Gintokiro's Blog – An anime blog for news and episodic reviews.

Another

Another Episode 01 – First Impressions Review

Mei: From the Kanji for “sing” but also “sympathy” and for “scream”

I have been waiting for this for quite a while now. I waited in anticipation and I watched in anticipation. I really wanted this anime to be good. I didn’t want to be disappointed. I didn’t want to hype myself up. I would have cried if this anime turned out to be rubbish – the anime mystery/psychological thriller genre has been too bland for too long and the prospects of a new show which actually looked half decent filled me with hope and joy. Suffice to say, it didn’t let me down. We’ve had all sorts of anime in the Winter 2012 season, so far. We’ve had the token boobies anime, we’ve had the I’ll destroy everyone else  anime, the Harem of the season, the mind-rape of the season, the consistently average yet still amusing one and the “wtf, its absurd but I still love it” – we were still in desperate need of a serious, intelligent and well thought out plot anime. The prestigious title went to Steins; Gate last season for me, and this season it looks like the only considerable contestant for it is Another. Its styled, it looks set to have a pretty well laid out story, it has atmosphere and most of all – its mysterious; ruddy mysterious. (Will anyone get that reference? ). The reasons I was filled with hope by the first episode are three fold:

ART & PRESENTATION

There is a sort of Serial Experiment Lain art where a lot of the scenery is decayed or seems to be spotted red – whether intentionally for atmosphere or just for general theme, I quite liked it. The colouring and textures in this anime is general quite thick, the production was obviously done in two modes of thought. One for beauty of presentation and one for atmospheric art. I was surprised at how quality a lot of the shots were, the characters were animated very well and there seemed to be pretty good detail – though, one could argue also, a lot of the scenery is static so it is easier to mould high quality shots, either way though, it look great. They made it vibrant and clean. The other mode of production, is for atmosphere – here the colours fade, a lot of the hue’s decay and we get a more flat or monochrome set. This certainly isn’t a bad thing though – we get a great atmosphere. A lot of the shots in the anime are of dolls, the lighting is purposefully fixed in certain angles and the colours are distorted to give them a much more serene but also haughty look at the same time but the picture quality is arguably dropped. The production was clearly planned to give maximal impact where necessary but still look good the rest of the time. The result is that we get a variable amount of scenery, it doesn’t feel like a depressing anime 24/7 and at the same time, when a dramatic scene appears, it has more impact when in contrast to its other shots. So overall, the art in this show was pretty good for me. It felt just oblique enough to be pretty odd but not so much so or so dramatised that it just looked boring. Overall, quality of animation was high.

STORY

They look so excited…

Another seems to be quite a simple anime at first glance. It starts with a cliché narration about the death of someone who now seems to be haunting the classroom. Everyone in the class seems to be able to see this popular, pretty, smart girl who was supposed to be dead but it doesn’t seem to appear to the rest of the school. It then switched over to our main protagonist, Sakakibara Kouichi who has just moved to the town where the aforementioned situation occurred and appears to be still occurring. It really didn’t seem to be anything particularly special in terms of the premise of the anime. However, the thing that makes Another so interesting is not that it appears to have an extremely complex story line which is completely unbeknown to the viewers, rather it makes obvious the general plan of action and sets the scene for a story to unfold ever so slowly and ever so subtly… *shudder*. The “neo-orthodox” horror novelist Ayatsuji Yukito isn’t trying to hide anything in the opening episode – everything feels wrong, everything feels eerie and everything feels so out of place that the whole scene may crumble if you were to even try to disturb the perversity of the atmosphere. The story doesn’t start subtle, it moves subtly. What we get here is a gothic, romantic tale. It is obvious where the anime is heading, but the path it took is completely unknown and the path is beaten into obscurity. We get so little from the anime that all you do is wonder what the hell is going on. The story really looks set to not be overly gory or a huge horror, but more of a distinct bloody anime (horror in character) with major mystery elements. It isn’t hard to see that this anime is ruddy mysterious and its only going to get ruddy good. I have no idea what to make even of what I have learnt. Kouichi can obviously see Mei but he clearly isn’t supposed to. Can the class see her too? They are aware of her “existence” yet deny her any partake in the class. Are they pretending, lying? We are told they are closest to the horrible truth. We are told they alone do PE without any other groups but other classes team up. The aged desk of Mei is still there yet it seems like no one notices it. I just want to know more – everything about this anime is such that nothing is ever truly answered. Even Kouichi’s direct questions are answered with “You’ll know soon enough”. This may sound like a put off but honestly, this is paced so well that I want it to be drawn out. I have an epic feeling for the story in this and if it turns out anything like I hope, Steins; Gate may have some serious heat for contender of epic storylines.

STYLE OF DELIVER

So many lines are styled in this anime, its hard to keep up. Its really is like a visual novel (not the anime kind, the 10,000 page kind). The well placed crows with Mei, Mei’s dolls, the flashing of the various dolls throughout the show. The BGM is chilling and I honestly had some goosebumps. The way we only ever hear but not see Kouichi’s grandparents, the supposed “Golden rules” of the school. The way the dad is away tied up with something to do with Kouichi’s deceased mother (I’m guessing its the dad’s wife hence husband but there is no explicit reference). I’m assuming they are linked in to this story and this creates this line of time stretching through the story. The silence of the students at times. The silence isn’t gaps in speech, its put in to have an effect. I feel like I’m watching Evangelion again, every line has meaning and the anime is stirred with motifs. Why does Kouichi ask for who Mei is written? Mei: From the Kanji for “sing” but also “sympathy” and for “scream” – could this be more explicit yet subtle at the same time? The anime is visually stunning but at the same time it looks delapadated and it feels like it is wrong. We have a serious psychological horror/mystery here. I really, really want it to pan out. The first episode has me completely sold.

SUMMARY

I think I’m in love… with this show…

Nothing else needs to be said really. First episode was awesome. I want more. It fulfilled my expectations and I hope it will only continue to surpass them. It left me curious as ever and made me more excited than I’ve been for a long time at the prospect of such a meaningful anime. Its based on a critically acclaimed novel, the quality is superb, a solid story and great stylization. What more could we ask for? I see no reason why this (if it continues its trend from ep 01) isn’t set to be one of the best shows of the 2012 year – and for that, Another, gets the first 9/10 of the 2012 year from me.

Likelihood I’ll be watching: Definite! Likelihood I’ll be blogging: Definite!
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