Another – Review
Review written by Erik “InstraClassic” Jorgensen
It’s April 7th, 2012, only a little less than two weeks since Another ended. Yet, the impression of this anime has stuck with me since I began watching it around March 13th. The final showdown that was the last couple of episodes was simply a cheery to be included on the proverbial sundae. I never thought I’d see the day I’d be stumped when it comes to attempting to paraphrase my opinion towards an anime. First and foremost, Another is, without a doubt, one of the greatest achievements in entertainment since I have embraced such concepts at the age of eight. Such words are met with skepticism and nitpicking, but I find it difficult to hate or even relatively dislike this show.
The story of Another goes like this: Kouichi Sakakibara transfer from Tokyo to the small village of Yomiyama to live with his grandparents while his father works overseas. Enrolled into Yomiyama North Middle School, Class 3-3, it’s almost immediately Kouichi begins to notice a mysterious, ignored girl by the name of Mei Misaki. Little does he know, the more he digs to find out who or what Mei is, that her exile was supposedly for the safety of Class 3-3. Deep down, there is a long history of ‘calamities’ that have began through the years over spring and summer, collectively. These calamities apparently begin when a dead soul wanders into the class, offsetting the amount of actual students in the room. Thanks to this, people end up dying inexplicably.
To control it, the Head of Countermeasures, appointed by the class much like a class representative, enacts that one student is exiled from the class to prevent anyone from dying. Therefore, the number of students goes back to normal and no one has to die. However, once Kouichi enrolls into the class, the mayhem begins and that causes him to continue to contact Mei Misaki to figure out what’s going on. With Mei’s theories and Kouichi’s courage, the two team up to try and get to the bottom of this calamity.
There’s something that needs to be said about the transition Another has made from book to show: it keeps you guessing. There’s nothing I find more incredible than asking myself plenty of questions right when the credits roll. You sit there, bewildered at the visage; you are excited for the next episode. In some cases, you’ll find the series complete, yet when I began watching Another it was only two or three episodes short of ending.
From beginning to end, the series continuously brings up the question: who is dead? This is a question that is even deliberate, brought up among the students thanks to a craving in Misaki’s desk. Who is dead? Who is the dead soul? I couldn’t be me; who is it?
Answers present itself with each episode, but then more questions arise that divert you away from the topic at hand. That sub-topic is solved, yet the main topic gets even worse. It’s this form of suspense that not only causes me to crunch up in my chair, but also cause me to exclaim at my monitor for the next episode. There’s several topics that are brought up, the further you dive into this calamity that has plagued the small town of Yomiyama. In fear of keeping this review as spoiler-free as possible, I will not disclose this information. However, without a doubt in my mind, the characters will blossom in both enticing and disturbing ways according to this downward spiral.
I would also like to say that thirteen episodes is a length I found myself comfortable with. It’s almost like the writer mocked filler, such as beach vacations, by actually setting them up to a beach town to investigate and wonder if they couldn’t be killed outside of Yomiyama. It’s an ironically pleasing shift in what us anime fans usually perceive beach-oriented episodes. Oh, did I forget to add that someone will die in just about every episode? That’s right; there is bound to be a victim in nearly every episode, starting at episode three when the mayhem begins. It will never be in a ‘oh-come-on-that-was-cheap’ way, it’ll come to you in a way where you know they will die only seconds before they actually die. There’s no sign of stopping; Another will continue to hit home runs until you forfeit or the match is over. Although, each and every death matters, inherently becoming the epicenter of what the team will have to investigate for the next or current episode.
Yukito Ayatsuji (Another‘s author), Tsutomu Mizushima (the director), and Ryo Higaki (the writer who adapted Another for television) have crafted a material that works well in television, and film, to an extent that I was more than satisfied by the conclusion of the series. Flow, personality, intrigue; this series has it all and an unpredictable formula where you’d think they’d mold an episode into one shape, but it ends up in a completely different shape. For example, instead of a character dying and credits, a character dies at the beginning of the episode and the team digs for details for the remainder. This type of story-telling keeps the adventure fresh, sometimes suspenseful like a character dying right before the opening credits.
The pacing and incredible involvement of both the viewer — and the characters — within the story should be awarded. Let’s not forget that you might end up getting attached to a few characters, besides Sakakibara and Misaki. On top of that, the mold that is Yomiyama is exceptionally modeled, not tripping over a single stereotype or detail and the atmosphere — coupled with exceptional audio design — is far from laughable or cheap. Everything pertains to the story, in one way or another, whether it’s brought up immediately or in a future episode.
