For the past three episodes, Another has been trundling along a fine line. While I can’t deny that I’ve enjoyed it so far, there’s still a definite sense that it doesn’t know what it wants to make of itself. It has that all important atmosphere that all horror must have, putting it together in an excellent melding of above average animation and wonderfully chilling yet unobtrusive discordant sounds. However, its story and characters have still been rather lacking from what’s been presented. The elements are still there to make it good, but it doesn’t know how to put them together properly and it seems to just be biding its time until it does. This episode dispelled some of that unease, but I’m still a touch wary of what the remainder of the series has in store because of the slapdash pacing.
Part of this problem seems to be too many plot points that don’t really add up to anything significant beyond exposing Mei’s dirty secret to Kouichi… which she does anyway on her own, rendering them moot. Basically by this episode, the plot reached a standstill and needed a quick jump forward, something drastic to shake things up and make the audience aware that some creepy shit’s about to go down. Yes, there’s the secret regarding Misaki’s death, but with everybody being so high-strung about it, there’s no way it can progress the plot on its own in the next episode or two. So this happens (Spoiler alert):
Kouichi’s friend, who I can’t even remember the name of she’s so bland, falls down a flight of stairs after running spooked from Kouichi, and impales her throat on the absurdly pointy tip of an umbrella before convulsing and dying in the stairwell. I certainly can’t argue that this opens a whole ‘nother can of plot worms—ready to be baited on the plot hook and thrown into the plot pond to catch plot fish, which I assume look like trout—but I can’t help but feel that it was done as a way of essentially saying “Uh… shit… I don’t know how we can make it work from here. Quick! Have somebody die horribly regardless of its actual relevance! That’ll spice things up!” That death is certainly the high point of the episode as far as excitement goes, but it doesn’t feel like it was anything other than a stalling tactic to make up for the glacial pacing.
If you’re having trouble following my logic there, what with horror being synonymous with gruesome death and this living up to that label pretty well, answer this for me—which is scarier and best implies that creepy shit’s about to go down? A spooked character getting into an accident without the help of any outside force, or a character being forced to die as a result of some malevolence? For me, it’s the second option; I’m much more frightened by something trying to kill people painfully than by somebody getting into a horrible accident on their own. That’s the reason Corpse Party scares the hell out of me and Final Destination is hilarious.
If it turns out that it was something to do with a spectral force trying to hurt Umbrella Girl, who’s too boring to be worth given an actual name, then I’ll gladly eat these words and move on to something else to gripe about. But for the time being I don’t see why it needed to unfold like it did. However, as always, I must close by saying that for all its faults, Another is still an unfailingly entertaining little project that will hopefully iron out more of the wrinkles as it continues. It already made an effort to smooth out my biggest previous complaint, the lack of significance of the dolls, so I’m not completely disheartened.
As long as it keeps going as it is and manages to pace itself better, it’ll already have its biggest problems sorted out.