Another – 04

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Memo to self: take the stairs. It’s all about aerobic exercise, though – that’s definitely the only reason.

It’s becoming obvious to me that I really can’t cover Another like I could a normal series. I want to gush again about how great this show is at creating a mood, but I’ll try and restrain myself as much as possible. I also want to discuss every possible theory that’s popping into my head, but I don’t want these impressions to evolve into a clearinghouse for rumors and speculation. So I think the best thing is to highlight a few things that really stand out in each area, and let it go at that.

In terms of a qualitative impression, I still maintain this is a superb series – beautifully written, exquisitely drawn and packing the best sound around. It’s a credit to the show that all the scenes in the first three eps involving the elevator were so creepy – again, that sound direction – because you really had a huge payoff here. I also love the nod to “The Omen” with the reference to Kouichi-kun’s next appointment being on 6/6, and then the incident with the pane of glass (if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll get the connection) – very stylish and beautifully shot as well, I might add.

It can’t come as a huge surprise to anyone that Sanae would be the next to die, as she’s been sending up death flags from day one (“Let’s be careful!”) – but what a way to go (remind me not to watch the Blu-ray versions of this anime – or at least the last minute of the episodes). Too bad, I liked her – and I thought there might be a little romance building between her and Kou, as she certainly seemed to have a taste for cherry pie. The question is, what’s the implication of her death? We know that the supposed “curse” can impact family members and other close connections to Class 3’s students, and that Sanae’s brother is in the class. But there are two other distinct possibilities I can see – it could be the direct connection to Kouichi that’s the fatal trigger (Sakuragi saw him just before she died, and Sanae was talking to him on the phone) or the acknowledgement of Mei’s existence (Sakuragi saw her, Sanae was talking about her). Does Sanae’s death invalidate the theory that the ED predicts the death order? Not necessarily – as the ED is all students, and could still prove to to be predictive in that subset. A few other notes:

– The doll shop obaa-san said exactly the same thing to Kouichi this week that she did the first time. Is she a doll herself? Senile?  Also, this is surely Kirika, whose studio is upstairs.

– A doll fell off a shelf, just before Sanae fell to her death.

– When Akazawa was scolding Teshigawara for telling Kouichi “not to acknowledge things that don’t exist”, she told him “We have enough to worry about as it is.” That feels like a significant line of dialogue to me.

– It’s implied that the curse causes one death per month, but in fact Sakuragi’s mother died on the same day she did. Is that part of the story false, or does it apply only to students – assuming the curse exists at all? And if the curse began in April as Akazawa suggested (with Misaki Fujiwara’s death, presumably) how could Kouichi have been the trigger?

– The Principal apparently stuck the new kid in Class 3 because he’s new himself, and either ignorant of the curse or a skeptic. Nice job, douchebag…

– People referencing things in the past seems to cast the Higurashi Loop theory into serious doubt (thank goodness, say I). If anything this is looking more like “Final Destination” but I don’t think that’s it either. It’s definitely getting harder and harder to rationalize this away without a supernatural component, though.

The role of Aunt Reiko is coming into clearer focus now, that’s for sure. Her headaches are a blatantly obvious death flag, for starters, and she seems like the next non-student to go unless that’s a feint. She also reveals that she was in Class 3 as well, which means she was likely refraining from telling Kouchi the truth intentionally as part of the agreement – and the one thing she made sure to tell him was, “Follow the class rules!” I’m still not sure why someone else in class didn’t simply take over Akazawa’s role and warn Kou-kun on his first day, or why she didn’t do it herself first thing on the second. Her reluctance to spill the beans now implies to me that she faces a paradox – she can’t acknowledge Misaki Mei’s existence, yet she can’t warn Kouichi off without doing so. My current working theory is that as part of the “agreement” to avoid the curse – though with who or what that agreement exists, I’m not sure – someone in Class 3 is selected as a “sacrifice” every year. Their existence is ignored, or perhaps worse. Maybe they’re given the “Misaki Mei” label symbolically at the time of social banishment, or maybe someone from the family is intentionally chosen (though I doubt you could find a Misaki middle-schooler every year).

