‘Another’ is an mystery/horror anime released in 2012 based on a light novel of the same name. Some people have called it the Final Destination of Anime. Wouldn’t know, never seen a Final Destination movie. Savage was kind enough to get me the anime for Christmas, I’d seen it when it first aired in Japanese but i’d yet to see the dub or watch the series since it’s initial air.
Then a few weeks later, I was browsing around Amazon and found that there had been a translation of the light novel and decided to buy it. So with the anime and light novel in hand, let’s take a look at how they stack up to each other.
Warning, spoilers for both the novel and anime ahead. Read at your own risk.
The general plot behind ‘Another’ is the story of Koichi Sakakibara after he transfers from Tokyo to a middle school in the small town of Yomiyama. He gets put into ‘Class 3’, and from the moment he begins school things are very strange. To start at the beginning, we start the series with Koichi in the hospital. His lung had collapsed due to the stress of the move and starting a new school, but he’s on the way to recovering and will join his new class right after Golden Week. While he’s at the hospital, he gets into the elevator with Mei Misaki, a strange girl from his school wearing an eye-patch. He discovers her going down to the second-basement level, where there is nothing but the memorial church with a doll to deliver.
Cut to when he begins attending school, he finds that Mei is in his class or, is she? Everyone else seems to think that she doesn’t exist.
He continues to interact with her despite this and various warnings from his friends not to ‘interact with things that don’t exist’. What’s going on becomes apparent eventually, but not without a death happening first. One of the class officers, during mid-terms hears that her mother has been in an accident. She runs out of the classroom and sees Mei and Koichi talking in the hallway, she turns and runs down a flight of stairs she wouldn’t of normally gone down.
She trips, falls, her umbrella falls open and she impales her neck on the spike at the top of the umbrella. This might be one of the most famous scenes from this series for various reason. The absurdity of it, how gruesome it is, or the fact that it’s the first death we see on screen. Whatever the reason, if you’ve ever seen anything linked to this series. It’s probably this scene.
After this, the class decides the talisman of pretending that one student doesn’t exist isn’t strong enough and decide to try making it so that Koichi doesn’t exist either. This is when he finds out what’s going on in his class. The class is under a…well not really a curse in the traditional sense. It’s more of a phenomenon. In which it’s closer to death than anyone should normally be.
Why is it closer to death than any other class? What brought it so close to death? That’s a story from 26 years ago in which a popular student died and his classmates refused to believe he was dead, they kept saying “There he is, he’s still alive.” even the teacher played along and the principal even entertained it and put a seat at the graduation ceremony for the dead student.
This is where it gets creepy though, they took a class photo and the dead student showed up in it. Pale as death and smiling like every other student in the picture.
The next year at the start of the school year, they were short a desk. There was one more student then there were desks, that’s because someone who was supposed to be dead had slipped into the class. The class had opened itself up as some place that welcomed the dead because of how the students had acted when the popular student. [named Misaki, because, you know. They had to make our Misaki even creepier.]
The creepiest scene that is in the book but watching it animated will leave you with a impression for the rest of your life is Koichi’s nightmare sequence. Where everyone is questioning ‘Who is dead’ and the students faces begin melting off. There is a moment of artistic beauty in this scene that is so subtle that I didn’t notice it the first time I watched the series.
In an earlier scene, Yuya Mochizuki speaks in length with Koichi about the Munch painting ‘The Scream’ if you’re not familiar with that painting, it’s the one of the man screaming in front of the sunset with his hands over his ears. They discuss this painting in length and the sense of unease surrounding it in episode 2. So when Koichi has this dream, and it turns to him to show his own face melting. You can vaguely see the image of Munch’s ‘The Scream’ in Koichi’s melting face.
