My favourite anime genres are supernatural mystery and horror. I rarely want to watch or read anything that doesn't have something supernatural to it, while it doesn't necessarily have to be fantasy. For as long as I can remember I've had a fascination with horror, and I'm most passionate about my stories when they have supernatural elements to them. What I love most is a good haunting, and that is what made me pick up Another.
Another is a 12-episode anime based on a novel by Yukito Ayatsuji, and is one of the many adaptations of this story (also found in manga and feature film form). The genre is horror, and the premise goes as follows:
In 1972, Misaki, a popular student of Yomiyama North Middle School's class 3-3, suddenly died partway through the school year. Devastated by the unexpected loss, the students and teachers behaved like Misaki was still alive, leading to a strange presence on the graduation photo. In Spring 1998, 15-year-old Kōichi Sakakibara transfers into Yomiyama's class 3-3, where he meets the peculiar Mei Misaki, who is seemingly ignored by her classmates. The class is soon caught up in a strange epidemic, where its students and their relatives are caught up in mysterious deaths. Learning these deaths have something to do with the Misaki of 1972, it is up to Kōichi and Mei to discover the cause of these mysterious deaths and figure out how to stop it before it puts an end to them. (Source: Wikipedia)
As it's based on a novel, the anime also has a novel-like structure. The story gives the viewer the horror elements right from the first episode, providing you a promise of a continuation for the pressing atmosphere and presence of horrible secrets. It leads you on, turns around and smacks you and your expectations in the face, the plot twists and turns and never really is truly obvious. And don't we all love a plot that is full of terrible lies we don't really want to know the truth of - and yet, we do?
The story is also full of symbolism, no doubt all significant.
While the story builds upon classic tropes - creepy high school girls, broken corridor lights at hospitals, music that sounds like it was made for Stanley Kubrick's The Shining - like I said, it has an original haunting. I'm going to tell you straight ahead that this story is about an interesting haunting that makes you think, raises questions, and is a plentiful source of inspiration and even nightmares.
However, this story (at least in animated form) doesn't fully use all the elements it introduces. What exactly was the significance of the dolls? Mei's mother?
I almost added "why did Akazawa remember Sakakibara?", but some nights ago I realized why. It's an interesting plot point that makes sense when you think of it just a little bit deeper. The mysteries presented in the plot are solved believably, however the ending did feel somewhat anticlimactic to me.
The anime makes me want to grab the novel, and I hope I'll have a chance to read it in the future.
- imaginative haunting
- ... and how it's presented
- ... and how the characters talk about it
- characters' young age serving the plot
- conventional horror elements being used well to serve the plot
- the "creepy anime girl" not falling flat
- ... and actually being interesting and not a cheap plot device
- pubescent youth being portrayed as pubescent youth
- beautiful artwork
- colour schemes serve the genre the story represents
- the quality of animation
- loose ends being tied at the end
- ... but not too tight
- haunting music
I FROWN AT:
- the somewhat anticlimactic ending
- presented ideas and intriguing sideplots not getting much attention
- lack of true variety in the wide cavalcade of characters
- exploration of a character's supernatural abilities not satisfactory
GRADE: 8/10, 4 stars.