Erased is the story of Satoru Fujinuma, a man granted a special ability called Revival, which transports him back in time before a catastrophic event. Taken back 18 years in the past, he seeks to solve the murder of a young girl and discover the truth behind those past events.
The original manga by Kei Sanbei differs from its anime adaptation in a number of ways, most controversially in regards to its conclusion. Here are the most notable differences between Erased's anime and manga.
Satoru Saves Airi
Completely absent in the anime, the scene occurs in Chapter 3 of the manga and covers a short encounter that Satoru and Airi have at an abandoned building. After Revival activates near a demolition site, the pair rush inside and witness a child falling through the elevator shaft. Airi grabs him in the nick of time but nearly falls herself, it's not till Satoru steps in and pulls them both up that they're safe.
While the moment isn't essential to the plot, it serves a few purposes. For one, it allows readers to further grasp the concept of Revival and understand how it works. In the anime, the ability is much vaguer since it's only witnessed one time before the failed Revival that Satoru experiences with his mother while shopping. With multiple examples of how the ability normally functions, the scene becomes less confusing and more suspenseful. It also deepens the bond between Satoru and Airi, the latter of whom had very little screentime in the anime.
In the anime, the only explanation of Yashiro's motivation is the story he tells about the group of hamsters he killed and the sole survivor Spice, who he kept as a pet. There is also some mention of the Spider's Thread, a story by famous Japanese author Ryunsuke Akutagawa, and the thread Yashiro visualizes above his victims' heads, but it leaves out a key component from its manga counterpart.
In the manga, Yashiro had an entire chapter devoted solely to elaborating on his past and motivations. He was an affluent child who suffered at the hands of an extremely abusive older brother who constantly beat him. This brother was also a serial rapist, and Yashiro was forced to help him lure young girls in and keep guard during his crimes. Eventually, his brother would accidentally murder one of his victims and attempt to cover it up. It was at this moment that Yashiro saw the spider's thread over his head and in turn murdered his own brother, framing it as a suicide. This backstory was not essential to include in the anime, but it adds a bit more character development.
The Final Confrontation
The ending is the biggest and most controversial difference between the anime and manga. Much like the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime, Erased was a victim of catching up to its source material. The final episode and final chapter released within three weeks of each other, which meant there was not enough to time for the anime to accurately reflect the manga. However, in both scenarios the end result is the same: Yashiro is outsmarted by Satoru and is imprisoned for his crimes. It's the way each respective plot arrives at this point which differs.
The anime version is incredibly simple. When Satoru awakens from his coma, he soon meets Yashiro again and regains his memories. Following this realization, he sets a trap for his former teacher predicting Yashiro's method of pushing him off the hospital roof and setting up a safe landing area in advance. These events all transpire within the hospital.
In the manga, Kumi, the leukemia patient who is also present in the anime, plays a much larger role as Yashiro's next victim. She develops a bond with Satoru and his mother, who decide to take her to a public gathering at a camp. During the event, their suspicions are confirmed as they discover that Yashiro planned to frame Satoru for Kumi's murder. Instead, the two would have a confrontation on a bridge that resulted in his plans being foiled.
These are only the most notable changes made between the two stories. There are many smaller differences and while some of them were more divisive than others, the main course of events remained the same throughout both interpretations. Regardless of the divergences Erased's anime does a stellar job at capturing the motifs and characters of its source material and proving viewers with an experience on par with the manga.