As I’ve mentioned before, I did find myself getting attached to a few characters. Once the show began to boil down to the latter half, I was beginning to worry for some characters I found myself enjoying. Let’s just say that the final episode unraveled an epitome of strange; a moment where I felt like I had been guessing all along, but I never got the answers right. Another has told me everything and when I got down to the one who was truly dead, I was frightened. Goosebumped rose their peak and my eyes began to widen to this acknowledgment. The ending of Another is fucked up, to say the least. The inner Tumbloid in me wants to describe it as “all these damn feels,” courtesy of the blend between the mystery coming to a close and how the characters I’ve grown to love are involved.
Once the epilogue starts, I was happy, amazed even, but troubled. A secret that was then commissioned between two, and one that will continue to latch onto those who carry that secret. And the best part? That secret latched onto me, as well. I wasn’t even a character involved with this mystery, but I will remember. Excuse me for breaking out of my journalistic norm, but that is fucking brilliant. I’d have to say the ending was one of the legitimate foundations, if not the number one, that left me in love with Another. You couldn’t ask for a better ending.
Likeable and both interesting characters abound, especially Teshigawara, Kouichi, Misaki, and Mochizuki, there’s really not a character I can say should have not been included. For whatever purpose they were there for, they were either killed off quick enough to not seem like a big deal or they legitimately contributed to solving the mystery behind the calamity.
Continuing from my statement about Another‘s ‘exceptional audio design,’ I found that it applied itself within the atmosphere of the show quite nicely. At first, I began to think that the eerie fade-in-fade-out tricks and the dolls were just that: tricks. There weren’t there for any value; it was there to convince you to feel like an event was going to commence, akin to thrillers. The former eventually evolved into reverberating, scratchy high-pitched ringing which turned out unsettling and the dolls have a bizarre significane almost half-way into the series. I can’t help but associate the sound design for Another with Drive, a film I enjoyed. The pitch of the ringing can turn out to be unsettling and its abrupt presence, as it suddenly cuts out, can cue a silence. That silence causing me, the viewer, to ease forward, curious as to what will poke out from the ambigous and the tension. How the character reacts is the tip of the iceburg.
Now, the Japanese dub. I probably shouldn’t touch this subject because I’m not Japanese, but I’ll try my best for some of you out there who care. If you’re worried about Another having a bad dub, I can assure that I found the voice acting acceptable. It’s not like the dub isn’t great, no doubt, but I can’t judge what I can’t tell is good or fantastic. You’ll have to be the judge.
P.A. Works should also be awarded for creating not only a commendable, yet unnerving world, but for their animation practices. Using less money on dialogue sequences is evident, though it’s smart as they put most of their creative input towards the action-oriented scenes (i.e. the deaths). Even though the difference is obvious, the art design, accompanied by the cinematography, keeps the rather important dialogue from being ignored by consistent complaints. Might I also add this compliments the story’s flow in itself. It never seems like P.A. Works could run out of money to truly aim for their artistic decisions.
I know I mention the last two episodes more often than neccessary, but I couldn’t resist mentioning how well-animated those episodes were. There’s a lot of morbid fun to be had watching havoc ensue around or towards the characters with how each shot matters, exposing every fine detail. P.A. Works seemingly wants to guarantee that the viewer to get pumped for when the shit hits the fan, but once it does they can’t guarantee you’ll feel the same way once everything’s done. The animation is impressive to the point where you might end up losing your lunch.
I was planning on giving Another a rating. This will come off as generic, but I simply cannot give this show a rating. It will not do this show justice, even with a 10/10 which it most certainly deserves. Though, I believe a heavy, HEAVY recommendation will suffice.
Never heard of it or have taken a little peak at Another? Please do check it out. Not interested in anime or looking to start getting into anime? If you’ve got the stomach for it, this’ll be a great start. You, more than likely, will not regret it.
You can watch Another legally, thanks to Crunchyroll’s simulcast of the show. Keep it legal, my friends. Major props go out to Mitomeru and newanime-caps for their amazing screenshots. It saved me a lot of time and I’m more than grateful.
- Fantastic storytelling; it has an intrigue and flow to it with each episode that has a unique balance of curiosity and satisfaction.
- The animation is nothing short of spectacular, especially when they want to convince the viewer that the calamity is in action.
- It’s a show you could watch over the course of, at least, a day if you marathon it. And trust me, you’ll want to marathon it.
- Great character development, especially between Mei and Sakakibara.
- Creepy, sometimes disgusting art design, take in mind one particular scene that really goes out there. P.A. Works does not skimp on the grotesque reality of death and suffering.
- The character development is very natural and doesn’t try hard to make you feel some sort of sentiment towards the characters.
- A short-lived experience, but a memorable one.