Posted on 27 March 2012 with categories: Anime Reviews, Another



So, Another: the season’s horror series. Let me put a fair warning out first, because for the past months I have seen a few people unpleasantly surprised by its true nature: this show is brutal. If you don’t want to watch gore, then stay as far away from this show as possible, because it contains a number of very graphic death scenes. This is particularly nasty, because it takes a while for it to reveal this nature.

A lot of the airtime in this series is spent on building up. It’s nowhere as extreme as with Blood-C, but still this show really puts emphasis on creating an atmosphere to draw the viewer in, only to toy with this in a gruesome manner. This is also what makes this show great: the contrast between surprisingly relatable characters, and the really dark and intense scenes.

With a lot of the bad horror flicks, the creators spend little time on the characters themselves, however this series avoids this very well. This goes in particular through a very solid lead couple: the two of them have creative backgrounds, they’re well fleshed out, and this series also allows the two of them to play off each other really well whenever they are together. There really is a lot of detail in their acting and dialogue.

The show also rocks in terms of mystery. The show evolves quite nicely as we learn more and more about what’s going on and the characters. The series loves to drop random hints and red herrings everywhere, which really spice up its scenario. This isn’t the series that answers everything, but the closure it gives at the end does wrap things up.

However, this series also is far from perfect. By far the biggest flaw is that it’s trying too hard at times. This series really wants to be atmospheric and haunting, but the twists it pulls at times are just to forced or obvious to take serious. Think of being in an art class, with one of the students suddenly painting “The Scream” of all things. I like symbolism, but there is a line for everything. What also seems to plague this series, especially in its second half, is that it tends to pull very convenient plot twists, just for the sake of wrapping everything up.

It’s understandable that this series wanted to get everything done in just 12 episodes, but that comes with a sacrifice. The cast of this series is huge, and unfortunately it just doesn’t have the time to flesh every single character out, even though this really could have improved this series considering the nature of the story. The same goes with the plot: with more episodes it could have wrapped things up more naturally, but that would have been at the expense of a few boring episodes. And really: the way Another is now, it’s a quick bite-sized horror show that despite its quiet moment never has a part that drags.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Excellent mystery, build-up and turns into very intense horror. Tries too hard at other times, though.
Characters: 8,5/10 – Very well acted main couple, but some of the side-characters could have been better fleshed out.
Production-Values: 8/10 – This isn’t as good as the standard that we’re used to from PA works, but this series still has its moment of very life-like animation.
Setting: 9/10 – I must say that the story behind everything is very creative, and this series knows it.

Yes, I’m also trying to experiment a bit with refining the ratings of these reviews a bit, because Another was a perfect example of a series that I liked better than most series I’d rate 82,5/100, but not as much as the series that I’d rate 85/100). Doing so would lead to a rating of 83,75/100, which is getting a bit ridiculously specific, so rounded a bit more sensibly this lead to the rating of 84/100. For me, this rating means a series with a lot of reasons to be worth watching and something I really enjoyed, which has something that holds it back from being really excellent, which describes Another perfectly for me.
Suggestions:
Ghost Hound
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
Hitsuji no Uta

Posted on 26 March 2012 with categories: Another

You know what? This is a season of very solid endings (save for Guilty Crown perhaps, but screw that show). I realized that when Another’s ending was the first ending that didn’t live up to my expectations. Oh, it was still good and i liked the closure it gave, but my expectations of this episode were high, and this episode pulled a few things that tugged on my suspense of disbelief.

The closure that was given was very solid though. To be honest, I did not consider Reiko being the ghost being a possibility. Technically she isn’t a student, But I can accept the logic of the ghost being a bit creative. This episode also didn’t really solve the calamity, it only delayed the killings for another year. I don’t mind that either. This is no story about exorcists, it’s about a bunch of teenagers trying to survive. I also liked the direction of this episode. The faces were a bit silly t times, but it nevertheless was good suspense, the action scenes were well directed and shot, and the scene with the revelation of the ghost was also quite creative.

