If you haven’t already, eventually, you will have a moment in your life where you wish you could go back and change something. Time travel fiction is largely connected to this concept. Whether it’s going back in time to stop the assassination of JFK [11.22.63] or going back just to get an “A” on a history project [Bill & Ted] the point remains that changing time can potentially have grave consequences. In the anime we are reviewing today, these concepts are explored in a rather vague manner to help guide you toward an anime you might like. This is Metropolarity’s, no spoilers beyond episode 1, anime reviews. The anime we are exploring today is called Boku dake ga Inai Machi (the town without me/ the town where only I am missing) aka Erased.

Plot: Our main character, Satoru Fujinuma, is a 29 year old burnout who works as a pizza delivery guy while aspiring to make a career as manga artist. However publishers are unwilling to buy into his ideas because they seem to lack a missing element, pushing him to seemingly give up this dream. We soon learn his life of passive regrets is juxtaposed with a unique ability called revival. Revival, which often is coupled with the appearance of a blue butterfly, is a form of déjà vu in which a keen observer is given a chance to find something wrong or bad and then alter it before tragedy strikes.


However when Satoru gets involved he seems to break even or something bad seems to befall him. When this happens in the first episode his mother comes to take care of him, and the story quickly spirals out of control from there.

Why you might like it: If you’ve ever managed to sit through special victims unit marathons, criminal minds episodes, or even case closed/detective conan this is right up your alley. Erased shares quite a few similarities with case closed: solving a mystery, boy investigator, plucky companions who may or may not know more. However their stark differences help Erased feel more grounded, Satoru has no gadgets that help him defeat his foes. He is cunning, but ultimately just a powerless boy, who must sway the adults around him to use their abilities to bring about real change. Also at being only 12 episodes it’s a show that doesn’t require an extended commitment, and it produces a slow burn that allows the mystery to flesh itself out. Additionally the show is slightly more enjoyable the second time around, as you can notice things you may have missed the first time.

Why you might hate it: The details are scant at times, without well rounded explanations of everyone’s motivations, which may leave some viewers wanting more. Additionally the show suffers from “sixth sense syndrome”, its good and you can enjoy it a second time, but it doesn’t really have moments that one would want to re-watch again and again. While the pacing felt good for the majority of the show, the last few episodes do feel quite jerky [slow, fast, slow]. This is compounded by not being totally privy to the actions of Satoru within the climax which can leave viewers slightly confused, as all of this deviates from viewers being in his mind/thoughts the whole time and only done to deepen the dramatic effect in the finally; But it doesn’t really, and the whole “Light Yagami-inspired” wrap up feels a little weaker for it.


Why it matters: Like the theme song “Re:Re:” implies Satoru is given another chance and while the rules surrounding this chance are fantasy based and sketchy at times, it should resonate with most viewers. As many of us, like Satoru could use a second chance even if it’s only to make a small change, and even if it would put one at risk. The show manages to argue for synchronicity [Mulder] and causation [Scully] which leave Erased in an amicable no fail zone. The balance is refreshing outlook from the standard “grab life by the horns or die” message of many anime before it. As we all are a result of both shit happening and your actions and while you should work to change what you can; you shouldn’t linger on failure brought about from what you can’t. The heart of Erased shines through its emotional conveyance of the importance of relationships (family, friends, mentors, ect). This is bolstered by a central theme of as “long as you try your best, you can never fail” and dialog that keeps viewers both entertained and engaged on a dime.


Content Warnings: Show is v engrossing n we like it a lot but subject matter is heavy – shows a graphic murder & a lot of the story revolves around a child predator, which can get stressful/triggering. We would say that the content isn’t callously deployed as a gratuitous plot device, though, and that’s why we fux with Erased. [-Eighteen]


::in blaring sports announcer voice::


A R K D U S T by our own Alex Smith

Alex writes fiction that reads like an absurd reality show super hero comic with the emotional weight of the last really good movie you saw, combined with total “crazier things have happened” subway riding plausibility. Ever since starting the queer sci-fi/fantasy reading series, Laser Life, we’ve all begged and begged Alex for some take-home print form of the arresting stories he would diplomatically drop on us lowly commoners. So when he announced he would be making a zine to debut at the April 2013 Laser Life, we all counted our pocket change and patiently held our breath till the appointed day.

A R K D U S T is a fangirl dream. It contains five short stories by Alex, plus an excellent bonus story and interview from his partner, Shane Jenkins of Razed By Wolves, another mainstay of Laser Life, whose stories touch on the surreal fantasy vapors that always start to creep up from behind our spines when watching Princess Mononoke alone in the dark. All this in an old-school Kinkos xerox 8.5″ x 11″ format!


