When ‘how’ is more important than ‘why’: ‘Another’ anime review

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‘Another’ is a very effective horror anime, if nothing else. This is the case when the strength of the series barely out-weights the weaknesses. ‘Another’ has been released last year and I assume that most of you have already seen it. In this post, I discuss in details about all major plot points and key features of this anime. Be warned. This post contains massive spoilers! If you have not seen it and only need to know my ultimate verdict, jump straight to the last paragraph of the article.

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The primer

It was 1998. Koichi had just been transferred to Yomiyama North School, class 3-3. He soon learned that the people related to class 3-3 had been under deadly curse that resulted in several deaths every year. Apparently, there had something to do with his new friend Mei and the death of a girl named Misaki who died in 1972. Another’s premise was simple enough; the school was the main stage with specific number of players (class 3-3 students and teachers). The real questions that needed answers were ‘what was the nature of this chain of tragic events?’ and ‘How to stop it?’

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Building mystery

Like what I used to say in my Higurashi review, build-up is the key to telling successful horror/mystery stories. Build-up was Another’s major achievement and what made the series, or at least the first half of the series, worked for me. During the first few episodes, the anime consistently brought up many questions surrounding the horrific events. I loved how ‘Another’ tried to raise the viewers’ doubt towards the main characters, primarily Koichi and Mei. Is she a ghost? Did Koichi have something to hide? Could any of their classmates be trusted? The horrible deaths that took place every other episode also helped elevate the tension of imminent threat to the story. The entire first arc was a puzzle and each piece was brilliantly laid out. The show was simply addictive.

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Is it enough to know how the curse works without knowing why?

Every year since the first death in 1972, the dead always appeared in class 3-3 and unless the dead person is destroyed, the students or their relatives would be in danger of horrific demise. Somehow the memories of the dead were altered or erased so that no one would know who, among the classmates, the dead was. I was totally okay with how this curse worked. It was absurd but generally plausible in the anime’s own context. The series spent large amount of time in keeping us puzzled about this and cleverly revealed it during the climax. But there was another question which kept burning inside me. We knew how the curse worked but why was it happening in the first place?

Look at it this way. We knew that killing ‘the dead one’ would stop the curse for that year but it would happen again next year anyway. So killing ‘the dead one’ was also part of the process. If the students knew the true origin of the curse, maybe they could stop the curse from happening for good. I never read the novel which this anime was based on so I made this comment as someone who only watched the anime version. I wished the anime had revealed what exactly caused this curse. Was it because of Misaki’s rage or was it her loneliness? Anything regarding the curse’s origin would do but none was mentioned. Maybe they planned to make a sequel?

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The plot twist that could only be done in anime

Reiko was Koichi’s aunt who was also class 3-3 deputy homeroom teacher. She insisted that Koichi only addressed her as a teacher at school. This fact was kept hidden from the viewers until the very last episode of the anime. We saw Reiko with her hair roughly tied up when she was with Koichi at home. And then we saw the deputy homeroom teacher with glasses and long straight hair at the school. This trick of identity could only be pulled out in anime in which female characters had relatively similar faces and the hair and dresses were part of their identity. For me, this twist worked to a certain degree.

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Other remarks

Despite its strength in building up mystery and tension, ‘Another’ did suffer from many shortcomings. The pacing issue remained most problematic. I liked the pacing during the first half of the series and I enjoyed the contrast between the slow pacing and the quick surprise deaths. But the ending was obviously too rushed, as if it was unplanned. Many half-baked secondary characters were slaughtered. Each death was all pleasantly gruesome and entertaining but the overall result was a bit messy. Other elements of ‘Another’ were satisfactory. I generally liked the editing of this series. There were several quiet foreboding sequences which I thought was interesting. The music did not stand out as much as I expected but it was okay.

Conclusion: ‘Another’ was an effective horror anime which was hard to come by lately. And despite its several shortcomings, I thought it had enough merits to out-weight its flaws.

Rating: B

Facts

Title: Another
Genre: horror, mystery
Released date: January 10, 2012 – March 27, 2012
Episodes: 12
Director: Tsutomu Mizushima
Animated by: P.A. Works

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11 responses to “When ‘how’ is more important than ‘why’: ‘Another’ anime review

  1. Huh. I don’t think it even occurred to me to wonder why the curse existed. The suspense and gore overshadowed the “why” just enough for me.

    While I agree that the deaths came kind of hard and fast near the end, I think I’d probably have preferred that to stretching out the series a few more eps. This was one of those cases where the short length of a series was probably beneficial.

  2. I love horror stories but I have yet to watch any horror anime. Well-crafted horror atmosphere and suspense is really quite hard to beat in my opinion. I actually have Another on my hard drive, so i’ll have to give it a go.

  3. I also have the same issue regarding the series. all in all, it was good but the question of why it was happening in the first place disappointed me because nothing was given about it. It was something I really wanted to know in the series. I don’t really know about a sequel but I don’t think it’s happening because I checked out the last few chapters of the manga after watching and the anime covered it until the end.

    the pacing was also another issue. I have to agree that the first half was pretty great. As for the second half, I think that most faults were at the ending part of the series. I even discovered that one of the episodes weren’t even included in the manga (at the very least based on the chapters I decided to read). It was the episode wherein everyone’s going crazy and started killing each other (I think it was ep11 or something). I’d say it was gruesome and crazy and I like things like that but looking into it as part of the series, it annoyed me because it doesn’t exactly make sense – that episode was kind of pointless.

  4. Reading your post, you remind me that I actually did like the first half of the series after you mentioned its stronger points in the first half, unlike the rushed ending which overall made a lasting impression on me and determined my score of the series. But I can definitely look past that second half and take more into consideration the first half of the show. I had a lot of fun with this series the first couple of weeks. The suspense was addicting and had me looking forward to uncovering the mystery, although I never saw that coming in the end :P

  5. I also made similar comments as in regards to the “why” of some of the questions residing in Another. But then again, Another is a mysterious anime at it’s core, and I admit that there is a certain beauty at keeping things ambiguous, bolstering the mysterious ambiance towards the end. What Another did with it’s story was interesting, give us a lot of hints and revelations, yet leaving some other plot points to be openly-interpreted.

    Indeed, the first half and it’s foreshadowing build-up and slowly but eventual murders were great – it was slow, until everything burst out chaotically during the second half and towards the ending. In a way, I guess it works with the show’s context^^”

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