Studio: P.A. Works
Publisher: Kadokawa Shoten
Genre: Horror, Mystery, School, Supernatural, Thriller
Release: S1 (2012), OVA (2012), Live-Action Film (2012)
Enter the mystery-horror anime Another: one of the highlights of 2012, it gained wide acclaim with its superb suspenseful storytelling that confidently maintained the show’s stoic and uncanny ambiance all throughout. It’s also one of the few shows out there with zero fanservice- well there was that one beach episode, but it still ended up in a bloody mess lol.
Plot: In 1972, a popular student named Misaki died in an accident. Her classmates, devastated by her unexpected death, carried on in class as if she’s still alive. If other people were to ask about Misaki, her classmates would point to her empty desk and say ‘What do you mean? Misaki’s right there.’ They kept her desk in place and even went as far as bringing it to their graduation ceremony. The story goes that the dead Misaki was actually present in their graduation class photo.
Spring 1998. Due to his father going to India for work, Kouichi Sakakibara transfers from Tokyo to his grandparents’ house in the rural town of Yomiyama. Alas, his lung collapsed so he had no choice but to skip the first few weeks of school.
A few days before leaving the hospital to finally start school, he is visited by fellow classmates from Yomi North: Izumi Akazawa, Tomohiko Kazami and Yukari Sakuragi, to check up on their new friend.
Unable to call his dad, Kouichi goes outside the hospital for a decent cell phone signal. He meets a girl with an eye-patch on the elevator wearing the uniform of the school he’ll be going to. She introduces herself as Misaki Mei and that she has to do something- to fulfill a promise. Kouichi bids her goodbye as she fades away from the lightless basement floor, walking towards the morgue with a creepy doll in hand.
On his first day of school, he discovers he’s actually classmates with this Misaki Mei.
Misaki is the loner type- she always leaves the classroom on breaks, and doesn’t join in any group activities. Kouichi wants to talk to her, but he can’t see any opening to strike a conversation. He then asks Yukari Sakuragi to know more about her.
Yukari’s reaction was weird- it’s obvious that she knows Misaki, but she just answered his question with a naive ‘Who?‘ while shaking her head. Kouichi then looks around and sees Misaki on the school building’s rooftop. Yukari tried to stop him from going there, to no avail.
Misaki Mei warns Kouichi not to get close to her and not to talk to her anymore. She also asks him if their classmates have told him already about the situation. What situation? Well, to avoid spoilers, let’s just say this is where the fun part begins.
I remember the first time I watched this anime- it was exciting as I had so many questions about the story: Who is Misaki Mei? What is her relation to the 1972 Misaki? Is she a ghost? Why does she have an eye-patch on her? What was she doing in the hospital? Why does her classmates ignore her as if she doesn’t exist? And on that note, does she really exist? Or is the protagonist just delusional? These questions will keep you glued to the anime until all questions are answered.
The visuals and music are both praiseworthy as they did an exceptional job in keeping the feel of the anime dark and depressing. The background music usually comprises of eerie wind tones at subtle and mysterious scenes, and a creepy unrelenting orchestra that plays when the suspense and action kicks in.
This is why I’m a sucker for mystery and horror-themed works: it’s like a game. You try to figure out the culprit or the situation the characters are in using logic and reasoning based from the facts presented. And more often than not, you’re gonna have to read between (and even beyond) the lines of those facts. Definitely good food for thought!