Thursday, May 31, 2012

Another - 00 (OVA)

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If the OVA of Another conjures up anything in my mind’s eye, it’s the realization of just how tragically the final two episodes of the TV series missed the mark.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this “Episode 00”, but it’s fair to say I went in with pretty low expectations, and fair to say they were exceeded. What I figured was most likely was a blatant pander to the fans – when an ep is centered on hot buttons like twincest and yuri it was certain to predictably raise Pavlovian squeals of delight from the viewers, on cue. And no doubt it did that, but “00” was more than that – it was a callback to the clever misdirection and suspense of the first ten episodes of the series. Apart from a pretty huge drop in animation quality, it was a very good effort indeed.

In the main, the purpose of this OVA is to “put flesh” on the back-story of Misaki Mei and her twin sister, so crucial to the series but referenced only in recollection. Misaki Fujioka (Igarashi Hiromi) was lifeless in a dark sub-basement when the series started, but at last we meet the living and breathing girl. She’s considerably more genki than her “cousin” Mei – her hair is lighter in color, her outlook brighter, her taste in clothes flashier. There are plenty of nods to the fetishists out there – feel-ups in the shower, sharing a bath and a bed, holding hands – but there’s also an ever-present sense of sadness in seeing how close these twin sisters are, knowing what we know is going to happen.

The subtext of the twins’ story – the psychology of their separation at birth and why it happened – was important to Another’s main plot but as a secondary focus. Here’s it’s at the center – we can see the guilt Fujioka feels for being the one her mother chose to keep – especially given the difficulties Mei faced (and still faces) with her “mother”. We can also see just how important Fujioka is to Mei and in doing so, we can see just how understandable it is that Mei was such an emotionally hollow shell by the time Kouichi-kun met her. It wasn’t being the class’ designated dead person that did it – it was the loss of the sister she was so close to.

Also of great interest it that we’re at last given a prolonged glimpse of what Mei sees with her doll’s eye – and if there were doubts that we’re supposed to see her ability to see “the color of death” as reality rather than fantasy, this OVA should erase them. And it’s here that the idyll of the first half of the OVA gives way to the sadness and suspense of the series, and we see that this is going to be spiritually in-line with the TV after all. When Mei sees the color of death in her sister it doesn’t come as a shock to the audience of course, and it doesn’t seem to shock her either – for Mei has just entered third-year middle school, and she now knows the curse of Class 3-3. And she knows that as her true sister, Fujioka is vulnerable to the curse.

What does come as news to us is that Fujioka has apparently been suffering from Leukemia – a fact we’re told after an eventful day at the amusement park that recalls the best of the first ten eps of the TV. Another has always had the ability to troll the audience with the best of them, and the Ferris wheel scene with the bird – apparently flying straight at Mei’s doll’s eye – was classic. Yes, I jumped when that bird smacked into the glass with an explosion of blood – but the real payoff was when Fujioka fell backwards through the door (lawsuit pending) and Mei grabbed her hand, the scene playing out in classic fashion until Mei finally loses her grip – only to reveal that they were only a few feet of the ground. Gotcha!

Of course Another has always known its horror constructs intimately, and in getting the audience to relax it set up its true purpose: to walk us right up to the events of the first TV episode. Mei’s attempts to protect her sister come off as pretty heartbreaking even before the leukemia reveal, and all the more so after – and again, this OVA brings back the feelings of the TV show when it was at its best – tragic and suspenseful. It also reminds us of just how off the mark the concluding two eps were, as Mizushima Tsutomu apparently gave in to the Blood-C gene. That “what might have been” reminder is the saddest part of this OVA, but it doesn’t deny us the pleasures of experiencing Another as it was meant to be one more time.


A final thought: It’s certainly been noted that the character who murders Reiko in the flashbacks looks a lot like Kouichi. Well, so does the character who hits on Fujioka in the first scene here, and it really makes me wonder – is Another trolling us yet again in some way, or is it just a matter of character design? I see no reason to think Kouichi was directly linked to either person, so I suppose the most likely answer is the latter – but it’s one more strange element in this puzzle.

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8 comments:

  1. great ova...really sold the solid relationships between the two sisters...i wish they coulddo an OVA that expands on what happens with everyone after the calamity stopped; it seemed as if the ova was hinting towards something when fujioka kept asking mei if there was a boy she liked. Oh and i did not see a drop in animation quality; as a matter of fact it was better than the show. Characters moved more fluidly, there was a lot more lighting and backgrounds had greater detail.

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  2. now i am surprised by that statement. Although, i did raise it before that it could be Ko who killed aunty and you said it is unlikely now you are saying otherwise.
    Furthermore, some chap posted on this site that it was not specifically said in the LN what killed Reiko. Just that she was found in a river.

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    1. No, I'm not saying otherwise at all. Just pointing out a visual similarity and wondering if there's a point.

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    2. Add mystery just after the mystery is solved i supposed. Well, if Another Sequel does recast Ko and he has a weird compulsion to go around killing then yes. Especially those who resemble his mother.

      But i think this is just the Anime people wanting to make viewers reader the LN to see whether there is any clarification. Marketing scheme

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    3. This just proves that the character designer doesn't have much variety in drawing male faces. It was clearly stated in the series that Kouichi never returned to Yomiyama until Reiko's funeral, so he can't be the killer.

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  3. now that i think about it, it is possible that the curse took effect because Ko talked to Mei. The earlier theory of Since Mei's sister died before they met is no longer valid. Since, her death was not accidental like the rest of them.
    If she fell off the ferris wheel and died it would be one thing but dying of leuk is not accidental. It is just a death that is coincidental to the curse of coincidental.

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    1. It doesn't matter if the death is accidental or not. Remember the boy who died of a heart attack?
      From my understanding, the curse basically increases the probability of death for the students of class 3-3 and their direct relatives.
      The reason is because a dead person mixed with the living.

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    2. I doubt it. The heart attack was sudden. This one was slowly. A disease slowly killing her.
      What you are saying is that as long as death = curse. But nope, in the end the crazy inn owner killing people is because of crazy people not because of a curse.

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