The view from Igirisu:
Back in Episode 9, Koichi, Mochizuki and Teshigawara were heading into the old school building to look for the hidden cassette tape and had a chance meeting with Yumi and Aya on the way. When I wrote about that I suggested that the scene was just there to remind the viewers of their existence, prior to the tragedies that were going to strike them at the end of the episode. Of course I was completely wrong about that. In this episode it is revealed that the encounter between them led to the secret about the tape getting out, with deadly consequences. That’s the brilliance of the writing. Nothing in Another is by accident. Every moment has some significance. It’s a complex jigsaw puzzle, but it fits together perfectly.
As soon as we heard that message on the tape about sending the dead back to death it was clear that we were going to have a witch hunt on our hands, but the information on the tape getting to Akazawa and Takako makes that a hundred times worse. Teshigawara has already acted in haste, but Akazawa’s memory of going to school with Misaki is the big problem. In a fabulous bit of dramatic irony, the viewer is now aware of a key piece of information that Akazawa lacks: her classmate in elementary school was Mei’s twin sister. But without that information, the identity of the dead person seems conclusive to Akazawa, and when you step back from the emotion of the episode it is actually a reasonable assumption, and it’s hard to blame Akazawa for making it. This is a very dramatic episode, and it’s all too easy to view it in terms of a traditional battle between the good guys and the bad guys, but we have seen the human side of a lot of these characters, Akazawa included, and they are just terrified kids.
Adding to the body count this episode we have a crazed old lady, which is so far unexplained and motiveless. Presumably there will be some connection to one of the students, past or present. We also have Miss Mikami featuring a little more for the first time. She has been largely a blank, but here she tries (a little feebly) to stop the students from going after Mei.
“Don’t do this. It’s a mistake.”
That could be taken two ways. Does she have some reason for claiming they are making a mistake? Does she know that Mei isn’t the dead person? Or is she just making a simple comment on their actions being a mistake that will haunt them forever? Even at the eleventh hour, Another is still throwing up questions as fast as it is answering them.
Understandably for the penultimate episode, this is the week where everything kicks off and the body count starts to reach massacre proportions. There are stabbings, fatal falls and a student burnt to death. The animation doesn’t shy away from showing us their twisted, broken or burnt bodies, with blood everywhere, but wisely the shots of the last death in the episode are very selective, with just twitching legs at the moment of death. Another is a series that doesn’t pull its punches, but this moment of restraint I think indicates that the animators were only doing what was necessary to tell the story, rather than being gratuitous with the horror.
I know I keep saying this, but Mei remains a fascinating character. She is remarkably calm, even when a mob is coming after her. She stands with Koichi, facing up against a knife-wielding, unhinged Takako, and hardly even blinks. It’s no wonder they all suspect her. They see weirdness, where they should really see magnificence. Maybe some of that goes on in real life too. She’s nimble too, easily dodging Takako’s attack on the staircase, while Koichi falls foul of Takako’s blade. But perhaps the source of her inner strength has been Koichi. Yes, she has been almost inhumanly calm, but she has had Koichi beside her all this time to support her. The episode ends with them separated, and it will be fascinating to see how she fares on her own. Her final words are also interesting. After all, there’s one person who can identify the dead person without any degree of doubt. But she’s in a horrible position. Could anyone make use of the knowledge she possesses and take the necessary action to end the tragedy? And would that even work any more with a mob on the loose? I guess we’re about to find out… RP
The view from Amerika:
I point and laugh at myself for saying that the highest body count was a few episodes back. Hahahah! Fool! What did I know? This episode might as well be up there with any slasher film of our age, with the amount of horrible deaths we are about to see. And we’re full on The Shining now. All work and no play makes class 3 dull boys and girls, huh? Teshigawara is losing it, having thrown his friend over the balcony of the second story window. One of the class seems like he’s been stabbed repeatedly in the back and is crawling through the dark to grab Koichi by the ankle. (Glad I had just put my drink down or I would have been wearing it!) Then we see inside the dining hall, which is ablaze, the butler is in there pinned to a wall, having been stabbed some 100 times. Ms. Mikami, who seems to know something as she stares off into the night in a daze, is killed and one girl falls out a window lands on her neck and dies in a horribly arced position. One student, upon opening the dining hall doors to learn what the movie Backdraft had to teach us, gets incinerated. And Takako goes berserk in an attempt to kill Mei Misaki and ends up hanged in the most horrible way, all the while jarring piano chords are struck to drive home the nightmare. Blood is seen all over the carpets, Teshigawara has his leg cut. An old “crone” is trying to hatchet the kids…. I mean, everyone has gone crazy. Koichi and Mei are the most rational of all, but Mei doesn’t think to look the class over with her glass eye to see what she can learn!
To compound matters, Akazawa is on the stairs when the “head of countermeasures” comes over the speaker. Yes, we see right away that this is Takako but why does she call herself that? Last episode I commented on Akazawa’s placement in the photo. Ironically, by the end of this episode, after what has to be the biggest group of dead people yet, she’s still “alive” and the calamity has not yet stopped. Sure, the writer wants us to suspect Koichi or Mei, and while both have their just positions on the undead list, I’ve had a whole buffet of Red Herring with this class and don’t buy it. I think we’re being lead astray with only some small hints along the way.
Now, this is no Village of the Damned but the group speak is eerie, made worse when it comes from kids, and worse still when put in a hotel in the middle of nowhere with no way of calling for help. Which reminds me… there’s still our friend Professor Long Hair and his asthmatic student who we see driving for help. Longest trip ever! The poor asthmatic should be dead by now, based on how long it’s taking to go for help. But maybe that’s the point! Maybe he’s not the problem. Maybe Professor Long Hair, who was around 15 years ago, is the problem. Or maybe what is happening to the students is happening to me: I’m being programmed to see menace in all of them when most of them are innocent. What I should be doing at this point is using the class photo to put X’s over the faces of those who are dead, so I know who to suspect for the final episode. Had I known what to expect with this episode, I would have. (Actually, I’ll try it now, but I can’t tell all of them so I’m doing the best I can – this does not include the butler or the “crone”) and I can’t tell who is the asthmatic – perhaps the one next to Professor Long Hair. Ironically, the only one with eyes closed!)
I’ll comment on one specific scene that I loved. The slow motion scene with the axe-wielding crone. That was marvelously done. Slow motion is always an eye catcher (haha! That’s funny considering!) but to do it in anime is really brilliant. Coupled with the odd “camera” angle of the crone extending the bloody hatchet, it’s terrifying. A marvelous scene to accompany an episode full of horror. Let’s see how it ends! ML