Directed by Tsutomu Mizushima
Animated by Hanabee Entertainment
Suitable for 17+
If you are a fan of American horror, Another is by far the best place to start when entering the horror anime genre. If you are a fan of anime and you want to see some quality horror, Another is a probably a title you have heard. So for your benefit, as a fan of the genre I am going to warn that if you do not like spoiling a fantastic mystery you should go watch Another on Crunchyroll and then come back for the review, because the twists and turns start early in this 12 episode mystery.
Now that you are warned, let’s get into it. This Anime disturbed me in a good way. In a very Final Destination esque motif, Class 3 from Yomiyama north middle school has been cursed by inevitable death due to the unknowing actions of their 1972 alumni. The shocking death of a popular student was received with a collective denial by the class; the other students all claimed to still see their friend, but were unexpectedly validated by the appearance of his ghost in their class photo. Since then, Class 3 has been visited by “Another”. The identity of the “other” is unknown to the students, but is always the spirit of a student who died the year before. The curse wipes the death from their memory, making anyone a potential ghost. The presence of the spirit leads the members of the class to be “close to death”, making it so any death that could happen most likely will. The series starts in 1998 with new student Kouichi Sakakibara moving into town and joining the class, unaware of the superstition and tragic situation he clumsily stumbles into.
As Kouichi delves through the mysteries of Class 3, the structure of the story shifts between several horror genres. Act 1 can be described as the mystery of the invisible girl Mei Misaki, a student who appears unnoticed and unrestrained by the rules of proper education. She wanders aimlessly through the halls and is often absent, with a glass eye and a dreary demeanor. This has all the making of a ghost story, but left turn, ghost girl is actually real, and her ostracization is all part of a complex ritual to appease “the calamity”. Act 2 feels more like final destination. As the students now shun Kouichi in an attempt to save their shunning ritual, we wait with bated breath as they die in new and unexpected ways. After finally coming to terms with the fact that death is on the menu, Act 3 involves Kouichi and crew banding together to solve the mystery of the calamity and save their lives, re-entering ghost story territory. In the final Act, we discover killing the “other” is the solution to the horrible calamity. So pick up a sharp object and stab your best friend, this show just became a free-for-all slasher.
There are a ton of gruesome death scenes in this 12 part series. Watch the series, and you’ll see why I am still not comfortable using umbrellas anymore. Unlike the vapid and easily digestible plot of Final Destination, Another weaves in the unsettling theme of tragic accidental death with a compelling ghost story and an interesting mystery. There are satisfying layers to the story, and a few red herrings to keep your engaged.
I would say the strongest quality of Another is the pacing. The beginning of the show starts slow, and it builds in a very satisfying way. There are enough major plot points with the mystery of Mei Misaki, the mystery of the first class, the nature of the calamity, how to stop the calamity, and finally “who is the other?”. The finale is a huge crescendo that seems appropriate and satisfying.
To talk about what was lacking in this show there are a few glaring flaws in the plot.
1) The main character is either a jerk or an idiot. Kouichi Sakakibara the “transfer student” and central character of the story seems to push and delve deeper into the mystery of the calamity regardless of every other character warning him not to. He continues to pressure all of his terrified classmates into clueing him in, and the body count keeps piling up. Eventually they make a strong point of exonerating him of the guilt of causing the calamity to start, but he doesn’t know he isn’t the root cause for over half the series, yet he continues to pry. Also, anyone who seems to talk to him about it is the next to die, a mistake he makes way too many times.
2) Why would this town allow a school with this many accidental deaths to remain open? Deaths on campus or during school sanctioned events alone are high, ridiculously so. There is no way in any reality a community would allow this school to exist. Either they believe in the curse and close it due to superstition, or they don’t and the school is buried under a mountain of lawsuits due to gross negligence. 30% of your 9th graders die, over the course of 20 years. That school should not be allowed to exist anymore.
3) The class has a countermeasures department that prepares to combat the calamity with a somewhat proven method. If the entire class is aware and preparing for the possibility of a high volume of accidental death, why do they show up to school? Why are administrators assigning children to this classroom? Is someone in the registrar just deciding who might live or die?
Besides the hokey gaps in the logic of Another’s universe, the series is scary, interesting, and somewhat intelligent. One of the finer examples of a horror anime.
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