Two years ago I came across an anime series called Another and I completely fell in love with it. Which is strange considering it’s a horrorseries, and a pretty bloody one at that. But what set Another apart is the incredible storyline about a cursed schoolclass, and one amazing lead character called Mei Misaki. If you have yet to experience this terrific anime, I highly recommend watching it. It has an incredibly tense atmosphere and a storyline that is full of twists and turns. After I completed the 12 part anime I was thirsting for more and immediately went out and bought the book on which the series was based. It was another (pun intended) win for me, as it added a little bit more background to the story (although to be fair it held little suprises, as having seen the anime I already knew how the story would turn out). But apparently that wasn’t the end of the story as we now have Episode S/0 that serves as both a prequel and sequel to the original. As this book contains both a novel and a manga I’m going to handle this review a bit differently.
The first thing you will notice when you pick up this book is the amazing cover. It features Mei Masaki with a haunting look on her face, and it immediately grabs your attention. But it doesn’t stop there. When you remove the cover you find a beautiful painting on the inside as well. Flipping through the book you will later on discover an art gallery for the manga of the original anime, that contains some breathtaking images of a couple of the main characters. I have included a small gallery below to give you an idea of what I am talking about. But of course I did not just buy this book because of the way it looks. What about the story?
This story takes place after the events of Another and as such you could say this is a sequel of sorts. And I do say of sorts, because the story itself takes place during Another. Confused yet? Well, let me explain. In Episode S we again meet up with Mei Misaki, who is about to sit down and tell a tale to her friend Koichi Sakakibara. When Mei begins to speak, the narration switches to first person where we meet up with the main character of the story Teruya Sakaki. And he has a problem, a big one. As he is kind of, sort of dead. Yup, we have a ghost story here, and it appears a litteral one as it is actually the ghost of Teruya who is speaking to us. Teruya doesn’t remember how he ended up being dead, and eventually he meets up with Mei who can see death as we all know. Together with her help he is trying to find out what exactly happened to him, and who, if anyone, was responsible for his death.
Episode S was a nice little mystery story, and one I quite enjoyed. I would not call this a horror story but more of a supernatural mystery. As the main storyline takes place during the events of Another that is the reason I didn’t actually call it a full sequel. Still it was nice to once again read a little bit more about Mei in this one. I do have to say that the style of writing takes a bit getting used to. We often get long pages of conversation between two characters, without really saying who is uttering a particular sentence. I often had to look back in order to find the person who started talking, and that was at times a little bit annoying. Still the story itself is pretty cool, and it contains a nice twist that I most certainly did not see coming. As this is not a horror story, there are no really gruesome or gory scenes in it. All in all this was a nice follow up to the original.
I am not a huge fan of prequels as I have said quite a few times, as I usually find they bring little to no surprises to the table. Episode 0 is the prequel part of this book, and it is a manga. The thing I liked about it was the amazing art. I loved the way the characters were drawn, and I could quite often just keep staring at certain pages. The story features a young Reiko Mikami during her schooldays in the year 1983. As her classmates begin to die, Reiko is trying to find out exactly what is going on and meets up with the librarian mr. Chibiki. This mysterious man seems to know more, but can he really be trusted? With a pagecount of 45 pages, this story was just way too short to leave a lasting impression. While it was nice to see a little bit more background for Reiko, I honestly could not really connect to her at all in this one. This really was more of a filler story, and certainly didn’t add anything really significant to the existing mythology of Another.
In the end I am left with some mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand I really enjoyed the main story of the book, despite it’s flaws. On the other the manga, while beautiful to look at feels like it was just added to give the book something to fill it up with. If you haven’t seen the anime or read the original novel, I would suggest starting there first. While both stories contained within this volume can be read on their own, you will find you will enjoy the book more if you know the background of the main characters. And not only that, Another is far superior to this, and as previously mentioned well worth it to check it out. In the end I do think this books is worth the buy, especially if you are a fan. The mainstory more than makes up for the weaker prequel story, and the art contained within if nothing else is really beautiful to look at. The writer of the book says there might be more to come in the future. I do hope that if that is true, it will go back to it’s original horror roots. But I guess, that is a story for another time….(yes I am done with the puns now).
I give Another Episode S/0 a 7 out of 10 score.