I don’t want to spoil too much of the plot for you guys, in case you want to check the series out. The ending was a real shock to me the first time I watched it and now that I look back. There were signs all along, but that’s not important. As for the book and the anime for the most part, they are pretty similar. The fundamental story is the same and the ending is the same. The differences are fairly subtle, one difference that stuck out to me while reading the novel is the characterization and screen time of the Head of Counter Measures, Akazawa. In the novel, she’s barely mentioned and only really plays a part in the final chapters when the class goes on the field trip to Mount Yomi.
In the anime, she plays a slightly more prominent part and could be considered a love rival to Mei for Koichi’s affections. There is this bit right before she dies at the end of the anime where she remembers running into him a year and a half prior to the events of the series. This is not included in the book. Also, her death is rather different.
In the anime, she dies trying to kill Mei Misaki thinking that she is the ‘dead’ person among the students and is impaled by a ton of glass falling on her when a window explodes from the fire around her. In the book, she’s murdered by being stabbed and falling off the balcony when being attacked by the inn-keeper that had snapped and began going on a murdering spree.
Another big difference between the anime and the novel is the trip the main crew takes to the beach. In the book, this scenario does not exist. This shocks me to some extent because this part of the anime contained one of the more gruesome deaths in the series. It freaks me out to think that the drowning and subsequent mutilation of this kids body was an anime only death.
The series of events surrounding this trip, the talk with the man who stopped the calamity half-way through the school year and finding out about the thing he hid in the old classroom is covered in the book. Just handled in a different way.
A lot of the rest of the changes are minor things like the events surrounding certain deaths. One little thing that drove me crazy through the whole book though was something so small, I’m not even sure it should of bothered me as much as it did. It’s such a tiny thing, but it bugs me. Every time they talked about Misaki’s doll eye, they feel the need to painstakingly point out that the color is blue. Her eye is blue. However, I JUST watched the anime and I know with total and complete certainty that they animated her doll eye as green.
Why the difference? Could they not animate it blue? The book hammers home the idea that her doll eye is blue and yet they animated it green and it drove me crazy!
Other than that, it’s a very similar read but that doesn’t make it boring. The writing is presented in a way that it is not boring even if you know the events that are coming or know the ending of the book before you even begin reading it. Vice-Versa, you can watch the anime after reading the book and find yourself experiencing the story in a way that is similar but not so similar that you get bored with it and go ‘I already know what happens.
I said before that I’ve watched the series in both English and Japanese. The english dub presented by Sentai Filmworks was one that I was a little hesitant to watch at first and in the first episode, everything came off as stiff and awkward. It wasn’t until a little later that it clicked with me that it was voice acted that way on purpose for the idea of setting up atmosphere. The characters are stiff and awkward in the first episode, Koichi doesn’t know anyone and is in the hospital. Mei just lost her twin sister, the two school officers are scared to death almost literally that Koichi’s addition to the class would start up the calamity.
After that I realized, everyone in this series was perfectly cast and it was an amazing dub all around. The only thing that kept striking me as strange was Chris Patton’s character, he would constantly keep pronouncing ‘Misaki’ strange. When you compared it to the way that everyone else said her name, it really stood out. It never missed the lip flaps and Teshigawara was the kind of character who would speak differently so I suspect it might be on purpose?
Otherwise, Monica Rial made a wonderful Mei Misaki. Greg Ayres was wonderful for Koichi Sakakibara. The scripting for the dub was also very spot on, none of the dialogue felt unnatural and fit with all of the lip flaps. Kudo’s to Sentai Filmworks for their work on the title.
What are my overall feelings on the series as a whole? Give it a watch, give it a read. If you’re a horror fan, you’ll really like it. If you aren’t, well…i’d say give it a shot anyway but I know there are people out there who can’t handle gore. Maybe reading it would be the best in that case. The best thing about this series is it’s various adaptations. The anime, the manga, the light novel and even the live action movie. [The movie, well…I tried watching it and it wasn’t MY cup of tea but I’m sure there must be a small group of people who enjoy it. So even feel free to give it a try.]
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