Another begins on a sufficiently creepy note with a boy telling a girl the story about some pretty, popular girl named Misaki who died in an accident 26 years ago. She was in ninth grade, class 3 and after her death, her classmates started pretending that she was still alive and there with them. This lasted until graduation and the principle even had a seat for her. Then something happens but we don’t get to find out yet.
Then it shows a boy, Sakakibara Kouichi, in a hospital with his grandmother and aunt. His mother’s dead and his father’s in India. He’s new to Yomiyama and set to start class at Yomi North, the school where his mother studied. Three of his soon-to-be classmates show up with flowers. Guess what class they’re from? Yup, ninth grade, class 3.
Awkward introductions reveal that one of the three is a girl who works in countermeasures. What in hell would a junior high class have countermeasures for? They press him about his prior experience with Yomiyama. He insists that he hasn’t lived here before, just visited briefly, but countermeasures girl takes his hand in an ominous handshake and seems skeptical about that fact.
Later, Kouichi runs into an eye-patched girl in the hospital elevator – the shot makes it seem like she appeared out of thin air – and finds that she’s headed towards the morgue with a doll, saying she’s delivering something to her poor other half. He asks her name, which she says is Misaki Mei.
Well, okay, that is a complete coincidence I’m sure.
Anyway, Kouichi heals up and receives a lecture from his aunt about the rules at his new school. It’s important to uphold class rules and the group is more important than the individual. Hmm, I’m already disliking this class.
Class 3 and its teachers seem strangely subdued when he joins them but during break, they all flock to him for chatting up the city boy. At least that’s what it seems like but the whole thing has this artificial aura to it, like they’re all just going through the motions. It’s also crystal clear that the class as a whole is keeping some secret from Kouichi.
During gym class, Kouichi finds out that their class takes gym separately for some reason. He talks with a boy born with a heart condition who runs off to the nurse’s office soon after and is then joined by Sakuragi Yukari, one of the girls who visited him in the hospital. She has a sprained ankle. Kouichi asks her about Mei whom he saw in the class when he came in but who disappeared during lunch. Sakuragi is shocked to the point of speechlessness at the question and before she can respond in any way, Kouichi spots Mei on the roof and rushes to join her.
Why, Kouichi, why? Did you two bond so much during a creepy elevator encounter?
He makes awkward conversation with Mei and then it gets real weird when Mei reveals that his class is keeping a secret from him. Apparently, they associate his name with death and the school itself – particularly class 3 – is in a place close to death. Kouichi is understandably confused and maybe a little freaked out by this. Mei leaves soon after, warning him not to talk to her or try to get close to her.
As he’s going home in the evening, Kouichi sees Mei from his car but she seems to vanish soon after.
First impressions for Another is 10/10. The entirety of this episode has been subtly creepy. I mean, what is it with all those random shots of porcelain dolls? Dolls are freaky, okay?
It’s obvious that there’s something very odd going on with Kouichi’s class and I don’t think it’s a stretch to think it has something to do with that incident 26 years ago. The scene that really struck me was the way the interacted with Kouichi during lunch hour. The dialogue and inflections all suggest genuine enthusiasm and friendliness and that’s probably what Kouichi is seeing as well but the way the scene is shot gives this really eerie aura to the whole ordeal. I know shit about cinematography but this much is easy to pick out.
Heart boy and Sakuragi’s ankle and Kouichi’s pneumothorax has also got me curious. Is illness and injury going to make frequent appearances among this class?
Also, Misaki Mei is enigma personified and she wears it well. Needless to say, I can’t wait for more.