Do you like good psychological supernatural thrillers? Sure, we all do. The key word here though is "good." Shit like the hyper-repetitive 2 seasons of When They Cry, or the mind-numbingly boring and retarded Shiki do have unnatural beings or events pushing the so-called plot forward, but they are pretty low on suspense (even though they think that stupidity, events taking place at night, or bat-shit-crazy kids murdering classmates in silly ways equals thrills).
With these kinds of shows as my basis for Japanese occult spine-chillers I was pretty reluctant to even start the anime known as Another. The tale of a small town middle school class being haunted by an unnatural "presence" brought about by an earlier generation of retards totally made me think of When They Cry (negatively), but then a bunch of readers and friends kept telling me to give it a go.... And so I reluctantly did.
Very quickly I'll tell you that in the end I was glad that I gave it a shot. Not that Another is a work of art or the next Sixth Sense (though people in this show do happen to see a dead person who doesn't know he/she's dead), but it was entertaining and actually thrilling, and very, very, very bloody. Once I got past the first five episodes (where it's pretty boring and confusing), I found that the enjoyment level of this show rose almost exponentially per 30 minutes until the pretty big (and extremely violent) finale. Buuuuuuut, I also had quite a few problems with it. I'll get to those, but first, let me tell you of Another's plot.
Back in 1972 class 3-3 of Yomiyama North Middle School suffered a horrible loss when one of its beloved students died midway through the year. The mental fuck-ups in the class though (including the teacher) soon began to pretend that the dead girl (some chick named Misaki) was still alive and sitting in her desk the whole time. This led to Misaki's face actually mysteriously appearing in the class photo (taken well after her untimely demise), and a curse being placed upon class 3-3 — bringing them "closer to death" — that is still sitting on the students and teachers in that room to this day (26 years later, when this story takes place).
What is this curse, you ask, like a child pulling the bed sheets up over his head in a vain attempt to ward off evil spirits who one thinks are afraid of a thin piece of linen? Well.... It's complicated. My main problem (well, not really a problem per se... Maybe I should have said "slight issue") with Another is the rules behind the curse. The rules in this series are just as bizarre and convoluted as the rules for the Holy Grail War in the original Fate: Stay/Night. Yeah, I know. Anyway, the rules go something like this:
Big Spoilers... Seriously, if you want to watch a pretty good scary and disturbing show and be surprised as you see its story unfold, then you may want to skip to the end of this section, since finding out what the curse is all about is a huge part of the tale.
So, every year after this girl Misaki died a spirit of a dead child would infiltrate class 3-3, and only by choosing to ignore one hand-picked student (and by pretending that he or she doesn't exist) can the class avoid atrocious "calamities" from befalling them or their close relatives. These "calamities" are in actuality horrifying deaths caused by explosions, umbrella tips, getting crushed by construction equipment, dicks getting bitten off in glory holes, etc. If this one person that the class chooses as "dead" gets acknowledged by their fellow class 3-3 students or teachers at any point during the school term, then the year proceeds with multiple cases of terrifying Final Destination-inspired endings. Buuuuuut, if this "dead" person chosen by the class does end up getting acknowledged or is spoken to (even just by talking about the weather) by another 3-3 student, the whole class can then try to ignore the student who broke the rules as well. Oh, and the curse doesn't affect anybody outside of the town's border. And anybody past a direct blood relation (meaning parents or siblings) is safe from the effects of the curse, but students in the actual class are much more susceptible. And if you have a glass eye you can see the dead aura of the spirit infiltrating the class. And if you kill the actual ghost student you will end the curse for that year. And if you kill that ghost student then everybody will forget about him/her. And the curse causes fake memories to be implanted into everybody in town so that they don't remember that the spirit student is already dead. And, and, and... These rules kept coming out of nowhere until the very end of the series.
What gets me though is who originally thought to pretend that a classmate was dead in order to appease the evil curse? And how did they first convince the entire class to go along with it? And wait, even further back, who the fuck thought it was a good idea to pretend that Misaki back in '72 was actually still alive? How fucked up is that?... But whatever, at least the rules (though large in number) were consistent and didn't seem to change in order to overcome any plot holes as the tale progressed.
