Another is a twelve episode anime series based on a novel penned by Japanese author Yukito Ayatsuji. The series has been available to buy in the UK since November 2013 via a two disc DVD set courtesy of anime distributor MVM. British animation fans, with a thing for horror and mystery, can purchase the collection from Amazon for around twenty quid. Alternatively, if you are the patient type, you can wait to see if it appears on MVM’s deal of the week, were a random title in their catalogue is temporarily put on sale for a mere tenner.
The series stars transfer student Kouichi Sakakibara who is forced to move from Tokyo to his grandparent’s home in Yomiyama after his pop gets a job abroad in India. Unfortunately for the show’s protagonist, after enrolling at Yomi High School, he gets placed in Class 3 that happens to be afflicted with a deadly curse. Twenty-six years ago one of Class 3’s students passed away and to honour their memory his classmates decided to pretend that said student was still alive, even leaving his desk and chair reserved. The whole situation is pretty bizarre, if you ask me, but what is really creepy is that when the class’ end of year graduation photo was taken the deceased student can clearly be seen posing in the background.
Why this photographic evidence that the afterlife exists doesn’t make news headlines across the globe is beyond me, but that’s not important. Ever since that day future students of Class 3, and their immediate family, have been known to suffer from an unusually high mortality rate. Given that this is public knowledge I’m not sure why anyone dares attend that particular school. Perhaps the institution is renowned for having a stellar cafeteria no one can resist. I hear the meatloaf they serve at lunchtime is to die for (no pun intended.)
Anyway, during his first day at school Kouichi is pleased to learn that Mei Misaki is in his class. Kouichi first met the eye patch-wearing girl during his stay at hospital where he was on the mend after suffering a collapsed lung (perhaps she took his breath away as he has a fetish for pale ladies who clutch creepy dolls.) What’s strange however is that no one else in his class can see Mei, who sits at a decrepit desk at the back of the classroom, or even acknowledges her existence. What is going on? Do we have a case of a phantom turning up to school to learn calculus? Come to think of it Kouichi’s inaugural conversation with Mei did occur outside the hospital morgue. Right on cue one of Class 3’s students dies in a most horrific manner. As it turns out she will be the first of many. Is this all just a twisted coincidence or has the fabled curse resurfaced?
Commenting on Another is a difficult task as it is one of those shows you cannot describe without giving away major spoilers. With that in mind I’ll just say I enjoyed it and am giving it a rating of four stars. The art style and chilling kills remind me a little of Elfen Lied, although the two shows are nothing alike in terms of tone. Elfen Lied shocked audiences visually with gore and mentally with disturbing subject matter. Another is much more slow paced and dialogue heavy. At its core it is a mystery tale although the case the cast are trying to decipher is how to lift a supernatural curse as opposed to who committed a crime.
Overall I enjoyed seeing how the relationship between Kouichi and Mei grew from episode to episode. Sadly a lot of the supporting cast aren’t as well fleshed out, partially as many of them are doomed to perish before being given ample time to develop. My only real complaint with the series is that in order for the whole thing to work the viewer is expected to make a few leaps in logic. Supernatural forces conveniently erase evidence that would unravel the mystery and inexplicably some characters choose to keep vital information to themselves, when in the interest of their survival you would expect them to be more forthright with their classmates. Those quibbles didn’t bug me too much though and I suspect if I give the show “another” go I’ll enjoy it even more as I’ll pick up on subtle hints I missed during the first viewing.