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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Anime review: Another

In the spring of 1998, a 15 year old boy named Sakakibara Kouichi transfers to the countryside town Yamiyama. He soon grows suspicious of the fearful atmosphere surrounding his classroom - class 3. In particular, there is a strange girl named Misaki Mei who wears an eyepatch and is always alone drawing pictures.

Another is in many aspects a classic horror tale.The music, the setting, the mysterious and secretive inhabitants, and death. These aspects are nothing new, but used right it can result in an effective scary story.
Surprisingly, the end result turned out quite well.

The first half of the series was honestly very creepy. Now, while it wasn't actually downright scary, it is still among the scariest anime I've seen. And that is ...kinda sad actually when you think about it.
However, it's not just some creepy and gory scenes spread out over 12 episodes. There's also a mystery, a couple of romantic moments and some decent character development.
...But it's mainly creepy and gory scenes.

The cast is quite stereotypical for anime, but I still felt that they handled the characters very well. Despite being modeled after stereotypes, they managed to not become giant walking clich├ęs and some of them turned out to be kind of interesting. The female lead - Misaki - turned out to be the most interesting character in the series.

While the dialogue was usually well written, the exposition could be a bit too lazy at times. I'm mainly referring to when they add in bits of dialog (audio only) gossipping about plot-related topics, revealing shit all too simply.

There were two episodes in the middle of the series I hated. Why? Because they were filler. And guess what - one of them was a F***ING BEACH EPISODE! Yeah, that's right, they actually managed to squeeze in a beach episode into this, into a goddamn horror story! Do they get like a huge bonus if they add a beach/hotspring/general bikini episode. I have a hard time believing that was in the original novel.


As for the technical side of things - the artwork was a bad fit. Way too "cutesy" and bright for a horror story of this type. The actual animation was fluid though.
The sound was hit and miss. Mainly hit, but unfortunately it was a bit loud at times - which made it distracting and they used background music far too often. Outside of those aspects though, it was terrific. Classic creepy minimalistic scores which fit the show very well.
OP sucked balls. On it's own it wasn't very memorable nor catchy, and the fast pace of the song didn't fit in with the anime at all. The editing was also far too fast to properly represent the tone and content of the series.

Yeah, I wonder who and how many of them will end up dead.
 I feel they somewhat dropped the ball on the ending. It's not terrible and it could have been a lot worse - which I expected it to be. But they went too over-the-top with the conclusion and threw in a "twist" that honestly could have been quite effective, but as it is, it didn't amount to much story-wise or emotionally.
I am however, very glad it didn't take a cheesy, childish route - which I expected it to, considering how many promising anime have fallen down that hole.

Overall it's not amazing. I can't even call it great, but it certainly was good. Very interesting at times and pretty damn creepy other times.

The good:
Creepy/scary
Intriguing mystery
Well paced
Pretty good dialogue
Not a crap ending
Often effective background music

The bad: 
Too much and too loud background music at times
Unfitting character designs
Unfitting OP
Over-the-top ending
Beach episode...

Chosing a final verdict for Another is tough. Because while I felt that I enjoyed it overall enough to give it an 8, I also thought that it had too many minor flaws for me to give that high of a score. So I'm going with:

7/9

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