The view from Igirisu:
“It looks like making two students not exist didn’t work.”
You can say that again. Whether it is the stress of caring for his bedridden mother that tips Kubodera over the edge, or his failure to protect his class as promised, he becomes the sixth victim of the curse and takes his own life in horrifyingly spectacular fashion. The previous deaths took some beating, but this is by far the goriest death of the series, with Kubodera plunging his knife into his neck, leaving blood spattered all over the students. The front row was not the place to be. Whatever happens from here on in, those poor kids would be traumatised for life. The animation goes big with the horror, and in fact it’s the sound effects that make the scene so icky.
What follows are a variety of different reactions, as I suppose would be expected. A lot of the students panic and run, some cry, some throw up, some are frozen to the spot. The most interesting reactions are those of Koichi and Mei, the only two students to remain in the classroom to discuss the matter with Chibiki. They are remarkably calm and collected, almost unnaturally so.
After that it is clear that the plan to ignore students has failed, and there is a bit of a blame game going on. Akazawa suggests to Koichi that he will be blamed by the other students, but there doesn’t actually seem to be enough spirit left in them to do much other than quietly live in fear. Koichi is trying to blame himself in a different way, by worrying that he might be the dead student in the class who is causing the curse. His nightmare is a horrendous dream sequence with melting faces, just to add the gory icing onto the visceral cake of what is by far the most body-horror episode of Another so far. By the end of the episode it’s clear that this is another red herring that can be dismissed. Mei’s doll’s eye sees death, and it doesn’t see death when she looks at Koichi. That brings us to a bit of a hole in the premise of the series, in my opinion. I realise that looking through that eye is unpleasant for Mei, but surely for the sake of saving lives she would simply spend a day in class with her eye uncovered in order to quickly identify the dead person. In fact, she could return to do that once a year, and the curse is foiled. If there’s any reason why she doesn’t then I’ve missed it on two viewings, so far.
This episode we were briefly introduced to an important new character, Matsunaga, a survivor from Class 3 from the same year as Reiko’s. That seems to be a key year in the saga. He claims to have saved everyone, but cannot remember how, so tracking him down is going to be important for this year’s Class 3. It’s about the only lead they have (apart from Mei doing the obvious thing and taking off her eye patch).
One thing that has made this series so interesting is the different personalities of the students, and how that comes across in times of crisis. I mentioned above the gamut of emotions in reaction to the teacher’s suicide, but apart from that each of these individual students is very different and that comes across brilliantly. The characterisation is superb. One of the best is Akazawa, who is a fascinating girl, supremely confident in her own abilities and angry at being unable to control the situation. She never gives up, and is still marshalling her troops like a great military leader. She is brilliantly manipulative, putting the seed of the idea into Koichi’s head that he might be dead, and then laughing it off.
“Don’t take me so seriously.”
How many more people has she done this to, in order to get a reaction? With Kubodera gone, she must feel the burden of responsibility even more keenly than before, as head of counter measures. Will she shoulder the burden, or will she snap like he did? At this point, nothing seems to shake her.
The teaser for the next episode at the end shows everyone in swimwear at the beach. If any series was going to be immune to the curse of the obligatory swimwear fanservice episode that features in just about every anime set in a school, I was convinced it would be Another. Maybe some curses just can’t be broken. RP
The view from Amerika:
After watching episode 6, Face to Face, I was pretty convinced those little movie/book references were over with. Then I started Sphere Joint, episode 7. The episode picks up where the previous one left off: the class 3 teacher is wielding a knife and decides to plunge it violently into his throat spraying blood across the entire class. (Talk about a horrifying thing to witness!) Then Professor Long Hair tells Mei and Koichi about the now deceased teacher. He lived alone with his mother, who he also murdered, and her dead body was found in his house. I was immediately reminded of Anthony Perkins in Psycho. Perkins played Norman Bates, a “mild mannered man” who lived with his dead mother and who eventually murders a woman with a large knife. Suddenly, I think: just because I don’t know of a movie referenced in episode 6, doesn’t mean there isn’t one. So what was the clue?
I immediately think of the line Mei says about her eye being gone when she was 4. There is a Japanese horror movie called The Eye about a girl who loses her eye at the age of 5 and gets a replacement eye that can see more than she bargained for. There’s also a Chinese movie called My Left Eye Sees Ghosts which seems to be more comedic, but does seem rather topical. I mean, Mei can’t see ghosts that she knows of, but she clearly does see enough to try to work out who is dead. Then again, she does keep that eye covered, so who knows what she could see with it off.
Now just because I can dig up something, doesn’t make it true. I did accept the idea that the death of “horror lover” Sanae marked the end of those little surprises, but I didn’t like it. I wanted more of those “easter eggs”. I liked the idea of a hidden movie or book reference in every episode since the first three were so self-evident. Then this episode comes along and hits me over the head with … wait… 2?! Yes, the scene when Koichi is dreaming about “who is dead” offers a scene right out of Poltergeist. As the father of that movie dreams, he looks in a mirror and begins peeling off the skin on his face. It’s a truly disturbing scene, and amazingly, it might be more disturbing here but in both cases, we’re dealing with ghosts. Sure, very different kinds, but ghosts nonetheless! As Koichi peels himself apart, he and his classmates begin melting. It’s a nightmare scene that, thankfully, is just a nightmare for our protagonist.
The biggest question I had when watching this episode was: why did Ms. Mikami freak out after announcing the class trip? (Oh, well, her presence here totally destroyed my belief that she was dead in the previous episode!) The idea of going on a group trip to a place that could neutralize the curse was interesting, but that doesn’t answer anything yet. Maybe it’ll just set up a Friday the 13th reference, when we get there. I did like seeing all the students in their regular clothes enjoying a coffee, but I felt this episode was heavy on exposition and lacking in any real mystery. On the other hand, what I think was marvelous was the scenes in the shop. I noticed how close Koichi was to Mei. Her left eye reflecting nothing as she says “You are not the one who is dead.” She says it with certainty. She says it with her eyepatch off. And I wonder: could her left eye have seen a ghost?? ML
Read next in the Junkyard… Another Episode 8