Book Review: Another

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September is coming to an end, and looking through the archives, this has been the most active I have been for some time since February, but who knows what October will be like.

Speaking of October, things seem to have been timed quite well. I recently got three books. So far, two have been covered, and the one that remains is probably a decent fit, because many people where I live will be celebrating Halloween in the coming month.

Today, I will be reviewing that title, which is called Another by Yukito Ayatsuji.

As I have already given a series synopsis in my review of the first novel volume and it also works for the synopsis here, I will be skipping the summary entirely.

I am not too sure about this book. You could probably say that this is the third time I covered this series, so I might be tired of it. However, I cannot really say that is the reason why I did not enjoy it as much as the novel or the anime. After all, I did go over the Sisters Arc that occurs in A Certain Scientific Railgun and A Certain Magical Index thrice.

Anyway, before I can get into what I did not like, I guess that I should talk about the things that I did like. As with the other two versions of this series, the whole town of Yomiyama and the school, called Yomiyama North Middle School, gave off the creepy atmosphere that one should expect from a horror title. Incidentally, the creepy atmosphere was not only created by the vibe I got from the way the story went, but the artwork itself also gave off its own creepy vibe that I do not think the anime could have pulled off without the color and music. Honestly, if it were not for the music and the colors, I do not think I would have gotten the same creepy vibe that I did from both the novel and manga. Because this fact, I have to give a lot of credit to Hiro Kiyohara for creating the creepy atmosphere by artwork alone. I also liked how many of the same question that I had from reading the novel and watching the anime once again cropped up, though might be due to the fact that it has been 1 to 2 years since I have covered those versions, when I look at the posts I have for this series. In fact, I even questioned if Mei Misaki was a real person or not, despite the fact that both the anime and the novel both say that she does indeed exist. Another thing that I kind of liked was not only was there was a creepy atmosphere established, but unlike the anime, it never really seemed to disappear, even in the scenes where Misaki talks to Koichi about what is happening, which corresponds to episodes 5 and 6 of the anime. If the anime had kept up the creepy atmosphere for the entire show, it probably would have been better than it actually is, though it was not terrible overall. The thing that I think I liked the most though was the whole story was released in one single book, instead of multiple volumes. When I first heard about the novel being released in my area, though it was only available digitally at the time, I was wishing to get it all at once, like it was originally released, but unfortunately, it was released as two volumes. As a result, I think that things end up flowing much better than they did when I had to wait for the next episode or next volume to be released, especially because I did not want to put this down. Outside of that, I cannot really think of anything much else that I liked that I have not brought up in the other two versions of the series. The fact that the story is just as good as I remembered it and that there are something that were better than the anime adaptation made this pretty enjoyable.

Although I liked the book, there were some issues. First, the Table of Contents really bugged me. This is probably the first true omnibus release I got from Yen Press, seeing as Doubt, which was also supposedly an omnibus release, just listed all of the chapters in the volume, and I did not really like how it listed all the chapters of each volume that was compiled into the omnibus. This is not some Bible, Book of Mormon, or any other scripture that people know about. This is a compilation of a completely fictional work. At least with religious texts, this kind of setup makes since, but it just does not work here because I could not really tell when I was in the next volume or not, since it is advertised as an omnibus of four volumes in one. Really, Yen Press? A Table of Contents is supposed to help navigate a book, just like an index in works of nonfiction is supposed to help navigate to book in addition to the Table of Contents. While it is not as bad of a job as the TOC found in Negima! Volume 34, it still is not the kind of thing that I want to see in an omnibus. In an omnibus release, I expect something similar to how Del Rey manga released their Negima! omnibus, which may been a Barnes & Noble exclusive, where each volume in the compilation had its own Table of Contents. Another possible fix is just to do things like how Doubt was handled and not separate the chapters by volume, instead of having one big list of chapters for the whole volume. Out of the two fixes, this would be relatively easy to accomplish, seeing as how the book is laid out. Another thing that I did not really like all that much is how the whole thing ended. Now, seeing as I have covered this series more than once, most people reading this should know by now it ends and my dislike of killing the extra person being bit too similar to the death of Kenny in South Park, but the thing that really annoyed me here was Koichi’s hesitation. After having actually taken the time to read the chapters, instead of skimming through them, like I did when I reviewed the novel, I just did not find his hesitation itself to be very believable. Honestly, it seemed like he had no trouble at killing the extra person. While it may not be that easy to illustrate hesitation and keep things interesting like it can in a novel or anime, I just think that somebody in a position like Koichi’s would have a much harder time than it appeared to be. After all, I had a hard time when I had to take a pet into the vet to be put down, so a human taking another human life should not be that easy, unless one is like a crazed killer or sociopath. The thing that I hated the most though had to be how the volumes were compiled into this omnibus. This frustration comes from two annoyances, but since I already covered one of them as the first problem with this release, I will just go on to the second. It is not really possible to tell what volume one is currently reading. Not only is this made difficult because of the Table of Contents, but when I get started with a volume, there is nothing to tell me that I am reading the first, second, third, or fourth volume. Yes, the Table of Contents tells me what chapters are in what volume, but all I see for a separation of volumes in a page saying “end of…” and of some extras. Really? The King James version of the bible tells me where I am exactly, I do not have to go all the way back to find out where the last volume ended or all the way forward until I see something that denotes the end of the volume. Not only does the bible give me this luxury, but the Negima! omnibus that I mentioned before also tells me when I am at the start of the next volume. This makes it so that it is no different from having to look through online scans for what I want to see. Unfortunately, this is yet another problem that could have been fixed if the Table of Contents was properly handled by either giving each volume its own Table of Contents page or not separating the chapters into volumes to begin with. It really looks like Yen Press has quite a bit to do to make their omnibus releases better. Other than those particular items, nothing else particularly bugged me. While there was not a whole lot wrong with the story, the handling of the Table of Contents for the four volumes contained in this book and the way the volumes were compiled together drastically ruined the book for me.

Despite the fact that the story was just as enjoyable as I remembered it and that there were things found in the manga that I liked more than the other two versions of the series, the negatives outweigh this enough to make it somewhat a waste of time. I recommend this to fans of horror and mystery, as well as those who enjoyed the novel version and/or anime version of Another, but you might be better off just getting the novel, because the handling of the release was a bit better, even considering the fact that Yen Press chose to release the two volume edition, instead of the original single volume edition. As for everyone else, this might be worth a try, but, as I said before, it might be better to read the novel instead, due how poorly of a job this release turned out to be.

What are your thoughts on Another? If you saw the anime and/or read the novel, were there things that you liked about the manga that you did not find in either of the other two versions? If have you have not, did you like this book or hate it? Was there anything that you liked or hated that went unmentioned? Feel free to comment.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.