Another – 09

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Where’s Gregory House when you need him, dammit?

Seriously, what Another makes me want to do is get out the big white board and do a differential – except you need someone as smart as he is for that to really work. But I still think a “House” approach might be helpful here, a list of symptoms which only when added together reveal the cause. The thing about differential diagnosis is, there can be red herrings that throw you off the trail – symptoms not caused by the disease, even two diseases operating independently of each other (or both actually symptoms of an underlying condition). With all this information being thrown at us by the likes of Chibiki and Mei, I can’t help but feel like some of it is actually extraneous or even misleading.

The death of Nakao is a perfect example. Chibiki suggests that because the police think he was dead before the boat hit him, the actual cause of death happened in Yomiyama – maybe a head injury from a fall. Now that may or may not be true, but I don’t automatically discount the clues that last week’s events seemed to impart. Maybe Nakao was injured or ill before he left town, maybe he drowned – but the fact is, he still died outside Yomiyama and I think that tells us something. Chibiki strikes me as a rogue symptom, a distraction – I said it at the beginning, but I wonder if there’s as much in his testimony to lead us astray as to the truth. There were a couple of clues about him this week – the drama club advisor reference, and the story of the moaning in the “auxiliary library”. I still see him as not likely malicious, but very likely misguided – at least in part.

A couple of impressions stuck with me this week. First, the pre-open suggests that something I suspected a while back – the survivors are going to get increasingly desperate at this seemingly very grievous incarnation of the calamity plays out, and turn “Lord of the Flies” on Kouichi and possibly Mei – and the preview suggests this too. Second, I had a strong impression all through the episode that Mei was acting quite suspiciously. Her role in all this has moved somewhat out of the spotlight, but the series started with Mei and the mysteries surrounding her, and I think it will end there too. The “cousin”, the twin imagery and hinting, the dolls, the eye – I don’t believe she’s the Another, but there’s weird stuff surrounding her and she knows more than she admits. She’s very interested in the original class photo. She just happens to be at the old school building. And next week’s episode is “Glass Eye”. Sometimes the initial symptom that brings the patient to the hospital is the key to the diagnosis, even if it’s overshadowed for a while.

I suppose the actual deaths this week were somewhat tame compared to what we’re used to, but as usual the best part of the episode was the suspense. As expected the horrifying scenes from the preview were indeed another Kouichi dream, and the boy killed by lightning was indeed a flashback to 1983. But that didn’t stop every nerve ending in my body from being stretched taut for the entire episode, waiting for something to happen. PA Works has done a fantastic job creating that atmosphere, and the way they’re exploiting it is almost gleeful now – trucks rounding highway bends in the rain, falling cabinets, characters dismissing curses as bogus… Knowing full well what was in last week’s preview, I was jumping with every clap of thunder – which were rendered amazingly by the sound design team, as ever. When the deaths actually happened, we had one – Ayano – dying with her entire family as they tried to flee Yomiyama (seemingly proving to anyone’s satisfaction that this strategy is epic fail). Then we had another family death, Komu’s brother, who falls victim to a crane whose driver forgot to set the parking brake when he stopped for cigarettes. That one was certainly creative.

As to Ayano, something struck me odd immediately with her. When she and Komu met Teshi and Kou-kun outside the old school building, she said “Sayonara” to Kouichi as she and Komu left – and he said “Sayonara” back. Now, in Japanese it’s unusual at best – and downright rude or bizarre at worst – to say “Sayonara” to someone you expect to see again – normally (especially with students) you’d say “Ja mata” or some variation thereof. Kouichi was clearly unsettled by this. Did she somehow know what was going to happen? Or was she saying it only because she knew she’d be leaving town for a while? What’s truly frightening now is that the students we’ve really come to care about are seemingly on the chopping block now, as red-shirt ensigns are getting scarcer and scarcer. It’s been bad enough watching relative strangers die horribly, but the notion of Akazawa, Mochizuki and Teshigawara going that route is rather depressing.

So once again, in the end, we’re left with more questions than answers. The whole sequence with the old school building and the cassette was wonderful – tense, full of suspense – but ultimately frustrating. Matsunaga’s testimony was helpful in filling in the blanks of the class trip – we now know that the first two deaths were accidental. I have no doubt that what he was about to “confess” (his own words) relates to the third death, and that to the way he “protected them” – but Teshigawara trashed the tape before Matsunaga got to the good part. Now it’s on Mochizuki to fix it – which seems to plant a target squarely on his back. Could he be the next to go?

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  1. I

    I have a theory. Which may also relate to why the strategy of ignoring someone works sometimes and not others.

    Simply put what if deaths occur not because the another is there but by interacting with it. In otherwords by speaking to the thing, people set up death flags. I still believe that Koichi could be the another and the fact that all the deaths, save the first, occurred to people koichi either knew or people related to people koichi met recently.

