The anime series Another was phenomenally terrifying, with a creepy opening and sorrowful end song that breaks your heart as the series progresses. The book Another 2001 takes place three years after the anime’s events and is the third book in the Another series by Yukito Ayatsuji, translated by Nicole Wilder with cover art by Shiho Enta and Kumi Suzuki. 

Serialized in English from Yen Press, this book is a hefty tome at almost six-hundred pages. The story follows Sou’s admittance into Grade 3, Class 3 of North Yomi Middle School. While there is plenty of tension in wondering when something will happen, Another 2001 has issues with pacing, a stifled narrator, an easily solved whodunit, and an unanswered question of the phenomenon.

Another 2001 Is A Cursed Class

In 1972, Grade 3, Class 3 lost a student, Misaki, who was popular with students and faculty. Unable to accept it, they all pretended Misaki was still alive, talking to him at his empty desk. During the class photo, they included Misaki’s desk; when the film developed, Misaki’s ghost was in it. Now, Grade 3, Class 3 experiences a phenomenon where an extra person who dies returns to the class. When that occurs, the students, teacher, and any relative twice removed from them risk dying. The calamity causes freak accidents, murders, and suicides. At least one person dies each month for the school year.

Now, it’s unsurprising that to end the “calamity,” one must kill the extra person. Aside from the inventive, shocking deaths, the horrific part is when someone or something rewrites the memories of everyone in Yomiyama and changes the records. So no one remembers the person is dead; they engage with them as though they were always alive, which goes back to how that 1972 class treated Misaki.

The Calm Before The Storms

Sou moves into his Aunt and Uncle’s apartment complex during construction, and repairs in his grandfather’s home are underway. His backstory is tragic before class even starts. His father died, his mom remarried, and they sent him to live with his paternal grandfather. The person Sou was close to, Uncle Teruya, committed suicide three years ago. The grief is still so raw that Sou refuses to deal with it and goes down a mental black hole when anything reminds him of it. This, along with the phenomenon, plays a role in how the story unfolds.

Another 2001 cover art of two girls with aquamarine eyes. One showing half their face, the other in side profile.
Another 2001 cover art.

Sou and another classmate, Hazumi, become the non-existers for the class. So when they realize an extra student is present, based on the desk-to-student ratio, these two do not exist in the class. With Sou’s first-person narration, some portions drag, particularly before the deaths occur. Sou is not a dull character but emotionally shut down. So seeing things from his perspective lacks depth. It’s akin the Ferris Beuller’s teacher relaying information. Yet there is sympathy because of all he has already experienced.

Calamity Is Extra Calamitous

Once the deaths begin, it ratchets up from shock to a genuine feeling that everyone in the class might die. Their ends are shocking. Many reminiscent of Final Destination, like the teacher’s death in the first film. It’s a comedy of error that leads to the student’s demise. A student gets lost in the fog, drops his phone in a garbage truck, then trips and falls in, trying to fish it out. However, the mayhem does not start until about a third of the book. Take misfortune, ramp it up to where weather and wildlife all chip in to bring about early death, and it’s a wonder any of these kids get out of bed.

Get Comfortable With Frustration

Another 2001 is a horror, and psychological whodunit with a twist like Final Destination meets Knives Out. But the latter gives information early, plus enough twists to make the end pay off. Another 2001 also provides answers early, but there is little payoff throughout. The rest of the book is about waiting for Sou and the others to solve what readers know. And it’s a lot of waiting. Each time Sou starts to recall a memory, a “thud” sound occurs, and his thoughts or altered or shut down. Like a shutter coming down on a camera, parallel to Sou’s penchant for taking imaginary pictures, the mystery runs throughout but never resolves.

Given Sou’s inner struggles, discerning the difference between his mental struggles and the phenomenon warping his mind is challenging. Since the reader knows more than the narrator, it’s frustrating waiting for Sou to catch up. So, the assumption is solving the mechanics or root of the phenomenon is the point. But that remains unresolved by the last page. Hopefully, another book in the series will focus on finding the core of who or what causes the phenomenon.

Yukito Ayatsuji’s Another 2001 takes a ride that idles in parts but stays fraught with tension, waiting for the other shoe to drop. However, frustration also rises with each turn of the page, and with the sizeable page number, that’s a lot of irritation. The end teases something more at play, making Another 2001 worth reading. Particularly for fans of the entire series thus far.

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