The view from Igirisu:
After a bit of chatter about the cause of Nakao’s death, which doesn’t seem particularly relevant, as running away doesn’t save people from the curse anyway, and then another of Koichi’s nightmares, which feels like a repeated trick for the sake of upping the gore count, we finally get to the main thrust of the ninth episode of Another: the quest to find Matsunaga’s hidden message to the future. The core of three male friends are on the case: Koichi, Mochizuki and Teshigawara. Their plans are almost scuppered by Yumi and Aya, who seem to be there just to remind the viewers that they still exist, as they haven’t featured strongly so far and we need to be aware of who they are for events that will happen later in the episode. They also mention that Chibiki is their club advisor, keeping him in the viewer’s mind as a possible culprit. It would be stretching things, but there remains the possibility that all the supposedly supernatural events could actually be the work of a genius mass murderer somehow, and if that were to be the case then Chibiki is the prime suspect, having been around since the start of the curse.
Having shaken off Yumi and Aya, Mei turns up in the art room. She has a habit of always turning up when something is occurring, which is getting to be beyond coincidence. She just happened to be at the beach and now she just happens to be in the art room at the key moment. Maybe she likes Koichi so much that she’s stalking him.
“You really are weird Misaki.”
Mei continues to be a fascinating character, not at all scared of conventionally scary things. A dark, abandoned building? No problem. Her personality really shines through this episode, having fun at the expense of the nervous teenage boys and teasing them. It’s still slightly hard to read her. Just look at her lack of sympathy for Teshigawara when her foot goes through the floor, causing a shelving unit to fall on him. Is she unable to empathise, or is she just unflappable? What has happened in her past to make her like this? I would suggest we will have to wait for the OVA episode to get a clear perspective on her character.
“You don’t seem to be hurt.”
When they eventually find the message, it’s recorded on a cassette tape which is taped to the ceiling of a cupboard, which seems a little too well hidden for a message that will save lives. I suppose that’s fair enough. The ordeal Matsunaga went through would make a person struggle to think straight. The flashback to his Class 3 visiting the shrine is a great moment, and the lightning strike made me jump out of my skin even though I knew it was coming. I don’t know when I’ve watched a series that made me jump so much. I was at it again when the car windscreen broke, later in the episode. With the message recorded on a tape, of course it gets chewed up before we get to the important stuff. Those were the days. Matsunaga definitely wasn’t thinking straight when he used a cassette tape. Any child of 1983 was well-used to the frustration of cassette tapes getting chewed up, and it was always an important one.
We are back to the old trick of the episode ending in a death, but this time it feels like we’re upping the stakes as we move towards the finale, with not one death but four, bringing the curse’s tally this year to an extraordinary eleven victims altogether. Here’s where we are so far:
- Mei’s cousin
- Sakuragi’s mother
- Sanae Mizuno
- Junta Nakao
- Yumi’s brother
- Aya’s father
- Aya’s mother
9, 10 and 11 are all concurrent of course. It turns out driving along a windy mountain road in a storm when you’re trying to avoid falling victim to a curse isn’t the wisest choice. Having said that, Atsushi is just using his laptop when the curse gets him, something I’m doing right now. It doesn’t seem like a very risky thing to do. Wait a minute, what’s that digger doing? RP
The view from Amerika:
Well the red herrings continue. It is revealed that the death of Junta Nakao was not the slicing and dicing from the boat propeller, but head trauma. Those flavorful herrings are there from the start as Junta was seen throwing up, leading us to believe it was car sickness, but no! He had fallen and taken some severe injury to the head. This does not help the friends as it means he was effectively dead before leaving the cursed town of Yomiyama. So the darkness is back in full force. There is a distinct hint that Final Destinations is still the inspiration as this seems like a direct sequel to the previous episode, but I noticed the year this series was released: 2012. That means the writers had 6 years to get caught up on Open Water 2: Adrift. This is yet another psychological horror movie, the category this series firmly falls within. In this movie, a man is struck in the head by a boat, fracturing his skull and killing him. There’s also plenty to be said of the cursed shrine, of which there could be countless movies or books. Lovecraft delved into that often enough with creepy tombs and places best avoided. I can’t say for sure where the influence comes from and I did prefer it when there was a direct reference because this is just a guessing game now. To a certain extent, I’m reminded of It’s All Been Done by Barenaked Ladies; everything repeats if you look closely enough. So my speculations could be totally meaningless but I sure do have fun making the connections.
That said, this episode, to the best of my memory, has the highest body count to date. While two of them happened in the past, they are shown to the audience in this episode. One lightning strike victim (which is a morbid and horrible death as it’s almost the whim of a god – one second the person is running, the next, dead) followed by the misstep off the cliffside (also a horrible death as she is shown rolling down the hillside crashing into every rock and branch along the way down). Flash forward to the present and one girl dies in a car crash that presumably kills her whole family, while the other girl loses her brother to a freak truck accident which has rolled down the hill and crashed into her house. The curse seems to be gaining in strength. I’m inclined to think someone or something has a … grudge!
Before I wrap up, I once again took note of a few bonus items that really impressed me. While I was reviewing The Sarah Jane Adventures, I often commented on how much I loved those little touches, like someone commenting on an alien’s breath, or a lemonade imbalance. These are such small touches that they add nothing to the episode overall, but create a sense of watching a “real” world, even in the fiction of the series. Well, with live action, it’s easier. With animation, it’s a desired approach to storytelling done through very deliberate drawing. So when I see Misaki stepping over a roped off area, and her foot clips the rope, I realize it’s just the artist saying “this work matters to me. I care about it!” And I applaud that. Or when someone walks past a dusty desk and some of the dust is blown into the air, I say “bravo, animators”. I care about this show even more, because you did too. You cared enough to give us that extra sense of realism. And not just that either. You also showed that you understand that even in a tense situation, laughter has its place! Like the Hawaiian shirt as high fashion or the debate about what time to meet. Yes, this is a tense situation, but we should have a tension breaker. Or at least a little something to take the edge off. The danger is still there, still real, but it’s made more believable by the little hints of comedy. Now if only I could laugh at a spliced tape! I worked in a video store for years as a kid (let’s not get into what they are); I’ve had to splice my share of tapes due to them getting stuck. It’s no laughing matter when that happens! ML
Read next in the Junkyard… Another Episode 10