A couple of final thoughts… It’s been noted after last week’s ep that the original Misaki Mei – the one from 1972 – has never actually been referred to in a gender-specific way. In fact, if you look at the infamous class picture, the class is actually short one boy from being symmetrical – there’s an empty space in the third row, in front of the tree. And since I speculated on the ED having spoilers last week, I think the OP would make very interesting viewing this week – and I mean frame-by-frame, with a very careful eye. There are interesting things in there, but you have to look carefully or you’ll miss them. Among the most obvious is the mansion which appears at the end of the OP sequence – and somewhere else in the OP too, much more subtly. It can’t be coincidental.

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  1. A

    BTW Enzo … do NOT watch the last few minutes of the eps when the BD's come out.

    *cough cough*

    Sorry … just had to say it – please don't shoot the piano player. 😀

    – Flower

  2. d

    Piano player?

  3. Oscar Wilde saw that sign ("Please don't shoot the piano player, he's doing his best") in a saloon in Colorado, and it's been a famous saying every since.

  4. d

    Another great episode

    Note to Enzo:
    You forgot the exception clause: without an umbrella

    Another note: we don't know whether Misaki Fujiwara belonged to class 3.

    What seems to be happening. Don't tell outsiders to story (june is the safe month the talk about it?). If you do bad things happen. The guy is a transfer student so telling him may or may not be bad. But once he started spreading the news, people die. Next in line is his aunt with the headaches. STOP TALKING TO YOUR AUNT ABOUT THIS!!

    @Enzo: i said this before but the original Misaki is Misaki. Mei was not stated as part of the name.

    I got the feeling he left a part of his soul/memory (the part that was in this town before) in the bird. Which is why the bird calls him Rei and seems to be reading his thoughts.

  5. Yes, no umbrellas. And no running.

  6. I

    What i really want to see is if Misaki's other eye is on the doll that looks like her.
    I keep having this feeling that it is.

    Also do you think that the line up showed in the ED from koichi onwards the list that will slowly be eliminated, a la Final Destination.

  7. E

    You have good observation skill, did you pause often? 🙂
    Anyway, I really enjoyed reading this.
    Are there people who think that there's scientific explanation to this anime? But I am already dead set on labelling it as ghost story, lol. That obaa-san is just like an NPC in RPG.

  8. I did pause often with this ep… I basically took a notepad and physically wrote down everything that struck me as sigfnificant, which I almost never do with anime (I rarely did any physical not-taking with S;G, for example). Thanks for commenting!

  9. P

    Ha, that's unironically pretty amazing.

  10. P

    That bird is the creepiest damn thing. Well, not really, but that voice grates on me so much, and it feels like it's foretelling things dying. Why Rei, why?

    Personally, I'm predicting Akazawa's death, sometime soon, as opposed to the aunt – she knows way too much. I don't know why, but I feel that the headaches are related to the "phenomenon", but not a death flag per se. Also the kid with the Munch lemon painting. It's more of a gut feeling as opposed to a rigorous analysis of hints though – I'm drawing Corpse Party vibes in some places, and I'm going along with whatever reasoning I used in that game… I have no backing evidence sadly.

    I really like how the anime is working on our fear of the unknown. It makes the little things (like that awful bird's voice) all that much creepier.

  11. F

    Decided it'd be safer for my sanity to watch the whole damn thing after episode 3 at once. Not making it a good feeling though. I mean the stairs are out with the whole umbrella incident and now the freaking elevator is a death trap. That's it I'm moving to a house on one level.

    I knew that girl was doomed with all the death flags. But god she was the most cheerful being in the whole series. It's going to get pretty damn depressing without her.

  12. Heh. You have an interesting ride ahead of you.

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