Another once again delivered in the best way possible, by setting things up for disaster plot-wise and killing somebody off needlessly in the process. At this point, I’ve given up all hope of ever taking this show seriously, so I’m just rolling with what they send my way regardless of whether it deserves to have been penned or not. However, a thought crossed my mind as I read illogicalzen’s lengthy yet fascinating post on the presence of horror elements in anime regardless of whether they fit the description or not. Maybe I’ve been looking at this show the wrong way, criticizing it solely on the basis of its horror tag rather than the whole package.
First, let’s look on the tags from that most reputable of sources, MyAnimeList:
And then the ones from ANN, in case my in depth investigation didn’t convince you the first time around:
So, added up, we have Horror, School, Mystery, Drama, and Psychological as descriptions. Let’s play a fun game with these by judging the success of each element. If the element works at least half of the time, it gets a +1. If it doesn’t, it gets a -1. I still think it’s a bad show, but I’m just looking at the first element that I’ll somewhat unfairly count against it. Maybe the others will fare better and change my opinion as I write about them. I doubt it, but miracles can happen!
To be perfectly clear, Horror gets a -1 out of the starting gate for lacking any kind of subtlety. If a clown broke into my house, threw a pie on my face, and then somehow had a piano fall onto my head, it would still be more subtle and less tired than Another’s weak attempts at pants-wetting terror. I’ve written on it in nearly every post on the series so far, so I don’t think I need to elaborate much. However, here are the top three reasons that it’s not scary, in order:
1. Doll stills, holy shit!
2. Inappropriate use of the otherwise fantastic dissonant soundtrack
3. Deaths are hilariously improbable
So yeah, once again, Another gets -1 for being less scary than a hagfish.
Yes, Another does indeed have a school life element. However, we don’t see anybody do work or even do much at school aside from sit and brood. Hell, after all the deaths on the premises, I’m surprised the school doesn’t allow more or a reprieve before tossing kids back into the fire. Also, the only remotely stereotypical anime activity that the class has done is a trip, and even then most of it was spent staring nervously at a passing truck.
Another gets -1 for only living up to 48% of its school life potential. There’s a school present, the characters are students, that’s about it.
Okay, I’ll admit there’s a significant mystery here, and it’s not just how I managed to watch this long without my brain giving itself several weeping wounds to compensate for the stupidity. However, it’s pretty much explained away by the halfway point; turns out that the natural order of things is really mad because there’s a dead kid in the class and nothing can stop its pointless rampage… not even a boring male lead. However, Mei is still somewhat of an enigma, so it earns a pass.
+1 to Another for at least keeping up the pretense of a mystery for some of its run.
Pfft… hahaha… wait, seriously? Unless Kouichi and Mei’s dance signified something important, I don’t get the joke.
-1 to Another, because ahahaha, really?
This is where things actually get interesting. Even though the elements aren’t really explored, there would be some serious potential for the plot to become heavily psychologically based; that the reason the students all avoid Mei is because of paranoia, especially since the deaths have all been random coincidences. I daresay that if it played its cards right, it could’ve had the curse join the likes of Lil’ Slugger as far as creepy yet ultimately fantasized antagonists go. Everything’s there already, it’d just need to make things happen and we’d have something special on our hands. But then just when you think that it’s learned the meaning of restraint, a man stabs his own throat in front of his students, coating everyone in a fresh spray of blood.
-1 to Another for a lack of finesse.
Ultimately, Another ends up with a -4 in the end, leaning heavily toward the “Missed opportunity and thus is bad” end of the scale. For every good thing that I can say about it, it throws a needlessly bloody death and pointless tension into the mix that does nothing but compromise the redeeming factors of potential social commentary and atmosphere, certainly not helped by the flat characters. If it had eschewed the graphic violence in favor of a more subtle approach dealing with the isolation of Mei by the classmates being more out of paranoia than because of any tangible threat, we could’ve had a real gem. But on the other hand, we wouldn’t have had somebody ripped to pieces by a boat turbine, so it’s a tough call as to whether it’d really be better or not.