Despite going to tremendous efforts to seem scary, sometimes backfiring, I really can’t argue with the results. What I said in my first impressions for Another still hold true here, that it creates a startlingly effective atmosphere by sacrificing every other element aside from plot and the aesthetics. And by that, I mean just the characters and that one annoying Ali Project song that mucks up otherwise good opening animation. Also, it continues to use the creepy discordant music when it shouldn’t, overdoing things a bit.
Really, it does almost everything right in unsettling the audience. Chilling music, well-polished animation forming menacing shadows that give a more sinister feel to deserted hallways, and an increasingly intriguing plot give this some of the creepiest vibes I’ve seen in anime. Hell, it didn’t take much for me to realize that my muscles were tensing up during some potentially creepy scenes, even when nothing much of worth happened. Notice that I said “almost” at the beginning of this paragraph, because that is crucial to the rest of this content.
For all its trappings of success, Another has a bizarre fascination with dolls that almost borders on fetishistic. It HAS to show you its doll collection every three minutes or it’ll explode from the pent up enthusiasm for its obsession that only serious collectors can know. It’s this persistent use of dismembered, disfigured, and otherwise overly-exposed dolls at the least appropriate moments that undermine what it’s done up to this point to actually be creepy.
To give you an idea how laughably ineffective it is, I have a strong aversion to dolls of all sorts. They either have to be out of the room or not looking in my direction in order for me to spend more than a few moments in an area alone. I can’t watch any film that portrays dolls in any sort of sinister role. Hell, Rozen Maiden occasionally gave me the creeps. And yet this is all a vast improvement from a few years ago, when I’d be rushing to cover any and all dolls in a room if I were sure they were there. But in Another, I just end up laughing whenever a still pops up on screen for a split second. It’s either that or I’m completely apathetic toward it. It’s not that the dolls aren’t just a bit disconcerting, it’s that there’s no context for their being present. They don’t walk, give menacing phone calls, or say crude things about peoples’ mothers, and that lack of context ends up putting a damper on things.
With that said, this episode did make the effort to give the dolls a much needed place by making them part of a creepy museum owned by a dispassionate old woman that Mei visits every day after school. Aside than other students trying to keep him from talking to her and a definite theme of superstition that I might indulge in writing about at a later date, that’s really the only thing of worth that happens in this episode. Still, the relevance of the doll museum bit left much to be desired. And yet, it brings up a few interesting questions: Just what purpose do those dolls serve, if any at all? What’s under Mei’s eye patch? Why does everybody seem half asleep?
To wrap things up, the second episode of Another is perfectly enjoyable on its own, even if it does try too hard with the horror sometimes, but would do better if it either ditched the doll motif or elaborated on it soon; it just doesn’t add much. So to anybody who read the manga, I ask you: Do the dolls become important at some point? Or is it something that tries and fails to add to the already creepy mood, coming off as more of a hindrance than anything? Because so far, I’m pretty much convinced of the latter.