26 years ago, something terrible happened in a middle school’s third year classroom. A popular, talented student named Misaki suddenly died, and the ramifications of that incident have caused each third year class since then to live in fear. It is now 1998, and Kouichi Sakakibara has just transferred into the notorious classroom, curious about the mysterious secret that his peers are hiding from him. He’s drawn to one enigmatic girl named Mei Misaki, a quiet student who wears an eye patch and warns him about getting involved with her, and continues to seek her out against the pleas of his classmates. And that’s when people begin to violently die...
Another, is an anime faithfully based on a novel written by Yukito Ayatsuji. Available in both English and Japanese, is felt more of a mystery than a horror, yet with some horror aspects, I found this anime to be the best audio-visual 'horror' experience so far in life. Why do I think so? Animation/Sound The animation is modern and clear, as is to be expected. It doesn't have too much of a unique look, however there are no faults with it for the most part. The sound is pretty good, the exceptional music is used to set the mood and even the calm, seemingly positive outro music had an eerie feel after a while. The english dub does the job well. Story The most important aspect of this anime is the story. It is a mystery and a very well written one at that. The progression is complete, so it doesn't require a sequel, though it could be argued that there isn't a reason not to. What I enjoyed the most about the story was that it was unpredictable and reasonably so. There is a lot of foreshadowing, which most people won't notice when they first run through. The ending makes sense as there are clues all throughout which I mostly noticed in a second watch of the series. The synopsis can be found on the main page. Characters Characters were done very well, which may have been due to the fact that this was a novel. The main characters are followed throughout the anime and there is reason why these characters are more significant. It seemed like a few characters were cut short and weren't shown enough, but again it is to do with the story. I found it rather funny that this anime has a beach episide, however it is still to do with story and there is no aspect of ecchi in this anime. Conclusion I would recommend this anime to anyone, yes, anyone. I showed it to someone who was into horrors but not into anime and they thoroughly enjoyed it. If you do watch this anime do not look it up online, as there could be spoilers, for example on the wikipedia page for the novel. I recommend against a marathon as this anime is it its best when watched over a long period of time. It is mentally engaging to think and to try and solve the mystery in your head and speculate after each episode. If anything, watch the same episode twice on your first run and see if you notice certain things. Family-friendliness rating: 2/5 - No pervyness, but being a horror means certain things may be unsuitable for a younger audience (lower is better) Overall rating: 10/10 (higher is better)
FIRST IMPRESSIONS This show is called Another, as in “another show with a loli ghost” since just half a year prior to it we had AnoHana (aka We still don’t know how to write the full name of that show). The thing which I didn’t like there was how the ghost was all fluff and hardly haunting (as ghosts are supposed to be). So here comes this show to try to portrait a more rewarding and actual ghost story. Actual, as in horror and mystery and not GODDAMN MOE FLUFF! My impressions though are not any more positive because it is not creepy or scary at all.The animation is done by P.A. Works, a studio famous for its high production values (True Tears, Angel Beats, Hanasaku Iroha). I personally don’t like any of their titles because they mostly aim to pamper the viewer with fancy visuals and moe fan service instead of just telling a well-presented story. Regardless, they are highly esteemed in the anime fandom and draw in people by the thousands, just because their shows look great. Shallow but true. The director is not promising either. Mizushima Tsutomu. has made some really funny low tier anime; some of which are Hare+Guu, Dokuro-chan, Punie-chan, and Squid Girl. You can see how he likes to make violent comical stories with little girls. For reasons unknown though, lately he decided to switch to horror and gore and his previous work was the total crapfest Blood-C anime. He is completely incapable of doing a proper horror/mystery show and instead of learning from that THEY GIVE HIM TO DIRECT ANOTHER ONE! Get the pun? Another. Why do they give horror/drama shows to a guy who is good only at making light comedies? Just to make “Another” travesty? He does a great job at that so far. SPECIFICS Here is a list to make you understand what a shitty work they did with this one.1) Overused generic school-ground and stock character figures are definitely not helping me to appreciate the show as something special. And yes, they are generic despite being well-drawn. They barely stand out from a hundred other school anime and thus you end up watching the same old tired style. And in case you wonder what I consider interesting, here are a few examples: http://www.free-press-release.com/uploads/news/2010/03/15/1268668891_img2.jpg http://www.fineartregistry.com/featured_artist/linzi-lynn/images/fine-art.jpg http://images4.fanpop.com/image/photos/17000000/The-Starry-Night-by-Vincent-van-Gogh-fine-art-17058523-1280-1015.jpg And now compare those beauties to this pic from the series: http://www.shanalogic.