Still, my knowledge about fire kept poking my suspense of disbelief whenever the characters were in the house: what happened to the smoke? I mean, a lot of victims of house fires don’t die because of fire, but because they inhale too much smoke. I can buy scenes with characters running through fire as fast as they can, but the characters in this episode casually walked around a burning building while feeling perfectly fine. In fact, acknowledging the fire could have lead to an interesting extra threat to this episode.

My big issue with this ending is its lack of meaning, though. I’m still not exactly sure what happened here, with the ghost breaking his own rules and suddenly deciding to try and eliminate every single member of the class with random lightning bolts, falling pillars, chandeliers and even trying to kill the dead student… for some strange reason. The people who went crazy were also nice and all, but they would have been even nicer if they actually had been fleshed out a bit. Because of that they also lacked the impact they could have had. And who on earth was that murdering maid?

And then Misaki suddenly revealed that she witnessed Meiko being killed. Of all the places she could have been. The creators could have done an epilogue that explained that: “we later found out that Meiko had been killed when.. blah blah et cetera”. Also, regarding the dolls of the first episode: what was their point again?

Overall, I think I liked Blood-C slightly more over Another (yes, I liked that show). It took much longer to get going, but in the end I liked how bold it was with its mystery, and how everything came together at the end. Another doesn’t necessarily have that ending where everything comes together, but instead it’s the journey that made it memorable, trying to figure out a way how to stop people dying the most bizarre deaths. It tried a bit too hard at times, but overall I’d rank this in the top five shows of the Winter 2012 season..

A review will be posted tomorrow, because it’s too late now (where I am anyway). Why on earth do four series decide to end all at the same bloody time?
Rating: *+ (Great)

Posted on 20 March 2012 with categories: Another

This episode… just went all out. Now that everyone knows that the dead student needs to die, this show just descends into one giant string of murders, with the ghost helping a little bit here and there. Holy crap, this was intense.

While the series has its problems, with this I do have to say that aside from perhaps Milky Holmes and Natsume Yuujinchou (both sequels), Another stands as my favorite Winter Season so far, because of how interesting it made its own plot. The progression so far was very creative, it knows how to use mystery really well, and now that things are spiraling out of control it’s really turning into very good horror here.

Problems in this episode were the abundance of overblown facial expressions, along with that fire in the kitchen. I’m no physics major, but I’m very sure that fire doesn’t work that way. Of course, it’s possible to build up an explosion and all, but that’s only assuming that the pressure can’t escape. While this is plausible in a new building, the hotel they were in seemed rather old. Plus, with a giant fire burning everywhere I’m not sure why there weren’t any holes burnt into the walls at some point. Or why nobody could hear an entire dinner room on freaking fire.

But yeah, the gore was good, but what really made this episode was the psychological horror of everyone just going crazy. This entire episode made use of that by using the entire class for that. One point of criticism would be that the series should have focused more on each of these people, because it’s pretty obvious who the ghost is right now by the logic of that 1) it has to be a named character and 2) it has to be someone who stays into the background, but for that you’d need a 24 episode series.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 12 March 2012 with categories: Another

This episode would have been totally AWESOME… if it weren’t for two specific things. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I had that feeling when the class photo of the dead Misaki was shown. I’ve been dying to see a picture of who he actually was, because all we know about him is that he’s some dead ghost who has been haunting the same class for more than 20 years. That was some awesome build-up there. The rest of this episode also had a really terrific atmosphere that really kept me on the edge of my seat.

But really, are you going to play the padding thing again in two consecutive episodes? This is the reason why I don’t rank Another among the best horror series. And don’t get me wrong: it is really good, but at these points it just tries too hard. The kinds of twists where right when something is about to be revealed something jumps up to break the tension completely misses the point of an anti-climax.

