Quick tip for new Another viewers – you might not want to watch the last minute of this episode without an extra pair of underwear handy. Fortunately, in Japan they sell those in vending machines.
I’ll make the same plea here that I did in my Mirai Nikki post – please do not post major novel/manga spoilers, even in spoiler tags. We’re so close to the end now – let us enjoy the surprise without having to worry about being spoiled. That said, let’s move on…
Some things are becoming increasingly clear as we get closer to the end. Most importantly, this series is absolutely superb – I stand in awe of the way it can move and unmake me with atmosphere alone (and in Japanese horror, atmosphere is everything). Sound design – when Teshi banged on the door of Mei’s room, jeepers… But also the amazing P.A. Works visuals, like the intercut of the trees swaying in the wind and all the close-up work on Mei and Kouichi’s faces, with their subtle expression changes – this studio is raising the bar for themselves all the time.
It’s also becoming clear that Mizushima and the writing team take absolute glee in trolling us every chance they get – especially in previews. Using dreams in previews to throw us off is a repeating phenomenon, and they used it again in last week’s preview with Akazawa’s crying. Turns out she was remembering when she’d actually met Kouichi eighteen months earlier, explaining their handshake – and it was apparently she who was in mourning (crying, dressed in black), over her brother. This more or less confirms that Kouichi was in town – though perhaps not for the reason we guessed – and that everyone’s memory has been altered about it. That, in turn, seems to confirm a direct connection between Kouichi’s visit to Yomiyama and whoever the Another is. We’re trolled about Mochizuki being in trouble because he has the tape too – again, there’s an evident joy here in using horror clichés to tweak the audience.
As regards that tape, it confirms a lot of things speculated on in this column. Indeed, the third death of Matsunaga’s class trip was both the cause of the confession and (apparently) of beating the phenomenon – he got into a fight with a boy who turned out to be the Another and accidentally killed him. The name is not audible, though I don’t think that’s surprising given what we know of the phenomenon. The gist of the tape is, if you kill the Another you stop the curse – that’s what we need to know, as far as I can tell. As Kouichi points out, even if they knew who that person was, would it be so easy to kill someone who thinks they’re alive and is, by all sensory and emotional input? Nevertheless, if correct, this is obviously salient input.
All kinds of other things are happening at the spooky old mansion where the class is staying for their trip. I’ll note that Chibiki – who proclaimed himself “separate” from the class earlier – is with them, and when Mochizuki asks the class to pose for a photo (which seems oddly convenient as a potential future clue to the Another’s identity – also note that Mochizuki was conspicuously included in a photo as well) and asks the “teachers” to jump in, both Chibiki and Misaki do so. Akazawa disappointingly turns on Mei, announcing to the assembled class that it’s her fault the tragedy has befallen them, and only Kouichi, Mochizuki and Teshi jump to her aid. An asthmatic boy has an attack, and his inhaler is empty (phenomenon or not, what asthmatic goes on a trip without a spare?) and oddly, no one’s cell works and the lodge’s phones are dead, leaving Chibiki to drive the boy to town and the hospital (and conveniently out of the picture if things hit the fan as badly as the preview suggests, if it’s not trolling us yet again).
The most interesting stuff all involved Mei. Starting with Mochizuki telling she and Kouichi to “squeeze closer together” for the photo and continuing through her invitation to Kou-kun to “come by my room later”, the romantic chemistry between those two continues to be an undercurrent to everything that’s happening. The headline though is her revealing the secrets of her past – and present – to Kouichi, which my gut tells me is more critical to the solution than Matsunaga’s tape. Among the highlights – Fujioka Masaki was actually her twin sister, not her cousin – which strongly implies that the phenomenon began with her death (one degree of separation from Class 3), in April (before Kouichi’s arrival). Her mother (actual name Yukiyo) and Fujioka’s mother Mitsuyo were twin sisters too, and Mei was secretly given to Yukiyo to console her after the death of her own child (as referenced a few eps back). She also tells Kou that she can see death as a color, and even see it faintly in very ill or injured people – which is how she knows neither she or Kou are the Another – and confirms it in the photo from 26 years ago. How? With her “doll eye” – the one she keeps covered in school – which is how she knows who the Another is, when her curiosity got the best of her. She’s just about to reveal this when Teshigawara pounds on her door (this moment sponsored by Hanes and Jockey) to reveal that he may have done something terrible…
There are several elements of that conversation between Mei and Kouichi that struck me as significant, above and beyond the obvious. First, that Kou tells her his mother found the photo in “the detached room – the one Aunt Reiko uses”. Mei quite deliberately comments that Rei and Kouichi’s mother “really do look alike”. Possibly Kou’s comment about Rei considering painting as “her real job”. What’s her other job? If we’ve been told, I can’t recall it. This could all be yet more misdirection – before being interrupted Mei does go so far as to confirm that the Another is on the trip, which Reiko isn’t – but it was clearly inserted to be noticed. I’m certain that many will condemn Mei for not revealing who the Another was sooner, but I can see her problem here. Not knowing of Matsunaga’s “final solution”, what reason does she have to think revealing it would help? And again, as Kouichi points out, is it such an easy thing to kill someone who by all conventional perception is a friend or loved one?
If we’re to take what was on the tape and what Mei said as fact – and both seem more authoritative than what we’ve heard up to now – we certainly inched closer to the truth. Rather than the identity of the Another, I think the most interesting mystery here is going to be how everyone reacts. My instinct still tells me that this story is going to end up focusing on how the living treat each other, and when the Lord of the Flies gene kicks in I think it’s going to be ugly. I’m also keenly curious to find out if all the oddities surrounding Mei and the dolls will be tied in directly to the phenomenon, or explained at all. In any event, this has been an amazing ride and it saddens me that we’re only two episodes away from the end.