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads2/2012/02/another-anime-ep-4-010-614x347-600x339.jpg Verdict? BOOORING! And why is this important you may ask? Well keep on reading. 2) For a show that is supposed to be horror, they barely tried to experiment with the visuals so the horror can work. They just stuck to tired horror cinematics from 20 years ago and threw in death scenes which border campy and comedy. They were trying of course to make it all cool with some creepy tunes and use of darkness but it hardly feels scary, mysterious, or at least like something you haven’t seen before in a more bold way. I mean check out this picture from John Carpenter’s films: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_c2LfMRmgbzE/TUuIJexMbWI/AAAAAAAAPbs/L9V1FqURIbU/s640/thething.jpg This thing is scary. On the other hand, an average scary scene in Another looks like this: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-2oHG5PEUD1Y/T3DCRL9q49I/AAAAAAAAE4w/LKUmjPffqas/s1600/another-12.jpg That is not scary; that is a scene from a boring date sim. This problem goes even further in most scenes which are deliberately using creepy BGM even when there isn’t anything creepy going on in the plot. They just throw it there to keep you anxious or something but it otherwise is out of context with the plot. There are some nauseating cool scenes as well but, guess what, they all end up being fictional nightmares instead of something that actually happened in the story. 3) Just look at the opening video; you hardly see anything besides the main two characters and a minimalistic background. That is not a way to build atmosphere; that is plain BOOORING! And the soundtrack is bad just for being made by Ali Project. That band is synonym to junk food music, generic and forgettable songs for mass consumption that are forgotten fast before making up a slight variation and selling it all over again. I hate them and I feel they downgrade any show they are allowed to be part of. How are people even finding them to be good or creepy or anything other than tasteless? Here, let me give you some truly great songs to get your hair to lift up. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdcvBSRVkUU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4z10AlFDQfYAnd in case any weeboos jump up to say I am comparing an animated show with live action movies, I ensure you that these are from low-budget films and not blockbusters. And they definitely sound a million times better regardless of where they are used. Music fits in both animated and live action alike, ok? 4) Mannerisms are terrible too. Just look at how everybody behaves. They hardly show emotions and just stand up with their hands hanging. Just look at this pic which is supposed to be extremely creepy: http://www.seaslugteam.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/another-anime-7.jpg The characters don’t seem to have life in them at all. They talk without much emotion or feel scared for a few seconds before they magically stop remembering why they were scared in the first place. They hardly show any body language that would make them adorable. To hell with the story, it never matters in any P.A. Works anime. It is always about the characters and as long as you like them, then everything is fine. In this case they all feel like lifeless stock material. Remember those generic rip-offs in Angel Beats? As unoriginal as they may have been, they were at least fun to watch. Look how lively they were: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_J6T1VnueenM/S9ORdUd3MMI/AAAAAAAAFCM/vu7TUaZfRnY/s1600/angel_beats_04_06.jpgThese here are BOOORING! 5) I was not made to care about them in the least; many of them are killed after just a few episodes without being fleshed out and you caring in the least about them. And those who are fleshed out? Awful! - The protagonist is once again a wuss who passively witnesses events happening with a complete blunt and lame demeanour. Sorry but I can’t identify with this blank sheet as so many otakus claim they can, as opposed to having a colourful and complicating personality. Once again I bring up the Angel Beats cast for being fun exactly because they were colourful. With this asshole I was just thinking “Do something you goddamn idiot; don’t just space out all the time!” - The co-protagonist is a total bitch that knows a lot but never says anything before it’s too late. For most of the show she is presented as a tragic figure who is blamed for things she didn’t do. And while she can redeem her innocence by simply telling anyone the truth, she just keeps quiet and lets everybody being killed. “Oh, I could see the dead person since the beginning but never thought it would be important to mention it. And when I found out it was important, I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.” Yeah, ok, and for that a dozen people got brutally killed you bitch. They were right to blame you since the very start.