Outside the realm of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli’s masterpieces, Anime has had a variety of reputations that range from childish to perverse. In spite of this however, many of us have spent some time watching series like Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball as children, falling under the term ‘cartoons’ due to the use of animation.
Anime is a very big part of the media in Japan, and thus carries deep complexities that equate to some of the live action shows we have here in the west. In terms of drama as a genre, there are many notable successful examples one could present, but none as recent or compelling as Boku Dake Ga Inai Machi.
Shortened as BokuMachi, the title roughly translates to ‘The town where only I am missing’. It tells the story of Satoru, a struggling 29 year old who works as a Pizza delivery man/ Comic book artist. His entire life is presented through its monotony, going to work, getting rejected from publication, and being alone.
The only thing that is interesting in his life however is his unique ability, one that allows him to travel back in time a couple of minutes to prevent a potential . This in itself becomes a significant aspect to the show, as a traumatic event causes him to lapse through time and revert back to his childhood in 1983.
The significance of this will be left out for the purpose of avoiding spoilers, but even though the show is ongoing, it already succeeds in many different ways as a drama. Its depiction of the struggles of a man in his late 20’s carries an impact, as it emulates the difficulty in pursuing one’s dream in a fast moving, demanding, and ever changing world.
The themes it tackles are very controversial and melancholic, presenting the audiences with concepts of kidnapping, murder, abuse, and childhood trauma. Satoru reverts back to his young-self while maintaining his older-self’s consciousness, and though being in a familiar setting from his past, he becomes lost and confused by the entire ordeal.
He doesn’t remember the friends he made as a child, alluding to the concept of aging and losing connection with others along the way. This idea is a stark reminder of the reality behind growing up, while time passes by we become disengaged with the things and people we were once comfortable with.
But the most interesting aspect of his story is his self imposed mission. Seeing this as an opportunity to prevent the resurfacing tragedy that happens in the future, he takes it upon himself to prevent a crime that happened a long time ago. This leads him to a string of epiphanies and realizations, becoming more aware of who he really wanted to be and what that meant to him.
Overall the presentation of the story is beyond excellent to say the least, especially putting into consideration the umbrella placed upon Anime as a childish and simplistic medium. Its artistic direction would only be successful in this format, yet is still capable of emulating the same experience as an average soap opera. The voice acting is done very well, adding deeper and individual personalities between each character.
The show is currently ongoing as part of 2015’s Winter Anime season and is available on Crunchyroll under the name ‘ERASED‘.