Wednesday, August 14, 2013

In short: Another (2012)

One of the troubles that ails contemporary Japanese cinema is franchise-isation, where there's a frighteningly high chance that any given movie is based on a light novel which has already spawned a manga, an anime series, an anime movie, and probably a toilet paper version of the novel. As it goes with things like that, there's not much room for the people hired to do a movie version to move in, because every single version of the original has to resemble the other media versions as closely as possible, or (one supposes) the franchise fairy will descend from the skies and do some tentacle-related shenanigans to the producers. The only way to be allowed to put some creativity in is if you're making a more long-form version of the story, say the anime show, because you have the luxury to need more material.

Given this basic situation, it's no wonder Takeshi Furusawa's adaptation of Yukito Ayatsuji's novel isn't great shakes, particularly compared to the much superior anime show that at least had much more time to emotionally wallow in the franchise's (yuck) supernatural exploration of teenage alienation, and to actually build up its characters before killing them off, where in this version, the kids who die are "the guy with the eyebrows", "that other guy", "her", and so on. The show also has a much more involving art direction, but then even a cheaply produced anime can include more visually arresting and mood-building efforts than a low budget film's art direction.

Of course, even under these circumstances, one could make a moody little horror mystery, if one were only in the business of making a movie that can stand on its own instead of financially exploiting a successful franchise with as little financial and creative effort as possible. The result isn't horrible - there's the old shadow of basic competence and decent acting by the teenage actors - it's just cynical and lacking any kind of conviction, which is rather a shame given the material Another is too lazy to actually work with.

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