26 years ago, Misaki, a popular high school girl dies, but the students decide to carry on as though she was still living until graduation. A strange notion to entertain but this is the beginning of the story. ‘Creepy’ is how the narration explains it, ‘but nice.’
“If only it ended there.” A serious note from the unseen male speaker during the beginning of Another. The music is at first overshadowed by the beauty of animated water and a strange slow montage of big anime eyes and a myna bird. It fits dark and depressing but has a beauty about it. When the credits finally start it’s as though funeral music has been turned into disco music, I feel a little nervous but I want to dance; a complete binary of emotions collide in just that first taste.
Another is not for the faint of heart. If the mass of broken dolls and curious choice of imagery during the credits is not enough to keep you on guard then you will duly be shocked by the serious and menacing looking dolls that parade in the cuts between frames. One such edit made me emit a laugh like gasp loud enough for my housemate to turn from her own laptop. I’m sure this will be explained eventually but this anime starts with you in the dark and it will keep you there.
As is the best form of anime [in my opinion] Another is styled with angular but realistically proportioned art; which make the broken doll forms all that much more scary en mass.
The way the students react around our male protagonist, Kouichi, we know that he must be somehow related to Misaki- BUT HOW? Already the anime has gripped you into wanting more, and barely 10 minutes has passed. The beauty, the medium paced storyline, the broken dolls, and the abject fear brought on by well placed chimes in a mocking lullaby tune have all conspired to make an anime that is both entertaining on your own and can scare a room full of people.
I’m not saying I’m SCARED as such. But the clever use of music and dark tones make a good ambience of horror during the play; anime can often use bold colours even in the dreary mock-ups of horror and life. I am also not saying that Another is unique, far from it. But just because something isn’t unique, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy what it is and respect it.
When a doll finally appears in the anime (and not as a sudden cut) it is in the hands of a girl named Misaki, who already catches the eye of Kouichi as he notices her school logo is the same as the one he is about to start attending. The creepiest of all music follows her every step, so if the very obvious name hasn’t kicked you yet there is no doubt that she will be the main focus. Oh and she has an eye patch.
The beauty of the artwork deserves repeated applause; the characters may be like most anime, but the scenery is so perfectly drawn, even in the decrepit and dying state that is the nature of the anime the realism cannot be denied. The school windows alone look like a photo of my college, the rust on the hand rails, the leaves in the courtyard, the drains running along the floor, they are all amazingly detailed and in such high definition that I cannot fault them.
I’ll let you watch the anime to find out that Kouichi’s name is associated with death at his new school and be disturbed by broken dolls in every turn and the rather morbid class that seems to be in constant grieving.
Don’t fear the darkness; Another is definitely worth the courage for the promise of secret mysteries and pretty artwork.