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 2: Blueprint
Summary: Kouichi continues to mingle with the students in his class and does some investigating of his own, which leads him to a doll shop that Mei frequents.
Air Date: Jan. 16, 2012
Run Time: 25:00
Warning: This article contains spoilers. We recommend watching the episode here first.
The episode kicks off with Kouichi and his classmates making still life drawings during art class. After class, Kouichi spots Mei in the library and decides to chat with her, but is quickly sent away by the librarian. Later that night, Kouichi decides to visit the hospital and ask one of the nurses if a high school student died recently. Not knowing the information offhand, the nurse agrees to call him once she finds out more. After school the next day, Kouichi finds himself confronted by classmate Izumi Akazawa who begins to tell him that all she wants to do is keep the class safe. Before she can elaborate on what that means, Kouichi spots Mei leaving the school grounds and begins to follow her. After a short game of cat and mouse, Kouichi ends up a doll/mannequin store named Studio M. Before entering, the nurse calls him and tells him that a student did indeed die and, to his surprise, she believes it was a female with a name similar to Misaki. Upon entering the store, Kouichi is greeted by a mysterious shopkeeper who invites him to take look around. While looking at the wares, he stumbles across Mei and a mannequin that looks exactly like her. After a short conversation, the episode concludes with Mei asking Kouichi if he wants to see what's underneath her eye patch.
Well, another episode of Another and another night of me sitting in the dark in front of my television. The mystery surrounding Mei and the students goes even deeper during this episode and with multiple characters all attempting to warn him about Mei or the school (everyone is cutoff or interrupted each time), it's clear that something is afoot and is seemingly going to be revealed soon. I really hate dolls and mannequins and with the introduction of a store completely devoted to both, this episode actually got some creeps out of me. Another thing that impressed me about this episode in particular is the background art, which runs the gamut from being bright, beautiful, and vivid to dark, foreboding, and muted with neither coming across as jarring or out of place compared to the other.
One complaint that I do have about the visuals, however, are the character animations and shot selection for dialog sequences. Both of these are good enough for a series that is just dialog but greatly pale in comparison to the other just dialog show I watch and write about each week:Nisemonogatari. It's almost to the point where I'm beginning to wonder if I should put more space in between watching both series so that the contrast is less stark. Additionally, while I find the music and sound design to be perfectly fitting for a horror series and exceptional at times, their use really gives away any potential scares or creep out moments. For genres like romance or action, I think the visual and story content benefits immensely from a soundtrack that mirrors the onscreen action and takes you on a journey that is very much in sync with what is happening on the screen. For horror, however, I think this can completely kill any sense of surprise and for me, surprise combined with terror are the hallmarks of a good horror experience.
While the horror elements of the series rarely do much for me and the visuals are a mixed bag ranging from good enough to beautiful, I find myself falling deeper and deeper into the mystery taking place in this small town and wanting to know all of the secrets it holds. It also doesn't hurt to have one of the most subtly haunting ending themes since Outlaw Star and Wolf's Rain.