‘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.
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?’
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.
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?
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.
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.
Genre: horror, mystery
Released date: January 10, 2012 – March 27, 2012
Director: Tsutomu Mizushima
Animated by: P.A. Works