- All secondary ones cute girls and pretty boys with the most basic and plain personalities imaginable, so you end up not caring at all. SOME VARIETY WOULDN’T KILL YOU! [/u] And it also feels like their mouths are crooked when they are facing sideways so they are not that cute anymore. 6) The story runs purely on Idiot’s Plot. Things seem scary and dangerous only because all the characters are retards who don’t seem to do anything right. The plot is about a new transfer student (since we can’t have a school without transfer students because the planet will blow up from too much originality) who discovers that there is something off with that place. Basically you have an unseen supernatural killer nobody can find because they all have lizard-brains and unlike Angel Beats this is not supposed to be a joke. For a town where people get brutally killed by the dozens, they are all constantly PRETENDING EVERYTHING IS FINE! Hell man, a student gets killed every two days in the same school and they keep on going there like nothing happened. THEY HAVE NO LIFE IN THEM! They even go to the beach to have fun and offer us fan service instead of…. I don’t know; DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT! Like, bringing in an exorcist or stuffing themselves with garlic and crosses. They are literally not doing anything other than ignoring the horrible things that happen around them for over 30 YEARS! If they really were smart, this show would be over in ten seconds. Thus all characters are there as nothing but hollow plot devises, existing either as: - informants, to reveal stuff by talking instead of showing and always in a lifeless manner (they don’t care). - moeblobs, for the sake of looking moe. - cannon fodder for some really hilarious death scenes. Seriously, the only thing you impatiently expect from them (other than staring at they faces and bare skin) is to see who is going to die horribly next time. 7) The script is one big mess as well. Who on earth would have some basic talent in storytelling and would start by revealing the backdrop story through a forced narration? It is the classic “show don’t tell” mistake all lazy stories do. The first three minutes feel like they have thrown at your face the main conflict of the series instead of gradually showing it through the plot. That is something you use in movies where you don’t have time to show it properly in just one and a half hour. You don’t do it in a damn 4-hour-total show. And even if you do it, what is the point of having it there when the characters repeat the exact same things in a later episode? It was obviously there just to waste time and ruin the mystery. And skip all that, there are many factual errors in it as well, such as the police not closing down the school because of the murders or someone in a whole damn town not doing the slightest thing to change the situation for over 30 YEARS! 8 ) And speaking of waste, the plot moves terribly slow and even makes pointless circles and several resets just to stall time. It’s supposed to be doing that in order to make you feel uneasy but in reality it only manages to give you enough time to realize how idiotic the whole thing is. The actual progress is also nothing much as it only has to do with people revealing stuff by talking or just people dying. This is a show where we see cute characters talking and talking and talking apathetically, then someone gets killed, and then get a bit scared for a few minutes before losing all their emotions again, and return to more talking and doing moe stuff like nothing of importance happened, until another one (pun) gets killed. There is absolutely no excitement; you are watching this for cute girls and handsome boys dying horribly; that’s it. 9) The mystery is one pile of manure. Not only it doesn’t head anywhere for most of the show, but even when it finally does it makes absolutely no sense at all. Because of space restrictions I couldn't post my fanfic regarding that, but you can read it in the spoiler tag in this exact spot in the same review I made over at Anidb. The link to there is: http://anidb.net/perl-bin/animedb.pl?show=animeatt&aid=8556&attid=8397And surely, nobody will care about the stuff they say as much as they will do for the deaths scenes. It is hilarious how most of the key characters were killed or prevented from talking EXACTLY when they were about to reveal new information. This is done just for making sure the mystery will go on for as much as the scriptwriter wants by simply halting its revelation through killing anyone who may know something. That is tasteless and eventually ridiculous. Plus, after awhile this doesn’t happen anymore because the scriptwriter is running out of episodes and realized it’s time to get on with the plot. And what does he do to accomplish that? He has the main character sitting on a table and talking. THAT’S IT! And turns out there was actually someone who knew who the killer is since the very beginning and never said a thing because he/she was not sure if it mattered. YEEEEAAAAHHHH! 