For those who may feel like anime might not be for them, know that I have only been watching since mid-2014. After finishing the first season of “Tokyo Ghoul” in one week that year, I found myself searching for anything else in that style of horror. Something deep, but also gruesome and a little twisted. “Another” was that next anime for me.
Think of the first “Final Destination” (2000), but animated, with more ghostly aspects and superstitions (also, welcome to anime, where different colored eyes are super cool for some reason). The story takes place in Yomiyama North Middle School, where main character Kouichi Sakakibara has just transferred to. Kouichi has transferred late, however, due to a hospitalization from a collapsed lung (cue creepy hospital scenes, btw). As he enters class, he notices some strange things go on, and recognizes that there is a girl, Mei Misaki, whom none of the class (including the teacher) acknowledges. And thus, the story begins.
As for the story, I thought it was very well thought out. Each death scene, even, is so well planned and not so seemingly forced by the writers, which made them a bit more shocking to me. With a healthy amount of twists that occur throughout this 12-part series, I found myself freaking out on some parts, yelling “how, even?!” to my screen (in a good way), and even shedding a few tears (okay, I cried at the end). Character development in this anime is also very nice. When characters die, it’s impossible to feel apathy as there has almost always been some sort of connection established just enough towards that character. There are even some moments where it’s hard to believe that some characters are actually killed off, which is great even for a series that already establishes itself as being in that “Final Destination” -esque style of plot.
The art style in this series is something I really enjoyed as well. Particularly, any moment with rain (which I understand can be difficult) really came off as nice and melancholy.
Kouichi: “What were you doing out in the rain yesterday?”
Misaki: “I don’t dislike rain. My favorite is the cold rain that falls in midwinter. Just before it turns into snow.”
The death-scenes and other horrific moments had great attitudes to them. The way the faces are animated to be so expressive and supportive of the emotion that viewers should be feeling seemed to validate my reactions and got my heart pumping a little more.
Now, to my personal favorite part of these reviews, the sounds! Effects-wise, I felt the series was on point. Never was there a moment where I said, “That sound doesn’t belong here” or where I felt that one thing was out of place from another. The rain, the lightening, the machinery, all of the little additions to the atmosphere were things that I personally dug a lot. The music? Perfect! At first, the intro song, “Kyoumou Densen – Nightmare Contagion” performed by ALI PROJECT, caught me off-guard, but towards episode 6 I was attempting to learn to sing it. The credit-roll music at the end of each episode, “Anamnesis” by Annabelle is one of my favorites, ever. Sometimes it’s eerily out of place for what just happened, with its calming refrain. Other times it’s just more fuel for the tear ducts after everything is said and done. Music from the original soundtrack that lie within the anime itself are very well put together, sometimes being the disorienting dissonant piano keys, and at other times more modernized tracks with fx sprinkled in here and there. There’s so much I could say about this soundtrack, but I’ll keep it there. They’re releasing CDs of it for good reason.
The voice acting is great, as well. Perhaps I’m not the most valid source in this department of review, but I felt that each voice had its own ring to it and character within. Nothing felt too forced or corny, and some even seemed to add to various scenes throughout the series. Mei Misaki voiced by Natsumi Takamori, Kouichi Sakakibara voiced by Atsushi Abe, and Izumi Akazawa voiced by Madoka Yonezawa were some voices that really stood out to me. I have not had the privilege of watching the series with English overdub (perhaps it’s time to rewatch!), though I’m sure that this was great as well given the standards of this series.
Overall, I’d highly recommend this series as a whole, and then watching the prequel episode right after. It’s very moving, exciting, and definitely horrific. It even has its moments of humor, which is great relief in some melancholic situations, and also some great twists that’ll possibly have you watching the entire series in one sitting. I would without a doubt watch this one again and sit down with someone to show them the magic that is “Another”.