Story: Satoru Fujinuma (Tatsuya Fujiwara) is an unsuccessful manga artist who is blessed with an extraordinary talent. When an accident
happens in his vicinity, the event repeats itself for him until he is able to prevent it from happening. This way he has already managed to save a lot of
lives. In his private life he prefers to be alone, but the girl Airi (Kasumi Arimura), who like him works part-time at a diner, takes a shine at him.
However, one day his mother (Yuriko Ishida) is killed and Satoru has every reason to assume that this murder has some kind of connection to a serial
murder case eighteen years ago. The police is looking for him and Airi is a big help to him, when he goes into hiding. But then time suddenly is reversed for
eighteen years. Satoru (Tsubasa Nakagawa) is a child again and tries to save Hinazuki (Rio Suzuki), the first victim of the serial killer. The girl also gets
abused by her parents and so the little boy has to protect her from even two dangers. But no matter what Satoru does, he doesn't seem to be able to prevent
the murder of his mother as long as he doesn't find the killer.
Review: This drama-thriller with fantasy elements based on the manga of the same name (or the alternative title "Erased") places emphasis
on interesting aspects of its story and thus stands as an inventive shift from your typical superhero story. There are three focal points in the story that
make the events thrilling as well as emotionally touching. The film's motives also have substance and center around loneliness, abuse and what it means to
be a hero. The quasi-time travel aspect is woven into the movie in a pleasant fashion, too. There may be a few plot holes, which is almost inevitable when it
comes to time travel, but they are sailed around in the end in a nicely subtle manner, even the more since the film doesn't put its focus here. It's more that
the characters are standing in the story's center.
When a manga/anime is adapted for the big screen, the first one to be brought on board is Tatsuya Fujiwara
("Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends", "Death Note"). His at times emotional
overacting isn't truely needed in the "The Town Where Only I Am Missing", which is very much grounded in reality, but he is pretty aware of that, which is why
his acting, with the exception of a few scenes, remains quite subtle. This suits the movie well. Moreover, there is Kasumi Arimura
("Flying Colors", "Strobe Edge") at his side, who also manages to carry her character well.
Yet, you get the feeling that compared to the original there has been cut back a few things concerning her. Since I haven't seen the original, though, this is
only an assumption, mind you.
However, what is pretty obvious is that when it comes to the elaboration of the killer and his motives there has been some streamlining involved or things where
cut completely. There seem to be complex motives for the killer's actions and you even get the feeling that there have been some attempts to explain them.
But with merely two hours running time there isn't enough space to convey them appropriately and credibly. That's also one of the film's biggest flaws,
along with the ending. Latter one wants to convey a message and even though the finale in fact manages to be moving it doesn't really come with a message,
since that one isn't made clear after all. Just as if the director didn't know what he wanted to put emphasis on. This is particularly unfortunate
since the focus is choosen quite well for the rest of the movie, also leaving room for some variety.
Essentially, you believe to get a thriller with a special superhero aspect here. But when we get to see little Satoru trying to solve a serial murder case which
is only about to happen in the future the film gets some original features. The story revolves around Satoru, Airi and little Hinazuki of the past, who is the
first murder victim. The girl gets also abused by her parents, so that the little boy has to try saving the girl from them as well and heal her mental pain in
the process. This is where the film proves to be unexpectedly sensible, making "The Town Where Only I Am Missing" a well done drama with an integrated detective
story or the other way around, depending on what director Yuichiro Hirakawa is putting more weight on during the individual scenes. This mix works really
Furthermore, some of the dialogues/monologues have a surprising amount of substance to it - others again, aren't that well written. The identity of the killer is also apparent very early, but to be fair it needs to be stressed that the plot in fact revolves around the search for the killer to only a very limited degree. Concerning its atmosphere the movie manages to particularly fascinate during the 80s and the snow-covered small town, which to some extent also mirrors the loneliness and coldness Hinazuki experiences. The way the stories around the three characters are linked to one another excites, too. Thus, "The Town Where Only I Am Missing" turns out to be a nice adaption of a manga/anime which only suffers from a poor ending. If you can overlook that, it's most importantly the mix of the detective plot and drama with a supernatural flair to it which manages to excite. Probably, only fans of the original, as usual, need to tone down their expectations. For everyone else, clearly recommendable.