Another was a series that I went into knowing nothing about. In fact, I really wasn't excited by this season's anime offerings initially. If ever there was a season to be jazzed about, this was it. One of the series that I was assigned to watch was the highly hyped, and cute looking series Another by PA Works, and directed by Tsutomu Mizushima. I was quite a fan of Angel Beats! and Hanasaku Iroha, so I thought I might give it a try.
What happened next can only be described as love at first sight. I didn’t expect to become so enthralled and taken in by the 12 episode series, eagerly awaiting the following week's episode. In fact, I can't remember the last time I was so impatient waiting for a show. Was Another absolutely perfect? That I can't claim, but let's keep this going after the jump.
I guess the show could be best described as a special blend of some Final Destination, Twin Peaks, and little bit of Persona 4. Now, that's not saying the show didn’t have its own identity, but all the bits of those aforementioned things that I love, had a similar flavor in another. An absolutely brilliant mix.
Right away the show starts with some slight misinformation. However, everything becomes relevant in the show’s closing moments, which is one of the things I really loved. The writers knew how to keep their cards close to their chest, never really giving too much info, and often misdirecting you. Quite a challenge in only 12 episodes.
The real star of the show is of course Mei Misaki. In a way, she is almost a narrative point. All knowing, all patient and calm. For the entire series she has the solution, and perhaps curse of show. Not only that, she is absolutely adorable.
The main character, Kouichi Sakakibara is initially portrayed as flawed, weak, and a prime suspect to be “the extra student” that year. Many of the horrible things happening in the small quiet town, seem to be very close to home. Maybe too close?
I mentioned the similarities with Twin Peaks and Another, because where the show stands out is as a mystery. The brutal killing and supernatural aspects are great, but the show really shined when the group was hard at work, trying to solve the mystery of class 3, trying to hold on to their precious lives. There is also this small town with huge secrets going on the whole time. When they show Kouichi’s flashback that he can’t remember, everything gets really menacing. Let’s not even start with Mei never answering questions straight out. The locals are charming and beautifully drawn, making an excellent atmosphere for the story.
Visually, the show really stands out, much like most PA Works projects, but damn, Another always looked consistent and nice. In a way the art style, and adorable way the characters are drawn really contrasts all the hell they are going through. Like I’ve mentioned in previous Annotated Anime articles, one of the main stars is the sound design. Not really the soundtrack, but the way sounds are laid out, played, and even mixed. It is a show best enjoyed with headphones, especially the earlier episodes.
So let’s talk about the Final Destination aspects of the show. People die, a lot. Some are so brutal and out of the blue, that you will actually be shocked. Even the most hardened anime fans will either let out a “hah!” or a gasp at some point. Some really inventive ways to die out there.
In some ways this was also my least favorite part of the show. I get that things had to tie up at the end, and get a bit crazy, but I loved that slow burn aspect. Perhaps there was just a piece of me that didn’t want the show to end? Maybe I liked the slow torture of the students? I was kind of hoping that there was no curse in the end, that people were dying and getting crazy, just because they were idiots. That probably would have sent the internet in an uproar, but damn, that would be a fine moment in anime.
The show did give a satisfactory ending. They smartly also used most of the clues and aspects of every episode before it as well. I can say that there wasn’t a single filler episode the whole run. That is a huge thing to me, none of my not-so-precious time wasted. I think the idea was to totally gut the viewer. Make them feel bad for wanting the ending, and for the Scooby gang to resolve the curse. I loved it, it hurt like hell. All the stuff right before it? Maybe not quite as effective, but very entertaining.
In the end I have nothing but love for Another. The show took me by surprise and still keeps me guessing. You know the show was effective when even after the last episode, you are still going over all the previous events to make sense of it. Excellent murder mystery, that even Steven King would be proud of. If you haven’t had a chance to catch the show yet, you have my official recommendation.
What did you guys think of that final look Mei Misaki gave at the end?
9.0 - Make no qualms about it. I freaking loved the show. I’m genuinely sorry that I don’t get to watch it every week.
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