Anazaa is anything but perfect. It’s less painful to watch than Symphogear but it still bears a number of flaws that absolutely put me off.
Mizushima is clearly trying to create an atmospheric series, but as a horror fan– I can’t help but think he’s got this wrong. Ambiance is of great importance to any horror piece, however setting up the atmosphere is an art in itself. It just doesn’t come with static shots, hollow hallways, random cuts of scary dolls and creepy music alone. There are some who willingly allow themselves to submit to the idea of being scared but it’s important to realize that most people who watch horror would usually have their defenses up higher than usual.
It’s been a long time since I’ve used the word, but ‘effortless’ best describes what I’m looking for. An unsettling vibe should be accomplished effortlessly. Anazaa just does too much and accomplishes too little. An example of what I’m looking for can be found in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s work. I’m not demanding that Mizushima’s Anazaa reach Kairo’s standard, but I’d love to see him applying more finesse to his work since it’s quite visible that P.A Works is a studio that works with solid production values.
Look at this doll, even she’s tired of Anazaa!
The droll tone, the vast empty spaces and the dark lighting– we all know what Anazaa is supposed to achieve and yet it doesn’t actually assist the narrative and hampers it down with all this excess. Why should I be repeatedly be reminded that I’m watching a horror anime? Part of the thrill comes with the element of surprise, and when you’ve seen a good number of horror films the whole affair turns tedious.
There’s also the issue of how this episode handled the dialogue. Are we seriously doing these awkward pauses? Are we really going to keep waiting for Character XX’s turn to talk? Is Mei going to keep on being cryptic because otherwise we wouldn’t have a mystery? It’s just unintentionally funny– made me laugh a couple times.
Anazaa does have it’s strengths though, and here’s the part where I tell you why my post title is relevant. The nature of Kouichi’s dilemma comes from Class-3 hiding something from him. This is where we talk about how important that’s important for a middle schooler. We’re aware that a girl named Misaki has died before, Kouichi isn’t. He does however, feel that his classmates are being a bunch of weirdos.
It’s like they don’t want him there.
As if being from another town weren’t bad enough, Kouichi also has to deal with being an outsider from his own class. They may have treated him well and all during lunch break, but that doesn’t stop Kouichi from seeking out what dark secret this class might be hiding.
The class is tormented by this as well, everyone needs to cooperate if they want to keep a secret from Kouichi, something Reiko has already hinted at.
In an effort to maintain social stability, the class needs to go on acting as if nothing were wrong. Out of all the students, it appears that the class officers are maneuvering everything. Establishing ‘false order’ seems to be apparent here, and a number of students don’t look very pleased about it.
Genderbend Barnaby looks pissed.
Also, call it scenery porn if you like but this has one of the best background artworks I’ve seen, the only other series that could match Anazaa’s standard is Rinne no Lagrange (which looked amazing in 720p). There’s a great variety in character design that doesn’t end up looking too over the top or out of place with the series.
It’s unfortunate that Mei, the character that embodies the very mystery of Anazaa is downright forgettable. Despite the eyepatch motif, there’s nothing particularly striking or unsettling about her. She looks like a bland goth chick with an eyepatch– that’s it.
Anazaa does have potential though, and had Natsume not been airing this would probably be the best anime airing this winter. But all things considered, I’m glad Natsume is airing. Anazaa has a lot to prove for 12 episodes, and what scares me is that if they keep up with all this dramatic and cryptic nonsense we’ll end up looking just as stoned as Class-3.
Good to see Ringo is moving on.