Another is supposed to be a horror anime? The music is all extra-spooky and there was some blood splattering and creepy dolls and shit like that in the pre-credits scene, but that was about it. If it weren’t for those cues, this would have been like every single other high school slice of life drama ever made.
I guess it was going for the whole “weird situation” vibe, but it totally floundered. It’s your usual “outsider arrives in a small town and he notices that weird shit is up” scenario– the sort of horror that peeps who have ever been to an actual small town would write about because anything that isn’t urban chic is evil or whatever. Sometimes that can work. Twin Peaks rocks. Peeps love Shiki, even if it kinda bored me. One of my favorite Japanese movies is Goju, and it’s all about a yakuza dude tracking down his boss in some small Japanese town and it was totally whacked out.
But Another just doesn’t “get” how this shit is supposed to go down. The music is constantly buzzing in the background, trying to evoke some sort of unsettling mood, but it keeps playing even when it shouldn’t be there. Dude meets with all of the kids from his school? BRRRRRRRMMMMM! Dude’s grandmother calls him for breakfast? BRRRRRRRMMMMM! I think they’re trying to make this mood oppressive or something, as if there’s some heavy burden on the city and a secret hidden behind every corner, but by always being there it loses all of its meaning.
The dialogue is the same. Everyone talks as if anything they say will reveal some major mystery, and they don’t want this outsider to be in on their secret shame. But how do they do this? They have everyone pause when they want to say something. Everyone reacts in the same way. That’d be cool if this was some sort of Village of the Damned situation, where there’s some omniscient presence controlling the town or whatever, but we’ve already been let in on the town’s secret before the credits rolled.
The first episode opens with two kids telling some ghost story. A girl dies in a classroom. Someone acts as if she never died. Everyone starts to act the same way. They keep this up until that class graduates from school. It’s pretty obvious that this is the town’s secret, and they’re still dealing with the aftermath of this situation. And when the mysterious eye patch chick comes along and one of the characters claims not to see her, it’s also obvious that she’s some sort of ghost or whatever and that she’s probably tied into this secret. Maybe she’s the kid that died, or maybe she’s something else.
At the same time, all of this also feels like some generic high school drama. If it weren’t for the pervasive music and that opening scene, all we’d be left with is a sickly kid moving to a new town and meeting some new people. Even the “ghost” or whatever she is talks to him like your typical Rei/Yuki clone. It’s like someone took the latest cookie cutter JC Staff anime and replaced its generic anime BGM with the soundtrack to The Grudge 27 or whatever sequel it’s on this week.
Yeah. That’s not how you make a horror story, man.
But all of that is just shit I spouted out to rationalize why I didn’t give a damn about the first episode of Another. You know what bothered me when I was actually watching it? That eye patch. Not that it’s a weird fetish or anything. That isn’t what bothered me. What irked me was that it’s one of those medical eye patches you’d wear right after having surgery or getting injured or something. Assuming this is a constant part of this chick’s character design (and all the promo art seems to suggest this), does she change out eye patches every day? And if so, wouldn’t it be more cost-effective to buy a real patch? If she’s gonna be sporting this thing for a long time, maybe she should look into something that’s a little more fashionable? This is an anime, after all. I’m sure there’s someone in the animeverse that sells bedazzled eye patches or something like that. Or maybe her school has a strict dress code. Maybe someone can whip up a patch that fits the school’s rules. It could have the school’s logo or something. And if she isn’t changing out that eye patch every day, damn, it must be letting on a serious stench. Even ghosts need to think about shit like that.