Man, I never thought Another would make last night’s grisly Mirai Nikki look like the feel-good story of the year, but – wow. I know the fan love will pour in hard for this – lots of action, incredibly gruesome deaths, fire, explosions… But I’m going to dissent a little and say this was one of my least-favorite eps of the series. Mind you, I’m still talking 9/10 territory here, as Another has set its bar incredibly high, and this ep pulled off the cluster-bomb impact with military precision and a huge amount of style. I loved the ep – it was thrilling, frightening, sickening and exhausting. But it also felt like everything descended into complete madness a little too quickly and completely for me. We had a slow, surgical build of stylish terror for 10 episodes – and this feels like it somewhat went for sheer volume (of both sound and carnage) rather than artistry.
If the mystery aspect was back-burner this week, it’s because the story went exactly where I thought it was going to go based on the buildup and the preview – this was the “Lord of the Flies” chapter. To briefly harken back to Sanae-san’s mention of John Saul, he’s a guy who writes horror where the real horror is man’s inhumanity to man. That doesn’t rule out a supernatural component and I’m still pretty certain we have one here, but the cause of the devastation this week was almost strictly human paranoia and stupidity. In fact, it’s forced me to reconsider the possibility – could the entire thing be explainable by mundane causes? Could this be a coincidence that led to a chain of paranoia that’s claimed victims for 26 years? In the end, I think there’s still too much evidence to the contrary – the class photo, the class records, the memory irregularities, the sheer number of “Final Destination” style deaths. No, I still think there is a phenomenon at work here, and an “Another” – but I’m not going to blame this week’s madness on such a force. This was sheer human cruelty.
The big mistake was obviously Mochizuki’s, for letting the tape go public by playing it for Akazawa and the Countermeasures Committee. His intentions were good (see “Hell, road to is paved with”) but once that went viral the dogs of war were let loose and societal order crashed quickly. Teshigawara was indeed stupid for running with his idea about Kazami being the Another, but I see no reason to disbelieve his story that he never intended to kill Kazami (as indeed he didn’t). As for Kazami, his role in all this is still unclear, as he obviously didn’t die from his fall but hasn’t been seen since. I’m not totally clear on how the manager couple found out about the tape or who killed the husband and set fire to the dining hall (and why Kouchi decided it would be better to walk around slowly and tell people individually that the hotel was on fire rather than scream “FIRE!!!” very loudly) but now we have a crazy old lady trying to kill Teshi (wounded in the leg) and Mochi.
As for the students, the body count was certainly bolstered in a big way, and in creative fashion. We have red-shirt ensigns, like Ouji, the boy roasted by the explosion. As for notable characters we have Sugiura and Ogura, both of whom have become convinced that Mei is the another because they’re unaware of something we know – that she has a twin sister. Thus, they remember a girl who looked like Mei and everyone called “Misaki” but had two good eyes – whereas Mei says she lost hers at four years old. That ties in Mei’s past rather elegantly to the practical side of the story, and sets up one of the fundamental dramas of this last arc, as Ogura announces her conclusions to the entire class (what’s left of it) and the hunt begins. It also ends for Ogura and Sugiura, in horrific fashion, though it’s hard not to see poetic justice intended in the way it came down.
Goodness, what a mess we have now. Kouichi certainly proved his toughness after managing to fend off Ogura from killing Mei despite getting racked rather viciously, but now Mei has gone off on her own to take matters into her own hands – presumably to kill the Another herself. I see a fundamental problem here in that even assuming the Another phenomenon is real and she kills it, the rest of the class will still think she’s the Another and keep trying to kill her. In fact, now that the myth of her being dead is out, I see no reason why the carnage should end soon even if Mei is successful. Akazawa certainly still thinks Mei’s the Another, and while Chibiki no doubt would defend her, he’s conveniently still absent driving asthma-boy to the hospital. Mikami-sensei tries to defend Mei, but gets a mop blow to the head as thanks. Will Kouichi be able to protect Mei from the combined wrath of the entire remaining class, whether the real Another is gone or not?
And then there’s the mystery of the Another’s identity – which almost seems secondary after the madness of this episode – which Mizushima-sensei has decided to leave for the finale. If we take the basic premise of the Another and Mei’s eye to be true, the field has narrowed somewhat. Mei and Kouichi are out, seemingly. Akazawa seems to be out, if we assume Mei resolved to go kill the extra herself, because Akazawa was standing right in front of her at the time. We can assume none of the characters we’ve seen die is the one. Teshi and Mochi are still candidates, though I don’t see either as likely. Kazami denied it when accused, but so what? He wouldn’t know he was even if he was the Another so it’s still possible, though he’s been absent from the story for so long that would feel like a bit of an asspull. And then there’s Mikami-sensei, who probably isn’t dead from that blunt trauma – and there was that long close-up of her near the beginning of the episode, which seemed totally extraneous yet lingered forever. And I can’t believe after all the hinting – the mynah bird, the grandfather’s “My poor Rei too!”, the bit with Matsunaga remembering seeing her – that Aunt Reiko will be completely irrelevant to the solution, or at least the conclusion.
Indeed, there’s a lot left to clean up in one episode. One of the reasons I’ve always preferred two-cour series is that you’re much more likely to see time left for a “coda” in the finale, a chance for the characters to reflect and move on. My sincere hope is that the next ep is not like this one – a wall-to-wall action, fighting for survival gore-fest. I’m much more interested in seeing the solution, and how Mei and Kouichi (if they survive) react to it, and how events move on. There are also major mysteries surrounding Mei and her family, Kouichi’s mother and the workings of the phenomenon that I’d really like to see get some attention. As exciting as the thrill-ride stuff like this week is, this is a show that really needs – and deserves – an epilogue.