"This school is in a place close to death, especially 9th grade's class 3. It's much, much closer to it than any of other classes."
— Mei Misaki
A horror/mystery novel by Yukito Ayatsuji, adapted into manga and an anime for the Winter 2012 anime season.Twenty-six years ago, in the 9th grade's class 3 (Class 3-3) of Yomiyama North Middle School, there was a student named Misaki. As an honors student who was also good at sports, the charming boy was popular with his classmates. When he suddenly died, his classmates decided to carry on as if he were still alive until graduation. Then, in the spring of 1998, a boy named Kouichi Sakakibara transfers to that classroom, and he grows suspicious of the fearful atmosphere in that classroom. In particular, he becomes curious about an aloof girl with doll-like beauty named Mei Misaki who wears an eyepatch and is always alone, drawing pictures.For those in the US, the series can be watched legally at Crunchyroll.Live-Action Adaptation in a form of a movie aired in Japan on August 4, 2012.
This series contains the following tropes:
A House Divided: The summer trip. By counting students only, the curse doubled the number of all victims that year just in one day of it.
Katsumi Matsunaga accidentally killed a student in his class when they were fighting during the summer trip. The kid turned out to be the extra student, thus making Matsunaga realise what had to be done to lift the curse.
Teshigawara accidentally almost killed Kazami after accusing him of being the extra student. Subverted as Kazami survived the accident.
Adult Fear: Any of the kids can violently die at any given moment, as well as any family members.
Mei's mother. Mei confirms that her mother wouldn't care even if she was aware of how her daughter was being treated at school as if she didn't even exist.Justified, as she's not in the healthiest mental state. In fact, she's not even Mei's (biological) mother.
The school administration is not very helpful with preventing the curse, putting a transfer student in class 3-3 (resulting in the class's initial Poor Communication Kills problem) and making Ms. Mikami the assistant homeroom teacher (she had already had a harrowing experience as class 3-3's homeroom teacher two years prior). Justified for the latter; she's the extra person and has to be in the class, even if Fake Memories result in a backstory that would make the homeroom teacher appointment seem unwise.
Almost Dead Guy: Subverted in the death of Takabayashi, who was basically fine until he started telling Kouichi some important information, then he was suddenly Killed Mid-Sentence by a heart attack.
Alternate Continuity: All the versions are this to each other, to various degrees. The anime has some deaths either occurring differently, happening to different people, or not happening at all compared to the light novel and manga versions, while sometimes it covers parts of the original novel which the manga skips or changes.
Note that since this is an anime out of P.AWorks, the animation quality is already sky-high, so receiving an AB on top of that is damn impressive.
Anyone Can Die: Played straight after the first two introductory episodes. Especially so in the last two episodes when bodies start falling left and right.
Apocalyptic Log: In the form of a cassette, detailing the doomed expedition to Yomiyama Shrine. Unfortunately, circumstance conspires to screw said cassette before Sakakibara and co. get to the most important part.
Zigzagged. Mr. Kubodera pulls a kitchen knife on the students in an attempt to fight off the curse. Instead he just kills himself with the knife, but then it turns out that he killed his mother long beforehand.
In Episode 11 Yumi Ogura and Takako Sugiura (obviously from the trauma of witnessing her brother's death and long-suffered mental instability respectively), as well as the inn's landlady who's gone insane from her grandson's death. Eventually almost all of the students turn to this upon learning of the confession.
In Episode 12 Kazami appears again and starts killing off students, wanting to kill the extra student first before another attempt can be made on his life.
The manga. Most of the main cast survives, the curse is stopped mid-year, Akazawa recovers from her paranoia and Kazami apparently forgives Teshigawara for trying to kill him... But Kouichi had to kill his own aunt, Reiko is forgotten by most and will probably be forgotten by him either and the curse was only stopped for this year.
The anime has a similar ending, except worse since Akazawa and Kazami both die at the mansion. The ending of the original novel is on par with this, as Akazawa breaks her neck when she falls from a veranda.
Body Horror: Some of the Creepy Dolls invoke this; one has an open skull with roses spilling out, while another has tentacles emerging from her eye sockets.
Breather Episode: Invoked example with the anime's episode 8, which is also a Beach Episode. This comes right after Kouichi himself gets Unpersoned, Mr. Kubodera commits a very public suicide, and very strong evidence arises that Kouichi is the dead student. Everyone is exhausted by the events in Yomiyama, and the downplayed soundtrack and the emptiness of the beach make the entire affair feel like a rather futile attempt to relax in the wake of the recent disasters. Too bad it doesn't last.
