The new anime season has finally started, which means it’s about time for me to write another first impressions. This time I’ll be writing about Another, the anime adaption of a horror novel by Ayatsuji Yukito. Taking into account that the original character designs are by Ito Noizi (a plus), who also did the character designs of the Suzumiya Haruhi and Shakugan no Shana series
not that I’m a huge fan of either, and that this is a P.A. Works series (a slight plus), and that the director Mizushima Tsutomu (on the fence), and finally that this is a horror series (either a huge plus or a huge minus), you can see that I’m having some mixed feelings here in terms of what to expect.
So let’s break this down. First of all, the Ito Noizi and P.A. Works combination was brilliant. Unlike some past series with character designs by Ito, Another’s art/animation style stays very true to Ito’s characteristic doe-eyes-small-mouth style. The males look a little feminine, but then again, that is exactly how Ito’s style tends to be nowadays (not to step on anyone’s tail, Kyon is cool and all but his designs make him look like a background character). While we’re on this line of thought, I’d like to point out that in Another, all the characters have very unique looks, so no one looks particularly generic (a plus). All in all, art style turned out fantastic.
Having gotten my fangirling out of the way, I can finally get to the plot. Everyone probably already read this up, so long story short: 26 years ago a beloved student named Misaki died at some school in a rural area. Because her classmates all loved her, they decided to carry on as if she were alive. Now in the present, our main character transfers in to the class Misaki used to be in, and meets some girl named Misaki Mei.
Beginning the episode is someone narrating Misaki’s backstory. The narrator claims her death was due to an accident. However, as he tells the story, several bloody frames imply that she may have been gruesomely killed instead. Once the narration ends, the episode proceeds to introduce the main character, Sakakibara Kouichi, who missed his first month of school as a transfer student from Tokyo due to pneumothorax. When three of his classmates come to visit him, for some reason they question him intensively about whether or not he had previously lived in their town; another important event to note is that Sakakibara’s classmates 1) seem to want to avoid saying his last name, and 2) they seem to be afraid to touch him (like shaking his hand).
After his classmates leave, Sakakibara (for some reason) gets on the hospital elevator. There he meets a mysterious girl with an eye-patch headed for the morgue. She claims to be named Misaki Mei. Although this scene is pretty slow, it turned out to be really (I’m borrowing the word from Laevatein) creepy. This is because the background music (and sometimes lack thereof) is used perfectly to build up the tension between the two characters.
Sakakibara is finally healthy enough to go to school after a while, but the eerie events don’t stop. His homeroom teacher sounds somewhat fishy with the way he talks, and when he enters his classroom every student is unnaturally quiet and somber. It’s not until lunchtime that his classmates all gather around him to ask him about Tokyo. Yep, not so much him but Tokyo. After that, with a quick head gesture, the Class President sends one of the guys (who strangely looked caught off guard) in the class to give Sakakibara a tour of the school. Here, it’s good to note that our main character notices Misaki Mei in his class, and also notices that one of the girls who visited him was absent; it’s good to note that I noticed that her desk was really old and worn looking. We know where this goes, don’t we?
Fast forward to gym. Sakakibara asks the other girl that visited him about Misaki Mei, she seems to panic and pull a Higurashi face. Afterwards she claims not to know what he’s talking about. It is here that Sakakibara spots Misaki Mei drawing on the roof of one of the buildings. He confronts her, and though she does not provide much information, she at least makes it clear the reason why the rest of the class is so wary about Sakakibara; they associate his name with death.
So we’ve gathered that the main character can possibly see a ghost of a girl who died 26 years ago, and that his classmates more or less fear him because they associate his name with death. Pretty interesting for a first episode. The horror factor wasn’t too cheesy, the art is fantastic, the pacing and storytelling is pretty good as well. Music is used appropriately to build suspense. All in all a well-rounded show. For now, my conclusion is that this show will be worth watching, and I’m pretty excited to see where this story goes.