Can an Anime series ever truly be considered scary? It’s a tough question to ask. For some, the very notion of finding an animation terrifying seems ludicrous. Whilst others may suggest titles such as Ghost Hunt or Higurashi as points of contention. I would argue that whilst such series have been able to master an increasing sense of dread, very few anime series have been able to deliver the pay off of an all out jump scare. Into the light steps Another. Based on the novel by Yukito Ayatsuji and produced by P.A Works, this semi-faithful twelve episode adaptation comes with a pedigree of a successful Manga and Novel under its belt, bringing with it a legacy of successfully scared audience members. How does it fare as an anime?
In the spring of 1998, newly transferred student Koichi Sakakibara begins his term at the Yomiyama Middle School. All is not as it seems, as hushed whispers of a cursed class and a vengeful spirit begin making their rounds once again. Meanwhile, Koichi meets the unusual Mei Misaki, a beautiful girl clad in dark gothic trappings and a mysterious eye patch. The boy is immediately drawn to her, though it would seem girl problems are the least of his worries as the spirit runs riot across the classroom. Can Koichi uncover the origin of this evil spectre? Is the class really under a curse? What is under Mei’s eye patch? Dun dun dun!!
For a series that relies on plot twists, Another delivers with aplomb, delivering a cliff hanger at the end of each instalment that provides a new insight into the character’s relationships. This isn’t a series for those looking for coherency in the story; rather it’s a show that takes great pride in pulling the rug out from underneath you. Luckily, for what it lacks in narrative, Another makes up for in atmosphere. Aside from the traditional character designs, Another has a beautifully gothic undertone that permeates through every frame, with a mixture of haunting imagery and some frankly unsettling locations (a certain sequence in a hospital at night-time stands out in particular). The soundtrack throughout each episode provides a traditional mixture of discordant violins and creepy ambience, building upon the strong foundation of the imagery and story beats. The only real drawback would be the god-awful theme song by Ali-Project that tries it’s damndest to undermine the foreboding atmosphere. It’s so bad in fact, that one viewer even went so far to switch out the theme entirely.
Going back to the original question, is Another scary? For this reviewer, there were a few stand out stand out sequences that left a familiar cold sweat and stomach churned. Sadly, those looking for sustained horror throughout each of Another’s 12 episodes will leave disappointed. For those looking for something unsettling and above all different, Another presents an interesting diversion into Asian Horror, that few will of witnessed before. Luckily, for the few that are not able to suspend such disbelief, a live action version is already in the works.