    I still do not think that Mei is the another, but yeah her actions seem to have become very suspicious over this last episode, with the previews not changing that. Her wanting to see the picture of the class from 26 years ago is also strange. Not forgetting all the dolls either, or the old lady in the shop who acted like one.

    There probably is one or two last major clues to the whole mystery, after which, GE we can go ahead and do a HOUSE.

  2. A

    This series continues to amaze me. I never would have dreamed than an anime could produce this much tension and foreboding. It will be torture waiting for the next episode, but then it kinda has been for every episode of this one. Great review as always Enzo.

  3. Ish, I don't have hard evidence you're wrong, but Kouichi being the Another still doesn't feel right to me – it's too obvious. And I think the premise that speaking with Kouichi sets up the death flag could just as easily be applies to almost everyone in the cast – this is a small town, and everybody pretty much knows everybody.

    Anon – thanks, it's a fun one to blog.

  4. A

    I was actually pretty upset at how stupid they make the characters. Did it not bother anyone else that Teshigawara and Sakaki both had NO PROBLEM spilling their guts to two female characters that they have NEVER included in any activity they've done so far, yet when it's Misaki, who has been through almost everything, they attempt to keep it a secret? And, once they told the girls, you knew something bad was going to happen to them. There's also the scene in the coffee shop, where you'd expect anyone involved in class 3 to be all, "lets find this as fast as possible, so people won't die anymore." Passing that chance off for a family outing? Why does he even have to be there to look for it, anyway? 2 people are enough. It was still a good episode, just this anime has been amazing so far, and I expect nothing less than perfection from it.

    As for what I think about Mei, I agree she's probably not the another, but I've been thinking, what if her not being 100% human makes it harder for the calamity to trick her 100%? Humans pick things up with their senses, so to fool people, you have to fool their senses. To fool them 100%, you have to fool their senses 100%. If someone only has 50% of their senses, it might only fool 50% of that sense. There is no way the glass eye is a magical eye to see through the tricks, because if it were, Misaki would have found the person by now. That, and it doesn't seem like Another is the type of anime to include a gamebreaker like that. But the way she acts definitely suggest she is onto something, just not concretely.

  5. d

    So this is new. From supposedly one family death per month, the death counts increases. Now 2 a day. It might have been different in the novel, maybe they are trying to speed things up.
    Best or should i say most nerve wrecking cliffhanger yet.

    @Enzo: As this anime is soon to be ending. And they have not delve much into any character besides: Kou, Misaki, Reiko, Library guy. It would just seem weird if suddenly someone else was the Another.

  6. I think it was implied to be at least one, not one.

  7. B

    Yes, one of the first things we heard about the calamity is that it's "at least one death of a classmate or family member per month." I distinctly remember it saying "at least one", not just "one".

  8. d

    Oh i thought the at least was referring to 1. one classmate or 2. one classmate + family members of classmate or 3. family members of a classmate. number 2 and 3 can be more than 1 person, so i thought the at least refers to that… which brings me to the point shouldn't there be cases where the class population drops by half? but so far the death count has not been that high?

    Regardless, the people of this town needs an award. Seriously how unaware of their surroundings can they be? such a small town… i am sure people would have known something was up if year after year people drop dead at such high rates. Just a quick look and you would know your kid, your neighbor's kid, or your friend's kid is died. All high schoolers. All same years. All same school. All same class. At least the police or public administration office would realize something is up. If not at least the funeral man.

  9. E

    Did the girl who was riding white car die?
    But…! I am not convinced unless I saw SPLAT!!. All right, there was one who suffered heart-attack from Death Note, and not going through blood splatter.
    It's not two deaths bro.
    The parents who are sitting in the front must have died too.
    From the look of it, this year's calamity is the most violent compared to all previous years.
    I hope there's a convincing reason for it.

  10. d

    Convincing Reason = Gore and Gruesome are convincing watches to watch

  11. B

    I think the reason for it is because this year people (Kouichi at first but he drags others in later) are actively investigating it and trying to fight against it. The calamity seems to have at least a limited will of it's own, enough to selectively strike at people who are trying to flee town while leaving alone those who are leaving but planning to come back, attack sickly kids and nurses (:'( RIP)who are about to reveal information, things like that. This year the death rate is probably extra high because of this, people are doing things that are against the "rules" so it's lashing out at more people than usual.

  12. d

    If that is so Akazawa, the one in charge of countermeasures should be first to go. Since she is trying to prevent. Unless she is failing so badly the calamity ignore her.
    OF course, next in line would be Misaki and kouichi who are actively searching.

  13. s

    I think Akazawa is the Another, unconsciously remembering having met Koichi when he visited the town in 1996. Him not remembering the visit is how the phenomenon made Akazawa disappear from older memories. His father however was unaffected not being in town. Also, in 1983 the calamity stopped in August because on of the deaths on the mountain was the Another themself. The guy says he stopped the calamity maybe because he did something to cause their death.

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