I'll admit that when it comes to horror, I'm a huge wuss. When I was ten I was unable to sleep in my own bed for a few months after watching the Are You Afraid of the Dark movie. I have since found a love of the cheesy B-Horror movies that wont keep me up at night for fear of my soul being taken. The only other horror I can watch with that same sense of security is horror anime. Something about the few I have watched just don't scare me,sure I get grossed out a little bit. I can never look at fingernails the same way after watching When they Cry. I think it might be the distance, since it's happen to animated characters instead of real people, I can't be that scared. However, Another is possibly the closest any anime has come to truly scaring me.
Another concerns the cursed Class three and their struggles to end the disasters that befalls the class every year. The set up is done well and leads to some rather disturbing moments. The Calamity as it is referred to is less a person,though it is caused by a person(i.e a ghost) who should not be there,and more a force. The Calamity never speaks or has a physical form,it's akin to a spiritual bookkeeper that has to get rid of the extra student. Unfortunately it's no better at figuring out who the extra is than the students are so it just kills till it finds the right one.
The fact that it can't be reasoned with and the measures taken to appease it are often fruitless keep things tense and scary. It allows for a creepy atmosphere to build up over the series that never truly fades. Even the ill advised beach episode keeps the atmosphere going somewhat even if it indulges in all the beach episode cliches. When things go completely off the rails in the last few episodes and devolve into more of a slasher movie style,the Calamity never loses it's scariness. We'll leave ending for a little later, and instead move on to characters.
The characters for the most part work as pieces in this chess game of a series but as characters ultimately fail. Everyone is a stock anime character,that you can can easily sum up at a glance. The Hero,the oddball,the sporty guy,the nerd,the go-getter,the weak willed one. It saves us the time on all the pesky character development that some shows like. Yet it does take some time to characterize the odd ball girl,Mei,just not very well. She is the one who has become an unperson, a sort of charm used by the class to keep the Calamity from starting. She takes this well and almost seems to be sad that she has to give it up mid series when it's clear it isn't working. There in lies the problem,we're never given that great a reason why. Sure they highlight her poor home life and general asocial tendencies but nothing really substantial.
Her oddball tendencies do serve a purpose,in that it's clear that this lead to her being the unperson. It allows the show to insert an anti-bullying message with out beating us over the head with it. The class shuns her and making her an outcast. Yes,they do have good intentions with said plan but had this not been a cursed class, things would still not be the best for her. She looks odd with her eye patch and has an unnerving demeanor. Even once she's exists again,everyone is still on edge around her and the climax of the series couldn't go as far as it did if there wasn't some residual malice directed towards her. Our hero,Kouichi, is the only person to get close to her and even presented with the opportunities to get close to her no one else even tries. They all rely on faded memories of what they think she was like when she was young to judge her or just avoid her altogether. Had they even attempted to get learn about her, things would have turned out much better. Everyone's bias' just got in the way and leads to one heck of a downer ending.
Okay,time to stop dancing around the ending and actually talk about it. If you care,spoilers ahoy and I'll see you in a four paragraphs. Everyone else hop on the spoiler train.
Leading up to the end,we've had some okay if over the top death scenes. I'll admit death by umbrella was silly if a bit hard to watch. The death scenes really don't take away from the eerie atmosphere or the Calamity's looming presence. Then the school trip happens,where everyone finds out how to stop the Calamity once it's started: Kill the extra student. If you kill the right one,then no one remembers them and the Calamity is stopped. Once this information is spread through out the place Class three is staying in,everything goes crazy. Everyone is dying left and right in a vain attempt to find the extra student which leads to a massive witch hunt for Mei.
The death scenes before didn't shake the atmosphere too badly,but this ending breaks it over it's knee. People going Ax crazy can still be scary,if you have the right casting. Sadly the voice cast doesn't quite pull it off and it goes straight into cheesy territory. However even if we had a more experienced cast,the deaths are still goofy looking and the face animation is just entertaining in all the wrong ways. I'll admit some of the death scenes are still a bit disturbing but the escalation of events diminishes the impact.
The other major revelation is that Ms. Mikami,is Kouichi's aunt and the extra person. The fact that she is the extra is decently foreshadowed but brings up a bigger problem of why. They mention that Class 3 had the perfect number of desks but it was the faculty who was short a desk. Why did the curse seem to move to the faculty room when we took the time to establish that Class three is closest to death. I was okay with most of the more unexplained things:the curse itself, Mei's eye,the ghost pictures. They added to the creepiness,this just seems like more of a cop-out. A well planned cop-out but a cop-out none the less.
The last few scenes do manage to recapture some of the fear and ends in a satisfying way. They've only stopped the Calamity this year and while they left a way to revised way to stop it should a future class need to,it may not stop an event like the lodge incident. Kouichi is also going to have to come to terms with the fact that he will eventually forget his aunt and what she meant to him. There is a bit of hope in that Mei and Kouichi may be able to form a meaningful relationship but the more downer tones balance that out. It makes for a nice ending that fits the series.
With everyone back at the station, lets throw out some parting wisdom. Another is a show that whilst not quite sticking the landing,does quite well. The Calamity being keep as a faceless force actually sort of scares me. It builds up an oppressive and genuinely scary world but populates it with generic characters. This is not really a knock against the show since the characters are still likable,just you won't probably remember them. If you're looking for something scary to watch this Halloween,this will tickle your fancy.
Till Next Time: Stay Positive