Monday, October 10, 2016

Review: Another

Title: Another (2010)
Author(s): Kiyohara Hiro (Art), Ayatsuji Yukito (Story)
Genre: Horror, Mystery, School, Supernatural, Thriller
Volumes: 4
Episodes: 12

I've been wanting to post about this manga for a while now and I waited so long that I ended up watching the anime series, so this is a rare moment where I review both mediums. And what better time than the month of scares and thrills, right?

In 1972, a popular student in Yomiyama North Middle School's class 3-3 named Misaki passed away during the school year. Since then, the town of Yomiyama has been shrouded by a fearful atmosphere, from the dark secrets hidden deep within.

Twenty-six years later, 15-year-old Kouichi Sakakibara transfers into class 3-3 of Yomiyama North and soon after discovers that a strange, gloomy mood seems to hang over all the students. He also finds himself drawn to the mysterious, eyepatch-wearing student Mei Misaki; however, the rest of the class and the teachers seem to treat her like she doesn't exist. Paying no heed to warnings from everyone including Mei herself, Kouichi begins to get closer not only to her, but also to the truth behind the gruesome phenomenon plaguing class 3-3 of Yomiyama North.

"Another" follows Kouichi, Mei, and their classmates as they are pulled into the enigma surrounding a series of inevitable, tragic events—but unraveling the horror of Yomiyama may just cost them the ultimate price.
[Source: MyAnimeList]

Another was a series I heard about occasionally in my circle of friends. Usually, it was brought up around October when people are looking for horror themed anime and manga. Obviously, it doesn't have to be the season of Halloween for me to enjoy horror movies as I post horror movies regularly here on Muddy Cult. When I was getting into this series, I think I either knew the manga existed, but not the anime or vice versa; it's been quite some time since I've read and seen it. Nonetheless, I started with the manga with an open mind and a bit of excitement. I've heard a lot of good things, although these comments were quite minimal. As much as I love the horror genre, I really don't read a lot of horror manga. I think in general I watch more horror than read it, but I try to mix it up when I'm in the mood for it. When I first started reading, the word that immediately came to mind about the story was "intriguing".

Whether you start with the manga or the anime first, we are introduced to our main character Kouichi who suffers from pneumothorax (collapsed lung), which explains his absence from school. We learn a little bit of his backstory with his parents and other family members, but for the most part, the story confirms that we will be tagging along with him during this bizarre, supernatural journey. Whatever he knows is what we the audience knows. So, when he runs into Mei for the first time in the hospital, we feel just as intrigued to know more about this mysterious girl with the eyepatch. For the most part, you can tell something is off about Kouichi's classmates and every time they want to talk to him about the class rules, a distraction appears and the mystery lingers in the air a little longer. This thing that his classmates are keeping from him and us is what intrigued me the most. You're constantly wondering what this class secret could be and what Mei's backstory is. The further you get involved in Kouichi's day to day adjustments, the more the mystery lingers in the air. This caused a lot of suspense and the pay off was definitely worth it. Normally, you would think that you would get frustrated by the pacing and the secret remaining a secret for so long, but the way it is written keeps you hooked.

Not only does the lingering mystery keep you glued to the story, but the realistic depiction of the characters also helps. Majority of anime series have these crazy designs, hair colors, and personalities, but everyone looks fairly normal that it reflects reality. On top of that, they also act pretty normal as well, despite the paranormal aspects of this show. The paranoia, fear, and overall freak outs are portrayed very well and built up at a steady pace. These emotional aspects really come through when you're following Kouichi for this terrifying ride with little to no information of the classroom rules. Pretty much, you kind of share an emotional tie to him as I felt suspicious or wary of some classmates, while others brought me comfort and relief to some extent. Of course, some of the adults can fall into either of these categories as well. Whether you trust these individuals or not, they did bring a lot of insight into the mysterious class rules and even Kouichi's past with his late mother. These two plot points seamlessly worked together very well and painted a very vivid and detailed picture of what secrets are being kept. If you really enjoy this series and are curious about Mei's backstory, check out Another: The Other. This OVA gives the audience more insight on Mei's relationship with her cousin Misaki.

Another is a fantastic horror series, whether you watch it or read it. It has a lot of good suspense and well paced mystery that'll keep you wondering what the class secret is, who to trust, and main character back story. The character development presented to us is very satisfying and keeps you hooked to the suspense and mystery that constantly lingers in the air. The visuals are appropriately shocking and dark and know when to lighten the moment up a little. The story and characters make it easy to immerse yourself in and Another: The Other really adds to Mei's story. Obviously, this series isn't for everyone, especially if you're not into the horror genre, as it does have some graphic imagery.

Rating: 4.5/5

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