A certain movie franchise in the West started in 2000 which saw a number of people surviving a tragic accident through supernatural forces, only to be killed off in horrific fashion as the movie went on. This franchise went on to create five successful movies in North America, but it is hardly the only work to feature people being murdered by an unknown force.The anime series Another, based off a novel from 2009, has made its way over to North America courtesy of Sentai Filmworks and now that it is available, is it time for another trip down death alley?
Kouichi has just transferred from Tokyo to a school out in the rural town of Yomiyama. The reason for his transfer is because his father has traveled to India for research and he must now live with his grandparents and aunt who live in his mother’s hometown. Unfortunately for him however, right when he transfers into school he comes down with a lung issue that sees him hospitalized for a period of time and even when he is cleared to leave, he is told that he must avoid strenuous activity and must return for regular checkups.
After being visited by the heads of his class 3-3 he seems eager to attend the school, but before that he comes across a strange doll carrying, eye patch wearing, girl named Mei Misaki. Even though she acts strange, he thinks little of it until he attends school and sees that Mei is in the class. However oddly enough, no one seems to acknowledge that Mei exists. As Kouichi begins to hear strange rumors from his classmates concerning a curse upon class 3-3, he continues to interact with the strange Mei.
However doing so breaks one of the class’ biggest rules. When his classmates begin to die from horrific accidents and those related to them suffer similar fates, the curse descends on the class. With no one safe from death and their only countermeasure already ineffective, can Kouichi and the rest of the class do to try and prevent the curse from claiming all of their lives? With the whole classroom cursed to die and one dead one among them, can this supernatural force be avoided?
Another plays its mystery well as tiny hints are revealed to the viewer throughout the series. Great mysteries play out over a slow period of time and by misdirecting the viewer multiple times throughout the twelve episode series. With no obvious answers thrown at the viewer, they are able to come up with their own conclusions only to see their decision change as the drip-feed of information continues throughout the series.
That being said, a few strange factors come into play and perhaps one of the most obvious hints that could have been given to viewers near the beginning of the series was held until the final moments simply to lead viewers on. As I mentioned before though, doing so would have ruined the mysterious aspect of the supernatural curse that is levied upon the classroom and considering there is already an unknown force causing deaths amongst the class, a few supernatural elements can be forgiven in an anime that keeps itself mostly set in reality.
With friends, family and even teachers dying around them, watching the class devolve from simply interacting with one another as they live out their daily lives, buckle down and try to find ways to put a stop to the curse and eventually devolve into utter insanity makes for an interesting series, especially when the midway point of the series sees a number of character developments as more information is revealed about Kouichi and Mei and how they interact with the rest of the class.
Despite playing a rather nasty trick of holding back a simple element of the story only to give viewers a “shock” revelation in the final minutes of the last episode, Another gives us something rarely seen in the anime industry, a true horror anime. Although some deaths do border on unrealistic in nature and seem to be far too convenient at times, slowly revealing the web of mystery surrounding Class 3-3 draws viewers in even as they gasp at the horrific fate that befalls many of the students.
Throughout the series P.A. Works has managed to pull off some rather spectacular animation with Another. Throughout the first half of the series we see many creepy references involving dolls which plays into the current thought process of Kouichi at the time and then the symbolism begins to shift as the class opinions of the curse change.
Through the use of great facial animations, especially whenever something horrific happens, alongside atmospheric backgrounds every tense or horrific moment of Another is fitting and never feels forced. As for the death scenes themselves, it is worth noting that the anime does not censor any of the death sequences which means a couple of them can be quite graphic involving a lot of blood and twisted facial expressions as the victim agonizes in their death throes. This can be rather gruesome to experience which makes the series not for the faint of heart.
Atmosphere in horror entertainment of any kind is essential to bring viewers to the edge of their seat and surprise them when something terrible happens. By coupling their aforementioned artistic skill with the characters and backgrounds with superb use of background music, which plays off the threats, drama and violence well, or not at all if fitting, Another has just the right atmosphere to bring out the best of the events that take place throughout the series.
Being a Blu-ray release, Sentai Filmworks has given Another an English dub alongside the standard Japanese track which is also included with the release. The English cast fits nicely with the characters they play, with Greg Ayres and Monica Rial as Kouichi and Mei working as two strong leads while the rest of the cast handles the insane nature of some characters quite well. As far as the opening and ending themes are concerned, “Nightmare Contagion” by Ali Project serves as the opener while “Anamnesis” by Annabel is the closing theme. The closing theme is especially haunting thanks to the fact that it contains every main and side character in the series during a happier time in their life, which can be very striking after specific events occur as the series continues.
As far as special features go, Another contains a rather standard offering in the form of a clean opening and ending theme and trailers for other Sentai Filmworks releases. Outside of those basic offerings, an “Another Special” is included with the release but it is worth noting that it is not the OVA prequel episode released a few months after the anime finished airing in Japan.
Instead the “Another Special” is a four and a half minute long video with background music that focuses only on Mei Misaki in chibi form as she wears a number of different outfits both with and without her eyepatch. It is a very simple extra but may help cleanse the mind a bit after watching the numerous deaths that occur throughout the series.
Another may seem like it has taken quite a lot of hints from a certain movie franchise and given the nature of many of the death scenes, viewers will likely be able to draw easy comparisons between the two. However through the use of story building, misdirection, amazing atmosphere and a fitting voice cast Another sets itself apart by creating a horrific experience that, while a bit cheap at times, keeps viewers guessing right alongside the characters in the anime right until the very end.
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