It's excellent. It's a time-twisting story about child murder and believing in people. I'd strongly recommend it. It was one of the four Jan-Mar 2016 shows that got called "anime of the season", with the other three being Ajin: Demi-Human (aggressively boring), KonoSuba: God's Blessing on this Wonderful World! (haven't seen it yet) and Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju (haven't seen this yet either).
Satoru Fujinuma is a time-traveller. Every so often he'll realise that he's jumped back in time, which usually means that something bad is about to happen and he's got to look around desperately to try to guess what it is and stop it. You'll have noticed that he has no control over the process and doesn't usually know what's going on. He's not a hero, though. He's a rather depressed, damaged 29-year-old who thinks he might as well be dead and takes no interest in relationships and draws not-very-successful manga in between his day job delivering pizzas. He's sufficiently bad at human interaction that he's liable to say his thoughts aloud. Something very, very bad happened when he was eleven, which seems to have damaged him as a person.
Until now, he's only jumped back a few seconds. He hasn't been confronted with anything that affected him personally, unless you count getting himself hospitalised when he makes a mess of his rescue attempts. However that's about to change. The very, very bad thing didn't go away. By the end of ep.1, Satoru has jumped back eighteen years and is reliving his own childhood.
It's an intelligent story. You could call it a mystery, a thriller or a drama, although in fact of course it's a bit of all three. The baddie's identity won't be a surprise when it finally comes, but I think the story's been playing with the assumption that we'd already had our suspicions. I could name specific moments that I think had been meant to unnerve us and play with our expectations. There are also a few points where Satoru does something stupid-looking (fleeing repeatedly from the police in a suspicious-looking way and then SPOILER in ep.11), but they're sort of forgivable if you squint a bit. After all, as previously stated, he's not a hero.
Well, not at first, anyway. He's turned himself into one by the end.
The childhood stuff is fun and charming, except that Satoru's trying to save his classmates from being murdered. This is explosive material, but the show handles it sincerely. Being believed is one of its main themes, so Satoru is having to struggle against the twin problems of a killer and the challenge of trying to make a difference when you're still an elementary school student. He knows what's going to happen. He just can't tell anyone. They'd laugh at him. Some of the show's most powerful material isn't the obvious stuff like Kayo getting beaten by her mother, but instead the more quietly evocative moments like Kayo flinching when someone touches her head, or crying when someone cooks her breakfast. Kayo's hard work. It's not easy to get close to her, but Satoru's going to try to save her anyway.
Will he succeed? Well, that's a question.
It's sensitively written. A bitch won't simply be a bitch, but instead a person who can feel hurt and excluded when her bitchiness gets its comeuppance. Bad people have psychology too. Some of this is a bit odd and I think it would be fair to call the last couple of episodes eccentric, but they work for me. Besides, I like how the show ends. It's good and right.
This show made me wonder what it would be like to relive one's childhood like that. You'd look eleven, but you'd have an adult mind. Would you get away with it? Would you seem like a freak? How obvious would it be that you didn't fit in any more?
Japan's police aren't being made to look good. They're clearly happy to arrest people on insufficient evidence and have them convicted on capital charges. Yes, Japan has the death penalty. It also used to have a fifteen-year statue of limitations on murder. (That was abolished in 2010, but this show is set in 2006.) In other words, the killer could have boasted of his 1998 crimes to the police in the present day and they wouldn't have been able to touch him.
The show has a knack for cliffhangers. You will feel horror.
I like the cast. I like the way Satoru grows as a person. I like his clever mother. ("Youkai-me!") I like his schoolfriends and I laughed even at a relatively minor character like Difficult Girl in ep.10. However I particularly liked Airi and Kayo.
It's very good indeed. It's saying things about its themes and talking about loneliness, wanting people to like you and creating a facade. "If you perform long enough, maybe it'll become real?" Satoru changes people, the world and himself. There's also a live-action movie adaptation that I want to watch too. It's inviting you to think in depth about its ideas and situations. There are points where the wisdom of Satoru's actions is debatable, but then again you can't argue with the effectiveness of his actions against an enemy who should have been out of his league. I liked this one a lot.