What They Say:
Mei Misaki was cute, athletic, and one of the most popular girls in her school. Why should a little thing like death change that? Now, twenty-three years after Mei’s mysterious demise, a new transfer student discovers that not only is his school’s student body one corpse short of a full roster, but that some secrets never leave high school. What’s more, all of this may somehow be tied to his own family past.
What is the secret and how does it all connect? And even if Kouichi does figure it out, will that knowledge help save him? As the school bells toll a deadly dirge and students begin to die, things that were never properly buried come back to haunt the high school of the damned!
Contains episodes 1-12.
The audio presentation for this release is quite solid as we get the original Japanese language in stereo as well as the English language track, both of which are encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The series is one that is generally full of dialogue and quiet moments as it works a very specific kind of story and the audio presentation definitely serves it well. There’s a good sense of mood and atmosphere that’s built up over the course of it. Though it works this kind of mix for the majority of it, it punctuates it with some very intense moments both in screams and sounds when things get violent and that has a brutal intensity to it. Between them and the quieter moments that really creates something intense here, the audio mix serves the show very well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2012, the transfer for this twelve episode series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The series is spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second along with a handful of extras. The show has a very good look to it with some beautiful animation and designs with a very atmospheric approach to it all. The colors are rich throughout and it has a great look with all the detail that comes across when you dig into the characters and the backgrounds. When it gets into the very violent scenes, it’s an even richer and more engaging piece and the transfer captures it all beautifully. The series is one that makes out very well with a high definition transfer and the release here just looks fantastic throughout.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case that uses some very familiar and solid artwork that puts Mei and Kouichi together against the sunset sky that’s filled with lots of clouds. It’s a dark and moody piece with some great splashes of color that really brings it all together well. The character artwork is solid and the background really is quite appealing in setting the proper atmosphere for the series. The back cover uses the similar colors with blacks and reds that uses lots of shots from the show and character artwork that is definitely moody with the darker colors. There’s some good shots that really define the show well and a good enough premise to cover the concept of the series without exposing all of it. Production credits are easy enough to read with the white text on red and a solidly laid out and accurate technical grid. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
While the series has a great visual look, the menu design for it is pretty simple and not all that good at setting the mood when you get down to it. The main layout is a darkly scratched piece of wood across the background with some character artwork in the foregruond with some slightly washed out colors about it all. The logo is kept simple along the left in white and the navigation menu along the bottom, which doubles as the pop-up menu, has just the episode numbers lined along it and the other selections along the right for the languages and any special features. Submenus load very quickly and the release is easy to navigate.
The extras for this release are a little minimal but we get a little more than the usual. The clean opening and closing sequences appear on the second disc and we also get a four minute bonus piece called “Another Special”, which is basically something sort of like a music video but mostly just some chibi designed Mei material with cute music.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the novel of the same name that came out in 2009, the PA Works anime series is but one of a couple of approaches to bringing the property out as a live action feature came out in Japan as well. As a way to whet the appetite, it definitely works, especially as the four volume manga series concludes this month as well. Another, one of more awkwardly named English titles for a series in recent memory, plays in some familiar ground as it deals with a small, remote town where it has plenty of modern aspects but also that feeling of something from a different time blended into it. The darkness, the horror, comes largely through the atmosphere and pacing of things and the opening prologue here certainly makes it clear what we’re in for, even if it instills some feelings of Higurashi.
The focus for the show is on that of Kouichi, a recent transfer student into the town of Yomiyama. He’s come to live with his grandparents there as his father’s job has him going off elsewhere and his son needs some consistency in his life. Unfortunately for Koichi, his transfer didn’t go quite as planned as he ended up in the hospital and found himself missing a good chunk of the ninth grade. Kouchi’s time in the hospital is filled with a sense of dread as the three students who come to visit him question him repeatedly about whether he’d lived there before. And a chance encounter with another girl there with an eyepatch named Mei only adds to the spooky surreal nature of the situation. It’s all done in a way that while predictable in its execution and style does work well.
