P.A. Works' outing for the winter, Another, begins with the kind of scary story you might hear at any school as an attempt to spook people - a tale of a popular girl named Misaki who died in a tragic accident, but was never forgotten by her classmates. In fact, said classmates pretended she was there for the rest of their time in the school, setting a decidedly creepy precedent for such things.
Of course, none of this seems particularly important to our protagonist Kouichi Sakakibara as the series proper begins - indeed, he has more important things to worry about given that he's missing the start of a school year at a new school, Yomiyama North Junior High, on account of a collapsed lung. Still, it isn't all bad news, as some of his soon to be classmates have kindly taken the time to visit him in hospital and give him notes from all of the classes he's missed so far. But why are they so edgy and stiff? In fact, why are they so obsessed with whether Kouichi has lived in Yomiyama before?
Things don't seem much better when Kouichi finally arrives at the school, as he's introduced to the inhabitants of class 3 - a stiff, uninviting bunch, if only when the teacher's are around. Thankfully, things are much better away from the prying eyes of the staff, and things seem almost normal come their lunch break and the subsequent P.E. classic - almost, of course, being the operative word, with an uneasy tension remaining throughout, and some outright confusion manifesting itself when he mentions the girl with an eyepatch who is also part of their class... a rather unfriendly girl named Misaki, who he also met in the hospital on the way to the mortuary.
If there's one thing that this opening episode of Another does very well, it's making everything feel sinister and creepy - indeed, it almost does too good a job of it to the point where it starts to lose its edge. That aside, this is certainly a most promising start to the series; for all of its slightly clichéd elements the feeling of uncomfortable tension is worked hard and well throughout, with P.A. Works traditional top-notch animation being helped along by some top-notch voice acting performances. It's too early to gauge whether Another will sink or swim at this early juncture, but it certainly seems to have everything in place to create something memorable judging by this opening instalment.