Time for Another!
… Another what? Bad puns aside, Another is horror mystery novel that was serialized in Japan from 2006 to 2009, with the compiled novel published later that year. For those who can’t read Japanese, however, there’s always the 12-episode anime adaptation that just finished airing last month.
In 1972, a student in class 3-3 of Yomiyama Middle School named Misaki dies under mysterious circumstances. In order to handle the grief, the students insisted that Misaki had not died, but was still at the school attending class. Things get even more baffling when Misaki appears in the class photograph taken at the end of the year during graduation. Since then, a strange phenomenon has surrounded the class — on certain school years, a student dies each month, often in a very bizarre fashion. The year is now 1998 and young Sakakibara Koichi has recently transferred to Yomiyama after an extensive stay at a nearby hospital. While a patient, Koichi accidentally finds himself in the morgue and encounters a peculiar girl with an eyepatch over her left eye. Thinking nothing of it, Koichi heads to school the next day, only to see the girl seated at a shoddy, weathered desk in the corner of the room. The girl, who calls herself Misaki Mei, is not the only thing odd about the class — it seems as if no one else can even see her.
It’s a great premise. It starts off innocent enough with Koichi transferring to the school and making a boatload of new friends. But true to the phenomenon, the 12-episode romp spares no time in getting to the gruesome (and sometimes laughably so) accidents that claim the lives of random students throughout the school year. What follows is a delicious sadistic portrayal of human emotions and negativity, as friends begin to blame each other for the calamities, while at the same time huddling together to cower over its brutal inevitability. What never seems to really waver, however, is the odd relationship between Koichi and Mei who, for all extensive purposes, are like peas in a bloody pod.
It’s a little difficult to talk about this series, especially since the mystery is written well-enough to keep viewers second-guessing themselves over what details are and are not important to solving the puzzle. I will say, however, that the keenly astute may be able to decipher most of it before the series comes to an end; I watched a bit of the series over again after I completed it, and the clues are definitely there, even if I had the almighty power of 20/20 hindsight.
There’s a lot of talk about the art direction. For a mystery horror series, it’s surprisingly ‘moe’-friendly and colorful and some have taken exception to that. I don’t really agree. In the first few episodes, there is a lot of time spent in a doll museum and, believe me, the color definitely enhanced the ‘freakiness’ of the experience. There’s something about the coloring and shading of the dolls eyes and faces that really creeped me out. I also don’t think I would’ve liked the series as much if it were portrayed in a more realistic fashion, because the current art style creates this awesome cognitive dissonance that makes me think, “Hey, she’s pretty cute wait is that oh yes that is definitely looking sharp uh oh is she going to fall on yes. Yes she is.”
The opening animation is also pretty cool to watch, but the theme, done by Ali Project, doesn’t really do it for me. It’s weird, because I really haven’t been impressed with Ali Project‘s work since Kopperia no Hitsugi (NOIR Op) and possibly the second ending for Code Geass. I know it’s probably me not agreeing with their gothic-style of music, but it just seems a little off. I just hope that there was more discussion over the theme than just “well, goth + horror = finished.”
I don’t feel like I can really say much more about the series without possibly stepping through some spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that. I definitely recommend it if you want a fast-paced horror mystery that resolves both cleanly and quickly. Plus, seriously, some of those deaths are awesome.
I’m pretty sick.
Character Ranking – Another
- Misaki Mei
- Akazawa Izumi
- Mikami Reiko
- Sakakibara Koichi
- Sakuragi Yukari