Those of you who’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop better carry an umbrella when watching this episode. But by all means, don’t run with it…
Kazami-kun I don’t think I’d sweat exams too much – if 14 year-olds have bucket lists (“Have sex. Have sex. Have sex.”) I’d get cracking on that instead. I was pretty happy with the overall creepy tone and psychological unease Another was generating, but the chorus was calling for some true horror, and this week P.A. Works delivered the goods in gloriously grisly fashion.
There was plenty of buildup first, though, with the larger question of what’s up with Misaki Mei still unanswered. Oh, the cliffhanger was resolved quickly enough – it was a doll’s eye (green) under that eye patch, and she says she covers it because it “sees things that should remain unseen”. She also tells Kouichi that the girl who died at the hospital was her cousin, Misaki Fujioka, to whom she was extremely close. She remarks that the dolls at Studio M – designed by Kirika, whose studio is on the second floor – are completely empty, but always trying to fill themselves. She asks Kouichi if he can’t feel them drawing something out of him as they stand in the basement of the doll shop (he agrees). The dolls (and the old lady) are most likely connected to whatever element of the mystery is supernatural, if there is one, or if not they’re a damned effective red herring.
This episode was full of interesting clues, riddles and enigmas. Just a few that pop to mind: Why was there a test paper on “Misaki’s” desk? Why did the mynah bird (chillingly) say “Why Rei, why?” Just parroting wails of grief it’d heard inside the house? What did Sakuragi mean by “He knows about the first year”? What did Mei mean by “Because I don’t exist”? Why was everyone so concerned that no one discuss the events of 26 years earlier with Kouichi – until “next month”? Teacher, Aunt Reiko, Teshigawara… Why was the school’s class trip moved from 9th-year Spring to 8th-year Fall? And were those blood stains we saw briefly here, in what looks like a school storage room – and if so, whose?
I have my own theories about all this, but fundamentally I think all the answers are tied to a fairly straightforward question – is Misaki Mei a ghost, or is she alive? Or is there a duality to her nature that transcends both? It all springs from there – is there a supernatural horror story, or is the horror the behavior of the humans of the town (John Saul’s readers might think the latter). I suspect most things happening here may have natural explanations, but not all of them, and the door is still wide-open. Tied into all that, of course, is whether you believe the rest of the world can see Mei – and are ignoring her - or only Kouichi can see her. Mei herself seems to imply that only Kou can see her, and there’s no denying that when he turned his head at the doll shop she disappeared – not to mention that she wasn’t on the roof when he arrived there at 17:56. However, it seems very likely that Kazami saw her on the roof at the same time Kou-kun did, and it certainly appeared that Sakuragi saw her in the hallway just before she died.
Me, I think the others can see her and pretend not to – and I think it’s all tied into the elaborate charade everyone in the town is playing, which started with the student 26 years ago that said “she’s still alive”. “I don’t exist” can as easily mean social invisibility as literal. There may be a tie-in with a certain time of year, with tragedies occurring only then – the month when Misaki died, perhaps? I also wonder if there’s a 13-year “cycle” in which death comes to members of class 3-3 – former and current – only in the first year. That would explain Sakuragi’s comment, at least, and make this year a “death year” though not seemingly the one when Kou’s mother died. As for why the class trip was moved, perhaps something terrible happened to Misaki on that trip, or perhaps the school simply moved it because it knew many students wouldn’t live to go on the trip otherwise (an ugly thought).
impaled through the neck and head by an umbrella. Watching her die, twitching (impaled through the left eye, perhaps?), certainly upped the conventional horror ante in way that will please a lot of viewers – it was horrible to see. But what really happened? My assumption is that the teacher told her something had happened to someone in her family, thus the need to rush out of school – and again, she certainly appeared to have seen Mei. Does this mean she could see her all along, or do the living only see Mei when they’re about to die? Her death could have been an accident, of course. But somehow it feels that this is all an elaborate fiction – pretend Mei didn’t die 26 years ago. Pretend today’s Mei doesn’t exist. Don’t talk about what happened during certain times of year. I can’t speak to why, or what ties it all together, but that’s what it feels like to me. Fundamentally, ask this question – if this were not an elaborate farce, why would the school continue to have a Class 3-3 at all, given all the terrible things that have happened? If anything, I get the sense that these students are a form of human sacrifice.
Whatever’s really happening in Yomiyama, it’s a blast to watch – scary, creepy and intense. While Mizushima-sensei has pulled no punches in telling us something is terribly wrong, I like the fact that there are so many conflicting clues at play here, and all possibilities seemingly remain open. Paired with the absolutely stellar production values (again, the sound direction is truly spectacular) the result is a top-shelf series that’s working on all levels.