Also… Misaki knew who the ghost was? That sounds like pretty big information to conceal, isn’t it? I mean, I understand that she didn’t feel like telling her classmates after what they did to her, but she never mentioned this to Kouichi, someone who she has been very open with? I mean, she said that she preferred to conceal her eye in the class and all, but she sat in the back of the class: she should have had one point where she she found a good way to take a peak at the entire classroom (a test for example), so she knew who the bad guy was all along. The next few episodes had better offer a very good explanation for that.

And on the other hand, this episode did end with one heck of a cliff-hanger.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 6 March 2012 with categories: Another

This series really loves its red herrings. It doesn’t really work to make this show unpredictable (the two deaths of this episode had it coming from a mile away), but ti does make the episode ery nerve-wrecking. It cannot keep pulling this forever, though: all deaths in this series have happened right at the end of each episode. This cannot carry the series forever at this pace.

I like the use of the tape, but it’s too simple. Because of that the creators had to pull that weird twist of one of the characters screwing up before the most important parts were revealed. If you’re going to do that, then build in some extra challenge in trying to find the tape or something. Instead, this just screamed “oh no, we need to pad out this story a bit longer!”

In any case, Misaki was acting a bit weird in this episode by almost playfully nearly triggering accidents. I doubt that she is the real shost, though: that would be too obvious. My biggest candidate for this right now is Naoya, that blond kid who broke the tape. After all, that action does make perfect sense if he was the ghost, and either consciously or uncosciously wanted to prevent people from finding out about what stopped him. And with this episode, I also think I have an idea of what that might have been, after he called it a “sin”: he probably ended up killing the ghost student somehow. In the wy he told it it probably was a fortunate accident, but that would also explain why no student turned out to be the ghost that year.

There was also one particularly interesting twist that I realized just as I finished writing up this entry and taking screenshots. I’m not going to say it right now because I think it’s something everyone should figure out for himself, but I finally realized the link between a lot of the deaths.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 27 February 2012 with categories: Another

Thank god this wasn’t just another copy-paste beach episode. This episode felt unique, which just shows that beach episodes are usually terrible in how often they just boil down to the same thing. This episode didn’t bother with suggestive camera angles, and didn’t make a whole spectacle of “what will they be wearing?”, but rather showed the characters as they were. My only complaint here is that twintail girl suddenly turning abusive tsundere. Where did that come from?

Because of this I enjoyed this episode for its variety. With so much death around the corner it’s good to have episodes where the scenery is completely different. That’s something I miss in a lot of anime nowadays: they often feel rather monotone. Another obviously is too, but this episode definitely helped there.

I also loved the use of red herrings i this episode. There first was that truck, the cast catching a puffer fish and suggesting to actually cook it, and then there was that swimming scene. It got a bit surreal when that motor boat appeared right from out of nowhere. With this it’s clear that the ghost has some magic Deus ex Machina powers that can bend all common sense.

This is just a detail, but it does make me wonder: to their trip (which by the way actually had a purpose), the cast came in two cars. One of them was driven by Reiko, but the other one? We hardly see any shots of this random old man, as if the camera tries its best to ignore him. Also, when they arrive, Misaki Mei was already at the beach. Why didn’t she just come with them? It’s a bit weird to not have introduction scenes like that.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 21 February 2012 with categories: Another

Before, I criticized this show for not having very impressive animation for PA Works’ standards. And then that dream sequence came. Talk about fluid animation here. Overall, it’s clear that after Blood-C, Tsutomu Mizushima really saw the light. Here too the visuals just don’t shy away from the hard-to-animate gore at all, for the scenes where normally the camera would just pan away.

The mystery is also really on track here. On the background, you can really feel the evergrowing presence of that ghost student who keeps picking off dead people. The second half of this series is also going to be very different, now that Misaki is actually no longer ignored by her fellow student, with the plan having failed and all. It’s a good way for the show to evolve.

