Alright, Another’s finally over! All those over the top deaths that relied on shock value, and all the crap had to lead to something big, right? It actually came through and redeemed itself in the end, right? Right?! Well, proverbial inquisitive person, after I’m done scoffing at those questions like the heartless elitist that I am, I’ll explain why it just didn’t work as a mystery or a horror story.
There are two broad steps to the idea/execution process that must be followed in order for any story to be a success. They are as follows: Think of the idea, and implement it properly. It may seem simple, but it’s a principle entirely reliant on subtlety in whatever medium it’s presented in, particularly in the horror genre. The less that’s left to the imagination, often through film and animation, the more a story has to work to immerse the audience. Reading stories about supernatural forces that inadvertently cause a class to implode on itself in a bloody mess have a chance to be scarier than actually seeing it happen. To put it another way, there’s a certain disconnect created through the written word that just isn’t present in animation, one that forces the audience to fill in the blanks in order to bridge the gap between the written work and their imaginations.
My point is I’m not entirely blaming the crew of Another for making it more comedy than horror. Some things that chill in print just don’t translate well to animation, regardless of how much effort is put in. Of course in that case, the show has to meet the audience halfway and at least attempt to create a tense atmosphere that’s akin to having liquid mercury dripped down the viewer’s collective spine. This is something that Another forgot by episode three when it threw the first gruesome death our way, exponentially increasing the death toll through increasingly convoluted and contrived means. I want to believe that they intended the deaths to be scary, but it’s hard to when a group of panicked students are crushed via chandelier and another one is pounded into the floor by a conveniently collapsing column.
There is one thing that doesn’t look good on either paper nor in practice though, and that’s the halfhearted resolution to the overarching mystery that’s been smothering the series like a sopping blanket wet with blood, shame and disappointment. It’s not that the setup was all that bad, not by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve said several times, in what was probably the only consistent praise I’ve had for the series, that the way the mystery was introduced and slowly unraveled made for an interesting watch. It’s just that it wasn’t at all helped by the spaztastic deaths, the jumpy pacing, or the way that characters didn’t develop meaningfully whatsoever.
This was a show so desperate to become shocking horror that it skipped right past “shocking” and “horror” only to land on “unintentionally raucous comedy.” The last episode epitomized this, and only further served to crystallize the generalization when it was revealed that Reiko was the “extra”. Not only was the reveal so inexplicable as to be on par with one of the crappier Scooby Doo episodes (There was a missing desk… in the faculty office), but there was so little foreshadowing that there was less a feeling of realization, and more one of befuddlement. Though the worst thing is that Mei knew all along and refused to let Kouichi and the class know, because she didn’t want to put him through that. Never mind the fact that people are dying extremely gruesome and increasingly hilarious deaths around them, it’s much worse for him to know that his aunt is already dead and is inadvertently causing it all.
I think that if the fact were at least made known to him early on, he could have had more development while mulling over the choice to either kill her or let the class slowly die off one by one. It was a missed opportunity to throw some real horror into the mix, one that would have still fostered paranoia in the class and allowed the events to remain unchanged until a certain point. The desperation that so characterized the last few episodes would’ve likely been heightened even further, allowing for Kouichi to debate whether to keep Reiko’s identity a secret and allow tensions to escalate to new heights, or to end the curse at the expense of his moral compass. Or hell, it could’ve handled it any other way and I would’ve been happy with the result. Also, why did Mei think a pickax the best weapon to kill somebody humanely with? That thought’s scarier than anything else in the damn show.
In short, I thought the ending of Another was pure rubbish—not so much in quality, but in the sense of having so much squandered potential. It was a show that had a fantastic premise, but didn’t understand how to best capitalize on it, opting for periodically flashing doll stills and having people make ridiculously contorted faces instead of building real tension. Now, once again it might not all be incompetence, some things might’ve just lost effectiveness in the translation from written work to animation. All I’m saying after all this is that it had the opposite of the desired effect on me, and I found it significantly less scary than both Mars Attacks and pretty much every other B-movie ever. So make of that what you will.