“Another” is an anime that is part of a genre I tend to watch little of. Mainly because I feel that there are few anime that do well in the mystery/horror genre of anime (another example might be Higurashi). However a friend recommended this to me a while back, and so I decided to give it a go. And man, was I impressed.
Another is about a kid named Kouichi Sakakibara who moves to his birth town of Yomiyama to live with his grandparents. However, soon after arriving, he suffers a collapsed lung due to a pneumothorax, and ends up spending his first month in hospital, causing him to miss his first day at his new school, Yomiyama High. Upon beginning the new term, he notices that the atmosphere there has an unnerving tension to it. His new classmates seem to be very friendly towards him, and yet somehow it seems that they are keeping something from him; whenever he asks about the mysterious girl with an eye-patch he sees lurking around school, everyone grows quiet and claims to have no idea what Kouichi is talking about. Before long, however, class 3-3 is thrown into a turmoil of gruesome and terrifying events as students of class 3-3 and those related to them begin dying in an incredibly “Final Destination” kind of fashion due to what the residents call the ‘calamity’, and as his inital questions are answered, more important ones surface as Kouichi and the otherstry to work out what is going on, why these events are taking place and most importantly of all: how to stop this calamity from happening in order to save class 3-3.
“Another” is, without a doubt, one of the tensest and most exciting anime I have seen to date and is one of my all-time favourites, albeit with some flaws. These flaws may be more irritating to some than others.
Without trying to spoil too much, which is difficult to do in the case of a mystery anime, the story develops really well as the series constantly teased me with the introduction of new mysterious storylines and clues, given mostly by stories and accounts from the older characters who either went to the school or taught in the school many years ago. This constant trickle of clues had me on the edge of my seat, waiting with a burning curiosity to find out what the next nugget of plot development would be and the answers to the increasing number of questions being raised.
Essentially, like all great mysteries, this story is like a puzzle with missing pieces, and the characters are forced to find these missing pieces before time runs out for more of their class-mates. And, thanks to the decent character development given to our many main and supporting characters, I, the watcher, really felt the tension and the stress and the excitement that our characters felt when they uncovered another clue about how the calamity works. It was enough to keep the viewer engaged, but didn’t give away the plot.
I feel like the fact that the series was only twelve episodes long really allowed the writers to create a fine example of quality over quantity and condense the plot development and characterisation. The short time frame left no room for dragged out moments and filler episodes or storylines. Every single moment of this anime was spent in some way developing the characters, the setting, the plot or the atmosphere which stopped me from ever getting bored. Even the slightly slow first few episodes were paced slowly for good reason which is explained shortly afterwards. And that’s when things really pick up.
As mentioned already, “Another” does a fantastic job of characterisation by using its short time frame to an advantage. Needless to say, despite having a fairly large cast of characters, the series does well to develop its main cast and supporting characters enough so that we get to know them all by the end of the series. The character development really created an attachment between me and many of the characters so that I felt anxiety for them to solve the mystery and save their class.
Again, every interaction we see helps build the characters in this series as we get to know their mannerisms and ways they interact. They still make space to add moments of light-heartedness that are not necessarily used as plot-building devices but instead used to reveal the odd quirk that a character has or to develop our main character’s backstory, for example Kouichi’s broken-up phone calls with his dad in India, or that amusing moment where a seemingly responsible and calm teacher suddenly displays aggressive driving on the motorway.
Our main character, Kouichi Sakakibara, however plays the more archetypical ‘observer’ type who reacts in a fairly generic way to most situations apart from his curious nature and drive to find the root of the problem. Not much to say here, folks. It would have been nice to get to know him beyond this archetype though – a characteristic to set him apart from the thousands of Kouichi’s that we’ve seen in the past. It is important to note that archetypical characters aren’t just walking, talking empty shells without any character at all; it’s just that there isn’t really anything noteworthy to say about them.
Other special mentions are:
Misaki Mei: Creepy and quiet, Misaki is shrouded in mystery for most of the series. She isn’t completely silent though as we discover through Kouichi who is intrigued by her rather… ‘strange’ manner, and we actually learn a lot about her as the story progresses. The only problem I have with her is probably the whole ‘quiet/dead’ persona she had going on. I get that she was set up that way for reasons which are disclosed throughout the story, but her character became, at times, frustratingly dreary, with me sitting there like “Do you have any life in you at all?!” I mean, I know she’s meant to be close to the dead, but…
Teshigawara: In a show like “Another”, things are very dark and get very serious so something is definitely needed to balance this out and keep the show feeling more… fresh. Teshigawara is the more cheerful and loveable character of the series who lifts the atmosphere with his lively, upbeat and jovial manner. In my opinion, Teshigawara helps keep “Another” from becoming dark to the point where it is depressing. Bear in mind that his character isn’t the only thing used in this fashion.
Now for the flaw I mentioned earlier. It is quite major, and although not explicitly told to us, you could say that it was heavily implied. I’d like to add that this flaw is something that I had to completely ignore in order to enjoy the series as a whole because, once you realise what it is, the story does kinda get screwed over a little bit, losing a lot of its meaning and making one of our main characters possibly one of the worst in the series. To describe it without spoiling it, it is one of those plot points which you pick up on and suddenly go “Waaiiiit, wait, wait. So you could have prevented a lot of what happened from happening. You could have. And then ALL OF THESE PEOPLE that had died would still be alive
So… why didn’t you?”
And unfortunately, they just try to gloss over it as best they can.
Despite this major flaw, I couldn’t help but forgive “Another” for it because it had put on such a good show throughout the length of the series and given me such a good time.
I felt a real sense of loss for a number of the characters that died, and all of the main characters were developed really well that made me worry for them throughout. And it was my concern for them and my burning curiosity to understand the mystery in full that kept me glued firmly to my seat through the entirety of the series.
+Well told story, kept me on the edge of my seat and dying to know what happened next
+The characters were developed well, especially considering the large cast that the writers had to deal with
+Great atmosphere and tension through use of pacing and the soundtrack.
-Perhaps too many characters being dealt with at once. There were one or two times where a character appeared, especially during the end couple of scenes, who I didn’t quite recognise.
-The plot kind of ended up implicitly biting itself in the tail due to the fact that one of the characters didn’t stop a lot of stuff from happening even though they could.
I’m giving “Another” a:
8/10 for story
8/10 for characters
9/10 for soundtrack and music
9/10 for overall enjoyment
Watch it people: I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed!
I don’t own the pictures used in this post. All rights go to their respective owners. Please help support the official release.