Another Episode S/O

Another Episode S-O

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Another. You can read my review of this novel [here].

This novel is a little hard to describe… 

This edition collects two spin-off stories from Yukito Ayatsuji’s horror novel, Another, which was written in 2009 and first published in English in 2014. The spin-offs are a short prequel manga (Another Episode O) and a novella – titled Another Episode S – which focuses on a ghostly encounter that Misaki Mei had during the events of Another. The collection was released in English in 2016.

During the summer of 1998, Misaki was forced to leave Yomiyama and head to her family’s summer home. Although this trip put her safely out of reach of the curse, she still intended to spend her vacation searching for a way to save her class. Sakaki Teruya – the man who owned the neighbouring estate – was a survivor from an earlier “on” year and she hoped to discover if he remembered anything about how to stop the deaths.

However, she quickly found that she was out of luck when she encounters Sakaki’s ghost. It seemed that he passed away three months earlier in rather strange circumstances. He dimly remembered falling from a great height and hearing his sister’s voice, yet she swore that Sakaki has just left on a trip. Assuming that he had not passed on because he did not receive a proper burial, Sakaki enlisted Misaki to help him search for his body.

Yet not everything was as it first appeared. As they explored the house, Misaki started to learn that the Curse of Class 3 has had a lasting effect on Sakaki and may have been partially responsible for his faulty memories of the night of his death…

My feelings about this novella are kind of mixed but I’ll start off by saying that you really need to read the original story to have any idea what’s going on. Although Another Episode S is a spin-off story, it technically does take place after the events of Another and so contains some rather massive spoilers. That being said, Episode S is somewhat unusual as it really only tangentially connected to the main story. Confused yet? Let me try to explain.

The two stories are certainly connected. Sakaki is one of the survivors of the bus crash that occurred eleven years prior to Another, which was mentioned in passing in the story. His family then fled Yomiyama to live far away from the curse’s influence. Although the story isn’t really about the phenomenon itself, it certainly does make an impact on the story. We’ve seen survivors before in the form of Reiko and Mr Chibiki, but we’ve never seen anyone who was ultimately as affected by the deaths of his classmates as Sakaki.

However, at the same time, Episode S doesn’t really add anything to Another. While it makes reference to Sakakibara and Misaki’s experiences in the first book and adds to this some vague mention of things that Sakaki experienced, it does nothing to expand our knowledge about why the phenomena even occurs. Episode S even feels like a very different kind of story. Despite its supernatural wrappings, it is much more of a straight mystery story and is nowhere near as tense or gory as the original.

However, if taken on its own, Episode S is actually pretty good. Remove its tenuous links to Another and what you’re left with is an introspective mystery story about a ghost trying to find out how he died. It’s slow moving and largely carried by dialogue, but it is definitely an interesting story. I enjoyed Sakaki’s philosophical monologues about his passing, likening his experiences to the classic Japanese ghost stories that he knows. Although some of the things that he says are a little confusing on a first read through, the meanings become clear once you are aware of the story’s twist.

Yes, like Another, the story has a rather huge twist which I won’t spoil for you here. However, unlike Another, I actually thought that the twist was pretty effective. Another’s twist was only made possible because Sakakibara inexplicably withheld a vital piece of information from the reader. Episode S does not make the same mistake. The final reveal surprised me but, in hindsight, I felt that I should have really seen it coming.

My only real problem with the story was the framing of the narrative. The interludes are, like the original story, told from Sakakibara’s perspective and reveal that the story of Mr Sakaki’s ghost is being told to him by Misaki. However, if this is the case, why is most of the story told in first person from Sakaki’s perspective? I just found this to be jarring as some of the details that Sakaki exposited – including his lengthy monologues – occurred when Misaki wasn’t present so she couldn’t possibly have known about them.

I should probably also talk a little about Episode O, even though I don’t generally review comics. This short prequel manga is an insight into Reiko’s childhood in the year when her sister Risuko (Sakakibara’s mother) passed away. The story was written by Hiro Kiyohara, who also illustrated Another’s manga adaption (which I highly recommend). While it’s interesting that Kiyohara chose to focus on Reiko given what we learned about her in Another, this manga also didn’t offer anything new as everything depicted in it was already mention in the original story.

Okay, except for one thing. This is a bit of a nit-pick but when Risuko dies, it is heavily implied that she sees Misaki (not Mei, but the original entity that trigged the phenomenon) yet this flies in the face of what we learn in Another. The original story was not a ghost story. How Misaki appeared in the photograph was never explained, however it is always made clear that he is not a vengeful spirit. This being the case, I’m not sure why his shadowy form appeared when the curse claimed Risuko…

Given that this is just a short collection; I don’t have much more to say. Episode O was beautifully illustrated but an ultimately pointless addition to the series. Episode S was really rather enjoyable in its own right but suffered a little in that it wasn’t a very good companion to the original novel. Ayatsuji has mentioned that he is working on a true sequel to Another. If this does ever come to fruition, I hope that he’ll tie the two together a little better than he has done here.

Another Episode S / O can be purchased as a Hardback and eBook from Amazon.co.uk

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ally Dewing
    Aug 23, 2016 @ 07:28:34

    These books sound really interesting, will definitely have to check them out! Lovely review, by the way 🙂

    Reply

    • Kim
      Aug 23, 2016 @ 07:31:03

      Thank you. I do really enjoy Another. Japanese horror stories are more about atmosphere than gore and shock-scares which I find far more interesting. I really recommend the first book but you do have to stick with it as it’s a bit slow burning.

      Reply

  2. Boekennerd
    Aug 23, 2016 @ 12:39:15

    Great review! I was just looking for some (psychological) horror books and saw your reviews on Another and its spin-off. I’ll put these book on my TBR. Thanks for recommending!

    Reply

  3. Trackback: The Sobeks 2016 – Part 3 | Arkham Reviews

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