Another – 07

Mr. Kubodera takes a knife out of his bag and drives it into his throat, killing himself right in front of his class. He was a bachelor who had murdered his bedridden mother. The class stops ignoring both Kouichi and Mei, and start to investigate how to stop the killing. Yuuya’s sister Tomoka, a pub waitress, meets someone in the same class as Kouichi’s aunt, and supposedly he was the one whose actions stopped the killing in August of that year. Kouichi dreams about and fears that he may be the ghost student, but both Izumi and later Mei allay those fears.

This episode starts off with the bloodiest mess thus far, with the homeroom teacher making no attempt whatsoever to tear out his throat in a neat and timely fashion. The whole class is stunned, shocked, and traumatized, with few exceptions. Sakikabara takes it pretty well, as do Teshigawara, Yuuya, and Izumi. Mei barely flinches. Not surprisingly, with such a clear display of failure, the nonexistence embargo is lifted on both Kouichi and Mei…and neither seem to be the grudge-holding type, so all’s back to normal…except for the deaths, of course.

We’re now fully in the detective story realm, with witnesses to interview, clues to discover, and things to deduce. Kouichi has some nice interaction with Izumi – who thankfully is just joking when she tells him maybe he was never born – and just when you thought he and Mei hadn’t goten any alone time, they have one final sweet scene where she gives him her cell number, even though “being connected to people all the time by electromagnetic waves disturbs her”, and invites him into her life-size coffin-like doll box…which is a little more…creepy-sweet.


Rating: 3.5

Another – 05

After Nurse Sanae’s death in the school’s elevator, Sakakibara is questioned by the police. Later, after a class 3 meeting that excluded him, the entire class begins shunning him, refusing to answer his questions. One student believes it’s wrong and is about to explain things to him when he suddenly suffers a heart attack and dies. After that, the class no longer acknowledges his existence. He meets with Misaki, who tells him they’re doing the same thing they’ve done with her; they may be alive and exist, but in order to stop the killings, the class must ostracize them.

A few more pieces fall into place this week, as Sakakibara’s meddling in the mystery of class 3 has an instant and fatal effect, and another classmate dies right in front of other students. The show hasn’t been displaying the particular dates of the episodes, but something tells me more than one person has died in a month. The idea that with every student death, the class grows ‘nearer to death’ is as intriguing as it is…flustering. This class has had cycles of death and new transfers for 26 years. And now we know the dead kid in the class isn’t Misaki, but someone – anyone -else. An unsettling thought.

Still, amidst what amounts to an extreme case of high school social ostracism, Sakakibara remains calm and collected, and is determined to find the truth. He’s no wimp, and even if he’s powerless in this situation. We’re also enjoying the budding relationship between him and Misaki, reinforced by the fact they share the same fate. The long dialogue between Sakakibara and Misaki that carried all the way to the end kinda reminded us of when Kyon got the skinny from Yuki Nagano. We were expecting one more death, but it looks like the series is sticking with one per episode tops…too many and the suspense is lost.


Rating: 3.5

Another – 02

Sakakibara continues to converse with Misaki, which perplexes her. It appears he’s the only one who can see her, or wants to. He askes Nurse Mizuno about any schoolgirls dying at the hospital, and she later confirms it, but Sakaki’s phone drops the call abruptly. Following Misaki, Sakaki initially loses her when she turns a corner, but comes across a doll shop, where he finds her in the basement, near a doll that looks vaguely like her. She offers to show Sakaki what’s beneath her eyepatch…

So far, we’re less enamored by the characters than we are with their surroundings and the manner in which their presented. The entire setting is thick with gloom and imminent dread. Quick cuts and sharp, unsettling sounds keeps us on our toes. With a different presentation, this would be a quaint and beautiful town, but every fiber in our being is repelled by it and the secrets it contains. Similarly, Misaki is every bit the broody ghost, popping up in the middle of school amongst the living. Sakaki cannot help but drop everything and be drawn to her. And creepy dolls. My God, are they creepy. 

What is Mei’s story? Why is she still hanging around? What does she want? What’s the deal with Akazawa and her “countermeasures?” We don’t know yet, and suspect concrete answers to such questions may not be immediately forthcoming, but we’re enjoying the buildup so far. An aside: the ending sequence is very calm and airy and accompanied by a soulful, hauntingly beautiful piece of music (“anamnesis” by Annabel); it’s like suddenly coming up for a breath of fresh air from the depths of a dark, tense sea.


Rating: 3.5

Another – 01

26 years ago in a village middle school, a smart, popular girl named Misaki suddenly died one day, but her classmates made the decision to carry on as if she hadn’t, until graduation. In May 1998, a student named Sakakibara Kouichi transfers to the class after recovering from a collapsed lung, and is unnerved by the odd, gloomy atmosphere of his classmates and the school. He has also started seeing a strange, eyepatched girl who sketches alone and never interacts with anyone else…named Mei Misaki.