When Kouichi does get into the school system, it’s a pretty stiff affair there at first, but there are plenty of people who want to talk to him since he did come from Tokyo. He’s able to hold his own, but thankfully the show doesn’t try to name everyone quickly and push connections. It’s a lot of people who talk and get to know him and it showcases the way the class is structured a bit as you can see some of the cliques that have formed over time. With Kouchi walking around a bit and making some mild friends at the least, what ends up driving things is finding Mei there as well as it’s a surprise to him. The show brings in a great sense of unease, both through pacing and the music choices it uses, but it takes some time to really start showing where it wants to go and what it wants to be. But with the nature of the show, and its origins, it’s to be expected and what we get here certainly teases more than enough to draw the fans of the genre in and a few others as well.
With Another, we get a series that’s going to spend a lot of its time trying to unearth the truth of what’s going on but also a way to deal with it. The class mystery, that extends back twenty-six years and involves Kouchi’s own family in a way, is the primary focus as we see him slowly exposed to what’s going on. With one student, a mystery girl named Mei that he meets before actually starting school itself, reveals to him the weirdness of the class in that one student within the class is always ignored so as to try and stave off a curse of sorts that would cause many of those within the class – and their families – to suffer tragedies and die. The problem comes in that Kouchi has already started talking to Mei, even though he’s not supposed to, and the class itself makes a mistake in that they don’t actually tell Kouichi about the deal and the history of the class. This eventually leads him to being cut off by others as well in order to restore balance, but it doesn’t actually do anything.
When I watched this show as a simulcast, it definitely has a slow build and you can see that within the marathon form of it as well. But unlike some shows that do spend their time just letting things idle for a bit, spending the time by punctuating it with teases of darkness and just setting the mood, Another goes the route of introducing brutality. It’s not as bad in a way as When They Cry in a way, but there are certainly similarities. Because of the way the “curse” works, once we get a couple of deaths under our belts, they start coming in more varied and shocking. But also with some hilarious moments as well where something is teased and is instead something else. Beach episode opening, I’m looking at you. Some of these deaths are shocking though, and the way the class reacts is pretty intriguing since they start taking it out on others, and specifically on Kouchi and Mei. But as the mystery deepens, and Kouichi and Mei start to investigate the truth behind it more and piece together aspects of it, it all leads to a large, well, conflagration of events, deaths and chaos that just lets it all hang out. The series really does a fantastic job of what it does, building up to the end and making it full of intriguing quiet moments and brutality throughout it.
It also helps that the show has a very good sense of design and animation about it. It is a standard school setting kind of show in many ways, though it gets out of the school often enough as well, but it has such a rich layer of design and a great color palette to it that it’s very easy to get into it. Once it goes for the moody colors, it just goes even more into this kind of feeling that really draws you in and creates the perfect atmosphere for it. It also doesn’t hold back when it comes to the violence, though it isn’t anywhere near as grisly as, say, Blood-C is towards the end, but the blood and body parts do fly and it has such a great look about it – which is weird to say – but it makes it convincing with the reactions and the chaos that surrounds it. I’m not a violence hound by any stretch, but if a show is going to go for it like this, they did it well here since it never truly felt gratuitous and instead had a lot of angles and layouts for it that just hits home all the more.
I had no idea what to expect with Another the first time I watched it and the weekly progress on it definitely kept me intrigued back then to see what dark secret would reveal itself next, or who would be killed. Revisiting it a year or so later in marathon form and in high quality, well, the show holds up even better than I could have hoped for. Another has a great, rich visual design to it and it executes it with such a polish and sense of ease that you find yourself just sucked into it all the more with the performances. Though it works with a familiar story idea that’s tweaked nicely, and it’s welcome that it takes place in the past without being too far back that it feels antiquated, Another does pretty much everything right for me. From the quiet, small character moments at the start and throughout to the punctuated moments of brutality that leads up to the large scale chaos, this series was one of my favorites when it aired and of the year and it’s one that I can’t recommend enough if you aren’t afraid of this kind of material.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Another Special
Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: July 9th, 2013
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.