Catch me on the latest Dead As Hell Horror Podcast Where I go on about a favourite horror anime, Another.
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Today we are going to talk about the 2012 horror anime entitled “Another”. This is a take on a haunted high school ghost story with really devastating consequences. That is one thing I have to say about this anime right off, is that after a slow build up, the devastation and violence is really quite surprising. You may find that there are a lot of horror anime that take place in schools. I’d have to speculate it is because our Eastern counterparts spend more time there than we do in the West? Also, there are many ghost myths and demonic beings within Japan and China that do reside in schools. If you have more to add, let me know, but rest assured I don’t go seeking this theme. There are many more high school anime to come on ReAnimeTion, and for each one I feel like I pass on ten others. There just happen to be a lot of horror anime that take place in schools. There is a lot of mainstream anime that takes place in schools too.
Before I get into “Another”, there was a news item that caught my eye. In Quebec this week, a man was sentenced to 60 days for possession of hentai. It was viewed as animated child pornography under the Canadian law, and he was sentenced under the Canadian Criminal Code which prohibits any depiction of a minor in a sexual act. That’s fine. That makes sense. In fact, the criminal code prohibits basically everything that depicts any crime at all, when it comes to entertainment. I became familiar with the Criminal Code while writing. Someone alerted me to a short story I had written years ago that might be illegal. So I read up on it a little bit. Flash forward to a few years ago, interviewing horror filmmaker and special effects artist Remy Couture after he was charged with Corruption of Morals. He’d made a brutal and realistic horror film. He was charged under the same law. On one hand, I’d agree with anyone who says our laws governing what is moral or decent or art are outdated but on the other hand… the guy had a few hundred videos… and hundreds of links. For a moment, let us equate his fandom with any porn and I’d have to say he had quite a collection. Now, take into consideration he admitted to watching videos at work which was a Canadian Armed Forces base. Perhaps 60 days of incarceration to think this over is just what he needs. If only our Supreme Court would take that kind of time to think over our obscenity laws.
Anyway, back to less rape-y anime for a moment. Another is refreshing in that it has no huge overtones of love, infatuation, dating and all that trash. The one male-female relationship is nice and innocent. Even the one really awesome and thoroughly wrong chance they had for an epic panty shot was artfully avoided when a girls skirt obeyed the laws of gravity during her death. Amazing, I know. Then again, these are 15 year olds we are talking about!
The wiki synopsis goes “In 1972, Misaki, a popular student of Yomiyama North Middle School’s class 3-3, suddenly died partway through the school year. Devastated by the unexpected loss, the students and teachers behaved like Misaki was still alive, leading to a strange presence on the graduation photo. In Spring 1998, 15-year-old Kōichi Sakakibara transfers into Yomiyama’s class 3-3, where he meets Mei Misaki, a strange student whom their classmates and teachers seemingly ignore. The class is soon caught up in a strange phenomenon, in which students and their relatives begin to die in mysterious, gruesome ways. Realizing that these deaths are related to the “Misaki of 1972”, it is up to Kōichi and Mei to discover the cause of these mysterious deaths and figure out how to stop it before it kills them.”
Now, the similarities to Final Destination are apparent though I feel this has a far more interesting story and better character development of course because they have more time and also because none of these classmates are entirely disposable. You really do get to know each one, and each student is perfectly distinct. The deaths are a little less insane and later on there are more deaths due to desperation. More deaths than caused by the curse itself, that is, if the curse even exists. It could really be wild coincidence to a certain extent.
The story really is about Mei. Forgetfulness, ostracization, and mob rule. Saying that all her classmates ignore her is an understatement. She really doesn’t exist. Having the new kid in class (Kōichi) not understand this, and start talking to her upsets the status quo. Not only because of the curse, but this mirrors the kind of silent bullying kids are prone to when faced with someone they don’t understand. Mei is deliciously creepy and I’m glad she develops some kind of relationship if only for a moment with the main boy lest she remain a near spectre. Let’s just pretend the Kaneki from Tokyo Ghoul and Mei from Another can hang out for a second… because really, they even look alike without the eye patch.
It is amazing how kids can get so overwrought with the idea of a superstition when at 15 you really should have more to worry about especially in a culture where you are more often overwhelmed with class work and extracurricular activities. Supposing it is like the recent spate of Slenderman related hysteria. The Extra One curse and Slendymania are maybe part of the same thing. No voice of reason stepping in to set these kids straight.
The teacher stabbing his throat is the most amazing and gory anime death that is not supernaturally influenced, that I have seen in a long while. That is the voice of reason in this anime. The librarian, an amazingly cool character; this teacher that stabs himself in the neck, so cool, so gory; and their homeroom teaching assistant, she’s no help either. Anyway, the throat stabbing? It puts all the Death Note deaths to shame. The reactions too… nice… there is a little puking in this series but it’s not a highlight. Now you all are gonna think I’m into puke or something at the rate I mention it, so I guess I’m now looking for an amine that features puking. Anyway, there are some lovely atmospheric talks between Mei and Kōichi if you are into the creepy. If you are a spatter fan you may fall asleep at first. In that case, I’d say watch the first few episodes then skip off to episode 8 as the action really picks up after that. The story is fairly well crafted though, so it’s much more worth it to let it build from beginning to end. Fans of quiet horror like “The Others” and “Don’t be Afraid of the Dark” will enjoy the story building at work here. Old ancient crones like me will enjoy that not only do these 21st century kids not bat an eyelash when presented with a cassette tape, they also know where to find a cassette tape player then they break the ribbon, and then they repair it! I don’t know why I’m getting so excited about this, but you should be too. This must be fiction. So many kids wouldn’t know what to do with a cassette tape. Not only does the gore ramp up, the last two episodes are probably some of the sickest, most amazingly violent and horrifyingly brutal animation that I have seen in quite some time. Others agree though a lot of people say it is too slow of a build especially if you are going there to see this gory horror. But it’s well worth it if you are really hard pressed, maybe watch episode 9 to get a taste, then the last two episodes if you are gonna be that kid of dick. I’d really say stick around for the duration. It’s only 13 episodes long. A perfectly digestible anime to watch in like, a two-day binge.
There is a live-action film I haven’t watched, but if it is done with the flair of the Wallflower live action film or “Goth” by Otsuichi, then I’ll probably enjoy it. But I can’t see it having the same impact in that short delivery. That said, this series is not without its slow parts but compressing it into a feature film length? I don’t know if it would work.
This anime is brought to us by the studio P.A. Works who also did “Angel Beats” and they seem to work to all kinds of anime in partial format and put out some really amazing work. Hence, very clean artwork really good use of sound design. All very appropriate, making the anime very easy to digest and very easy to watch.
The opening theme, “Nightmare Contagion” by the band Ali Project isn’t very memorable and doesn’t stick in my head. And the end theme, by a band named Annabelle, nothing to write home about either. You can watch Another streaming, every single episode on Crunchyroll like I have or pick up a DVD for about $30 and Blu-ray. Check Amazon as I couldn’t find an official outlet to purchase these discs. Also, you can always head to your local comic book shop and ask them to order it in for you. It’s a very popular series and it’s only like a year and a half old, so you can probably find a copy on the shelves.
Next, we are going to be talking about the sickly sweet body horror Pupa!
If there is anything you think I should be watching, let me know on twitter @typicallydia or in the comments on the Dead As Hell horror podcast website or anywhere you hang out online.