The view from Igirisu:
“You should be careful. It may have already begun. If it has it can’t be stopped.”
But what exactly has begun? All the clues point towards something supernatural, but a good mystery story includes well-integrated red herrings so we can’t make any assumptions at this stage. We are being led to believe that Misaki, who nobody else seems to be able to see, is a ghost, and this week’s key piece of evidence is Koichi’s phone conversation with his nurse friend he made when he was in hospital, Sanae Mizuno. She breaks patient confidentiality to reveal the name of the girl who died in hospital on the day Koichi saw Misaki, and her name is… Misaki. However, when a writer works so hard to make us believe something we need to be especially sceptical, and the bad phone signal obscuring the rest of the name is a masterpiece of writing that throws in just enough confusion to keep us guessing.
Other mysteries are introduced this week. Izumi Akazawa has a nagging feeling she has met Koichi before, and yet he has just moved to the area. Then there is the librarian, who certainly looks like he could have been around 26 years ago, and Reiko’s confirmation that he was there during her time gets us significantly closer to the time of the original tragedy. Once again though, the writer is working hard to cast suspicion on him, so we also need to take this with a pinch of salt.
“He gave almost all of us girls the creeps.”
Our other major new focus character this week is the softly-spoken Mochizuki who, like several of the characters in this series, seems to have a taste for the gothic, but tinged with a sense of humour:
“It’s the Lemon Scream.”
He is a good example of how this series is offering us strongly individual characters who are not afraid to be different. The most different of all, and also the biggest mystery at this stage, is of course Mei Misaki. She has a taste for the melancholy:
“My favourite is the cold rain that falls in midwinter, just before it turns to snow.”
To even have a favourite kind of rain is unusual, and Misaki chooses the coldest. There are two possible interpretations of Misaki at this point in the series: she is a part of the world of the dead, or she sees beyond conventional fears and hang-ups. She does not fear the dark or the cold, and she is immune to the uncanny valley fear of eerily lifelike dolls, even ones that provide a twisted or damaged distortion of the human form.
“Some people say dolls like these are creepy but I say they’re wrong.”
She finds something of a kindred spirit in Koichi, although he is puzzled by her favourite dolls, anatomically detailed (well, more than usual) conjoined twins.
If you have never seen the South Korean film The Doll Master, then you really should. It’s a horror masterpiece. I thought we were into similar territory with the doll that looks like Misaki in a coffin, while we hear her voice speaking to Koichi. But if we needed any proof that red herrings are going to abound, this is it, because we are deliberately tricked into entertaining the possibility of the supernatural, while the reality is a doll that resembles Misaki, who is speaking from the shadows. We cannot take anything at face value. It’s a great moment of misdirection.
And then finally we get a cracker of a cliffhanger ending, with Misaki about to reveal what’s under that eye patch. What will Koichi see when she takes it off? The questions are mounting. Maybe it’s time for some answers… RP
The view from Amerika:
Episode 2 of Another opens up with a confrontation of sorts between Misaki and Sakakibara as wind stirs around them. Then we jump to school where a classmate is painting a lemon version of The Scream. Or is it a Scream-inspired lemon? I don’t know. The point is, this series seriously knows how to build tension. And I am loving it.
From the “lemon scream” to the “cursed class 3”, we know there are some things that are just wrong with this class. I picked up on it in episode one, of course, that many of the members that we meet have some kind of ailment. Sakakibara has a collapsed lung, there’s a kid with a weak heart, a girl with a sprained ankle, and of course, Misaki who wears an eye patch. Her mystery is, of course, the most chilling, as crows caw when she’s near and none of the kids in class seem to want to know anything about her. I’ve been thinking about The Sixth Sense right from the start, but the scene when Sakakibara goes to the library to talk to Misaki really drove that home. The library teacher shoos Sakakibara away, but he never actually acknowledges Misaki who remains there, impassively.
Meanwhile, when Sakakibara goes to the hospital for a late night chat to learn about Misaki, his friend, Sanae, brings up the writing of John Saul. Saul is a horror writer with a fairly prolific number of books to his name. In episode 1, she mentioned Stephen King, seeing Pet Sematary on the nightstand. She calls Sakakibara “horror lover” in both episodes. So when Sakakibara follows Misaki, we know something horrifying is coming. He finds a very weird little shop with the best dolls I’ve ever seen. These dolls give some idea of why we’ve been having flashes of creepy dolls since episode 1, but without any real context. He walks in and speaks to the woman at the register; her mouth barely moves. She also says she has no other customers right then. Then he starts looking around the shop. Finding a doll of a girl in a coffin, he is reminded of Misaki and actually says her name. Eerily, she replies… from somewhere to the side of the coffin doll!!! It’s a freaky scene. But am I being mislead? The woman said she didn’t have customers, not that she was alone in the shop. Misaki could be her daughter, or at the very least, a frequent visitor and not viewed as a customer. Meanwhile the music is holding my attention like a master hypnotist. I don’t know if I’m breathing while watching this. Then the tension is ramped up. She’s going to show Sakakibara what is under the eyepatch. The music mounts to a near-squeal (the same that happened in episode one when Misaki walked down the dark corridor of B2) and the episode cuts to the end.
If I thought Erased kept me interested, it has nothing on this. (Well, I might say that until I re-watch Erased or finish this, but right now, I’m completely engrossed here!) I can’t wait to see the next one… ML
Read next in the Junkyard… Another Episode 3