The Beginner’s Guide to Anime, No. 131 – Another

Another 1

As today is Halloween, here is a special column covering a horror anime series.

Another is an adaptation of a novel by Yukito Ayatsuji written in 2009, which was adapted in a 12-part anime series in 2012, with an Original Video Anime (OVA) straight-to-DVD prequel episode released later that year. The series combines horror with mystery, dealing with suspicious and frequently horrific deaths that have affected the same class at one particular school for years.

The story begins in 1972, where in the town of Yomiyama a very popular girl named Misaki suddenly dies part-way through the school year. Everyone in her class, Class 3 of Year 9 at Yomiyama North Middle School, is horrified by the death. In an attempt to help the class one teacher said that Misaki is not dead and that her empty desk is still “occupied”. As a result, everyone in the class ended up pretending that Misaki was still alive. Even during the graduation an empty seat was left for her.

The tale then moves forward to 1998, where 15-year-old Koichi Sakakibara transfers to Yomiyama North Middle School, having moved into town from Tokyo to live with his aunt and grandparents. He misses the very start of the school year due to illness and while he was at the hospital he encounters a girl with an eyepatch and carrying a doll, a girl he discovers is in his class: Class 3 of Year 9. However, Koichi sees that the girl’s desk is badly kept. Not only that, but everyone in the class seems to ignore the girl. Koichi however decides to talk to the girl, named Mei Misaki.

Koichi then seems to find that the other students in the class are taking a dislike to him after he begins talking to Mei. Soon though Koichi learns from Mei about the story from 26-years-ago and the death of the original Misaki. Mei tells Koichi that following the “calamity” as it is known; it is now the belief that in order to stop any more deaths, one student in class every year is ignored as if they dead and didn’t exist. That way, because there has already been a “death”, no-one else will be killed that year. If someone in the class acknowledges the “dead” student, the calamity begins again, resulting in possible death for anyone in the class or their near relations.

Koichi however doesn’t believe in the calamity, but things change when one girl in their class is killed. The class is shocked, but Koichi still refuses to believe in the calamity. Then the nurse who helped him in hospital dies, followed by another student death. The blame is put on Koichi for talking to Mei, and soon Koichi finds himself being ignored in an attempt to solve the problem, but when this fails to work Koichi finally seems to realise that the calamity really is taking affect, and has to find a way to stop it before everyone is killed.

The appeal of Another is two-fold: firstly is the element of mystery in the story, as Koichi, Mei and the other characters in the story attempt to figure out how to stop the calamity. They try to go through records, meet former students, and are also guided by the teacher of the original 1972 class, who is now the school librarian. It ultimately leads the class to find the exact cause, but at the same time the calamity also misguides many into making wrongful accusations.

Secondly, this series is certainly scary. The deaths in Another a wide-ranging in terms of the variety. Some incidents are simple, like heart attacks, asthma attacks, and bumps on the head. Others are really gory, including murders and suicides. In fact it is best not to describe the exact causes of death in order to heighten the effect, but it is safe to say that most of the time there is a lot of blood. It is the suddenness of the deaths that really grips you. For a lot of the time you tend not to see it coming.

Another is a gripping show and not one for the faint-hearted. It makes for entertaining viewing for those who want a shocking experience.

Another is released on DVD and Blu-Ray on MVM Films.