I must bow my head in shame and abnegation. I haven’t regularly talked about anime in a long time. It is a shortcoming which I must address.

Every season I pick new anime to follow. And then watch as others review them in far better style than I could ever hope to. I often don’t see the point when someone with far more followers than I has reviewed a particular show and knocked it out of the ballpark. My own reviews feel like the moaning of a dinosaur in the immediate aftermath of the KT event.

F*ck it. Let the damned mammals take over. But here I am again.

So far this fall I have picked a few anime to watch. Not all of them are new as in just released but new in that I haven’t seen them before. There may be more. As I binge on older anime they soon complete out and I have space on my dance card for seasonal stuff.

Right now I’m watching The Irregular of Magic High from the very beginning. The main character is blazingly overpowered relative to everyone else – that’s an overused trope I could get tired of. His sister is also madly powerful but has a huge brocon going on and is quite subservient to him. They are really pushing the incest trope here. She gets a bit frigid if she thinks other females are getting to close to him.

Not that they are doing anything but li’l sis sure doesn’t look like she’d object. He is her assigned body guard and has had limiters put on his god level skills or there wouldn’t even be a show.

Wrote about the first arc already. IMHO, they had a great plot going with conflict between the privileged Course 1 students and the oppressed Course 2 students but they abandoned it with a wimp out. They might have done something meaningful with it but this show is meant to be entertaining and not meaningful.

The second arc is a high school tournament. They are playing against 9 other schools and Of course, our hero’s school has to win or else. But there are other interested parties who would rig the outcome. Seems that is 2095 gambling is controlled by the Chinese Mafia. Hmmm…

The others on my list include:

  • Noblesse – Watched the OVA. I am absolutely sure I saw this a few years ago. It seems to have been resurrected. The series, OTOH, is new stuff. First episode was good too. I have hope for it.
  • Journey of the Wandering Witch – Episode one was so sweet it caused a cavity. Elaina’s parents suck. But now she’s an adult is is off to have adventures.
  • Jujujutsu Kaisen – Protagonist is given the finger and becomes part demon. Now he gets to fight demons as long as the one within doesn’t take over. Unless the good guys kill him first.
  • Starting Golden Kamuy. Never bothered with it when it first showed up. So far the “little girl” acts like a very short, flat chested woman of great maturity and composure. The “map” scheme is simply preposterous.
  • Adachi and Shimamura – Yuri love between innocent delinquents. The first episode was enchanting. Shimamura is narrating the story from the future. A very dreamy style of animation. Too early to know if it will be another Bloom into You but everything looks good. The ping pong ball definitely had “Made in China” printed on it.

If I stick with any shows through the season it will definitely be the witch and the yuri.


And now on to the main show…

I just rewatched Another. It is what horror anime needs to be.

Horror is a psychological function. It requires a certain degree of helplessness. It is the seeming inevitability of doom that gives horror it’s flavor. Our protagonists thrash about as death approaches ever closer. They desperately seek a way out yet none is apparent.

Horror isn’t being eaten by the spider. That’s just death. And dead is dead whether your head is chopped off or your blood sucked or they burn you at the stake. Horror is watching the spider suck your friends dry, stuck in the web, one at a time, as your turn slowly approaches. Horror isn’t in the kill but in the stalking. Screams of the victim’s agony are optional but the sense of impending doom is not.

Horror is being trapped in the web. Maybe not always a literal web but a figurative web works as well.

A strong protagonist just turns it into an action/adventure show with perhaps a mystery and/or lots of gore. OTOH, the protagonists ought not to be irrational, cowardly, stupid, and useless. That’s the problem with most horror in slasher flicks. It is all dumb moves, ignoring obvious threats, and stupid mistakes. Of course it does make them fun to watch.

Good horror involves people you care about. Good horror involves people who have a small chance to overcome what is stalking them. I don’t know about you but if the protagonist is written as stupid or oblivious or truly helpless, I just don’t care. Yup. He’s gonna die. Wonder how they’ll do it? No horror here, just Darwin in action.

Mr. Obvious

I’m not saying that Another couldn’t have been done better. It has issues, issues typical of anime. The school just kind of shrugs its shoulders at students in one classroom dying in large numbers every year over decades and does nothing about it. And why don’t parents refuse to send their precious children there, knowing there’s a fair chance of their untimely demise? That’s difficult to swallow – at least for anywhere but anime – but it does fit a particular trope. The kids are on their own.

One wonders why they don’t just burn the damned school down.

Once you suspend your disbelief the story becomes quite good. They are trapped in a supernatural web of death going back many years. The students aren’t idiots, they are doing what they can with what they have but it isn’t good enough. And people start dying. Sometimes sympathetic people.

In the best horror, you don’t know if anyone will survive. Sometimes nobody survives in horror and that creates dramatic tension within the entire genre.

Kouichi Sakakibara is not the ideal protagonist. He’s a bit dense. He doesn’t have a very strong will. They deliberately make him physically weak by starting him out with a collapsed lung. But it’s his imperfections that make him fit the role. During the anime, people keep dying in his presence. Enough that one begins to wonder if the deaths are somehow linked to him. Plus he doesn’t get the traditional protagonist seat in the rear by the window.

Yup!

That seat is reserved for Mei Misaki. It is a cursed seat. She is mysterious. She is cute. She is detached. She is… spooky. I believe she started the “adorable dark-haired girl with eye-patch” character design. One wonders if she is hiding the Sharingan beneath it. When we get to see her family, she’s in a much weirder situation than Sakakibara.

And there are classmates and a teacher to kill off gradually over time. Eventually fear drives people to behavior that would seem irrational. Sometimes your fellow humans are as big of a problem as the actual curse.

The final horror of the show is the big reveal of who the antagonist really is.

Want to watch some more good examples of anime horror? Try these:

Or you could just look at the mess the world is in. Perhaps it is the greatest horror story of them all. Happy Halloween.