10) The finale of the show is the most hilarious episode since the finale of Blood C. Nothing makes sense and people turn to serial killers out of nowhere, building burn up heavily and nobody could sense the tiniest heat or smoke, while people calmly phone others while surrounded by fire. Oh, and when the dead person is finally revealed, not only it didn’t even try to fight back and just got defeated easily but also there was no way you could have figured out it was him/her all along. One of the best troll endings I have ever seen. FINAL THOUGHTS I find Another to be completely boring, lazily made, and hilarious for being so bad it is good. It is hardly as imposing as the live action Ringu movies, it has far less cute lolis than Higurashi, it has far more boring characters than any other mystery/supernatural show of the past decade, and it is stretching a premise to last a lot more than it can remain interesting. The only good thing it has in it is the random death scenes, which are done in such an over-the-top way that are plain funny. That is, you laugh at them; you are not scared, or amazed, or intrigued to find out what is going on. Literally, the only thing we had to talk about this show is how much we laughed and made jokes regarding the kitsch deaths which are reminiscent of the Final Destination films. You can read a joke I made about that here in the Anidb link I mentioned above. So in all this is your typical P.A. Works anime, where you stare at the pretty faces and laugh at ridiculous gore scenes, while disregarding good pacing or proper development of whatever story they may have, before eventually yawning a couple of times and dropping the whole thing just to go watch Angel Beats or Nisemonogatari. Not good at all. p.s.: By no means do I consider Angel Beats or Nisemonogatari to be masterpieces. They are full of retarded characters, poor plots, and ridiculous fan catering but at least they are brain-dead fun to watch and thus fulfil their basic role. Something of which Another is not doing by miles.
Finally! Finally, an anime is recommended to me as a horror anime, and Another really is! Horror is not a genre that, in my opinion, is well represented in anime. Too many so-called horror anime rely only on blood and death to provide the horror and this, to me, is not horror. True horror also should include the element of suspense. Nail-biting, sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat, ready-to-scream suspense. Another gives you suspense. It also gives a nice mystery, as well as providing the blood and deaths for those who need that in their horror. It is the whole package. Kouchi Sakakibara has transferred to a new school. He knows it is the school which his late mother attended. But what he doesn't know is that the ninth grade class in which he is enrolled has a secret. A secret of death. A secret no one may speak of, lest they trigger calamity. Classmates and family members will die, at least one per month, unless the secret is countered. But how can Kouichi counter it, when no one is willing to talk or give information? The animation in this is very good, motion depicted fluidly, with vivid, realistic backgrounds. Creepy dolls, many dismembered or decapitated, set up a spooky and threatening atmosphere. Effects are done especially well. Lighting is used persuasively to enhance anxiety, create mystery, or portend ominous events. Blood drips and pools, fire looks like it will spread right off the screen. Only one area is not superlative - the character designs. Characters look like any other generic anime characters you may have seen. You could drop Kouichi or Mei into another series, and they would blend right in. Lead and secondary characters are distinct and identifiable, but not really memorable. Lesser characters are interchangeable and forgettable and often totally undistinguishable from one another. Soundtrack for Another is totally on the mark. From the edgy and tense opening theme song to the eerie and chilling background mood music, the incidental sound does a great job of keeping up the level of anxiety and anticipation for what will pop out at us next. Ending theme is a nice quiet piano ballad, perfect for soothing jangled nerves incurred from the turmoil of the episode. Character backstory is well developed, but you never really feel immersed in these people's lives. Which turns out to be a good thing, since their lives could end at any time, and many of them do end early. Kouichi and Mei, our lead characters, are fleshed out and given a basic unique personality, but there is no real character development or growth as this story only lasts the length of one school year. Koichi at the end of the series is still pretty much the same as the Kouichi who started this journey with us. If you, like me, have been wanting to see a true horror anime, watch Another. It will satisfyingly provide chills and thrills, fear and doom, mystery and doubt.
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