Another (アナザー) is an anime that I was expecting with a lot of anxiety. Was it going to be creepy and mentally challenging or was it going to be just a moe school girl and her beloved schoolmate. For me, as a lover of psychological stories and an admirer of the crime genre, this series turned out to be the best surprise of its season. Even if the information on the story was great, given the fact that it is based on the original novels by Yukito Ayatsuji, there is always something that can go wrong with adaptations.
At the beginning there was a moe with one eye… Does Mei Misaki, the silent and depressive-looking young girl with one eye and a patched other one count as a moe? After all this time since March 27, 2012 (when the last episode aired), I believe I have decided that there is no chance for me to consider her as one.
The main characters are this very Miss Mei and the newly returned to his late mother’s home village classmate of hers – Mr. Kouichi Sakakibara.
The two of them meet when he, a pale young man with a lung issue that makes him stay in the hospital often, is introduced to his new classmates at the Yomiyama North Middle School’s class 3-3. The girl strikes him as someone absent-minded and taken aback, sincerely antisocial. She always goes around alone, as though neither she nor the others notice her. However, there is a reason for this mutual lack of interest in each other and the young Sakakibara-kun is definite to be involved in the story.
1998 is when Mei Misaki, the daughter of a doll-maker, and Kouichi Sakakibara meet for the first time. Their destiny, however, has been set in motion 26 years ago when a dreadful and creepy occurrence had happened to that same town, to that same school and to that very same class.
The cursed 3-3 of Yomiyama North Middle School is famous as a burden to society and a doomed group of young people. Studying and living under a curse, for 26 years every single generation had to suffer the fate of having to ignore the very existence of one of their classmates. This is because of a true curse.
Misaki died in 1972. She was a top student and excelling in sports as well as grades and art. She was loved by everyone, so admired and cherished that her classmates and teachers together decided to pretend that she has never died. Even at the graduation photo, people that Misaki was supposed to be there.
This very odd and incredible situation has created an unthinkable effect – the curse of the dead student.
According to the mutual beliefs, when the number of students in 3-3 reaches a certain limit, then this means that a dead person has returned and is taking a seat right next to the others. Thus, in order to keep safe until graduation, the class’ rules say that one of them has to have his or her very existence negated from both class and teachers. This is why Mei Misaki, bearing the same surname as the deal woman from 26 years ago, has been chosen for the dead person and ignored by everyone. Kouichi-kun, however, does not like this and decides to break the curse in his own way – by keeping her as a friend. This leads to a series of unfortunate events such as three sudden and somewhat obscure deaths and him as well being negated as a student at 3-3.
I have no idea how and why this author has come across such an idea, but it is something very good. On the other hand, the anime did not make it easily understandable for the general public. How come there was a dead student in the class and why did the curse begin at all? These are questions that many are still asking themselves, although the answers are all there. This said, I have to note that, although the moe-looking female protagonist and the typically school-anime-looking character design, Another is not just another school-themed show with flat plot and useless script. In fact, it has a great basis (the novel) and has been executed in a great and very pleasurable way.
At the end of the day, the story is marvellous – we have darkness, clichés and romance as well as artificial eyes, curses and many, many bloody deaths!
I am a maniac when it comes to killings and murders, but this is one hell of a journey, even if the details are not as well-thought of as they should have been. I admire the graphics and the special atmosphere that appears and is there from the first to the very last minute of the show. I am taken aback from the little issues such as the protagonists’ fireproof body and his absolute luck, but it is something very, very bearable.
One thing that really irritated me, though, was the absolutely wrong choice of music. Yes, I know that there are a lot of people who would disagree with me, but it’s just my personal opinion – you can comment and disagree with me on this. Theme songs, ambiance songs and everything music-like inside was just wrong. The opening and ending sequels were also a turnoff for me. With a greatly depicted gore scenes that bring a smile to whoever enjoys blood for the sake of fun, Another could have done much better when it comes to these episode parts. For me, the ending sequence brought too much romance and cuteness, prettiness and leisure to the show and it is not a good thing.
Even though all my good comments up to this point (some negative as well), I need to say that, if you’re not a fan of the general senseless anime that comes out every season, Winter 2012 would’ve been a nightmare. With shows such as Papa no Iukoto o Kikinasai!, Moretsu Uchuu Kaizoku and Inu x Boku SS, it is not hard to stand out as something deep and filled with surprises. I am not certain if it was as good as my first impression was. One thing is certain – psychological anime is still being created and it will definitely bring a smile to many faces.
Images: (c) 2012 綾辻行人・角川書店 ／「Another」製作委員