The view from Igirisu:
That was something a bit different. After a pre-credits splattering of something red, it turns out to be just a watermelon, which sets the tone for a breather episode. In case you’re not familiar with the term it’s just what it says, a chance to give the viewers a breather from all the drama. Two thirds of the way through the series, this is the ideal time for Another to have one of those, before the dramatic final push towards a conclusion.
The episode isn’t completely devoid of exposition that moves the story along though. Matsunaga features strongly for the first time, although he doesn’t turn up until around the 18 minute mark. His missing memories are another mystery for us, combined with the missing memories of Koichi’s aunt Reiko, who was a member of Class 3 the same year as Matsunaga.
“I know something happened but I don’t remember at all.”
It’s reasonable for a stressful situation to be blocked from the memory, but is there more going on here? Matsunaga knows that he left a clue behind to help future students, but he can’t remember where or in what format (although it’s not paper), so we have a quest on our hands next. Perhaps the most interesting gap in his memory is a more recent one, though.
“Have I seen you somewhere recently?”
“Where? I don’t remember seeing you anywhere. It was probably a different girl.”
“Unfortunately I don’t think it was.”
That’s an odd comment to make, isn’t it. Why would it be “unfortunate” that he saw Reiko somewhere rather than a doppelgänger?
But most of this episode is really just about kids having fun at the beach. It’s a textbook beach anime episode (and nearly all anime series featuring teenagers have one of those). To some extent these episodes tend to exist to get the main characters into swimwear, although beyond the obvious scenes drawn from above and below there isn’t too much fanservice. It’s just a happy quarter of an hour that allows the characters in this series to be normal kids for once, teasing each other, having fun, doing the usual beach stuff, throwing seaweed in the face. There’s quite a bit of humour, which is a lovely change for Another, and the episode even does some of the things that a teen romance anime would do, with Akazawa manipulating who travels in which car. She’s certainly keen to be sharing a back seat with Koichi. His discussion of her personality, putting his foot right in it, is just as much of an anime trope as the beach scenes. She’s a great character, full of strength and determination.
“I can’t allow such a senseless phenomenon to exist. I’m determined to put an end to it.”
Mei turning up at the beach stretches credulity a little, and she seems to only be there to share a brief moment with Koichi where their hands touch under the sand (awww).
And then, just as we’re enjoying all the fun on the beach…
… death by speed boat. Another mashed up body, and it’s death number seven since the series began. It’s time for another list:
- Mei’s cousin
- Sakuragi’s mother
- Sanae Mizuno
- Junta Nakao
So that’s three students, two of which are accidents and one is arguably by natural causes, the teacher, and three relatives. Canny viewers will have noticed that a cousin is more than two degrees of separation, but that’s a discussion for another day…
Well, it was a nice breather while it lasted, and for a while it felt like watching a joyful teen anime, until that speedboat came along and turned the water red. It illustrated an important point about the curse that afflicts Class 3. Running away won’t help. It’s time for them to leave the beach behind, and face up to reality again. They tried to be ordinary teenagers, but tragically it didn’t work. In the end, the splash of watermelon red at the start was a cruel foreshadowing. A watermelon double bluff: that’s the genius of Another. RP
The view from Amerika:
It’s funny: I was thinking the themes from other horror movies and books had ended in episode 6, but I’m glad to see a hint of Final Destinations here with the implied car accident waiting to happen, then the implied drowning, then the implied… oh, wait, no, that last one really happened. That poor oaf, Junta, just got run over by a boat. What was he doing hiding out underwater anyway?
Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. This is the first episode that has so little creepy value that I thought it was gone from the series. It opens with what looks like a blood bath then the credits role. I am not lying when I say, my first thought was “that has to be a watermelon or something!” When I was right, I was happy, but I didn’t appreciate such a blatant red herring. Then Koichi is speaking to “sister” Reiko (you know, the girl who seems to live with him even though he doesn’t have a sibling). She has memory problems, which is interesting especially since later, Katsumi also seems to have no memory of the last time this all happened.
Before we get to Katsumi, the friends all pile into cars and to my astonishment, Reiko drives them. (This is where we get all the Final Destinations red herrings!) This also made me realize my belief that Reiko is dead was false. … or was it! The point of the dead returning is that they don’t know they are dead. Reiko may not know she is dead. Meanwhile Akazawa, who knows Koichi doesn’t have a sister, may not realize that the girl driving them was his sister. She’d have no reason to suspect it knowing he “doesn’t have” one (because she had died). Still, I’m speculating like mad, so I don’t know for sure and may yet be proven wrong but I was right about Misaki not being a ghost, so I’m giving myself a little leeway on my guesses! All I do know is that the car didn’t drive itself.
I’m so caught up in the story, I have failed to comment at all on little touches that I think are brilliant. Like when Koichi gets out of the water and bobs his head, clearly trying to get water out of his ears. Since this is the first light episode it’s a good time to comment on things like that. I also didn’t mind the overly sexy outfits for some reason; I guess it didn’t feel gratuitous. It seemed like what it was: the attire people would wear to the beach. And what could be more light hearted than going to the beach? Of course it doesn’t stay light; it goes back to the true nature of the show: a horror story. Junta being sliced to pieces by a boat propeller is terrifying. Then Katsumi says the he did something to protect them all and Koichi looks back at him in confusion and terror and we wonder… what does it all mean? Once again, I must wait to find out. ML
Read next in the Junkyard… Another Episode 9