Yen Press’s digital edition of Erased Vol. 2 collects chapters 7-12 of the series. How does this second volume hold up compared to the first? Is it good?
When I read volume one of this series, I thought creator Kei Sanbe got off to a slow start but picked up steam around chapter four. I’m happy to say that volume two doesn’t have the same pacing flaws but keeps the momentum from volume one going. Volume two takes place entirely after the protagonist, Satoru Fujinuma, has been transported back in time to his childhood. Armed with the knowledge that a serial killer is about to begin their murder spree, Satoru has to try and change the future. This endeavor proves difficult, given that Satoru’s memories of the specific dates and circumstances of the murders are blurred.
The best thing about this volume is the character work. Most of it centers around Satoru and his classmate, Kayo Hinazuki. Satoru remembers that Kayo was the killer’s first victim, so he tries to befriend her and save her life. In doing so, Satoru learns that Kayo is a victim of child abuse at the hands of her mother. Sanbe handles the subject matter delicately, showing how Kayo copes with the abuse and how other people around her struggle with being unable to stop the abuse. Kayo and Satoru’s friendship develops gradually, with bumps in the road between bonding moments that help make the process feel more true to life.
Erased is, of course, not just a character bonding series, but a murder mystery as well. Sanbe ups the tension in this volume to great effect. Satoru searches for clues to try and decipher the details of murders before they happen, so that he can intervene accordingly. Watching him struggle against time and apparent inevitability is touching, and the events are well-paced. As a reader, this volume kept me on my toes.
Artistically, Sanbe has made great improvements here compared to the previous volume. The facial expressions in this volume are much more consistently well-rendered, and there are some beautiful background visuals as well. The compositional choices are also strong, and complement the flow of the plot’s progression.
Overall, Erased Vol. 2 is a good volume. It features compelling characters, strong artwork, and a good sense of momentum and suspense. On the negative side, there are a few instances where events feel rushed or certain characters feel like they could use a little more development at this point. There are also some occasional pages where the artwork shifts stylistically in unappealing ways, but said changes don’t last long enough to hinder the enjoyment for too long. The good about this volume easily outweighs the bad, and it builds strong momentum going into volume three.
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