Welcome to Winter Watch, a look at the latest anime season. Among the many shows being broadcast this season, Another finds itself as the sole horror series in the slate.
Episode 1: Rough Sketch
Summary: Fresh out of the hospital, Kouichi begins attending Yomiyama North Middle School where he meets a mysterious girl names Mei Misaki.
Air Date: Jan. 09, 2012
Run Time: 25:00
Warning: This article contains spoilers. We recommend watching the episode here first.
The episode kicks off with two students talking about a ghost story that sets the stage for the entire series: sometime in the past, star student Mei Misaki died. During the year of her death however, the students and teachers of her class continued to act as if she was still alive. One student even went as far as to saying that she was in class and questioned why everyone kept saying she was dead. Years later, students still see her ghost to this day. After the OP we meet Kouichi Sasakibara, a young man with a collapsed lung who is bedridden at a hospital. Kouichi is visited by three representatives from his school and given some notes for the lectures that he has missed. Later, Kouichi is wandering around the hospital and meets a mysterious girl name Mei Misaki who wears a uniform from the middle school Kouichi will be attending. After recuperating, Kouichi begins attending middle school and starts to make friends. To his surprise, Mei is in his class. During P.E. he spots her on the roof and decides to talk with her, but she gives him a cryptic warning to stay away from her and the episode ends shortly after.
I went into this episode wondering if it would creep me out. Anime has made me laugh, shed a tear, cheer and be left in a somber and morose mood, but fear has never been an emotion it's been able to pull from me. So to give this show a fair shot I decided to watch it at night, with all of the lights in my house turned for full effect. As an added benefit, my house naturally creaks and makes noises on its own so this is the ideal environment to watch something designed to be scary. Unfortunately, none of that really helped out any. While the story had me engaged from the opening seconds until the closing ones, I didn't feel spooked out during it. One issue for me is that I always know when the series is about to get spooky or what is supposed to be spooky due to visual or audio cues. At the end of the day though, it just boils down to the fact that it's animated and with no real world environment or actual people, it's extremely difficult for me to be creeped out by it. Another minor gripe, perhaps an unfair gripe, is that a lot of the edits and angles (or lack their of) for shots make dialog scenes a bit dull, especially coming off of Nisemonogatari where they can take an episode that's nothing but dialog and interweave it with interesting cuts and different angles to make what should be a visually unappealing scene very interesting. It was jarring to move from just having seen that to come back to something like this that features lots of of still heads talking for 10 seconds at a time or full body shots with minimal body animation during a scene.
I believe that at its core, Another is a mystery series and it completely nails those elements. That feeling of next week can't come soon enough and the desire to get caught up in the world created and unravel the story are exactly what I want out of a mystery. If you've been looking at anime releases and wondering when the next When They Cry, Shiki, Ghost Hound, or Hell Girl was coming, it's here.