Broken Masquerade: After it turns out that their Unpersoning didn't stop the deaths, everyone stops bothering to ignore Kouichi and Mei, and some even work up the courage to tell their friends and family about the curse.
Bystander Syndrome: The school seems to at least be aware that something is wrong with Class 3-3, which is why they are kept separate from the other classes as much as possible. However, besides that, the school does not really do much to try and figure out or prevent the accidental deaths that plague the class.
By the Eyes of the Blind: Initially implied that only Kouichi and those near death can see Mei. Then later subverted when it turns out to be an example of Unperson.
Can You Hear Me Now?: One of the first signs that the curse is manifesting is when nearby phone signals start breaking up. Given that the curse is apparently sentient, these outbursts of static tend to be perfectly timed to hide important information from listeners.
Used somewhat in Yukari Sakuragi's death. There's plenty of blood shown quite explicitly but the images are noticeably darker than Kouichi's reaction shots and the wound is totally dark in wide shots.
The same technique is used just after Kubodera stabs himself in the neck.
And again when Nakao gets hit by a motorboat propeller (the next episode revealed he was dead already) and thrown into the air.
Classroom With A Dark Secret: In 1972, a popular student from class 3-3 named Misaki died. However, the rest of class 3-3 chose to pretend that he was still alive until graduation. This altered the class to a place that "invited death". Every year since, an extra student has appeared on the roster—a dead person. All significant records and memories—even those belonging to the dead students themselves—are altered to accommodate them, and the identity of the dead person is not brought to light until graduation. Additionally, at least one person with connections to 3-3 dies every month. The only way to prevent the deaths, as class 3-3 discovered through trial and error, is to treat one student as if they don't exist for the entire year to "even out" the imbalance caused by an extra student. Or they can find the "extra" and kill it to end the curse for that year.
Class Representative: Yukari Sakuragi and Tomohiko Kazami. Izumi Akazawa isn't really one at least until Sakuragi dies, but acts the part the most.
Contrived Coincidence: One actually happens in episode 8. Misaki couldn't help Sakakibara and friends because she went on vacations with her family. They went to the hotel Matsunaga worked to ask him about the curse, the exact same hotel where Misaki was taking vacations.
Conveniently Seated: Mei is seated in the back row by the window so she can daydream and easily exit if she so feels. It also helps her classmates ignore her.
Convection Schmonvection: No-one seems to be all that inconvenienced by the fire of the vacation resort in the last episodes unless they actually touch the flames or end up under falling rubble. People walk around and talk normally even as the walls blaze all around them.
Creepy Doll: All over the anime's opening sequence... and then there's an entire doll shop/gallery full of them. Mei implies that the dolls will attempt to draw out the souls of the living. Also, in certain parts of the episodes, there are short half second cuts to creepy shots of dolls.
Dead All Along: Every year, a dead person appears in Class 3. They're not aware that they're dead, and the records and memories of everyone else are altered so that they were always there. As a result, the class registers as over-full, and... takes steps to rectify the imbalance. In all adaptions it's revealed that the dead person this year isn't any of the students but Ms. Mikami, the assistant homeroom teacher.
Aya Ayano, Kenzou Kawahori, Aki Matsui, Kyouko Kaneki and Makoto Ouji are anime-only characters so their death only occured in the anime.
Demoted to Extra: Kazami in the anime. Despite being one of Kouchi's friends and a member of the mystery-solving gang in the manga, he's pretty much sent off-screen after the beginning of the anime.
Despair Event Horizon: Poor Mr. Kubodera hits one, due to the stress of having to both taking care of his very ill, very old mother (and he is a single) and fighting the curse that befalls his class. The result is gruesome; he kills his mother and then kills himself in front of his class. Talk about Adult Fear...
Derailing Love Interests: The anime teases us with two possible options of love for Kouichi - Mei and Izumi. Izumi's last actions certainly weren't pretty.
The End... Or Is It?: The end of the manga gives us a mysterious student with a supernatural feel wandering in the empty school. Also, all of the continuities make clear that the curse is stopped only this year.
Fling A Light Into The Future: The current Class 3-3 finds out that a student from a previous class figured out how to stop the curse and left behind an audio tape to record his discovery in case his memories were rewritten. Afterwards, the surviving students leave behind a new recording for the next class to find.
Foreshadowing: The first minute and a half of the anime's first episode is a montage of seemingly random and unconnected imagery. They are actually subtle hints at things to come.
Four is Death: The elevator Sanae rides in episode four is missing the sign for the fourth floor, as a nod to this trope. That doesn't stop the elevator from malfunctioning, though. Poor Sanae...
