Episode 02 of Another is just as great as the first one. This episode is packed with motifs, themes and a lot of signposts. As per usual, the art is beautiful and despite what a lot of people have been saying, I think this anime is not trying to be superficial in its horror/ mystery, it’s the real deal. So in this episode, there is quite a bit of mystery and intrigue and to understand where the story is headed, I think we need to look at the hints being dropped into the pool of the audience. The first thing that seems like it is going to be a recurring theme in this anime is the imagery of birds. Keeping in mind this anime is based from a novel, we have to be looking not just for what the characters say but also, what is around them, to fully understand how this story and the characters are progressing. One of the key environment recurring motifs in this anime, is bird imagery. Birds are usually a symbol of freedom, it is a universal symbol that is recognised around the world. Birds normally tend to portray freedom, love or hope – normally characterised by varieties of white birds e.g. swans, doves even sparrows. However, what we get in Another is quite the juxtaposition, we consistently get crows.
A lot of these are very easy to miss, like the example of the crow in the living room background, however, they are very important parts of the story telling. Crows despite their freedom as birds, are normally representative of death and sadness – they are only used when there is a dark nature about a scene. In Another, they are used quite frequently, normally accompanying Mei. However, they aren’t just limited to may, they seem to be used sparsely but effectively throughout the episode. What we get it this eerie feeling about the whole show. The thing that is quit interesting though, is not that the show is eerie or that there is a darkness around the setting, it’s that this darkness seems to be consistently acknowledged yet consistently pushed back.
Another manages to very successfully created a haunted feeling of reverse pathetic fallacy. Normally, pathetic fallacy entails us as the viewers realising facts that the characters in the show don’t and whilst it is true that even Kouichi doesn’t realise what is happening, we are largely left out of the loop as well. The pressing issue is put right in front of us however, we never get a clear answer what the heck this issue is. All we do know is that this somehow related to Mei and her identity.
Rain, normally has two ways to be interpreted. The symbol of rain is primarily considered to be one of being refreshed, revitalised, cleansed etc however, the other way in which rain motifs are used is to show melancholy and perhaps even sadness. What really stood out though was the line that followed “just before it turns into snow“. Mei is creating a really clever type of contrast in her character – she seems to be identifying who she used to be (the lively, cheerful, smart, pretty, popular girl) with who she has now become. The rain that represented her refreshing character is now that cold and harsh midwinter rain, that has frozen over into a sadness. Even the use of snow which is normally represents purity and cleanliness, here is distorted – the purity of the Mei that did exist had been clouded over. There is a quite heavy amount of very subtle literary symbolism in this anime – hardly surprising as it is based on a novel however, the effect it creates is awesome. But, we still haven’t gotten to the core of her character in this episode and here is where we finally get some elucidation on the character of Mei.
In the last scene, Kouichi catches up to Mei in the doll shop, and for all those who didn’t think the dolls had a meaning or were just a horror gimmick, I’d say you couldn’t be more wrong. It may not be fully apparent what their purpose is right now, but its clear there is an underlying intent. Even when Kouichi starts talking about his dream of pursuing art school to do modelling and sculpting – the dolls are clearly a major part of the story and whilst they are primarily a plot device now, I am sure they will come into their own later. Anyway, focusing back on Mei. This last scene really caught me. Mei speaks about the doll looking like her but only representing half or maybe even less, and she does so when looking at the dolls eye. There is clearly something very crucial to the identity and mystery of Mei contained in her eye however what most caught me was their discussion about the pair of calm looking dolls. Mei says they are calm despite them being together and Kouichi suggests that is why they are calm. However, Mei retorts that it makes no sense for them to be calm together, rather, separate. Mei, since whatever tragedy befell her in the past, has clearly no time for people. We see this repeatedly in the anime since the first episode. Curiously, Mei is never around other people. Never. She clearly identifies being calm and peaceful with being alone as she never seeks others – though it is curious them why she puts up with Kouichi. Other people seem to only have ever brought her trouble, hence why she detaches herself from others, she is never with the class and despite their best efforts, no one seems to be able to approach her. I’m not sure whether she is alive or not but Mei seems to see other people not as a part of her life, but a back drop in her life. I for one am really curious to find out.
I think that’s my fair share for this episode. I’m sure there is much more to find out from this anime but I am already hooked, it’s not only written really well as a piece of literature, there do seem to be some interesting ideas coming from the show and characters. I hope this show continues like it is going because if the first 2 episodes were any indication of what is to come, we’re in for a treat. Next week:
Drop a comment though and let me know what you thought of the episode or any of the ideas I discussed.