One of the new anime airing this season, titled ‘Another’, is a horror series that uses shocking deaths in order to scare the audience. As of the end of episode 5, there have been 3 deaths, but just how likely are they to happen, and is there really anything to be afraid of? Any good geek will probably wonder about the plausibility of such events. Below is a simple guide to the first three deaths in Another. Just a warning, there are spoilers and graphic images/videos in this post.
Death #1 – Falling Down the Stairs and Being Impaled by an Umbrella
The first death in the series was clearly meant to shock the audience and get the anime going. In this scene, a girl holding an umbrella falls down the stairs and as she’s falling, her umbrella opens up and she is impaled through the neck by the tip of the umbrella.
Before considering the plausibility of this death, let’s consider the way she fell. A close-up of her foot clearly shows that she fell backwards while going down the stairs.
With her center of gravity moving back, it would have been natural to throw her arms forward, causing the umbrella to end up at the bottom of the stairs if she let go as she was falling back. Strangely, while the umbrella does end up at the bottom of the stairs before the girl, she is clearly falling forward, not backward. My theory is that her body is partially made of rubber.
Next, consider the type of umbrella that the girl was holding. From the images below, you can clearly see that there is a strap holding the ribs of the umbrella shut, and that the umbrella has a button to open it.
During the fall, the strap somehow disappeared and the umbrella somehow opened without the button being pressed. If you’re not familiar with how an automatic umbrella works, just take a look at the following diagram.
When an umbrella is closed, a spring is locked in place, preventing it from opening. The button on the umbrella must be pressed in order to release the spring and push the umbrella open. Simply tapping the bottom of the umbrella will not unlock the spring and cause it to open, propping it up for a girl to fall on.
While this death was shocking and takes the audience by surprise, it is very unlikely to happen as depicted in the anime.
Death # 2 – Falling Elevator
The second death in Another uses a classic, the falling elevator. Many people are afraid of heights and small spaces, so combining the two seems like the natural thing to do when you’re trying to scare an audience.
In this scene, the motor operating the sheave is shown to malfunction, causing the elevator to plummet to the ground.
The way it is shown in the anime would never happen in real life. For starters, the elevator ropes would never whip around like that because there is a counterweight on the other end and the pulley that holds them is grooved, not smooth as shown in the anime. If the sheave were to spin out of control, a safety mechanism built into the sheave would have caused two hooked flyweights to extend out and stop the sheave.
If the safety mechanism in the sheave didn’t activate, or if the ropes of an elevator were cut, the elevator car itself also has a braking system installed.
Brakes on the elevator car grip the guide rails shown above, stopping it long before it reaches the ground. The anime did not show any brakes, which are installed in all elevators.
Another layer of safety comes from the air pressure that would build up below an elevator car as it falls down a shaft. The doors in the shaft and at the bottom level are shown to be closed, meaning that there is nowhere for air to go except in the spaces between the elevator and the shaft (think of how hard it is to squeeze the air out of an air mattress). This would have slowed the elevator down as it reached the bottom.
The last safety mechanism that was left out in the anime was the shock absorber at the bottom of the elevator shaft. In the event that every safety mechanism fails, an elevator car will still have a survivable landing when it reaches the shock absorber. It would not end up as a pile of twisted metal like in Another.
The chances of someone dying from falling in an elevator are basically zero. The most famous incident was during WWII when an airplane struck the Empire State Building and severed all of the elevator cables while a woman was inside. Thankfully, the emergency brakes kicked in and stopped the elevator several floors down. Unfortunately, rescue workers released the brakes while the woman was still inside and the elevator plummeted over 70 floors to the ground. The woman survived.
Death #3 – Heart Attack
I won’t question the plausibility of heart attacks since they happen every day, so instead, let’s take a look at the timing of the heart attack. Just as one of the main character’s classmates, Takabayashi, is about to tell him a huge secret, Takabayashi suffers a massive heart attack that kills him.
We know that Takabayashi has a heart condition since birth from previous episodes. While the specific condition is never stated or described, it prevents him from doing any strenuous activity such as running. Based on this, it’s safe to assume that an increased heart rate might kill him.
Physical activity isn’t the only thing that can increase your heart rate though. Fear, anxiety, or a combination of both can do the same. The fear from knowing what might happen to him if he revealed the secret was probably what killed Takabayashi, making the third death surprisingly likely.