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?