Ah, horror anime. I am terrible with scary stuff in every medium, whether it be movies, games, or books. I am not a real fan of jump scares, but I can appreciate gory, psychological thrillers like Saw and Another. Another is one of two anime with a lead girl featuring an eyepatch, the other being Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! . However, while Chu-2 is your typical slice-of-life anime, Another is a thriller anime that is adapted from a novel of the same name. I thoroughly enjoyed my ride through Another as its dark and mysterious atmosphere continuously drew me in and left me unsettled episode after episode.
The basic premise of Another is this: In the small town of Yomiyama there exists a middle school classroom that is one is cursed. Every year since 1972, the students in class 3-3 of Yomiyama North Middle School have died one by one without fail. A young man named Koichi Sakakibara unluckily transfers into this class and finds himself attracted to a girl named Misaki Mei. This girl’s existence is ignored by his classmates, which makes him all the more curious. Soon enough, the curse begins to repeat itself once again and these two along with their classmates try to discover the origins and cause of their friends’ deaths while at the same time trying to protect themselves from the curse.
While Another’s atmosphere is enticing and thrilling, I cannot really say the same of the characters. Kouichi Sakakibara is your average middle school teenage boy, he is exceptionally kind and pretty out of the loop regarding girls. However, this in fact improves the show rather than hinders it, by showcasing a normal teenage boy surrounded by death provides great contrast and makes you both empathize with him and your fear is mirrored in his. Misaki Mei is your typical emotionless girl ala Rei, but she does have some cute moments where life before her despair pokes out. Her different colored eyes are reminiscent of Suiseiseki, and I’m kinda wondering as I type this if she was meant to be a mash up of tropes. She’s a good character, just not all that original. Her sense of humor is top notch. These two are not alone however, there are some other prominent classmates who play a role in the mystery, such as Izumi Akazawa, the class representative and “head of counter-measures.” Essentially she is in charge of trying to avoid and or dispel the class of the curse, and she resents Mei for not following her orders and feel she is the cause of this year’s curse. There’s also Naoya Teshigawara and Yuuya Mochizuki who serve as the best friends to Sakakibara when he’s not out chasing Misaki, and also help provide some insight from the viewer’s point of view.
Because this anime was adapted from a novel, the story is obviously the most compelling part. The buildup towards the reason why the students in class 3-3 is done very well, and the death scenes throughout are gruesome. The first one in particular made me very squeamish, and I thought it was awesome how this show could evoke it out of me despite just being an animation. The suspense leading up to each death is also great; I could never really predict who would be the next to die or how until just moments before it happened. You’re left guessing, “who is the dead student?”, “who will die next?” and the pacing of the show carries these questions well, never revealing too much or being too predictable in what will happen. However, by the end of the series, you’re left wondering: how will they wrap all of this up in just 2 episodes?
The answer is disappointing to what I had thought was an intellectual and clever show. Instead of watching the protagonists trying to weed out who the dead student is through deduction or reasoning, instead we are given a much simpler solution: kill everyone. The show quickly devolves into some sort of “Final Destination”-esque mass murder spree with all the students killing each other to end the curse. It makes some sense in the context of the show, but also goes against what the show had been leading up to. Instead of smart traps and round tables to figure out who the dead one is, we are instead served a deus-ex machina that Misaki’s eye can “see death” and knows who the dead person is merely by taking off her eyepatch. It’s really disappointing and leaves a bad taste in my mouth, as this show could have been so much more.
The soundtrack of the show is a higher point. The tracks are great at setting a suspenseful or creepy mood, and they make ample use of the piano which I really love. Track 3 (none of the songs have proper titles, unfortunately. At least online) is just a simple piano piece with an odd seemingly “otherworldly” noise in the background to reinforce the idea that the setting in Another is simple and common, but with a supernatural twist. As the track progresses it starts to remind me of Lavender Town’s theme from Pokemon as it features the same beginning notes. Near the end the piano gets louder and deeper perhaps to signal the impending misfortune that will strike Yomiyama. Another (heh) track I was fond of was Track 6, which is Misaki Mei’s theme and plays often whenever she is talking. Whatever instrument they use, not sure exactly what they are, really goes well with the show and gives you the feeling that you’re being haunted or pressured by some sort of specter, and it also conveys a sense of isolation as the chimes stand alone. I also really like Track 2, which is used as the preview music for the next episode but doesn’t get any actual play time in the show. However, while all these track are nice, none of them are really all that memorable. I didn’t really find myself revisiting these tracks or hunting them down; they served their purpose in the show well but won’t be remembered in the future compared to songs like “Theme of SSS” from Angel Beats or “Soldiers of Sorrow” from Gundam.
Another is a show that could have been terrific, but ends up losing itself and becoming just “good”. The beginning half of the series is gripping and actually successful at scaring the viewer and throwing grotesque murder scenes that both appall and disgust you. It’s quite a feat. However, all of this progress is swiftly washed away in the two episode finale in which all subtlety is removed from the show and the entire class pretty much kills each other. It’s a disappointingly brutal and unintelligent ending to a show that seemed to be a smart and gripping thriller. Overall, I’d suggest that you give Another a chance, only so you can experience the chills and suspense that the first episodes give, and quit before the final two episodes and instead try and think up your own ending. It’ll probably be a better ending than what the writers came up with and you’ll save yourself some time.