As mentioned in my review of Another, I had seen the anime adaptation of the story back when it aired in the winter of 2012, well before I got the chance to read the novel in English. Now that I have gotten to experience the story through its original source (or rather a translated version of it), I thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast the novel and the anime. Joining me for this blog post are Tristan and LKK, who volunteered on Twitter to give some feedback on these two forms of Another.
Note: There will be major spoilers for both the novel and the anime!
Cho: I’ll go ahead and start with some of my thoughts on the anime. When I watched it back when it was airing from week to week, I have to say I found it quite engrossing. The anime did a good job for the most part at conveying a powerful, foreboding atmosphere, and it left me theorizing and attempting to work out the various mysteries the story presented (e.g. Is Mei a ghost? Why are people dying? Who is the extra class member? How do you end the curse? etc). The art and animation was top-notch, the soundtrack was great, and it felt like a lot of care was put into each individual scene.
All that said, there were points in the story that did feel… off? In terms of plot and pacing, things were a bit shaky at times, and the grand finale especially ended up a lot messier than I hoped it would be. And as it turns out, most of the points I had issues with were additions made specifically for the anime. Episode 8 (the beach episode) is anime-only, and at least half of the final two episodes (11 and 12) was filled with new content. This includes all the girls trying to kill poor Mei, the boy class rep (Kazami) randomly going on a murder spree, the tactics officer (Akazawa) getting a very dramatic death sequence, Kouichi having a long cell phone chat while in the middle of a fire, and the collapsing building itself going out of its way to kill an extra student or two. The novel is a lot tamer in comparison–and when looking at the falling action in the two takes on the story, I’d have to say the principle of “less is more” does a lot in the book’s favor. Of course, in visual media it can be argued a little more pizzazz is needed to hold the audience’s attention? Different mediums call for different routes of presentation, but in the end I did feel the anime for Another was at its best when it was being quiet and eerie, rather than loud and violent.
One thing I did like that the anime changed from the original story though, was the effort it made to give Akazawa a bigger role in the story. In the novel she is a secondary character who is only in one or two scenes, but the anime made her a major character who plays a role all throughout the series. This was perhaps done mainly to have a girl character other than Mei to work with, but I thought she provided an interesting source of extra conflict from episode to episode. Though she was generally antagonistic toward Mei (and had a personality quite the opposite of Mei’s), the anime still managed to keep her sympathetic in regard to her duty to prevent the class from suffering further casualties.
So while the anime certainly made some plot-changing choices I don’t agree with, I do feel there was a lot of thought put into how it went about its adaptation. Perhaps it was too dramatic at times and could have used more of the novel’s subtlety, but the premise and characters still managed to carry the story forward at a steady enough pace that the general experience always remained an engaging one. I will still recommend the anime to horror fans, though I would strongly suggest checking out the book first if possible.
Tristan: Overall it felt as if the anime attempted to make the Another series more impactful and gut-wrenching than the author imagined through his writing. This bloody take on the series allowed the franchise to cater to two ends of the spectrum. The only part where they crossed were any moments that dealt with the major plot at hand.
It is hard to find a way to say which of the two was better as I ended up enjoying both the anime and the novel. The novel stood out on the writing quality of the mystery. Because it was more focused on keeping us attached to details regarding Misaki’s life or the other students views of her, as well as their difficulty trying to handle ignoring her or not, we were never distracted much by the deaths of characters that broke the rules.
Meanwhile, the anime focused extensively on the deaths. It even enhanced the intensity of them or made the scenes last quite long. For example, the umbrella death, elevator death, and even the teacher’s death all had extensive attention to detail given to the blood, music, and gore. Additionally, the bloody way the anime made many events made many of the shocking deaths more of a joke than one of supernatural intrigue. Going the route the anime did for making many more deaths occur than the novel did changed the focus from the supernatural scary horror aspect to the supernatural comedy part. Many of the deaths did still carry some of their emotional weight, however (heart attack and driving off the cliff for one family). The way the anime handled these deaths was great, though some others put it in that comedy area that I stated, for example the beach episode death ended up being on the comedy and infuriating side because of how it was handled in traditional horror movie, “why is no one going to help in time” fashion. I would also put the deranged character attempting to kill Teshigawara in the last episode as one on this side (actually many of the final episode deaths: pillar crushing one of the boys as they run, the explosion, etc). The novel was simply better at handling the mystery. The anime attempted to convey some sense of mystery to it with Sakakibara carrying out his little investigation with Misaki Mei and having her around him. I believe the music helped the anime out with this too.
The music is probably the best part of the anime as it helped set the tone for the series to be quite mysterious yet creepy. That isn’t to say that the novel failed to do this, though. The novel gave the town and school its own mysterious aura due to the focus on character interactions and use of our imagination. Some of the descriptions written in the book helped for this too (cell phone sound whenever Sakakibara would bring up his past). Though the anime had the benefit of drawing and showing the events described there was something lost in the process of being able to let one’s imagination try to set the stage for the events.
So overall the anime made the series creepy to gory at times. The music for the anime set the tone well with it getting incredibly loud when something shocking and horrific happened, or being absent when Sakakibara realized something important. The novel didn’t have this but did well on allowing our imagination to fill in the blanks. I enjoyed both at the end of the day.
LKK: I remember liking how the novel had little clues dropped along the way that I wouldn’t have picked up had I not known from the anime who the extra person was. I liked how well-crafted the novel was in that regards. I also remember missing the anime-only beach episode because for the anime at least it provided a chance to see who these characters were when they weren’t under the constant fear of the curse. For me, it was a filler episode that actually added to the whole rather than detracted from it.
That’s about all I remember from reading the books. The novel was a page-turner (page-swiper?, since I read it digitally LOL) that I couldn’t put down. But once I was finished, I was ready to move on to something else. I felt satisfied and never desired to go back and read it again nor have I watched the anime again even though I did buy it when it was released.
Cho: We’d be curious to hear more feedback from those who have read or watched the story of Another, so if you have anything to add feel free to leave a comment! I might look into having more compare/contrast posts like these in the future, if story adaptation is an interesting subject for everyone.