Another Series Review, or, How I Learned to Stop Raging and Love the Shlock

DRAMATIC CUTAWAY SHOT TO DOLLS, OMINOUS MUSIC!

Mukashi, mukashi*, I watched the first episode of Another. I had been looking forward to it, as it had been a while since a good horror anime had aired – over a year in fact (Shiki, which ended in December 2010). I’d watched Red Garden in the interim, and been quite pleased with it, but I thirsted for some fresh blood, so to speak. So I was excited for Another.

I queued up the first episode. Hmm, the OP was pretty horrifically terrible… but, well, so it goes. The episode started out decently; I appreciated the attention to detail insofar as the backgrounds went, as P.A. Works took pains to communicate the down and out quality of the setting. And then it just all flew off the rails in a hail of overwrought background music and cheap stabs at creepiness that completely missed the mark. I was practically frothing at the mouth, ready to toss my laptop across the room. This was not the horror I was looking for.

A week later, I tried the second episode, naively having been persuaded that there was a chance it could get better. It did not. I quit halfway through that episode, pissed off as all hell. Fuck this show! Fuck this show. Fuck it hard. I was done.

Fast-forward about ten months. Other bloggers had blogged the show, expressing mirth on a weekly basis. I’d begun to wonder if I’d been perhaps in error in dropping it. I sent forth some feelers, tentacles of curiosity, if you will, and the response was a resounding, “yes, you should watch this, it is terrible and awesome.” Being the open-minded kind of bro that I am, I finally decided to give it another go.

In doing so, I realized that I had come at Another all wrong – I had approached it as a fan of subtle, slow horror, and how wrong that had been. No, I had to approach Another on its own terms, as a badly-written, melodramatic piece of aburdity that would never, ever possess any sort of tension, nor leave me with any sense of unsettlement. I must approach Another as Symphogear by another name, just with less attempts to destroy the moon and more umbrella impalements. And, oh, my bros, was I rewarded with this newfound perspective.

(I do want to point out, though, that in doing this I was not viewing Another “ironically”. I was genuinely entertained by Another, and, as it is a piece of entertainment, I got exactly what I was looking for. It may not have been what I sought initially, but I liked it a hell of a lot nonetheless.)

So, if you missed Another, here is the basic premise: a boy returns to a town he hasn’t been in since his youth, but fails to suddenly gain a harem in the process. Instead, he has health problems which land him in the hospital, and when he arrives finally at his new school, it is to a class with a curse stretched back over two decades. He meets and ultimately befriends a girl named Mei, whom his classmates inexplicably ignore, and later learns that Mei has been chosen as the sacrificial lamb of the year; in order to prevent the curse from taking effect, every year a student is picked to be the student ignored for the duration of the year. The curse takes hold when there are too many students in the class – an extra, dead student is assigned through ~supernatural~ circumstances, but no one can tell who it is. So someone must be ignored in order to bring the class size back to what it should be, preventing the curse (which, of course, is that everyone and their imouto starts croaking left, right, and center in comical tragic ways for the rest of the school year).

It sounds potentially creepy on paper, but the execution leaves a bit to be desired from a horror perspective. This isn’t the first time a work of horror has had a premise that doesn’t hold water, nor is the first time that the work itself cannot overcome that handicap. Good horror that has elements of its premise that are silly makes you forget that its premise is partially or entirely silly. Another cannot. People are very superstitious – there is no way in hell that a cursed class could last over twenty years, especially with high body-counts every few years. Enrollment at the school would fall, and eventually there wouldn’t be a cursed class, since there wouldn’t be enough students to have that many classes at all. If you doubt me, consider the fact that many airlines still don’t label row thirteen as ‘thirteen’, and that many buildings being built in China still don’t have their fourth floors labeled as ‘fourth’. Superstition is an extremely powerful force.

