The Anime Annex: Another

I’ve written about my love of scary stories, particularly short ones. Although Junji Ito has written some of my favorite scary stories, I have tried watching different horror anime and reading horror manga outside of his work, but so far, nothing else has felt as compelling as his stories. Although it took a few episodes before I felt actively engaged, I found an absolutely fantastic horror anime in Another, and this show did a great job of including elements from other genres. Let’s start this new year off with a scare, anime-niacs.

Horror anime need beach episodes too.

Another primarily takes place in the fictional town of Yomiyama, Japan. Sakakibara is a boy who is about to transfer to the local junior high, but he is overcoming an illness at the hospital. Here, he inadvertently meets a very ghoulish girl with an eyepatch, Mei Misaki. At school, both Sakakibara and Mei are in the same class, but everyone ignores the girl, who rarely even bothers to attend school (so no one is keeping an eye on her…sorry). Sakakibara soon learns that his class, class 3, is cursed, but initially does not understand exactly what that means because his classmates very cryptically avoid explaining it to him. Although the curse and the way it functions aren’t completely revealed until at least halfway through the series, some of its effects are quickly quite apparent.

People begin to die very early in the show, and ultimately, unraveling the mystery around the curse and stopping its effects become the major driving forces of the narrative. It becomes evident that most of the characters know about the curse, but initially refuse to acknowledge it for unrevealed reasons. Although the show progresses slowly during the first few episodes, enough story and explanation of the circumstances in which these students, and the people around them, find themselves are revealed so the show doesn’t feel dull. Even once the viewer knows the details of the curse, the characters in Another must still try to figure out how to combat its effects. Of course, this does not end well (how do teenagers fight a curse when they can’t even fight acne).

Although Another is rightfully considered a horror anime, it does not heavily feature gore, with the exception of sparse situations in some episodes. However, those few gory occasions are very graphic. While this anime primarily focuses on building mystery and suspense, the deaths are very detailed and disturbing. I do not even want to hint at the situations surrounding those deaths so they aren’t spoiled, but rest assured, they are deeply unsettling.

I was surprised by how much I liked this show considering how unsure I initially felt about it. The first episodes weren’t at all bad, but it took some time to feel invested in Another. Once I did, however, it became an amazing experience, and it was apparent that the producers knew what they were crafting. The final few episodes had me on the edge of my seat and I could not wait until all of the questions that Another introduced were answered. Spoilers: They aren’t all answered, and yet the show had a satisfying conclusion. I do have one minor complaint, however, similar to my complaint about Cells at Work (that’s right, another complaint about romance).

Even when people are dying, sometimes you just gotta dance.

The show seemed to flirt with a romance between Sakakibara and Mei, and although I am not a fan of romance just for the sake of romance, I really liked Mei and thought that she and Sakakibara would end up dating. She is a very dark and detached character, but occasionally, she showed signs that she was capable of joy. However, a romance between the two main characters, and romance as the sole reason for Mei’s joy, would have been too simple and predictable, and given the subject matter of the show, I suppose it was not necessary. Perhaps some of my feelings about Mei were out of sympathy. The reason for her eyepatch is explained relatively early, but the exact extent of her unfortunate family situation is explained closer to the end of the show, and is very tragic. Still, she is a smart, stoic girl, with a single strand of hair always sticking out from the rest of her hair, which is absolutely adorable (fighting the curse must be a real hair-raising experience). Maybe I just wanted to see her with Sakakibara because I believed I would then see her happy, and that is ultimately what I wanted. However, more was left out of this show than a romance between the two main characters, and I will warn of more mild spoilers.

The exact reason for the curse is never officially explained, nor is there any indication at the show’s conclusion that students in the next class 3 will be able to effectively combat its effects. Therefore, no permanent solution to the curse, which has been occurring for 26 years, is ever proffered (oh well, that’s another class’s problem now…heh). Furthermore, this particular class 3 incurred many casualties before the show ended, and future class 3s will certainly experience deaths as well. Ultimately, it seemed that when class 3 tried to ignore the curse, people died, but when the class tried to face the threat of death directly, they were able to emerge victorious, albeit after chaotic circumstances. Although it was likely not the writer’s intention, I believe that this reveals a deeper meaning within the show.

Cue Slayer’s “Raining Blood.”

Everyone will experience the death of a loved one in their lifetimes. Although it is certainly a sad fact, it is nonetheless a fact. Trying to ignore death, meaning the act of grieving, leads only to unresolved feelings and more pain later. In Another, the more the students ignore the curse or try to bypass it, the worse the situation becomes. Eventually, many students become paranoid messes. It is only when some of them work together toward a solution and solve the mystery that they are set on a path to stop senseless deaths from occurring. In this way, the students are able to find peace only by finally confronting death and its effects, the same way that people must face their feelings about death and grieve. Although there are circumstances throughout the show that trigger deaths to occur, death is the primary theme in this show, and a final reveal at the end of the anime led me to believe that the act of accepting death rather than circumventing its effects is a clear meaning within this anime.

Another is constantly dark and gloomy, and I absolutely loved it. Even though the show started slowly, everything it did was very deliberate and ultimately had a larger purpose. Once the show finished, I was able to think back to early episodes and truly see the full scope of what the creator intended. I would recommend Another for anyone who likes horror and suspense, but it is certainly not for the squeamish.

Jonathan Robert

Jonathan loves comic books and he loves coffee. Jonathan’s mother gave him his first taste of coffee at the tender age of 3 and it was love at first sip. He now needs to wheel around an IV drip of caffeine at all times or else he turns into a dark, monstrous creature that feeds on despair and makes babies cry. The local village-folk have kept him locked away ever since the “decaf catastrophe of ‘06.” When allowed out of his dungeon, he writes various articles for Geekade, including the monthly column, “Welcome to the D-List,” and records the "Mutant Musings" podcast with his geek-tastic girlfriend, Patti.

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