The horror genre has had a considerable lack of presence in the anime industry ever since the Higurashi no Naku Koro ni series ended, but hope arrived earlier this year in the form of Another. Produced by P.A. Works and based on the novel by Yukito Ayatsuji, Another is a 12 episode anime about the mystery surrounding the deaths at a certain middle school.
Kouichi Sakakibara has just transferred into the third class of year three at Yomiyama North School. When he meets the class for the first time, he notices something odd about the way they’re treating Mei Misaki, it’s almost as if she doesn’t exist. Feeling sorry for her, Kouichi confronts Mei and starts spending more time with her. When classmates and their relatives start dying one after another, Kouichi quickly finds him and Mei the focus of the class’s ire.
While it’s often labeled as a horror anime, Another fails miserably at being a horror. There were a few shocking moments, but nothing that could have been considered scary. Trying to add dolls into the mix did make the series a bit creepy, but it wasn’t enough to scare me even though I’m terrified of dolls. Where Another shines is as a mystery anime. The atmosphere and setting of death picking off classmates one by one is very similar to the Final Destination series. The mystery comes in trying to solve who is responsible and how to stop death.
The character development in Another was a hit and miss depending on who you look at. Some characters, like Mei, the head of countermeasures (Izumi Akazawa), and the nurse were developed so well that when it came time for them to take center stage, it really shocks the audience. On the other hand, a lot of the class members are so forgettable that you can only remember them by how they died, and sometimes not even that. The main protagonist, Kouichi, is rather aloof and emotionless. His purpose seems nothing more than to be the guy that the camera can follow around and witness everything. In one of the final scenes, he’s calmly talking over the phone during a thunderstorm while inside a burning building that could collapse at any moment.
The nicest thing about Another is definitely the animation and character design. While P.A. Works is known for their beautiful romance and drama settings, they did a great job with the darker atmosphere in Another. They may have gone just a tad overboard with rusty metal everywhere, but it helped give the impression that the world was old and run-down. The gory death scenes were also a huge shock the first time around with all the bloody details and close-ups. What’s even more impressive is that every single character was unique and easily identifiable. You might not remember their names, but you’ll definitely remember their faces, even the characters who only make one or two appearances.
Another may not be the best horror anime out there, but it’s better than anything that has come out recently and is worth a watch for fans of the genre. Just keep in mind that it shifts more towards mystery rather than horror part way through.