“The Colors of Death”
During the Winter anime announcement, Another is an anime which was my main top priority. I had no prior information regarding it’s original source, as I never knew anything about Another before the anime was aired. Just from the synopsis alone, I’m scared, curious, excited and anxious, all at the same time. It was amazing how an anime can provide me with so many emotions just from the summary alone.
Another stars main character Sakakibara Kouichi, who moves to a rural town from Tokyo, and transfer to a certain class of a middle school: Class 3-3. Kouichi realized that the class is not as it seems, as every month, there are always one or two students or their families who died in mysterious ways, as if there’s a fixed pattern to it, and there’s nothing they can do to alter this pattern. It is all up to him to unravel the mystery of the classroom, finding out the truth from the past, and to escape from their predicament.
Another gives it’s viewers a ghastly vibe, just from the synopsis alone, and while watching the first few episode, it definitely lives up to it’s spookiness. The random doll shots, the eerie silence, and it’s spooky atmospheres, the average Joe anime watcher might even wet his or her pants. As for me though, I do get freaked out at first, but I got used to the atmospheres a little later, as it is no longer shocking to suddenly see a picture of a doll popped up in my screen, at least, the dolls aren’t as scary as Chucky. What’s more, while the early parts of the anime does fits the “horror” genre, the latter part of the series can be said to be more focused on the “mystery” genre. Once the characters got more exposed behind the mysterious phenomenon, they started looking for an answer, a revelation, which will ultimately stops the calamity that befalls them.
The blend between horror and mystery is good, and it certainly reminds me of Higurashi, a legendary anime with similar settings and genres. It is horror, portraying random and horrifying deaths which just don’t make any sense. Then after the death, you need to figure out what happened, why did the death occurred and so on. Another manages to do what Higurashi did, makes the viewers immerse into the anime, feel the thrilling situations, and at the same time, playing the role of a detective and figuring out the truth. Of cause, especially in the “horror murder” department, Another isn’t as epic as Higurashi, and it’s horror vibes are easy to get used to, but still, Another is great in it’s own right.
The characters for Another are well-made. While most of them may be a bit diverse in personalities here and there in minor ways, they are mostly static and stoic, and it works well with Another. It shows them that the characters were already exhausted, having been witnessing deaths after deaths to the point that they cannot plaster a smile on their face, even when they welcome a certain new student and even when they were taking photos. In the sea of supporting characters where one of them can die in any moment, Akazawa Izumi shines the most. She is one of the better, more attractive character. As the head of countermeasures, she is brave and headstrong, never fearful in her pursuit to stop the phenomenon, though she may be a bit rash at times.
As for the main characters, Sakakibara Kouichi was surprisingly a decent character. He was a bit dull, but he is surprisingly calm, even when the death toll starts. I like how he is so adamant to their fate, and even looked for a way out so early in the series. Now that when I think about it, his character is probably why the anime turns into more of a “mystery” anime rather then a “horror”. During the last arc, I think he also handled the literally “exploding” chain of events much more better then I thought. He lose a bit of brownie points with his indecisiveness near towards the end (not going to spoil anything), but he’s still a good character nonetheless. And really, his hesitation just lasts a few seconds or minutes, he’s not Ikari Shinji after all.
Mei Misaki certainly takes the cake for the best and most intriguing character of Another, as she is pretty much the main focus of the show. From start to finish, she remains the mysterious “non-existent” girls who sits at the corner of the classroom, ignored by everyone, gives weird statements to our main character and even wears an eye-patch. We all know girls wearing eye-patches in anime are an obvious pathway to the word “mysterious.” However, as more answers were revealed, the reasoning behind her actions gets more obvious. And as emotionless as she seems, she is actually scared of people dying, easily detectable during the beach episode and the trip arc. Instead of emotionless, my impression of her is more like a fragile little girl.
The atmospheres in Another are especially presented in a way perfect for Another. The flickering lights, the eerie gossips, and whatever spooky things you can think of, find it’s way into Another. The visuals are stunning too, especially how they executed the character’s death in such a stylistic, flashy and gruesome way. The character designs look disappointingly plain though, almost all the characters has the same face and eyes. A very repetitive design so to speak.
Another’s soundtracks are well-done. It uses simple melodies and strings to create a dramatic effect, this works exceptionally well during a character’s impending death. When the anime returns to a “peaceful” moment temporarily, there are sometimes long periods of silence without any background music, or perhaps maybe just a few piano notes here and there. These creates an eerie atmosphere. It may looks silent and peaceful but the silence gives an impression that anyone could die in any moment. Another knows well how to use the right tracks at the right time. Sadly, the OP is completely horrid and the ED is uncharacteristically calm, though comparing songs alone, the ED is of cause superior.
The ending may looks like it ended well, but the last arc leading to it is like a roller coaster ride though, as it totally defies the fixed pattern aforementioned. There are also a lot of unexplained facts and theories remained. Looking around, I saw that the light novel had some differences in how the arc happened, especially in how the death of the characters were presented. I’m not sure if there are going to be any other major changes but reading it might answer more questions left unanswered in the anime. I might hit up the novel once I caught up with my Hako no Maria, as you all know, I’m slow reader in compared to my anime watching. Hopefully, I will be coming up with light novel reviews soon so please look forward to it. It probably won’t happen for a while though.
Anyhow, Another is a great anime overall, and is one of my favorite anime in the Winter 2012 line-up. While it amazes me in a way it doesn’t intended to, the mystery part of the anime is ironically what made the anime such a masterpiece. It’s not all just about murders or blood, but it is also about revelations and closures too. I certainly recommend this anime to most who enjoyed anime like Higurashi and the likes.