Studio: P.A Works
Original Run: Jan 10, 2012 to Mar 27, 2012
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Yomi North is a middle school in the town of Yomiyama which is haunted by stories of a death that occurred twenty-six years ago. Ninth grade’s class three in particular has always been in the shadow of Misaki, the dead student whose passing inspired many uncanny rumors.
Sakakibara Kouichi transfers to Yomi North after his father’s job takes him to India and leaves Kouichi in the care of his mother’s family. Placed in the infamous 3-3, Kouichi soon becomes aware of the odd atmosphere pervading his new class. There’s an aura of fear among students and teachers both but no one seems willing to provide the answers that Kouichi seeks. It doesn’t help that Kouichi can’t seem to stay away from his classmate Misaki Mei, a reclusive girl with an eye-patch whom everyone else seems to ignore. Despite warnings to leave her be, Kouichi persistently attempts to befriend the girl whom he thinks is being bullied.
But the path to hell is paved with good intentions and Kouichi’s well-natured overtures may end up dooming them all as 3-3’s secrets rear their ugly heads.
Another is a show that’s guaranteed to be mentioned if horror anime are being discussed or recommended. After reviewing this episodically, which I think enhanced the experience for me, it’s clear why this show is so well-known.
Another’s best feature is its atmosphere. The whole show, except for a few episodes at the end, is soaked in this dark aura of mystery. It’s the initial episodes that showcase this to its full potential. Though lacking in any kind of action and full of cryptic conversations, these introductory segments seize your attention and keep you on the edge of your seat, waiting for something you don’t even know will happen. Even as the main character is going about his daily life and doing innocuous things like attending class or talking to his family, the show goes well out of its way to add an eerie ambience to everything. Needless to say, this works out excellently and establishes early on that Another is a show worth watching if only to find out whether the lofty promises that its early episodes seem to whisper will end up fulfilled.
And for me, those promises were indeed fulfilled. As the story goes on, answers inevitably start appearing. But this is a slow process and at no point does the show lose its tension or intensity. In fact, even when some questions are solved, it only seems to magnify the menace of the ones that remain unanswered. For instance, the matter of Misaki Mei is prominent in the beginning and even the overall mystery of 9-3 doesn’t seem as important as finding about who or what she is. But once Mei’s identity is resolved, the end result is that the situation concerning 9-3 becomes all the more puzzling and threatening.
A certain bloody event takes place in the penultimate episode after which the mystery and thriller aspects become superseded by more overt horror elements reminiscent of a slasher film. This is absolutely jarring and seems like it might be part of another series entirely. Still, the story redeems itself by resolving its final and most important question in a very satisfactory reveal that’s cleverly foreshadowed in the earlier episodes.
Another is not without its faults though. Many events seem convoluted and far-fetched while the characters themselves act in phenomenally irrational ways. While the narrative does try to explain these with a single, multi-purpose reason, it may still come across as tasteless to some. All the same, Another remains an excellent show well worth watching.
Sakakibara Kouichi is Another’s protagonist, a fairly normal guy who has the misfortune of transferring into a death trap for his final year of middle school. Just like us viewers, Kouichi is also in the dark about pretty much everything at the start and it’s his active attempts to unveil the truth about his class that slowly sheds light on Yomiyama’s mysteries. He’s likeable enough, being just the right levels of kind and curious to keep the narrative going while also making his character a sympathetic one.
But the real star of the show is Misaki Mei, the loner girl with an eye-patch and a predilection for ominous words. Most of the show’s initial intrigue is carried on the shoulders of this one character who’s a wholly unique figure. It’s clear early on that Mei is someone who has embraced her isolation to a level that’s slightly unnerving but as the story moves forward, we get to see softer moments from her that paint the picture of a more complicated person with somewhat stunted emotional faculties.
Most of the other characters are other kids from 9-3 so we’re talking fourteen year olds facing constant death and tragedy while desperately trying to stop it all. They’re a gloomy lot to begin with and it only gets worse once the bodies pile up and all the trauma starts taking its toll on their mental health. It’s not very pretty but that’s the point. The few adults in the equation aren’t much help either, though for good reasons.
Notable people include Izumi, the strict head of countermeasures with a soft spot for Kouichi, Chibiki, the old but spry librarian who has a history with 9-3, Yuuya and Naoya, a pair of guys who befriend Kouichi.
Art and Music:
Another is an excellent example of a show that uses art and music both to complement and enhance its narrative. The dark, eerie nature of the story is reflected in the rather menacing music (understatement – what even is that OP?) as well as the muted colors and bleak settings of the art style. The character designs are fairly standard and even realistic in terms of hair colors and the like. The quality is fantastic – there are virtually no off-model moments and everything from random dolls to landscapes is bursting with detail.
As for the music, the opening theme is Kyoumu Densen/ Nightmare Contagion by ALI PROJECT and it fully lives up to its name with lyrics and visuals that range from unsettling to terrifying. The ending theme, anamnesis by Annabel, is haunting in a much more subtle manner. And the OST does a very good job of adding an extra dose of creepiness to the show.