Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Anime Review: Another

ANOTHER: It has its own flaws, but still very enjoyable

Twenty-six years ago, a popular student from Yomiyama middle school’s class 3-3 has suffered an unexpected death during the school year. His classmates and teachers, devastated by this incident, have pretended that he is still alive and have continued with this act until graduation. Everything would’ve been fine if the dead boy hasn’t supernaturally manifested himself in the graduation photo. Since then, class 3-3 has always been suffering mysterious deaths among its students and their relatives. The story of Another revolves around this curse. It takes the perspective of Koichi Sakakibara, a transfer student who happens to be in class 3-3.

I must admit that this premise holds a lot of promise, for I personally enjoy stories that involve supernatural elements, especially when these elements form a mystery that needs to be cracked. The early episodes reach my expectations when it comes to this kind of stories. It has a very dark and enigmatic atmosphere that has been maintained all throughout the series by utilizing a low-key setting and effective use of eerie ambient sound, music, and video transitions.

Many questions have also been forced to me, rousing my interest further. In truth, the mystery that holds the story together has been portrayed well -- and this is all thanks to the artistic technicalities of the show.

However, this is the only redeeming factor that makes the mystery quite compelling, because even if it is portrayed well, the mystery itself has too few threads. Since there are very few threads to weave the mystery, the author utilizes a slow pacing to make the mystery seem complicated, when, in fact, it is quite easy to decipher prematurely.

This slowness becomes more evident when the story diverts its attention to unnecessary details that don’t progress the overall plot. There are so many senseless sequences that could have been replaced with ones that could actually drive the main story forward.

Strangely enough, this pacing doesn’t make me lose interest. I still feel compelled to watch the next episode because I want to know what happens next, even though some parts are quite predictable, especially the deaths of some of the characters. Speaking of deaths, the death scenes are very graphic that, even though some of them are just for shock value, instead of being an elaborate plot point, they are entertaining in their own right.

The characters of the series, on the other hand, do not entertain me at all. Koichi Sakakibara is somewhat bland. He merely acts as the main perspective of the show, but other than that, he pretty much sums up to nothing. The supporting characters also suffer the same case. All of them lack personality and depth. The only ones who leave an impression are Mei Misaki and Izumi Akazawa.

Sakakibara trying hard to add depth to his character

However, this lack of overall characterization is quite understandable. After all, why would you develop a character when you’re just going to kill him off in the next episode? Another reason why it is fine is that the story is very plot-oriented. It doesn’t focus on the well-being of the characters, but on the mystery that envelopes the entire plot.

As a whole, Another is a very enjoyable series. It is the kind of series that doesn’t need compelling characters to get its ideas across. Its driving force is the very mystery of the story. Even though this mystery is not very complex, its execution is done very well. As I said earlier, this is because of the artistic technicalities of the show -- the consistent use of dark colours; the effective implementation of peculiar ambient sound, music, and video transitions; and the animation in general. This is a good enough reason to give this series a watch.

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