“Extra! Extra!” – Another (anime) – 4/10 Sunbeams

Human history is the sad result of each one looking out for himself. ~Julio Cortazar

Genre: Supernatural/Mystery/Horror/School

Review Status: Complete (12 Episodes/12 Episodes)

Licensed: Yes, this anime is licensed by Sentai Filmworks and is currently available for viewing on Crunchyroll.

Art/Animation: This looks pretty darn good. The colors are vibrant and the dark tones are used appropriately. It’s never too dark to see what’s happening onscreen. And the animation is very fluid, for the most part. I can think of one scene or two where it falls below-par, but overall it’s very smooth and well-done.

Dub Vs. Sub: There is no dub at this point.

Summary: That class in the school held a secret that nobody must speak of…Spring, 1998. When Kouichi Sakakibara (15) transfers to Yomiyama North Middle School, he senses something out of place in the atmosphere of a class that seems to be afraid of something. Kouichi is drawn to a mysterious girl, Mei Misaki, and tries to make contact with her, only to find more mysteries. As he does, the class is stricken by a disaster that nobody could have imagined! Just what is going on in this “world”? (Crunchyroll.com)

Review: Another has been a small phenomena in the anime community, a true supernatural mystery not unlike Ghost Hunt, but managing to be far more brutal in execution (sorry, bad pun!) than that show ever was. For me, this show started out on a pretty high note, with a boy who’s been hospitalized and has no memory of having lived in the town before, while his classmates come and visit. There’s something that they’re not telling him, but what could it be?

From there on, it goes downhill. This works far better as a survival anime than a mystery one. It’s really not that difficult to figure out who’s going to die; the first three people even have a little ‘tell’ for it. There was only one character death I was genuinely surprised by. This anime made it by purely on how brutal the deaths were. The moment I stopped focusing on that, it was a matter of figuring out who the person was through the clues presented in each episode. And believe me, they are there from the beginning, but it’s easy to be distracted by the red herrings that the characters keep focusing on and throwing out. Even I got sidetracked one or twice, but then something popped up that got me back on track.

The grand finale was pretty inevitable, from the very announcement of the class trip. Unfortunately, that last episode was so bad that it actually had me laughing. A lot of these deaths are supposed to be horrible and shocking, but instead it seemed like a terrible parody of movies like Final Destination. I don’t care if it makes me a terrible person, but I was laughing during it. When the boodbath is over things got resolved pretty quickly and rather unsatisfactorily. The amnesia that was implied in the first episode ends up being a convenient Deus Ex Machina in order to let this mystery play out.

The characters make this far more tolerable. While there are a good amount of stereotypes, they’re pushed to the limits of changing by the events that are going on. That’s where this show really works; seeing all the characters being driven to paranoia and near-insanity by the stress of the deaths and finding a way out. As logical and foregone as that ending was, it was still fascinating to see their psyche’s breaking.

One of the main characters did drive me up the wall, though. At first this character seemed to be perfectly sympathetic. However, the complete inaction – indeed, complete indifference – to the suffering of this character’s classmates once the key to ending the deaths was discovered made me hate her with a vengeance. Who’s more guilty of a murder – the person who commits it or the person who does nothing to stop it? That’s pretty key in whether you’ll be okay with this character overall. Since it’s a main character, that will probably effect how you feel about the rest of the anime.

This still will be a good anime for those who aren’t as quick to pick up on the keys to telling who’s going to die. There are enough wrong leads and mistakes made by the characters that those who aren’t watching closely will be genuinely surprised, and the deaths will only enhance that effect. It doesn’t change how unlikeable one of the mains is, or how Deus Ex Machina the amnesia turns out to be, but it will affect what you decide to rate it.

Overall, poor characterization and a virtually nonexistant mystery make this a sad excuse for an anime.

Recommended: 16+. This has some very brutal deaths, from people being impaled and stabbed and thrown out a window. You do see the deaths and they are somewhat graphic. It’s mostly blood and no gore, but still horrific.

Other Titles You Might Enjoy:

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (anime and manga)

Shiki (anime and manga)

Jigoku Shoujo (anime)

Paranoia Agent (anime)

Arisa (manga)

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