Japanese Title: Another
Similar: When They Cry
Watched in: Japanese & English
Length: 12 episodes
- Several effectively shocking moments.
- Boring until the last few episodes.
- Empty characters.
- Some atrocious dialogue.
- Mystery structure needs work.
Another can teach us much about the need for proper execution and structuring. It teaches us that a fascinating concept alone cannot make a great story, that withholding too much for the sake of mystery can undo it all.
School student Kouichi transfers to class 3-3 in the quiet mountain town of Yomiyama. A gloomy atmosphere grips the class, as though joy and laughter became distant memories since the death of a student in class 3-3 twenty-six years ago. Even stranger, Kouichi meets Misaki, the classmate he alone seems to know exists, as the rest of the class sees right through her. His search for the truth in her existence will have consequences more dire than he could imagine. If only her being a ghost was the worst of it.
When I added Another to my list based on the pitch, I noticed the low favourability ratings on various sites. The raw numbers (I don’t read reviews beforehand unless I need convincing to watch the anime – avoids influenced opinions) didn’t match what I expected from such an intriguing concept. There had to be a grave error in Another. Within a couple of episodes, I found said error.
Another gives us no reason to care for the mystery. It would be as if I said, “I have something in my desk drawer, and you don’t know what it is.” Would you care about finding out the contents? No, I have given zero reason to believe the drawer contains anything interesting. You say, “Meh,” and move on. You didn’t see me hide a suspicious object or stuff what looked like someone’s severed hand inside. I wasn’t eager to uncover Another’s mystery because that drawer probably only contained a few pens, batteries, and miscellaneous stationary.
It would have been more effective to reveal the mystery in episode one, and instead focus on uncovering the source of this mystery. To give an analogy that doesn’t spoil Another, imagine a crime thriller without knowing there is a killer at all. People die from who knows what for reasons unknown. What is there to latch onto? It is better knowing there is a killer, but not knowing who the killer is – give something to fear rather than random deaths. Another clutched every card to its chest until the final episodes.
And because the setup is so poor, twists have no impact. The writers have to tell us the twists since they gave themselves nothing to work with beforehand. Twists come across as idiotic. I was bored with the story. It doesn’t help either that the mystery has little to do with the protagonist or that the classmates make flat characters, owing largely to their atrocious dialogue. The writer aimed for creepy, I know, but it would have been more effective if they sounded like real people first. The characters undermine the good work put into the town’s unsettling atmosphere.
Thankfully, at 12 episodes, Another isn’t a long anime, though they still had time to waste on a beach episode that doesn’t advance the plot save for a minute at the end. Even so, I did have some fun with Another. The deaths are so over the top, so sudden that they become hilarious (think Final Destination) and the final episode has one of the funniest reactions I have ever seen to death. Another has no shortage of shock value.
Art – Medium
Decent art – nothing special. I like the colouring, but characters look a tad rushed at times.
Sound – Medium
Stilted dialogue makes the students not sound like students, which veteran actors couldn’t fix. Slow music box jingles and dire violin are a nice addition.
Story – Low
In this class, one student appears to be invisible to all save the new guy. Little does he know, the mystery has more to it than an invisible student. A little restructuring and better writing could have made all the difference.
Overall Quality – Medium
Recommendation: For shock horror fans only. If you want to hide under a blanket as people die in horrific ways on the screen, then Another is for you. Don’t expect much else.
Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)