S.H.S. – Why Another is such a great Horror series
As we make our way into the month of October, and the Halloween season is on our minds, I thought it would be a good opportunity to share my thoughts on one of my favorite Horror anime, Another.
Spooky Halloween Special: Why Another Is A Great Horror Series
While it may not be the most polished show, and it definitely has it’s share of faults, Another is a show that has stuck in my mind for a very long time, and i’m glad to have an opportunity to share my thoughts on it.
Horror is a very tough genre to work with, especially in Anime. Without the visceral, spine-chilling effects that can be accomplished through live-action, where the realism makes it genuinely scarier, Anime has to find other ways to accomplish the goals of the Horror genre. Another does a lot of things right, and quite a few wrong, as well, but i’d like to point out some of the better parts.
First, the premise. In a classroom in Yomiyama, in 1972, a student named Misaki died. Stricken by the tragedy, her classmates started to pretend that she was still alive, but nobody could explain why she appeared in the graduation photo at the end of the year. Since then, every year, class 3-3 has always contained an extra member, a ghost of a deceased student. The student does not know that they are a ghost, and nobody knows who they are; the memories of everyone in the class is overwritten.
What really stood out to me when I first watched Another is the genuinely creepy atmosphere that she show is able to create, utilizing beautiful art and a wonderfully atmospheric soundtrack, with a nice amount of mystery and suspense as the show slowly builds to the climax. Some people say that the best Horror shows are ones where the scenes stick with you for a very long time, and Another did a great job of getting into my mind and taking up camp.
As a viewer, so often we are convinced that our role is to be an outside observer, to know what’s going on far more than the characters in the show do. And very often, that is indeed the case. However, in Another, we don’t know any more than the characters themselves, sometimes even less, leaving us feeling uninformed, in-the-dark, and vulnerable. Meanwhile, the show sports an almost unhealthy obsession with the imagery of eyes. The eyes of dolls, the eyes of the students, Misaki’s glass eye; the imagery of eyes make it seem like we, the viewer, are the ones being watched. I’ve never felt a show give me that familiar prickle on the back of my neck better than Another manages to do.
And the symbolism doesn’t stop there, either. The act of pretending that their dead classmate existed, their insistence on pretending that she was not dead, drew the class closer and closer to the “realm of death”. This is why, each year, the class must pretend that one of their classmates does not exist, acting as if a living person is dead, to counteract the dead person that has been drawn closer to the land of the living. If they fail to make this offering, the “closeness with death” that the class feels will rebound upon them, causing the students to start dying in horrific ways.
The horrors and tragedies are a direct result of the actions of the students. And the consequences of their actions only begin there. Almost every death can be attributed to a foolish action by someone or other. I’ve seen people say that the students are unnecessarily dumb, that they don’t feel like real people, or that their emotional states shift far too quickly to be believable. But these are TEENAGERS! They’re already in a state of emotional imbalance, and having friends and classmates die in front of them is a shocking thing.
Shock and grief. Denial. Attempting to flee. Trying to do something fun to escape the sadness. Shutting their emotions away. I’ve seen all these attitudes, and more, in real life, when I was a teen. When the kids trey and shut themselves away, to ignore their feelings, it was only a matter of time before they snapped. It’s this realism, this truth of emotion, that makes me love what Another does.
The show starts off bright and colorful, with sun in the sky and everything looking very pleasant. However, as trouble brews, the colors become more muted, the sky becomes clouded over, and the tension rises. Even when we get a beach episode, as the kids try to play away their problems, the colors are dim, the sky cloudy. You could say that the appearance of the world highly reflects the feelings of the children in the class, growing darker, less hopeful, more cloudy every day as they search for an escape. But, as the conflict is resolved, as the tragedy is over and hope is returning, so does the color, the sunshine, and the hope.
Sure, the show’s got some faults. Some of the thrills are a bit cheap, they have some lame ways of drawing out the conflict, and the tension eases up a bit before the climax, which I didn’t like. But if you’re looking for a good, bloody spine-chiller to curl up and hide from this Halloween season, i’d give Another a try.