Another – 05

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It was frankly amazing how many questions were answered this episode. But that doesn’t mean all the answers Mei gave were necessarily the right ones…

I’ll get the fanboy stuff out of the way quickly, so we can move on the fun part and speculate: Another is outstanding, and this was a fantastic episode. I love the way this mystery has been laid out – I think questions and answers are being doled out at just the right pace. And the direction of this show is stellar – such beautiful use of silence and body language and expression. PA Works may not have an equal right now in terms of pure visual quality – I could see a case being made for ufotable or I.G. or KyoAni at their high end – but to look at what PA Works consistently produces in terms of background art and animation, I have to give them the nod.

Now on to the speculative stuff, and there’s a lot of it – I took notes again, and I almost ran out of ink. While there are parts of Misaki’s explanation to Kouichi that I question, I think the parts I don’t pretty much confirm two central tenets of my working hypothesis. One, that she’s not a ghost, and two, that she – and someone every year – is chosen as a sacrifice. Someone to be “dead” to counterbalance the error that was made in keeping the dead Misaki “alive” in the class 26 years ago. If indeed Kouichi triggered the current incarnation of the curse by acknowledging Mei, and the class is trying to countermeasure this by adding Kouichi to the “ignore list” – aren’t he and Mei voiding their action by acknowledging each other? If this act of “killing” a student really does counteract the curse – and I’m not convinced it does – I would assume it needs to apply to every student in Class 3, including Kouichi and Mei.

There are obviously some tenuous assumptions elsewhere in her explanation, which I’ll get to in a minute. But there are also more fundamental questions, such as how the class chooses a sacrifice at the beginning of the year. Poor Takabayashi’s death almost seems to preclude a non-supernatural explanation or at least a comprehensive one, since it’s hard to imagine his death by heart attack could be so timely as a matter of coincidence (it disproves the ED death order theory as well). I was struck by a few lines of dialogue here, the first being Kouchi’s grandfather saying “I’m so very tired of funerals.” I also think the teacher’s “personification” lecture – assigning human characteristics to non-human objects – is symbolically important at the very least.

As for the rest of Misaki’s explanation, I must confess elements of it don’t make sense to me. The notion is that the dead were “invited” into the class by the actions of the class of ‘72. Ever since, “Another” – an extra student actually a dead person connected to the class who had died as a result of the curse – joins every year, but somehow the memories and records are altered so that no one knows who it is (thus the “Who is dead?” scribble on Mei’s desk). This dead person – not a ghost but a physical presence – doesn’t like being ignored, so eventually someone figured out that if a live person were ignored to balance out the numbers, death could be held at bay. As a mid-year transfer, Kouichi threw off the numbers – thus necessitating that he be ignored as well – and triggered the curse by not ignoring Mei. But if that were the case, why did a student (Mei’s cousin) die before Kouichi arrived? She also mentions “one per month” but then says “6 students plus 10 family members” died the first year of the curse. As well, if her story is correct, I have a hard time believing anyone could have figured it out at in the first place.

The most obvious explanation is that Kouichi is the “extra” person. A little too obvious, and I think we’re being intentionally led to believe it – just as we were led to think Mei was a ghost. It does make a certain amount of sense – in fact, a case could be made that not only is Kouichi dead, but that he’s in fact his mother’s ghost in corporeal form, as I believe that fits the chronology. I don’t buy it but I very much think Kouichi’s mother is a key to all this. The librarian’s reaction when Kouichi told him his mother had died 15 years earlier when he was born – “So that’s what happened!” – combined with the very conspicuous fact that Koichi asked if he remembered his mother, and Kubodera affirmed that he did (though he sounded almost surprised that he did) is a serious clue that something is off with the timing and the memory. And I think a skillful troll by the author, but we’ll see.

I don’t think there’s any question that we know much more than we did last week, but as the old saying goes “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. I think there’s enough falsehood in Misaki’s theory that knowing the elements that are true isn’t enough to protect us from being led down dead ends by the parts that are false. Mei’s mother, the doll designer Kirika, is certainly going to play a vital role going forward though we obviously don’t know what yet. In any event the nature of the series has certainly changed now that Mei is established as corporeal, and she and Kou-kun have each other for support and confidence as they search for answers. But I’ll leave you with this thought – since no one in the class ever knows who the “Another” is, what happens if they choose the dead person as the one to ignore? I can’t think that would go over well – and if Mei were not a ghost but was in fact the “extra” student all along, that would constitute one heck of a clever misdirection. And one more: if the class decided that a symbolic death is proving insufficient as a countermeasure, what would be their next logical step?

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  1. F

    You know, I'd think that if for 15 years a dozen+ people associated with a specific middle school class died, that would become fairly noticeable, and Measures Would Be Taken.

    But then there would be no story.

    Anyway, its good to know that Mei is real, though I'm not so sure on Kouichi being real.

  2. d

    Yes and it is a pretty small village too. Should gossip not travel fast?