My only real question left about the curse though is why did it still run its course this year (when the story takes place) even though the class chose to ignore a student from the beginning (don't forget that the deaths began before Koichi transferred there and talked to Ms. Eyepatch)? If they ignored a teacher would that have stopped the deaths? No explanations were ever given, and for that I continue to scratch my head.
Major Curse Rules Spoilers Over
Okay, so what's it all about? Another is about a 15 year-old kid (Koichi) moving back to his shitty little birth town of Yomiyama to live with his ancient and smelly grandparents and his aunt while his dad
abandoned him is overseas on business. Oh, and his mom died giving birth to him — sucks to be him. But things begin to get even worse for the shit-upon Koichi when he gets sick right before school starts, misses a month of classes, then meets a mysterious girl his age in the creepy hospital elevator just before being discharged one night. The girl, one Misaki, wears an eyepatch, and claims she's there to say goodbye to someone.
Koichi then goes to school, but is left a little weirded out by the fact that everybody in his class seems to ignore Ms. Pirate Misaki (who's apparently his classmate), and refuses to acknowledge her presence. Koichi's left out of the loop about what's going on, but then one by one his classmates start dying in front of him. That's when he's finally told about the curse of 3-3 and what it means to everybody in the small town. Then things begin to escalate enormously, and then the last two episodes turn this series into a ghostly version of Battle Royale, only with more gore. LOTS more gore. Like Riki-Oh levels of gore.
Beyond the rules of the curse being surprisingly strict for a supernatural entity with misplaced anger issues, the other thing that kind of bugged me about this series was the characters were pretty flat. Nobody in this anime really had any kind of personality, least of all Koichi and Misaki. Everybody else in class is pretty much "generic high school student #'s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5," and on and on. This is an issue because when they or their immediate family members start dying cringe-inducing deaths you really don't care about the characters, just the testicles, I mean spectacles of the ghostly murders. It really would have made me feel much more invested in this show if the characters stood out more and had individual identities or charisma all their own. Then the final two episodes might have really had an impact on me. As it stands though they're just a 60-minute mindfuck of ultraviolence. Not a bad thing, but it could have been so much more.
And seriously, when those final two episodes finally erupt after the one or two deaths per 30-minutes previously, I turned to Malcolm and said "Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast..." Just hold on to your potatoes near the end, kiddies. You'll either shudder in disgust, or cheer in amazement because you're a total psychopath emo weirdo.
That was some fucked up guro shit right there, buck-o's. Guro, for you freaks still living in a cave, is pretty much mothafuckin' "GORE" in Japanese, and this here show is made of nothing but it.
I'm for serious, mothafuckas, the only reason this show exists is to try and cram as many possible disgusting, bloody, violent, and vomitous deaths into one short television series. I personally believe it fuckin' wins the award for gratuitous violence hands down, and if you don't care about a plot that doesn't really make a lick of sense when you take a good goddamn look at it, or characters that a 1st grader could have written better, and you fuckin' LOVE you some guro, then by all mean, take your pants off, whip it out, and whack yo pud while you watch this mothafucka till the goddamn cows come home! Just don't tell me about it.
This is probably the GREATEST cartoon I've ever seen in my long, blood-filled, beautiful life. Other than that movie with the punk ass bitch kids who have to kill each other on that island in order to entertain the masses because the whole of Japan is overrun with assholes who don't respect their elders — especially their teachers — THIS is what I've been waiting for my whole life!
This incredible animated television program is all about a class of disrespectful punks who get cursed, and then they all die. The end. I absolutely love it to death! And the way that these annoying children end up biting the proverbial bullet is usually something to be seen too. Not only do they die like squealing pigs led to the slaughterhouse, but they each die in a new, twisted, and incredibly painful manner. Sometimes several per episode! I could not believe my luck when the Rossman presented me with this show! If all anime featured snotty school children with no respect for authority getting minced, flattened, stabbed, sliced up, and blown up, I'd definitely watch much more of this stuff. As it lies though, too many magical girls in real life anime.