A quietly chilling, forboding start to this new novel-based horror series from P.A. Works, fresh off of Hanasaku Iroha, one of our faves. Both take place in small, quaint towns, but that’s where the similarities end. Whereas the town around Kissuiso was warm and welcoming, this place gives us the willies, in spite of the beauty. Something’s lurking beneath, and like the protagonist Kouichi, we start off in the dark about just about everything. The only info we have over him is a prologue that explains the taciturn girl he meets is, well, dead.

His new classmates – friendly enough chaps – seem more interested in asking him questions than answering his. Nobody will acknowledge Misaki’s existence, and Misaki herself would prefer Kouichi to leave her alone. It doesn’t help that they associate his name – Sakakibara – with death. We’ve been slowly eased into a cool horror bath, and as is true of many works of the genre, we can reasonably expect to a slow burn answers-wise. For now, Another has set up an unsettling and intriguing introduction to a place and situation that frankly I wouldn’t want to be when the sun sets and the lights go out. Godspeed, sickly kid!


Rating: 3.5

Ao no Exorcist 12

The gang of esquires is given a seemingly innocuous mission to extract a harmless ghost from the ridiculous “MepphyLand” amusement park, in which the most dramatic development could be Shiemi switching from her bulky kimono to an ordinary school uniform, complete with short skirt; but it turns into far more than that quite quickly. One of Mephisto’s brothers, Amaimon, shows up, takes Rin’s sword, and unsheaths it, releasing Rin’s demon side. Then he proceeds to mop the floor with him.

This underscores just how vulnerable not only Rin is, but also how fragile his grip on (relatively) ordinary life is. One minute, he’s arranging a date with Shiemi, the next, he’s transformed into a vicious monster through no fault of his own, and almost loses himself in the process. It’s only through the intervention of Shura – a “High Inspector, Upper First Class Exorcist” – that he’s able regain his humanity. Shura was disguised as the member of the gang always obscured by his hoodie. “He” is also a she.

My immediate first impression of Shura is, sadly, “stupid-looking”; Yoruichi-san looked sexy enough in a glorified tracksuit; why this person has to walk around in a tiny bikini top is beyond me. Still, it opens up a new can of worms regarding Rin: his identity as a son of satan is revealed to a very high-ranking exorcist, and that can’t be good. Not only that, but Amaimon will be back, and he may not be as playful next time. Are Rin’s hopes of living a normal life as a human exorcist toast? Rating: 3.5

AnoHana 7

This was just a flat-out superb episode for Jintan and Anaru. Straight away this week, their romantic tension is escalated just a bit more, as Anaru proves to be quite the klutz. I’m aware that relationships don’t typically begin with awkward trips into someone’s personal space, but it works here, perhaps because we know these characters so well and they know each other so well. Anywho, the two of them and Poppo finally open Menma’s diary, which starts out prretty non-specific and innocuous.

But even seemingly dead-end declarations like “we had to go to the hopital today” open an entirely new set of memories for Jintan. All these years he and everyone else has been wrestling with their own memories; the diary is a window into memories from an entirely new perspective and tone. It also provides clues as to what Menma’s elusive “wish” might have been…if any. Finding their crude diagrams reminds them how big they used to dream before, you know, they became jaded sixteen year-olds. Alas, even acquiring toy fireworks requires a license, and paying someone to make a rocket for them will cost $2000. Denied!

Not to be stymied by financial obstacles, Jintan gets a job at the video store where Anaru works, and their interactions are simply fantastic. They get into such a comfort zone, they’re even able to call each other by their old nicknames again. Similarly, Yukiatsu and Tsuruko continue their subtle, aloof dance. Hey, maybe these crazy kids should forget about Menma, stop living in the past, and look at what they have right in front of them? Well, for one thing, because Jintan still sees her ghost.

So, what about Menma? Well, when she first learns about Jintan’s job from a third party, she’s angry, but then she learns why he, Anaru and Poppo are working: her wish to send a rocket to God. She realizes he’s not lying out of malice, but so that he can surprise her. Seeing him alive makes her feel alive. Whether it will help her move on to the beyond, we’ll have to see. Finally, Yukiatsu, who’s been so honest and open lately, is still keeping something from Jintan, namely that the day she died, Menma called everyone but Jintan to meet up at the secret base. What’s that about? Rating: 4

AnoHana 6

Deep in thought about why Menma is haunting him to begin with, Jinta decides to attempt another return to school, as per one of her wishes-in-passing. He not only makes it through the gates, but into his classroom and to his desk, only to notice hardly anyone is talking about him, but rather the recent incident involving Anaru and the love hotel. Apparently, someone saw her walking around in a slinky outfit with an older man. (Though I don’t (or don’t want) to believe she was ratted out by her “it” girl “friends”.)