Gender Blender Name: The Misaki from 1972 was a boy. Although it should be noted that for 1972!Misaki it's his given name, while for 1998!Misaki it's her family name.
Everyone becomes visibly tense in episode 8 as they approach the city limits and a huge tanker truck passes them on the highway, as if they expect the curse to suddenly flare up the second before they leave Yomiyama.
Kouichi's also quick to adapt to the circumstances around the curse and even wonders very early on if Mei is a ghost or not. This gets mixed in with a bit of Wrong Genre Savvy, but he never wastes time thinking "This is impossible."
Idiot Ball: Many of the characters at some point. The group who get an idea of warning the class that there's a fire and a psychotic murderer in the building by politely visiting every room and telling them instead of using an (existent) radio system in Episode 11 deserves a special mention.
Ill Boy: Kouichi is introduced as this, his left lung having been punctured on the day of his fifteenth birthday. Takabayashi is also one, explained as some sort of heart condition.
Yukari Sakuragi gets this through the neck of all things. And with an umbrella, to make it worse.
Mr. Kubodera (Class 3's teacher) does this to himself with a kitchen knife in the neck.
In-Series Nickname: The nurse Mizuno calls Kouichi "Horror Teen" due to him reading horror novels. Teshigawara calls him Sakaki.
Irony: Semi-meta example. The perpetually-cloudy setting and morbid students let off an atmosphere of Nothing Is Scarier, but the ending credits provide a stark contrast: everyone is in a beautiful mansion with large windows that let in the light of the sunny day outside. They're all smiling and seem to be relaxed, and Mei is outside on a balcony, looking at the Ghibli Hills that surround the mansion.
It Can Think: The curse. Oh, and it is one sadistic little bastard.
Kick the Dog: Akazawa basically turns the whole class against Mei with their speech in episode 10. To be fair, nobody had any idea that Mei's actions as 'the nonexistent' couldn't have anything to do with the start of calamity at the point Kouichi transferred, so Akazawa's reasoning was valid.
Killed Off for Real: Sakuragi (and her mother), Takabayashi, Mizuno, Mr. Kubodera (and his mom too), Nakao, and Reiko Mikami. In the anime Kazami and Akazawa also bite the dust.
Kill It with Fire: One of the students dies in a fire explosion during the summer trip.
Knight Templar: Instead of the fear-fueled ax-craziness some of the characters give in to, Izumi's and Kazami's actions fall under this trope in the last episode.
Kazami goes on a random killing-spree before encountering the person whom he thinks is the Another, and it's played more like he's a villain than a victim of Sanity Slippage. Granted, he did fall from the balcony in the previous episode...
...But Akazawa has no such excuse, when she tries to murder the unconscious Kazami because she feels he deserved it. And later she tries to kill Mei, while basically admitting that announcing her "the dead one" is an excuse she doesn't necessarily believe in.
Laser-Guided Amnesia: Information that would help later victims of the curse seems to end up forgotten.
The curse modifies the memories of people related to Class 3 and any kind of record that may help others figure out how to break the curse, ensuring that it will continue to claim lives.
Laser-Guided Karma: One student who becomes trapped under the fallen chandelier in episode 12 manages to free himself and bolts for the door without helping the others. He is immediately crushed by a fallen pillar while the rest of students who were trapped survive.
Let Them Die Happy: Subverted. Kouichi got the opportunity to make Izumi happy in death by lying and telling her that he did remember their first meeting but Kouichi got hit by Brutal Honesty and told her "no." Izumi even lampshades this by calling him mean and telling him he was supposed to lie before she died.
Limp And Livid: Kubodera spends a few seconds flailing and waving his knife around before plunging it into his own neck. It's implied that he's trying to fight the curse off.
Lovecraftian Super Power: Mei's ability to see when people are going to die. It's subtle, but she says that the person is highlighted in a color outside the spectrum. Not too madness inducing to her, since she's used to it. But think about the implications...
Magic A Is Magic A: After two and a half decades of dealing with the curse, those involved with class 3 have worked out most of the rules involving the curse, such as the fact that it can't harm you outside Yomiyama (the one time it looked like it had was a Time Delayed Death).
Make It Look Like An Accident: Subverted. A lot of the deaths could actually be counted as accidents, bizarre and unlikely as they are, if they had happened individually. But the fact that these deaths occur so alarmingly frequently, and sometimes even simultaneously, is what makes it obvious that this is not the case.
Male Gaze: Ms. Mikami practically has a panty line in episode 3.
Meganekko: Yukari Sakuragi and Takako Sugiura. Ms. Mikami in the manga and aunt Reiko in the anime.