But, hey – its ok that the premise is stupid. It really, really is. Because you aren’t here to be frightened – you’re here to laugh. You’ll laugh a lot. You will laugh because here is how some of the people in Another die:

  • a girl trips down the stairs, and falls on the point of her umbrella, which opens as it falls
  • a boy hits his head on a wall after tripping on the stairs; hours later (and in really awful looking CG water), he seems to have trouble swimming, and then is run over by a boat, although the aneurism is what killed him
  • a bulldozer’s brakes fail, so it rolls down a hill, and into the front of a house, crushing a girl’s hikikkomori brother
  • in her attempts to kill someone else, a girl garrotes herself on some hanging wires she’s become tangled
  • someone slashes their neck open in front of everyone, and it splashes into someone’s eye
  • a boy is hit by a falling chandelier as he flees a burning building, manages to get out from under it, stands up to run, and then is crushed by a falling pillar a foot from the front door

And this isn’t even the tip of the iceberg as far as the final few episodes go, which are a murderfest in a burning building full of middle schoolers gone totally fucking batshit. Its wonderful.

So, basically, you should watch Another. You will thank me so much, bros.

P.S. Yeah, bros, I totally shipped two of the guys within the first three episodes. One of them kind of sort of pushes the other off a balcony, though, and the other knives a few people… OTP!

* ‘Mukashi, mukashi’ means once upon a time.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Another Series Review, or, How I Learned to Stop Raging and Love the Shlock

  1. fencedude says:

    I was mostly upset they killed off the lesbians. AND THEY WERE ACTUALLY LESBIANS. They didn’t want to do anything other than sit alone and stare into each others eyes. WHY DID THEY HAVE TO DIE?!

    • A Day Without Me says:

      Agreed! Most of the deaths I laughed at, but with them I was all, “Uguu, they were mai yuri couple ;_;”

  2. Hums says:

    Another was never going to be a horror show. The book was horror but it was never going to work as one in anime. So what to do? Give it to director Tsutomu Mizushima. God emperor of anime black comedy. Azazel-san, xxxHolic, Hare+Guu and Punie-chan all his adaptions. People just made the mistake of not looking up the director.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      On the other hand, his most recent work was Blood-C, which, while bad, was not funny at all. And insofar as xxxHolic is concerned, while it does have its humorous moments, I wouldn’t call its overall tone comedic. Even when it goes for comedy, its a fairly serious show, and no one is around getting killed by umbrellas or run over by speed-boats. If anything, I would argue that his work on xxxHolic would seem to indicate that he was going to give us something more solemn than what Another turned out to be.

  3. Son Gohan says:

    “Another” reminded me of the movie Final Destination for the implausible deaths. I enjoyed it because I wasn’t expecting to be scared (it never happens to me with anime). I also loved Mei.

    The ending was a trainwreck though. This kind of plot twist just doesn’t work in anime form. In the manga (which I bought) the twist kinda works due to the black&white nature of the manga, but in the anime the director flat out deceived the viewer by giving the same character two different hair colors. This won’t do. A mistery should be solvable with the clues presented in the story.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      I, too, quite liked Mei. I also was surprised/impressed and happy that the show didn’t shoehorn in a romance betwixt Mei and Sakakibara. Their relationship was one of the few things I think the show handled incredibly well.

      As for the twist, it was a total con, but the murderfest was *so* entertaining that I really didn’t care.

  4. Dop says:

    The bit with the falling pillar was hilarious.
    Once the body count started I went to each episode with the thought “So who’s going to die horribly this week?”

    But I enjoyed the show. All horror is fundamentally ludicrous in some way or another.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      I disagree with your assertion regarding horror. I think you might be arguing that it is so due to supernatural elements, although I could be wrong. Not all horror contains supernatural elements; consider The Haunting of Hill House. Is it ludicrous to have a character who is slowing losing their grip such that we, as an audience, cannot tell whether she is encountering supernatural forces or is going mad? Even if you think supernatural stuff means a work is fundamentally ludicrous because those things “don’t exist” (and I think if you do, you are likely missing the point much of the time), how does that affect psychological horror, then?

