Another starts out like an eerie/creepy Stephen King novel - as it parallels the horror stories in which the Main Character arrives in a new remote town where everyone is acting strange. Like something has happened in the past that no-one can talk about or everyone else sees the lead as an outsider that must be dealt with. This convention may seem to have been 'run into the ground' but Another keeps it quite fresh with the sub-plot about a strange eye-patched girl, Mei, who other people seem to not be able to see - adding to and perpetuating the mysterious nature of it all.
The character's themselves seem very disconnected from the world around them as if some omniscient being is watching over them at all times - one that the our main character, Sakakibara, is oblivious to.
The atmosphere that lead the first few episodes into becoming very creepy and unsettling as the tension builds and builds without much gore or outbreaks of violence - rather opting for subtlety, a more difficult approach but one that conveys its horror very well for those paying attention.
At this point, it seems Another may have been the best 'scary-horror' anime I had ever seen - with not many shows putting me on the edge like this in the first place.
But then... the last scene of episode 3 happens. In which I quickly realize where this show is headed.
So, what starts out like an eerie and creepy Stephen King novel - turns into a parallel of the Final Destination movies.
Now, don't get me wrong. The Final Destination movies aren't terrible, they're not masterpieces or anything but they're not the worst things ever. But the reason why Another is so disappointing is because it showed a bit promise from the start, as I explained earlier. Instead of playing out it's more subtle approach, it quickly morphs into a not particularly well written gore-fest with the Horror just coming from the gratuitous death scenes.
Now, again, I'm not complaining because there's blood and gore - I'm complaining because the gore substitutes any kind of intelligent horror - no longer becoming scary to me in the slightest. And when a horror movie or show isn't scary to you - all you really have to view is the story and characters which aren't very well-done on their own. The plot of the show isn't very engaging and neither are the not very well underdeveloped characters - with maybe the exception of Mei - all of them feel extremely expendable, making me not really care if they died or not. Even when writing this review I had to look up the main character's name to remind myself and even now I can barely remember any of the other character's names or personalities. Which you could chalk up to bad memory but why is it that I can remember most of the names and traits from characters in shows like 'AnoHana', 'My Hero Academia' and even 'ef - A Tale of Memories'. Because they have more distinguishing, interesting and defined personalities/traits that make them memorable - with all the shows I listed having the same or a fewer amount of episodes to get to know them. The thing is, you're allowed to focus an entire series on one or two characters if you want them to be your prime focus - but don't try to make us feel anything when an underdeveloped character dies in front of us.
I have to say, after the bubble bursts, there’s only one way to really enjoy this show.
Treat it as a comedy.
As soon as I did I was laughing my ass off during the last two episodes. The attempts at drama and adrenaline filled situations turned into one hell of a laughing fit - with the characters doing the most clichéd horror-movie things possible/overall being extremely stupid in the situation. But wouldn't you act irrational if put in the same position? Honestly, if I was in a f***** burning building I wouldn't care about some random girl down the intercom telling me to go kill a girl – let alone 100% believe her and start trying to murder someone. Having character’s act exactly like walking horror and anime clichés doesn't add anything to the table and saying 'It just shows how desperate they are' does not counter it. Having character's we barely know suddenly all turn into willing cold blooded killers and trying to play it off as dramatic and scary is not very well-thought out - you know at that point the character's only exist for this grandiose ending. Whilst I don’t mind a lot of trash anime now and then (as they don’t really ever take themselves too seriously) Another’s brooding atmosphere just turned it into a sh*tshow and transformed its tragedy into comedy.
On the last few notes, the animation the show takes on isn't very special and has an art style that doesn't push any visually interesting boundaries. However, the animation does what is called of it and does it well. It is overall quite nice to look at with shots and cinematography - especially in the creepy doll shop scenes - conveying an extremely creepy tone. Even if I don't particularly love the over-the-top death scenes replacing the horror I can say they, for the most part, achieve what they set out to do in showing viewer discomforting unconventional various grotesque deaths. I can at least award points for creativity there - even if I wasn't personally attached to the characters affected.
Lastly, the sound complements the picture very well but also doesn't stick out as being great or memorable. There wasn't many fantastic themes but it fit the subdued tone - with the opening song being quite good in my opinion in its 80s ‘Castlevania-esque’ vibe.
Anyway, In conclusion: Another shows potential starting off - but it ultimately fades off and the strong opening doesn't account for the lack of engaging characters or story line.
Disclaimer: In the end it's just my opinion, we like what we like. I don't judge anyone who enjoys this show - this isn't an attack on you. I'm just expressing my griefs with the anime itself.