What seems like an exciting new year for class 3-3 of Yomiyama North Middle School turns into a nightmare as the main character, Kouichi Sakakibara, transfers in. Sensing an atmosphere of fear when he enters the class, he begins to talk to the girl with the unsettling eye patch who always sits alone. A girl that he meets in a hospital morgue, holding a ball-joint doll. A girl whose existence everyone in the class denies. A girl named Misaki Mei. PG alert: this anime consists of some rather brutal and graphic death scenes, although these are not revealed until later in the series.
“Dolls are hollow, you see? Completely hollow in body and soul. That void connects them with death. But hollow things seek to fill their emptiness.” – Misaki Mei
This is not just another plotless gore-fest, nor is it anywhere as extreme as other anime that fall within its genre (e.g., Corpse Party: Tortured Souls). Unlike most bad horror anime series in which creators focus on animating death scenes, Another focuses on the living and how they deal with the growing body-count around them. Another does a good job pacing its storyline so that the audience is able to absorb what is happening… slowly, while the suspense continues to build. Rather than just packing in death scenes and piling up corpses, the series places emphasis on the different characters’ interactions, allowing the audience to savour how the key characters develop and change over the course of the unfolding tragedy.
Another is also a cracking mystery story. This show does a fantastic job of setting the entire plot up with clearly observable clues in every episode, and yet keeps the audience guessing as to which character is next to go. The mix of clues and red herrings engage the audience, making us think harder to unravel the truth. (Spoiler: A stinky red herring would be the similarity between the family name that Misaki Mei and Misaki Yomiyama, the student who initiated the curse, share). Although this series doesn’t answer everything by the end, the closure does a good job of wrapping up the story neatly — considering the genre’s inherent limitations.
Unfortunately, like many other anime, Another‘s biggest flaw is its sudden and abrupt end. This is understandable since anime series generally last only a mere 12 episodes (one season) which unfortunately isn’t sufficient for them to develop each and every character properly, nor does it allow for the plot to be fully summed up. In addition, it tries a little too hard to make the deaths as violent, yet accidental as possible, which results in some scenes going over-the-top, and some characters dying rather gratuitously.
Nevertheless, Another is a great short horror series, and I would strongly recommend it for anyone who’s into the genre.