The view from Igirisu:
It’s time for some more pre-titles info-dumping, much like the first episode, outlining more information about the true premise of this series. What had perhaps appeared to be a simple ghost story has become something quite different: a whole school class that is cursed, and the curse somehow passes on from one year to the next. It doesn’t happen every year, but when it does happen at least one person dies every month, and not just classmates. Family members are also at risk, especially close family such as siblings and parents. Plenty of questions remain to be answered though. If the curse doesn’t happen every year then what causes it, and how does the apparently ghostly Mei Misaki fit into all this?
We learn pretty quickly that the death count for the series actually stands at two rather than one, and it took a while for me to get the brain in gear and realise that the reason Yukari was rushing on the day that she died was that her mother had died in an accident and she had presumably just been told. We also get a near miss this week, with a gust of wind almost bringing a pane of glass down on somebody’s head (a classmate whose name escapes me). So far the tragedies seem to be affecting students in close proximity to Koichi, which could of course just be coincidental at this stage because you can’t plot a curve with two points on it.
Speaking of people close to Koichi, our main focus character of the week is the lovely nurse Mizuno, who seems to have a bit of a thing for her former patient. She promises to take “extra good care” of him if he is hospitalised again, and then expresses disappointment when it turns out that he doesn’t need to be. And then they go on a date. OK, maybe I’m reading too much into it, because they spend their time talking about the curse. In fact, this is a very talky episode, and for the first time this series it felt like things were dragging a little. Perhaps that’s because it feels like the series has immediately fallen into the trap of a predictable formula, with each episode culminating in a gruesome death, and everything in between is marking out time between the previous tragedy and the next. The conversations in between are fascinating enough, but the drip feed of information is a little slow. We also get a repetition of Koichi visiting the doll shop and finding Misaki there, which adds little other than to reinforce that the shopkeeper has “no other customers”, despite the presence of Misaki. The doll randomly falling off a shelf was creepy though. Perhaps that represents the death of a student.
Despite being just a teensy bit slow and repetitive at times, the episode still managed to create a sense of unease, and I surprised myself by jumping at Reiko’s table slam when she started getting stressed about the past rearing its ugly head again. So the episode still made me a bit jumpy, but that was nothing compared to the ending, which seemed designed to fuel a phobia. After the last episode I’m not sure about using stairs, and now there has been an elevator fatality, so damn it I’m just going to have to live on the ground floor now. Actually, I’ve never liked lifts, and do use stairs where possible. At least I can say that’s good exercise. It’s not the danger so much as the thought of being trapped in a small box, something that bizarrely did actually happen to me in a creaky old hospital lift once. It only took a couple of minutes for the accursed thing to get moving again, but it felt like an eternity. It was a happier fate than the face slam this episode shows us though, and is this series determined to kill off all the nice ones?
“It’s turning into quite the horror story.”
One thing I noticed was this:
“Everyone believes and they’re scared… to death.”
That pause is definitely there, and it feels deliberate. It seems to imply that fear is leading people to make mistakes. In my book, getting inside a creaky old lift is a mistake that’s definitely worth avoiding. RP
The view from Amerika:
After a few days without having an opportunity to watch the show, I finally got back to Another and had the horrifying reminder of where we left off. An umbrella through the throat was unexpected. But a missing piece of the puzzle gets filled in. Why was Yukari running from the room before falling down the steps onto her umbrella? She learned her mother had just died in a car accident.
Koichi has to go to the hospital for a checkup where he meets his friend Sanae. She again reminds him that he’s a “horror lover”. Depressingly, we don’t get a book title to figure out. Instead we get a date: June 6th. This is made more significant by the falling pane of glass that almost kills Koichi and his classmate, Aya. Why you ask? Because I too am a horror lover, or was back before they just became gore-fests. June 6th is 6/6. Fans of horror movies will remember a certain mark on a child’s head in The Omen. That mark, 666, was related to the birth of Damien on June 6th. In that movie, strange things happen that are debatably the work of bad luck… or the work of the demon child. (Patrick Troughton of Doctor Who fame even dies in one of the Omen movies, so you know it’s a demonic child!) The events here are no less troublesome. In fact, the episode culminates with a very Omen-esque situation. Sanae is calling Koichi on the phone but she has to get back to work, so while they are talking about Mei Misaki, she boards the elevator… which promptly plummets several stories, killing her. Again, we see the pool of blood seeping out from under the wreckage. (And here I was thinking Sanae and Koichi would get together in the end!)
The episode spends a lot of time building suspense around Mei too. Again, when Koichi goes to the doll shop, the shopkeeper says she has no other customers, but Mei is in the basement. I recognize that this could be a red herring and Mei could be the shopkeeper’s child, but I also remember, he was told not to mess with things that don’t exist, and yet, Mei is in a shop devoid of customers. When a doll falls off a shelf behind him, Koichi turns. Upon turning back, Mei is gone. But the mirror lookalike doll in the coffin remains. As if this horror lover can’t get enough, I’m reminded of The Sixth Sense because when Koichi returns home, his sister-y person, Reiko, is suffering a dreadful headache. She can barely speak, and can’t offer any answers to his questions. I find this interesting. It’s not the first time that I’ve thought it, but her lack of changing clothes, along with the fact that she never goes anywhere, nor is she called for dinner in episode one… all this leads me to believe she’s not there. I think she’s dead. To add to that, when Koichi asks “Why?”, Reiko gets very angry claiming to hate the bird, who repeats the phrase “Why, Rei” over and over. The logical (?) conclusion that I gather from this is the bird is repeating Koichi’s plea when his sister died: why Rei… as in, why did you die? Considering she also was in class 3, it’s not a leap.
Then there’s the head of Countermeasures. Up until now, I’ve considered the possibility that this was a term roughly translated from Japanese to English. Now, I am fairly certain that it is exactly what it is meant to be. Akazowa is considering what countermeasures need to be taken to combat the threat posed by the non-existent/undead girl. As Koichi was just outside talking to her whereupon he makes a promise not to dig any further, Sanae drops to her death, so this is going to put a totally different spin on things for the next episode. This series is holding my attention and keeping me wanting to watch all 12 in a row, but I want to write about each one while it’s fresh in my mind. I love the music, the story, the grainy black-and-white flashbacks of Mei, the doll shop, and the mystery. I can’t wait to continue watching! ML
Read next in the Junkyard… Another Episode 5