I’m not a big horror fan, whether that be live action, anime, novels or anything else, it’s just never been my thing. Suspense more than anything, blood and gore, happy days, dolls (as it turns out), not so much. Another is definitely a horror show: no matter how you swing it, it’s a horror show, there’s creepy music, messy deaths and as you might have guessed from the last sentence, pale, wide eyed dolls.
There’s this story, that in class 3 of the 9th grade at Yomiyama High School is cursed. This curse began following an incident 26 years ago where a student died, but the class and the rest of the school, including the teachers, decided that he was still alive- they even set a place out for him at graduation. Now they say the class is closer to death and every year people from that class die routinely every month, because there is always an extra person in the class who is, unknown to everyone else, dead. If you watch the first 15 seconds of Another they’ll tell you that. The main focus of the story is Kōichi, a boy who lost his mother at birth and moved to Yomiyama from Tokyo as his Dad is away on a long term business trip. Due to an illness he missed the start of school in hospital. In hospital he meets a girl wearing an eye patch, who is very quiet and is holding a doll, going down to the very bottom floor. After he starts school the next month, the rest of school can’t seem to see this girl, who also happens to be in his class- oh and did I mention, that would be class 3 of the 9th grade.
Another is an excellent story, probably due largely to the fact that it’s based on the novel of the same name, so doesn’t suffer from the same inconsistencies many anime do. Given what I said above (so it might not really apply to everyone) I found the first two episodes really difficult to watch. In terms of plot you’re being pulled along very slowly without much happening, but all the while it is very tense; Kōichi gets to know the girl who no one can see, Mei, largely in the doll shop which is beneath her house. Which is odd, because for most of the show, the dolls are pretty well ignored.
Only when the calamity starts do things start to get going and did I actually start to enjoy the show. By ‘calamity’ I mean people related to the class starting to die. I won’t go into details of who dies and how but rest assured you can rely on a death per episode (pretty much) from here on out. It’s not like the class weren’t doing anything to prevent the deaths though, they were pretending one member of the class didn’t exist. Makes sense as to why no one could ‘see’ Mei.
After a series of deaths, the class decide that the best way to stop things getting worse is by pretending the person breaking the rules doesn’t exist. That seems to work, until the class’ teacher kills himself in front of the group. Needless to say they give up on the whole ‘let’s ignore people to make things better’ thing.
Instead they try to seek advice from Kōichi’s aunt who is the assistant homeroom teacher and ex student of class 3. Their investigations lead them to another former student member who directs them to the method he found for stopping the calamity mid year. After finding a tape from the same man, they learn that to end the deaths they have to kill the member of the class who is dead.
This leads to a trip to an old shrine and in the lodge the class stay in the knowledge about killing the one who is dead surfaces, sending the students into anarchy. After the deaths of several of the students (in rather laughable ways, it has to be said), the real dead person is found and killed, but again, I’ll leave that for you to watch and find out.
I found that this was a show that did character development as well as it could. It is only 12 episodes long so is restricted in what it can do, and it doesn’t help when you’re killing off a character or two an episode. All of that said, they do manage to make it work by focusing on a core group to develop. Obviously Kōichi and Mei are the primary focus, and we learn a lot of valuable and fulfilling information about Mei that made me very sympathetic towards the girl.
A couple of other characters are also developed, namely: Izumi, Naoya and Yuuya. By only developing these side characters we were given enough time to feel for them when things happen at the end of the show.
Sound, artwork and animation
In terms of sound, I can’t really say that Another does anything new: sudden loud bangs and eerie string based pieces create the atmosphere, but they aren’t particularly unique. The area where the artwork really excels is gore. Not everyone likes gore, but if you do, you’ll very likely appreciate the style of this show from very early on. Also, though I wasn’t a fan, the dolls that frequented the start of the show were also very imposingly drawn and should probably be praised (doesn’t stop them being creepy…).
Episode 11: Makeup
This was another favourite episode that was quite difficult to choose, if only because a lot of the episode mould together very well. Though this is obviously a good thing, it does mean that choosing one particular episode that stands out is quite difficult. I chose episode 11 because it’s probably the episode where the psychological effects of such a ‘curse’ are shown most. Students that we thought we knew and understood start killing people and some we don’t go on killing sprees. It’s crazy but without the silly deaths of the final episode.
Favourite piece of music
A lot of the music in Another is composed for the purpose of scaring the audience, which it generally does pretty well. That said I’m a big fan of a well suited opening so give it a listen and see what you think, it’s called Kyumo Densen. It’s also worth me saying that I think the opening titles work with this really well but there seem to be widespread copyright issues on YouTube, so you’ve only got the SoundCloud again:
Despite Another sitting firmly in a genre I usually would touch with a barge pole, I’m really pleased I took the time to watch it. At times it’s genuinely very scary, and throughout the 12 episodes it’s exceptionally well paced. Despite only having 12 episodes to work with, characters are developed really well. I’m not entirely sure on episode 8 (yep, beach episode in the horror anime) or the inconsistencies with dolls throughout. Towards the end the way in which the deaths occur is a bit silly and the doll theme doesn’t serve much purpose other than to justify the main characters eye past the 4th episode. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the show and the positives greatly outweigh the negatives: absolutely worth the watch.