  3. S

    Jeeeeeeepers, this episode answered questions just to produce some more. This show is a lot more fantastic than I thought it would be. I just wonder what the identity or purpose of the older librarian is. He seems to know something about his mother that makes the gears turn in our brains.

  4. d

    Can Kou be the ghost? To answer that we need to know does "the Extra joins mid term"?
    @Enzo: what does the number thing mean? Really don't get it. So there is an extra student. But suddenly the seat becomes empty and class register does not show the name. Means the extra disappears? I thought the extra appears?

    It would be wacky if Kou's mum was the ghost. And Kou is half monster.

    P.S. They did not explain why asking questions about Miskai is not allowed

  5. dv, I think the theory is that the problem started with the acknowledgement of a dead person. Therefore, any acknowledgment of the "dead" – be it the current sacrifice or the original dead student – invites death closer. It's only be "killing" someone and pretending nothing is wrong that death is somehow appeased.

    There are major holes in Mei's theory, but it's the best we have for now. I think much of it will eventually be disproved, and the human element in all this will prove to be the real horror. I haven't forgotten the John Saul reference.

  6. B

    I went back and watched the part in Episode 4 that says Aunt Reiko was in Class 3 15 years ago. Now we know that his Aunt was in Class 3 when his mom passed away. Maybe the "So that's what happened!" could be referring to his aunt rather than his mother?

    Her headaches and the bird's "Why Rei-chan?" should be taken of note, methinks.

  7. I

    About the cousin who died before Koichi's arrival, she could have died before Misaki began being ignored. Basically before May 1st, and as a result the rest of the class, believing that the death was related to the curse, ignored the person connected to the dead, Misaki.

    Also I dont think that Koichi is the only dead person or the only ghost or extra person, as then why would the curse have begun before his arrival, with the death of the cousin, since if Koichi was the ghost then the first death would have happened after he arrived.

    I think that Misaki is dead and if she is then Koichi could also be dead, thus the number of ghosts are two. The reason for that is that Misaki said that the dead are invited to class 3, so when Koichi was transferred in and placed in class 3, wouldn't that be like being invited.

    The class roster is also something to be kept in mind, because I think that once your name is added to the roster you are a part of the class. This would explain why Misaki's name was crossed off the roster, making her someone who is no longer part of the class. My earlier point of Koichi being the only extra, ghost can be rebutted by this since if his name was added to the roster and then Misaki's cousin died then he would be the extra, ghost.

    And finally Misaki's actions in the hospital when we first met her were also suspicious. Could it be that the Misaki who died and Misaki Mei are the same person (she could have lied about her last name), in which case she is the ghost and Koichi is the extra.

    My thoughts are bit jumbled. sorry

  8. A

    Hmmm…so the curse won't take place as long as the number of acknowledged students doesn't surpass the limit.

    Misaki was elected as an extra and got ignored because of that. Koichi was transfered and acknowleged Misaki's existence. Therefore, they were two numbers past the limit.

    However, two students of the same class died after that (the girl at episode 3 and Takabayashi in this episode). Shouldn't this compensate the limit and make it all go back to normal?

    Also, if ignoring a student works, why don't they all ignore each other, so no one is ever acknowledged and there will be no chance for the curse to activate. After all, the "ghost" doesn't even know he is dead. Why they don't unite themselves and protest to officialy reduce the limit of students to be admitted in that class, while keeping one extra desk, with some pretext other than revealing the truth? Why can't someone stop quit school (everyone else could give this person a bit of money per month, which would result in a lot of money, sufficient to maintain a good life with this students parents outside the town – one could give the excuse that they don't want to live in a town with so many deaths, i am sure it would work for as least one of them).

    Of course, not everything Misaki said might be truth. In fact, it may be all a lie.

  9. I think it's very possible that much of what Mei said was untrue, but I think it's very likely she believed it to be true. That's my hunch.

  10. M

    Interestingly enough, I thought one one thing that the so-called contingency plan didn't take into consideration:

    What if the "Another" one ISN'T a student? The act of creating a yearly 'sacrifice' to compensate for the over-registered class 3 always goes under the assumption the dead person will come in as another student, but what if this wasn't the case in this instance?

  11. E

    Don't forget Misaki's suspicious action on the hospital on the 1st episode.
    And to answer anon's question, purposingly reduce the number of student registered on class 3 won't work. Because the 'dead' appeared only later. Let's say they decided that class 3 should only consist of 10 students. On the first day of class, 11 students will walk in the classroom and raise a ruckus for there are not enough chair. And people are brainwashed so that they can't even tell who is this extra person.
    Unscientific, yes. But this is a ghost story.

  12. A

    One thing I haven't seen mentioned goes back to the first episode. When the students visit Kou in the hospital and question whether he has lived there before. Since memory alteration is now mentioned I think this "may" be an important point later on.

  13. A

    Why don't they just leave the class-3 vacant. They did change the class name to C right? Given the number of deaths, whats stopping them to void the class-3 entirely? But that won't be a ghost story.

  14. -

    the idea about Kouichi being the ghost seems really interesting. i didn't really thought of it that way but the revelation about his mother sure was an interesting development.

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