The challenge for this series was to keep its audience in its atmosphere, even during the building up scenes. For me, it succeeded. I’ve really been caught up in it and even though the start of the show tried a little too hard with the dolls and all, the quiet parts of this series didn’t feel boring at all. This time it’s due to both the interesting characters, and the very solid build-up of atmosphere.

With this, it’ll be up to this series to actually make use of the build-up, and make things come together, and it’s there where the tricky part will start. Bring in enough creative twists that will force the characters to develop themselves, and make the revelation of the real ghost have some real impact. A beach episode isn’t really the right way to do that!
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 15 February 2012 with categories: Another

You know what? Everyone keeps praising Ano Natsu for its down to earth romance, but with this, I think that Another has beaten it. Especially after Ano Natsu came with that awful sixth episode.

A large part of this episode just showed Mei and Kouichi casually talk to each other and about themselves, and surprisingly it felt really natural. There were no cliches like shyness or random fanservice, and for once the creators actually allowed them to talk. And holy crap. I just realized how not often such a thing happens: long conversations between love interests. There were also these small scenes of them looking at each other that were neat touches. The only thing that stood out as weird was that dance scene, but even there: I am so glad that for once the creators went with an original fantasy. Most of the time they just stick to males sparkling, and females undressing.

The second half fleshed out the basic premise of this series more. It’s interesting how there is one guy who pretty much has been with the mystery from the start, and also doesn’t really have anything to hide. Instead, the creators used this artificial amnesia to create most of the mystery after this point: traces of the ghost that it’s trying to hide in order to stay unnoticed. It’s in any case established that the death of Kouichi’s mother was something special. In the meantime though, we have a teacher going crazy.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 6 February 2012 with categories: Another

I didn’t expect the answers for everything to come up this early in the series. This episode was where this show said “okay, that’s enough building up, time to explain why everyone is acting so weird”. And I must say, I like the story that’s behind this a lot here.

This puts the first episodes in an interesting perspective: we were lead, along with the main character, to believe that Mei was some sort of ghost. Instead, she was only treated as a ghost by the students of class 3. On top of that, the real ghost is one of the other students of the class, just nobody knows who.

That also has a very interesting effect that I applauded this series for: there are no copy-paste students in that class. Everyone here feels like a proper classmate, there just are a bunch of them who don’t talk to the main character. This doesn’t have the usual anime syndrome where some characters have obviously better character designs or something. The only exception of this being Mei, who just looks too moe compared to the rest of them (I was quite surprised when I saw how much she changed compared to her designs of the original source material).

What’s also surprising is that my criticism of the first two episodes (it’s trying too hard!) are much less noticeable right now. I mean, during art class, episode 2 had people draw things like the scream, and the random doll shots that appeared for no reason whatsoever. In this episode, everyone was acting very naturally. It’s like the creators were afraid that these first two episodes weren’t interesting enough to hold people’s attention, so they threw those random things in there or something. Personally, I use completely different criteria to determine if something is worth my time. In particular I look at the execution and acting, which were perfectly fine and would have been even better with those obnoxious distractions.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 30 January 2012 with categories: Another

You know, this series reminds me a lot of Ookamikakushi, but well executed. This series pretty much is what I hoped that series to be. And within four episodes, it also has pretty much surpassed Ookamikakushi in every aspect. In particular the cast of characters is a lot better here.

The lead character… he actually doesn’t just passively do nothing, or act stupid like a wimp. He’s actually trying to find out what is going on, while at the same time he’s not the other side of the spectrum of being way too damn impulsive. What mostly sets this one apart is the dialogue, though. You can definitely see that this is coming from something other than a manga adaptation. It actually feels pretty natural here.

Also, I wonder how it must be marathoning this series in one go. It’s probably a completely different experience. The cliff-hangers in this series don’t give me the feeling of “must… know… what… happens next…”, but the shock factor nevertheless works really well. It will be pretty hard to eventually explain (aside from that the ghost wants to make the lead character’s life completely miserable), but I like the direction so far nonetheless.
Rating: * (Good)

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