This show is a prime example of a promising story being told in the worst manner imaginable. The beginning is strong, then it starts going downhill in the middle, with the last stretch being just a mess. This is mostly because of how the mystery is handled: at first, Another does a good job at being mysterious and creepy. You know something’s up, yet you don’t get many clues or even get thrown off the path to the truth. You (may) feel on edge, yet you have no idea why. Obviously, those are the signs of a good mystery. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last – pretty much everything about the mysterious curse is revealed and explained long before the final stretch. The only detail that wasn’t exposed was the curse’s catalyst for that year. This is quite possibly one of the most disastrous moves I’ve ever seen in an anime, since from that point onwards the characters get almost nothing accomplished and are just swept along by the flow. They don’t even TRY to figure out the last, most important piece of the puzzle, making a considerable part of the show very boring… at least, that’s what it would’ve been if the death scenes weren’t taken up to eleven.
Let me stop talking about the plot here for a moment to comment about the death scenes, which are probably the reason why you’ve heard about Another. Some are creative. Some are nasty. All of them are over-the-top, to the point where they can be hilarious. Sure, many of them serve as cheap shock value to keep the viewer interested, but I’ll be damned if they didn’t do their twisted, morbid little job well. As soon as the first person dies, a (maybe hidden) part of you wants to keep watching to see if there’ll be an even more exaggerated and ridiculous death in the series; hell, the laws of physics seem to be altered every other moment just so this can be done.
Anyway, back to the plot. Perhaps one of the show’s biggest flaws is that the supernatural elements are never properly explained. Okay, so many years ago someone popular from the class died, and ever since then that very class has been subject to a devastating curse. Why does that happen? Aside from the curse’s annual catalyst, nothing is ever explained about it. It just happens. There’s also an issue with dead people and memories (can’t talk more about it without giving a big spoiler). Again, why does that happen and how? Never explained. Your guess is as good as mine, really, and if you want to know, mine is that the Grim Reaper has enough spare time to screw around with middle school students every year. Finally, Another also commits two writing sins that really annoy me: the first one is that, in multiple occasions, cell phones will malfunction for no reason whatsoever while characters are holding important conversations. This is a blatant diabolus ex machina and only serves to cheapen the writing. Second, at one point a character we’ve never seen before goes nuts. The problem is that the reason for that is lazily handwaved, making it seem like a poor excuse just to up the chaos even more. Speaking of chaos, let me ask one very simple question: why is the school still open? Over half a dozen people die there almost every year, yet the authorities never did something about it? And if that’s the (really illogical) case, then why in the world are people still enrolling their kids there? This isn’t a question that stems from deep thought, IT’S COMMON SENSE.
The sound department is hit-or-miss. The BGM itself is not bad; while it’s sometimes effectively used to create a good, tense atmosphere, it’s also misused some other times, and it’s not very memorable. The OP, however, is just bad. The imagery fits, but the song feels incredibly out of place and is nothing special either. Same goes for the ED. As for the voice acting, it’s… OK. Nothing amazing, yet nothing particularly bad either. The supporting cast is just as bad. Even the named ones, some of which have quite a bit of screen time, are so forgettable I don’t even remember their names. The only memorable thing about them is, as usual, their lack of brains: one guy – who looks like a girl – likely has NO common sense, as he shows very delicate evidence to emotionally unstable girls; this, surprise surprise, makes them go berserk.
Then there’s a girl with twintails who wants to stop the calamity; there is almost always a character like this in horror/mystery movies, and she is so loyal to that common, predictable archetype that a savvy viewer will easily know everything that she will do/will happen to her before half of the anime has gone by. But worst of all is the blonde guy. While he arguably has the most “personality” out of the cast, this jackass is the group’s idiot, and he EARNS the title. No, seriously, you heard me right, he accomplishes such a DIFFICULT GODDAMN FEAT with ease. His crowning moment of stupidity? Forcibly removing a tape AS IT’S PLAYING from the player to make it stop. Remember: this anime takes place in 1998, when tapes weren’t the ancient forgotten technology they are today. Ladies and gentlemen, this is something else.
If there is any credit I can truly give to Another, it’s the simple attention to detail that’s present in things like the background, exemplary of almost every P.A. works anime. Sadly, this is quite easily the strongest point of this series. The atmosphere was great at times, yet seemingly over done at others. The main problem with this is that an anime can’t be successful with only a few parts out of the many that make it up, especially not something like the atmosphere which requires other aspects of the series to be good in such a manner that it enhances the experience. More often than not, the atmosphere was ruined not because it was actually overdone, but because the scene taking place was horribly executed. In turn this made everything that took place work against any positive aspect the atmosphere might have provided. In combination with the overbearing OST that sounded like an angsty teenager turning their stereo up to over 9000 in some apparent misguided sense of rebellion against society; it more than kills any good mood that a scene might have been giving off in record time.