Just when he senses Anaru is about to lose it from all the murmurs, he stands up and sticks his neck out for her, with a passionate, heartfelt defense, the jist of which was: “She’s a great person who’d never have sex for money, so everyone shut the hell up.” While he let loose one too many personal details for Anaru’s taste, she is both grateful to him for the effort and greatly entertained by the embarrassing spectacle he lost. She’s also probably happy he’s back in class – if only briefly. Their relationship has come a long way.

When Poppo recommends they visit Menma’s house for clues, their mother is kind enough to let him, Jinta and Anaru pray by her shrine, enter her empty room, view her box of possessions, and even borrow her diary. After reporting this to Menma back home, Menma is upset by the prospect their visit made her mother remember and worry about her, causing her more grief. This could be the key to why Menma is still loitering around: she can’t stop putting others ahead of herself, even after death. Rating: 4

P.S.: In the beginning Jinta is watching Occult Academy! He has excellent taste. 

AnoHana 5

It’s one thing if you’re haunted by your dead friend, it’s quite another if even she doesn’t know why she’s there, and can’t talk to any of her other friends, who used to be yours too. Yukiatsu, it turns out, doesn’t understand why Jinta can see him and he can’t. While Jinta called her ugly the last time he saw her alive, Yukiatsu confessed his love for her (or like, at least). But as more of the gang wishes they could see her, Menma’s inability to grasp her “wish” or talk to others makes her despair, as Poppo tries to communicate right in front of her.

Yukiatsu at least has a catharsis of sorts, as he confronts Jinta, in drag, and tells him what he didn’t know: he also blames himself for Menma’s demise. His obsession with Menma since her death took a different form, but was nonetheless a powerful force in his life, though it didn’t keep him from school. Tsuruko is glad this side of him is finally revealed, but less interested in helping him prop balance his self-esteem. If she wasn’t before, Tsuruko is the biggest enigma of the gang.

As for Anaru, she gets herself in a little trouble with her jailbait outfit and friends, and it’s only thanks to dumb luck and coincidence that save her from an unwanted liason with a buzzed salaryman. Yukiatsu gets her to confess that she can’t stop thinking about Jinta, though she isn’t sure whether this means she likes or loves him. What’s clear is that everyone seems to be held back by the past. Everyone save perhaps Poppo; though if he is unfulfilled of unhappy with his life, he hasn’t indicated it yet. Rating: 4

Sket Dance 5

This week introduced a whole slew of characters, including acquaintances of Switch neither Bossun nor Orihime knew existed. Obviously to be as good at information gathering as he is, he must have a host of connections amongst a diverse array of student types. Among them include the newspaper editor, Shimada, and a Sadako-lookalike and occult enthusiast, Yuuko. Sket-dan’s mission is to uncover the mystery of a ghost, but they (being Bossun and Switch; Himeko doesn’t really do anything) discover that there is no ghost, only a ploy by Shimada to manufacture a scoop, for which she is repentant.

Bookending this story are the exploits of the Student Council, a very disciplined and well-organized one at that, engineering their own ploy that ends in the successful apprehension of a blackmailing gang preying on students, the council’s charge. While on the surface they don’t seem to be quite as entertaining a group as Sket-dan, they do lend the all-important rival authority to the series, as well as add even more variety to a cast stocked with oddballs. Their inevitable clash with Sket-dan – two thirds of whom flaunt the dress code with impugnity – should be interesting. Rating: 3.5

AnoHana 3

A step backwards and a few forward for Jinta week, as he can’t quite make it to school, but is at least out in the world, talking to people besides Menma. Most importantly, the entire crew is reunited thanks to a proactive Poppo, who organizes a barbeque with the theme of searching for Menma, the ghost of whom he saw while taking a piss. It’s inevitable that among these six friends, people will start picking favorites. But I’m having a hard time, as they’re all really complex and full of subtle emotions and mannerisms.

I will say I’m leaning towards Anaru as my early favorite. Her tiny smile when she spots Jinta in his school uniform is great, but she can’t quite fight off her “friends” whose taunting scares Jinta off. This frustrated me to no end, as did Jinta’s turning tail when he saw Anaru on the way to the barbeque. While that latter attempt fails, it exhibited that he’s still a little uncomfortable interacting with other people. His walk to school muttering to himself is another example.

But baudy Poppo, who won’t take no for an answer and has a nice backpacker zen vibe going on, isn’t the only architect of the reunion. It’s Menma. Either spotting her ghost or having her occupy their thoughts, she’s the key. I’m glad the group is back together again and can talk to each other casually, especially when there are only eight episodes left. The series is still moving at a good pace, and yet isn’t feeling rushed. Rating: 4