Reviewby Theron Martin, Mar 29th 2012
Another episodes 7-12 streaming
Class 3-3 had tried to expand the countermeasures against the class curse by extending the treatment of Mei as if she doesn't exist to Koichi as well, but Izumi suspends that policy when it fails to prevent the most dramatic death yet: their homeroom teacher Mr. Kubodera committing suicide in front of the class in a most gruesome fashion. She and others instead start working with Koichi and Mei to discover another way to stop the deaths; in doing so they learn of a former student who claims to have succeeded at it 15 years earlier. When they confront him, though, he can only remember that he left a clue to how he did it back at the school. When Koichi, Mei, and a couple of others do track it down and learn its secret, though, it proves so dire that they are reluctant to reveal it to everyone for fear of the consequences. Meanwhile, the deaths continue apace, with not even a beach trip outside of Yomiyama proving to be safe, as plans commence to repeat the same class trip which led to the premature end of the deaths 15 years ago. As all of class 3-3 discovers on that trip, a combination of a deadly curse and young people driven to paranoia and desperation in an attempt to end it can result in a bloodbath.
The first half of Another essentially laid down most of the rules and groundwork for how the “force of nature” affecting Class 3-3 works and what is commonly done to prevent the apparent curse from happening. While doing so it tossed in a couple of dramatically graphic death scenes to insure that it was keeping viewers' attention. Those attracted to the first half primarily for the latter factor will find ample content in the second half to keep their attention, for episode 7 opens with the most gruesome and disturbing death scene yet and that is but the first of many. In fact, the complexity and relentlessness with which some of the death scenes are executed make avoiding further comparisons to the American Final Destination movie franchise all but impossible. Granted, some of the deaths end up being just straightforward person-on-person violence, but by the end of the series anticipating how the next death happens practically becomes a sport unto itself. That they sometimes stray towards the realm of the ridiculous (one student in the final episode avoids death from one calamity only to almost immediately die from Another one) will undoubtedly make some viewers' eyes roll, and the idea that possession of an umbrella invites death can be looked at as either farcical or a stab at Japanese psychology (Japanese generally place a far higher emphasis on umbrella use than Americans do), but for others it will only add to the fun.
The second half is not just about the death scenes, though. The pace of the story picks up once it finally dispenses with the cumbersome plan of students trying to cheat death by completely ostracizing one of their classmates. As a result, the development of character dynamics is no longer just limited to how Koichi and Mei get along; Izumi, Mochizuki, and the others now come into the picture, too, and show that they can be agreeable, even likable characters when not constrained in their interactions with the series' leads. The plot, which focuses primarily on figuring out who the “Another” is and what alternate way might exist to stop the deadly phenomenon, also kicks into higher gear, with substantial clues and developments coming up even in the beach episode. (Yes, this series does have one, and yes, it does wind up involving a death.) The full truth about Mei and her “cousin” also comes out, as does the truth about what happened 15 years ago to stop the deaths. As one might expect, the secret of who the “Another” is lingers until the final episode and its revelation forms part of the series' climax, as does the action necessary to end the curse. Some may be able to figure it out ahead of time, as in retrospect the series has been dropping clues about the identity at least as far back as episode 2, but piecing them together is difficult because the storytelling also rigorously engages in misdirection; it even goes mightily out of its way to obfuscate the connection between two important characters by not revealing until the climax one important piece of information that probably should have been revealed back in episode 1. Knowing that information all series long is unlikely to have made figuring out the series' central conceit much easier, and would have helped certain other things make more sense, so concealing that information serves no functional purpose other than as an additional “gotcha!” moment.
The writing occasionally struggles in other places, too, as certain events happened with clichéd convenience and/or play out based on tenuous logic. What the writing does well, though, more than balances out the weak points. The writing takes what was already a fairly novel premise and gives it a few extra twists, resulting in a production which may at times surprise even those who have seen spoilers about its deepest truths. Some of its specifics also stray from its source novel and manga versions, including how some characters die and who does or doesn't survive, so even being familiar with those doesn't guarantee that you'll know everything. At times the series even engages in a bit of psychology; the way the class members fall apart in the last couple of episodes when confronted with a desperate situation and an even more desperate solution to it is morbidly fascinating, and the writers certainly know how to create a sufficient spectacle to frame its climactic scenes.
As with the first half, the big star of the second half continues to be P.A. Works' artistry. Gone are the rampant flashes of, and references to, dolls, but they are not much missed and the consistently high production quality continues even without them. Death scenes are visual spectacles which usually – but not always – pull their punches a little bit on what they show but hardly hesitate to get bloody, show someone meeting a grisly end, or show bodies getting mangled post-mortem. (Crunchyroll's stream of the series does resort to some censoring twice during this run of episodes, but only twice.) Whether killing characters off or not, P.A. Works does an excellent job with its character designs and rendering, although facial expressions in horror scenes sometimes get exaggerated to almost comical extremes. What little fan service the series delivers comes in the beach episode, and even then it is far from blatant. The animation also continues to be nicely-done as series animation goes.
On the musical front, the opener and closer used in the first six episodes continue through to the end, for better or worse. The musical score progresses a bit from being purely spooky to taking on a more ominous tone, and does sufficiently play up the most dramatic moments, but it remains more a support tool than a guiding force. The Japanese voice acting faces greater challenges in this half as several character flip out and/or descend into psychosis, but the cast easily proves up to the task.
Without question Another proves to be one of anime's few true horror series, although its propensity toward sensationalism in late episodes cuts into its credibility as horror content. If evaluated more on entertainment value than genre adherence, though, the second half fares quite well. If the series started to grow on you toward the end of its first half then the second half does nothing that should dissuade you.
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : B
Animation : B+
Art : A-
Music : B+
+ Inventive twists, great visuals, plenty of entertaining (if sometimes gruesome) deaths.
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