would have been too obvious, but the fact that the final chapter ended showing the expressions of the two characters in the car also made me start wondering just where things were going and feel the strong urge to just stop typing right now and get started on reading the next volume.

Good works of thriller need the right cliffhangers and both Kei Sanbe and whoever Kadokawa Shoten had put these volumes together ended both the chapter and the volume in just the right spot to create that perfect cliffhanger that gives me all of the feelings of a good thriller.

If things had not ended like, I think that I would have probably been done with this series, just like how I should have stopped watching the anime after the 10th episode, because, until this point, there would have been good reason to believe that this series was a mystery series and a simple reveal would have left me as disgusted as many of the works in the detective, mystery, and crime fiction genres that failed to live up to my expectations.

Thankfully, this volume did not end up that way, and I feel like giving Kei and the people who put this volume together in Japan a good round of applause.

Nice job, guys. This is a perfect way to lead into the events of the antepenultimate volume, and they delivered.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that could either stand out as much as what I talked about already or not spoil things any more than I already have.

Because my attention was captured quickly and held right until the end, there were things that were incredibly funny, even one that was funnier than it was in the anime, the moments of happiness really felt like happy moments, and this volume ended on such a great cliffhanger, this was one of the best books I have read.

Although I liked the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, such as typos, nothing really bothered me all that much.

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

Considering that there was quite a bit to like, especially the great cliffhanger, this was definitely worth reading.

I recommend this to fans of thrillers, Boku Dake ga Inai Machi, and possibly fans of detective, mystery, and crime fiction, as the first two might really enjoy reading what happens and fans of the latter three might actually be impressed about being tricked by seeing how the obvious can be used to create a good twist.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, just because of the cliffhanger, but it might be best to read the earlier volumes first, in order to be able to really enjoy this one.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon or, if you would like a copy of the reviewed title and the next installment, buy Yen Press's third compilation of the series from Book Depository, so that I can find out if the manga truly has a better ending and possibly find some more worthwhile reads for you guys, and do whatever you do when you find something that impresses you.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.