Thursday, October 31, 2013

:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: Another


Official Site: Japanese
Additional Links: ANN Entry, MAL Entry
Video: Crunchyroll, Hulu

"Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month" first started in October 2009 with the anime short series TRIP TREK. For each October that has followed, I like to pick anime with thematically befitting of Halloween, so for this edition, I am selecting one of the best horror titles in recent years, Another.

Based on the light novel of the same name, the series follows Kouichi Sakakibara, a transfer student fresh into town--and out of the hospital--who takes an interest in the beguiling, eyepatch-adored Mei Misaki, who he crossed paths with during his stay there. They both attend the same class at school, as well, where his new classmates are eager to greet him but, for reasons unknown, no one seems to acknowledge Mei's existence…

The best ingredient to any suspenseful tale is atmosphere, and Another is filled to the brim with it. P.A. Works put forth a masterful job with its production, featuring their signature detailed background art and sharp animation quality, which go a long way in establishing the dreariness and foreboding of the events that play out. Also playing a large part is Kou Ootani's (Gundam Wing, Haibane Renmai, Shadow of the Colossus video game) equally great score (perhaps his best), which does a superb job at guiding each scene along with the right touch, Not to mention Yoshikazu Iwanami's immersive sound direction. All of these pieces help elevate the psychological play and mysteries at hand in Another, where not everything is truly what it seems--and sometimes they are.

Director Tsutomu Mizushima (xxxHOLiC, GIRLS und PANZER, Bludgeoning Angel Dokoro-chan) does a great job bringing all the elements together, particularly on the sound front. That aspect not only brings to recall a similarly stand-out job he and Iwanami did with BLOOD-C (which also brought out the best in composer Naoki Sato), but also that series' infamous level of gore. Another doesn't come close to that, but does have its moments and plenty of deaths. Even in spite of its creepier elements, the series is more cerebral than outright horrific and visceral, though it firmly is a mature series.

On a morbidly-humorous side-note, with Noiti Ito doing the original character designs for both The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Another, there is the added surreal sideshow of watching Haruhi-esque characters meeting their untimely, gruesome demise (made even more ironic by P.A. Works having a similarly high pedigree of artistry and attention to detail a la Haruhi's Kyoto Animation, whom they seem to take style cues from for the character renderings). Another is 12-episodes long and available at Crunchyroll (recommended for its 1080p video, especially vital for a show as good-looking as this one) and Hulu in Japanese with English subtitles.

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