  5. illegenes says:

    Truth: I spent a good 30 minutes laughing my HEAD off when the girl died from the umbrella. Also, a personal favorite – the girl falling off the windowsill in the last episode(s) and landing, yoga-style. The lack of physics in Another is appallingly amusing – I mean, can anyone tell me how exactly fire combusts…by….itself…

    • A Day Without Me says:

      I assumed that the fire had made it to a gas line or something, but, hey, that may’ve been purely my own brain filling in gaps.

      My favorite is definitely the dude in the gif above. CLASSIC.

      • illegenes says:

        Pretty sure you don’t fall from a windowsill and land in THAT sort of pose, and that’s originally what I thought too but I didn’t see any gas lines?

        If I end up making a “Best/Worst of 2012” anime post, Another is probably going to be my #1 Comedy Show of the Year. It’s just too good at that, man.

  6. Stef says:

    consider the fact that many airlines still don’t label row thirteen as ‘thirteen’, and that many buildings being built in China still don’t have their fourth floors labeled as ‘fourth’

    Consider the Vatican. Superstition IS powerful.
    Alright, that was my daily jab at religion. See you later!

    PS: Seems fun! I need to watch this with other people during a shlock night night. To share and multiply the fun, that is.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      As far as the Vatican is concerned, I think I would argue more that the Vatican’s continued existence speaks to the First Law of Motion, i.e. a body in motion tends to stay in motion. This seems especially true of old, male-dominated, wealthy institutions. Even as the lower levels of the Catholic church wane in much of the world, it seems to matter little to those ensconced in their very own Neverland.

      I do say this as a religious (but very blasphemous by my own religion’s standards) person; I am not, however, a Catholic.

      I do strongly recommend watching Another, regardless. It is stupidly fun. I actually watched it all over the course of about 36 hours, just to give you even more of an idea of how much I enjoyed it.

      • Stef says:

        As far as the Vatican is concerned, I think I would argue more that the Vatican’s continued existence speaks to the First Law of Motion

        Indeed. But I’d say that those persistent superstitions are subject to cultural inertia too. I see regularly people far from being believers of Christianity avoiding the number 13, even though it hasn’t anything to do with them. Even I, who consider myself quite pragmatic, catch myself being uneasy if I ignore some of these beliefs. Those damn things just reinforce themselves. But that’s hardly the subject here, so I’ll shut up.

        I actually watched it all over the course of about 36 hours, just to give you even more of an idea of how much I enjoyed it.

        Oh man, I think this will be a marathon night!

  7. The Kenosha Kid says:

    (I do want to point out, though, that in doing this I was not viewing Another “ironically”. I was genuinely entertained by Another, and, as it is a piece of entertainment, I got exactly what I was looking for. It may not have been what I sought initially, but I liked it a hell of a lot nonetheless.)

    This is something I’ve been thinking for years, but it’s nice to see somebody finally say it—and say it better than I could, at that.

    Also, finally an Another review that actually makes me want to watch the show! One of the things everybody knows about horror but rarely admits is that it can be really freakin’ great for unintentional comedy.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      Thank you, and glad I could meet that apparently previously unmet need.

      As for folks not knowing how comedic horror can be, CLEARLY they have never heard of SyFy (the artist formerly known as the Sci-Fi Channel). Lake Placid 2 is fantastic.

      • joshspeagle says:

        Omg SyFy has THE BEST comedic horror. They’re a pro and making/showcasing unintentional terrible movies/shows. I’m glad people appreciate it’s greatness. The random 5-hour long Greek myth movies also aren’t bad from time to time…

        Also, thanks for hitting the nail on the head with Another. I blame it for giving me a terrible moe horror fetish that hasn’t been satisfied since!

  8. Elli says:

    The guy getting crushed by the pillar was priceless. You know it’s coming but I think it’s the fact that the show manages to top your expectations with a random falling pillar that makes it so great. I had to pause the show and laugh for five minutes. I think there were even some tears.

  9. Pingback: 2012: Year in Review | Chromatic Aberration Everywhere

Comments are closed.