Alternate Titles: アナザー
Author & Artist: Ayatsuji Yukito & Kiyohara Hiro
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery, Psychological, School Life, Seinen, Supernatural
Volumes: 04 (Complete)
In the spring of 1998, Kouichi Sakakibara transfers to Yomiyama North Middle School. In class, he develops a sense of unease as he notices that people around him act like they’re walking on eggshells, and students and teachers alike seem frightened. As a chain of horrific deaths begin to unfold around him,he comes to discover that he has been placed in the cursed Class 3 in which the student body head count is always one more than expected. Class 3 is haunted by a vengeful spirit for gruesome deaths in an effort to satisfy its spite. To stop the vicious cycle gripping his new school, Kouichi decides to get to the bottom of the curse, but is he prepared for the horror that lies ahead…? All information come from Manga Updates. This blog post will contain spoilers please read after the cut if you’ve already read the manga.
The human mind is an amazing thing.
The premise of this curse in this class is that there was a kid, 26 year prior to the story, who was well loved, athletic, smart, and all that wonderful stuff. However, he met an untimely end – but because of how shocking it was and how much they didn’t want to believe it, the class refused to believe his death. So much so, they believed that he was part of the class still. And yet, when the graduation photo was taken and developed, the kid, Misaki, showed up on the picture.
Ever since then, there is an “extra” person in the class that doesn’t belong. Then the disasters started.
Now, I will say that I have seen the anime version of this when it came out. I have less than savory views of the anime but I decided to pick up the manga now that I had forgotten the plot points and the major parts. There were plenty of questions I had about the series as a whole and I managed to pick up the manga for it finally.
The manga really is a lot better than the anime version. From what I understand, this series was originally a novel that just got adapted into anime and manga for a wider audience. I vastly prefer the manga to the anime, for sure.
The manga answers my question about how the deaths occur and when it does. It’s important to say that because, at first, Mei is purposefully ignored (something that everyone did in order to prevent the disasters from starting) and Sakakibara was not told about it when they should have. The kids dropped the ball on this one. It’s also important to note that the hints on who the another (or “casualty” to avoid grammar issues, I’m assuming) are way more subtle and the deaths that are shown are not as gruesome, or ridiculous, as it was in the anime.
Now, for the actual content – I really do like the concept. I really do like that they were not purposefully ignoring Mei because they were bullies – they did it because it was a tactic to avoid more deaths. However, because they dropped the ball in not telling Sakakibara about what’s going on – they start blaming him for it. I like that one of the characters survived while she tragically, and stupidly, died in the anime because it wouldn’t have made sense – especially in the grand scheme of things. There also weren’t as many deaths as I thought there was going to be.
Each death was treated with respect and with the appropriate shock that it deserves, especially in a series about death and how much it can affect not just one class, but possibly a whole town.
The manga version answers a lot more questions and goes into a lot more detail into the curse, its doing, and some ways to prevent the disasters from happening. Everything is much more laid out and it’s a lot easier to follow.
It doesn’t help that Kiyohara Hiro has finally put his skills into something really good – I was actually not surprised he did this story’s art because this seems to be something right up his alley in terms of horror and psychological. His art really drove home how horrifying the situation is.
And yeah, it’s still kind of stupid to bring in the fact that Mei could see “the color of death” when it was almost finished. I guess there wouldn’t be any better time to do it, especially since she also explained the connection between the girl who died and herself. It’s something I won’t hold it against the series since there are other things to be concerned about.
I really liked that there were characters who were human and not just anime characters who are either completely perfect or so flawed that nothing good could be said. They made mistakes, they fucked up badly, sometimes they do stupid things and sometimes they make really good decisions with their lives. With Akazawa, I can understand why she felt the way she did. She didn’t really seem to be a main character anyway like the anime made her out to be. However, she’s still a really powerful character. Her best friend was the second casualty. Her brother committed suicide. These are horrible, horrible things that she’s willing to try to fix before someone else she loves and cares about dies.
That is a real human being right there. They didn’t glorify nor damn it and I want to believe that Mei forgave her for trying to kill her, or at least, for poking her eye out.
If I had to pick a favorite character, it would have to be Mei. I understand her on so many levels. She’s not trying to be gloomy – she’s just trying to deal with what the world offers her. She came from, not really a broken home, but something that wasn’t right. Her mother does care for her, but Mei feels that it’s only because she’s her “doll”, since her mother actually makes ball jointed dolls in the series.
As for the anime version, it makes me even angrier that they took something as mysterious and as good as this and turned into yet another gore fest. This had a lot more charm and a lot more sadness than what the anime showed. There were a lot of funny moments in the manga sure (after all, while it’s understandable it’d be hard to cope in that situation, you really gotta try to at least live a little) but it didn’t derail the story as some others tend to.
I do have to say it’s really bittersweet and interesting to note that while Reiko was the casualty, she must have known that Sakakibara was coming back. Maybe not intentionally to see her but… for the fact she died before she saw him and for him to keep his memories, maybe she came back just to see him one last time. It’s understandable that, in the end, he still had to re-kill her in order to prevent any more disasters from happening that year. It’s understandable he feels incredible guilt for doing so. However, if he hadn’t, he probably wouldn’t be able to let go of his mother – who had died 15 years ago.
It’s frustrating for me that I saw the wretched anime first before I read this. I wish I had read this first. Instead, though, I’ll read it with better understanding and hope that one day, the casualty of class 3 will eventually rest.