Sentai Filmworks (North America)
Hanabee Entertainment (Australia)
Novel of the same name written by Yukito Ayatsuji and published by Kadokawa Shoten in Japan and Yen Press in North America
MA15+ for Strong Supernatural Themes and Animated Violence
Hanabee for providing me with a review copy of this title!
I first watched Another immediately after completing my review of The Dusk Maiden of Amnesia. That series seemed to have lowered my guard down, as despite leaving the initial impression that it would be a darker series it ended up being quite light-hearted for quite a number of episodes. Despite the darker initial premise of Another I still retained that mindset until the concluding moments of episode 3 left me questioning… “Wait a minute…. an unbrella isn’t supposed to go through the throat like that!?!“. From that point the series descended down the path of almost a “Death of the Episode” plot progression.
Another is a 2012 horror anime series based on the literary work of Yukito Ayatsuji. It follows a student by the name of Kouichi Sakakibara who moves to the town of Yomiyama due to his fathers work in India and because of illness has been forced to miss his first weeks of school. His only knowledge of the school was that he was put in Class 3-3, which he would later find out as being much closer to death than the other classes.
After returning to school he encounters a mysterious girl by the name of Mei Misaki, but despite his conversations with her she is not acknowledged by the other classmates. This leads Yukito to uncover the class secret…. that due to a curse placed on the class many years ago not all of them would survive the year – with the only known countermeasure to isolate one of their classmates. Despite being unawares of this curse, Yukito has now broken this rule and rendered their only chance of survival useless. Scrambling to protect themselves from deaths caused by a greater force – several class members work towards finding a new countermeasure with the assistance of others in the community and in the faculty.
While there was no time-loop showcasing the characters being killed multiple times as was the case with Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, I think Another has the same sort of appeal as the series – for its over the top deaths and events that follow. However watching it Another felt less like a mystery and more of a simple Horror series with very little in the way of identifiable clues of what the case is until the end. Once more, it takes a considerable number of episodes for Yukito let alone the viewer to know just what is going on other than “there is a curse” – something that would have logically benefited the classmates by keeping the protagonist in the loop and potentially salvaging their initial salvation plan from the start – although to an extent this backfires multiple times before they decide to come clean.
With promising characters having their character roles ended abruptly with no return not every named character receives ample development, but Yukito and Mei both have some satisfactory degree of development in their backstories and personality, especially past the half way point where they decide to work together and with the rest of the class in finding a way to survive. Although this is overshadowed by a sense of wonder of “who will be the next to kick the metaphorical bucket“.
Given that Another is only a short 12-episode season, P.A. Works along with the direction / writing teams managed to provide satisfactory plot progression without going down the path of filler content. They do through plot related events throw in a beach resort episode, for which one character is rewarded with being torn up by a motorboat.
Just putting it out there that despite not having any major role in the progression of events, the production team of Another really managed to deliver the “Creepy Doll” factor. Another was produced by the animation studio P.A. Works whose other titles include Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, Angel Beats! and Canaan. Dolls aside they managed to use the visuals throughout to deliver the experience almost equal to that of the storyline.
The character designs were well designed and well emoted with the backdrops in particular being used effectively to bring across the horror experience. Be warned that the episodes are uncensored like many Japanese physical media releases and may leave some unfeeling uncomfortable – with several deaths being grotesque and potentially blood laden. Being available on both DVD and Blu-ray, I personally think that the visual quality warrants the blu-ray release.
Music / Voice Acting
Another features a single opening theme by the title Kyoumu Densen performed by ALI Project who once again show their strength for delivering songs well suited to darker titles. The animation is also quite nice highlighting the characters in the series and some atmospheric environments at the same time. The ending sequence anamnesis by Annabel is a nice, simple song to wrap up each episode with but slacked off with the animation.
The remainder of the musical backing in Another was also appropriate and effectively used in delivering the darker experience and atmosphere they were evidently aiming for. This was bolstered by the great use of sound effects such as the pattering of rain and ominous claps of thunder that I think every good horror series needs to utilize if it is to be taken series.
While this isn’t the case with all Sentai Filmworks titles starting from December, as you can pick Another up on blu-ray this means it has an English dub. The good thing about Another is that irrespective of your dub language choice both really play to the strength of the setting well. The English dub is led by Greg Ayres (Youhei Sunohara – Clannad) as Kouichi and Monica Rial (Index – A Certain Magical Index) as Mei. Both characters worked with their characters well in displaying their emotion, backed up by a strong set of secondary cast members including highlights: Jessica Boone as Izumi Akazawa, David Wald as Tatsuji Chibiki, Molly Searcy as Reiko Mikami and Clint Bickham as Yuuya Mochizuki.
While Hanabee Entertainment have recently been trialing a number of assorted goodies with their anime releases, the only physical aspect different about this release to their others is the presence of a slipcase in thinpack style. In terms of bonus content there is a four minute long special episode which is nothing special (And not the bonus prequel episode included as a limited edition bonus in the manga adaptation within Japan).
Other goodies include Clean Opening and Ending sequences and trailers for a considerable number of Hanabee titles including Kids on the Slope, Bakemonogatari, Nisemonogatari, Dusk Maiden of Amnesia, Mysterious Girlfriend X, Anohana and Lupin III. It would have been nice to see Sentai Filmworks attempt a few more voice actor/actress commentaries in their releases, with so many voice cast members surely they could have done a couple of interesting ones in Another.
Final Words on Another
While you can watch Another a second time around and see some of the few scattered clues they leave about the cause of these deaths, for the most part the series is more of a horror than a mystery series. That and the lack of developing several secondary characters aside, it made for an interesting watch and is bolstered by strong visuals, music and voice acting that deliver a horror experience which brings a sense of realism rather than feeling forced on the viewer through dialogue alone.
Plus it is always interesting to see how many episodes your favorite character might last…
Another is a great example of how to do a horror series, with strong and intensifying plot progression, visuals that suit the genre and music / vocal backing that brings the world to life.
It is very difficult to come to an accurate conclusion of the cause on your first watch. Due to having a sizable character cast and several characters getting killed off early on, many named characters do not receive ample character development.