“Wow. Wow, really? Look, Wondra could snap your wanna be Ricky Martin ass in half and mail your spleen to Hook if she wanted to, so why not keep all the “bitch” comments tucked away into that turd brain of yours. I mean seriously, you’re the shittiest stool pigeon ever, how do you even find out any of this underworld shit you’re always reporting to Hook with as high a profile as you keep? I feel like Hook’s just too lazy to use Google on any one of his many goddamn smartphones because your information can’t be too insider. Like, every fucking wanna-be carjacker and armed insurrectionist knows who you are!” – A Little Light


The air outside was crisper, a refreshing spray of April breeze tickling at his flesh. He pulled his Harrington jacket a little tighter. The street was alive with drag queens and leather daddies and kids voguing in knock-off Yves St. Laurent, punks with spikey pink hair and Camaros with their trunks rattling under the weight of anthemic bass. Henry kept his eyes trained on the misshapen sidewalk, at the crack vials and used condom wrappers crackling under his Doc Martens. He was busy thinking about nothing, letting the wild night’s conversations slip over and through him, so much so that he’d walked a bit past his bus stop and had turned to go back when he saw the boy of velvet standing in front of TRINITY, under an awning, patting his pockets, shaking nervously, his muscles rippling out of his thin green shirt. He looked like a shadow. When the boy found his pack of cigarettes, the boy cursed to himself that he’d lost his lighter. A kind of ghostly sadness crept over Henry when he saw the boy standing there without a light, and this sadness grew as he watched wave after wave of clubgoers pass the boy, and though the boy’d ask, none of them had a light for him. Henry quickly patter himself, but remembered he’d stopped smoking a year ago. – Clones


Get a copy of A R K D U S T by contacting Alex at theyarebirds @ gmail. com or follow Alex’s new queer superhero tumblr, the A\terv3/rz3.

BETA DECAY by Andrew Jackson King

Maybe it’s because I started to read Beta Decay #4 while luxuriating on my roof in the hot Philly sun, but the short fiction pieces inside Andrew’s zine remind me of all the random pulp novels I used to bring with me on the week-long family vacation down the shore. Except stranger and more ominous, and neatly within the treatment one could imagine given to summer Hollywood movie releases, but the kind you leave the theater feeling strangely bereft and wondering if a milkshake at the diner after is really going to bring you back to earth. Beta Decay #4’s assortment of unrelated(?) short stories gives the reader glimpses of the incomprehensible world as it reveals itself to mundane human perception. Shit is creepy yo (but I’m not trying to spoil it here!).


Frances closed her eyes. Her mind pulled out from the building, out from the town, out from the metropolitan agglomeration, out from the continents and sea and hemisphere, out of the earth completely. Against the deep black, she saw the planet as a red, pulsing dot, emitting a see of radio waves, microwaves, gamma rays, a nearly infinite spectrum.


Spread out before Jeremiah was a monolith of coral, splashes of orange and red and yellow. Jeremiah always thought someday he would be able to make out patterns, that after a while, he’d be able to understand the exact way that the organisms grew and deviated from geometrical perfection, but this information had eluded him ever since he was a boy pouring over the dusty picturebooks on his mother’s shelf


Get MOAR BETA DECAY here (for free!).

UP AGAINST THE WALL: A History of Resistance to Policing in Philadelphia by Arturo Castillion

I picked up this zine while at a punk/noise/thrash? show at LAVA Space in West Philly, an autonomous organizing space on Lancaster Ave. (Ever since this new show organizer, Zu, rolled up to town there’s been a #brosfallback no racist/colonialist/misogynist/phobic bullshit atmosphere at their shows that’s been a breath of fresh air, especially for someone that stopped going to shows because they were full of violent man babies. Another novel aspect of the shows they organize is the provision for zines & hang-out discussion space, which is embarrassing to find novel because it should be normal if we’re having radical bands play radical spaces. ¬__¬;) Anyway, Arturo was there, and intrigued that someone had made a zine summarizing local black resistance to police, I bought a copy.


This zine is essentially an academic-feeling summary of racism and power relations surrounding the Philadelphia police, its formation, and how the black communities being terrorized by them resisted in the forms of mass uprisings. Appropriately, it feels like reading from a history text book from middle school, and is easy to digest. And similar to most every classroom history textbook, its author provides no personal bio or reasoning for compiling this particular history of resistance. So while it’s very intriguing and useful to read about black Philly resistance to cops, I couldn’t help but feel displaced by the bodiless and unsituated voice of the narrator (despite having shook their hand!).

In Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America Kristian Williams describes how policing has historically functioned to enforce a white dominated racial order. In the city once the nation’s capital, the predecessor of the modern day Philadelphia police was the civilian-run “night watch,” which monitored the populace from the time of the early eighteenth century. The watch, which developed in Boston as well, was the Northern equivalent of the Southern slave patrols. In 1837 the mayor of Philadelphia declared, “Every colored person found in the street after (the posting of) watch should be closely supervised by the officers of the night.” Whether it was the night watch or the slave patrol, the white population as whole was expected to police black people.


The introduction of the first black officers reflected the growing size of the black population. In the Philadelphia Negro W.E.B. Dubois described how in 1884 Mayor Samuel G. King appointed the first sixty black officers to the police department, a move that was opposed by whites. These police were put on duty exclusively in black neighborhoods and only permitted to arrest black people. Dubois also noted that none of the original black policemen would ever receive any promotions. Thus, the incorporation of black police was not a sign of racial progress, but instead a means to control the rising black populous.


Despite the voice behind the curtain vibe, the zine served as a solid reminder that many other histories and conflicts have occurred in this city. It compiles historical facts to demonstrate just how real and tangible white supremacy and racist power dynamics are and how they contributed to the current status quo. What I found most useful and intriguing were the recounts of several street incidents throughout the 50s and 60s where police beatings & other open abuses of power were confronted and stopped by suddenly forming crowds of black Philadelphians. It closes by summarizing the actual tactics and methods used to confront police violence, namely that there is power in quickly gathering groups of people. Useful to read if only to remember, since those in power would love to have us forget. . .

You can probably get your own copy of this and Arturo’s other police resistance zines at LAVA Space shows and Wooden Shoe books, or you can definitely read an updated text-only version of it here.