Mismatched Eyes: Mei, under her eyepatch. The covered eye is actually artificial, since the original had to be amputated due to a malignant tumour when she was four. Her mother thought that green doll eye would be striking and attractive, but she doesn't seem to agree.
How Yukari Sakuragi dies. You will never look at umbrellas the same way again.
The backhoe in Episode 9.
Takako's death in the anime. A fire from earlier in the episode wells up and create an explosion from the backdraft, which destroys some of the building's foundations. She then gets caught in some of the loose wires, which are somehow hoisted into the air and end up strangling her to death.
From episode 12, several students are crushed by a falling chandelier in the opening scenes. The one who manages to get up and run away gets crushed by a randomly falling pillar before reaching the door.
The curse tries to get rid of the dead person in Class 3 just like the humans are trying to do. The problem is it's non-sentient and therefore has no qualms with indiscriminately killing the other children until it guesses right.
The dead person is also one. They're never really antagonist, it's just that their very presence causes other people to die.
Nothing Is Scarier: The oppressive atmosphere and the way everyone dances around mentioning the incident from 1972 is creepy enough on its own.
Oh Crap: Mochizuki and Teshigawara have this well justified reaction when in search for Ms. Mikami they find the blood-covered Ax Crazy inn's landlady holding a cleaver instead.
One Steve Limit: Averted with Misaki the current student and Misaki the infamous dead student (and Misaki Fujioka, 1998!Misaki's cousin and the otherwise inconsequential girl who dies in the hospital at the beginning of the story). Kouichi Sakakibara is also implied to be an example given other students' immediate reactions to hearing his name, curious questions of whether he had really never been in Yomiyama before, and Mei's statement that the rest of the class associates his name with death.
Old School Building: Still in active use for art lessons etc., but the classrooms moved to the newer part of the school some time after Reiko was in class 3.
Parental Abandonment: Kouichi's father is a professor who's currently in India (leaving him in the care of his grandmother) while his mother passed away while giving birth to him. Mei stays at her aunt's house while her father's in Germany.
Justified by a really nasty Catch-22. Class 3's continued survival depends on pretending that Mei doesn't exist. On the other hand, explaining that to Kouichi would require them to acknowledge her existence in the first place, which would trigger the events they're trying to prevent. Needless to say, things go to hell very quickly indeed. They probably could have gotten away with it if they'd told him before he officially started attending class, but by the time they got around to it Kouichi had already acknowledged Mei's existence, leaving everyone unsure as to how best to proceed.
Mei has the power to detect the taint of death in people at all time, but her classmates just have to shutdown all communication channels with her.
If Mei has told anyone that Misaki was in reality her twin sister, people wouldn't be left in the dark about the progress of that year's Calamity and she wouldn't have been blamed for failing as the 'nonexistent student'. And there wouldn't be any theories about her 'returning incomplete', thus being the Another, in the episode 11.
There's also Mei's not telling anybody but Kouichi about her ability earlier than she did. Though given how everyone responded to the knowledge of the tape and the possibility that she was the "Extra", her keeping quiet is probably justified. Also, in the manga version Mei tells Kouichi that her ability explicitly does not allow her to see accidental deaths coming. This means that she couldn't necessarily save anyone or prevent their death anymore than anybody else in her position could, and could still get her blamed for failure because of it. Plus, the ability to spot the "Extra" didn't have any practical use until the characters discovered the tape and learned killing them could end the Calamity.
Finally, in episode 12, Mei finally reveals to Kouichi who the extra was (she did try earlier, but was interrupted by Teshigawa). When he asks her why she didn't tell him sooner, she says that he wouldn't of believed her anyway. Probably could've saved a lot of deaths had she of communicated this sooner, but everything fits together once they replay all the clues sprinkled out throughout the series at once for anyone who missed it.
Power Perversion Potential: As mentioned above, Kouichi and Mei could get away with dancing in the middle of class, since the rest of the class has to pretend they don't exist. Imagine what else they could get away with.
Red Herring: In episode 8, Nakao dies in spectacular fashion outside of Yomiyama, leading the audience and characters to believe that the curse is not confined to Yomiyama. In episode 9, however, it's revealed that this is probably not the case—he may have actually died from complications from a concussion that took place in town, which one could technically count as an in-Yomiyama death.
The creepy shopkeeper whom Koichi met when he discovered the doll shop. On the first two occasions, she notably says the exact same thing to - and seemingly because of - him. This is never revealed to be anything significant.
Let's face it: how many people didn't think at least for a while Mei is the dead person? Even the ending theme of the anime heavily implies it, with her fading away while all the other kids fade in.
Retconjuration: An effect of the curse is its ability to hide the "Extra's" existence with both False Memories and false official paperwork. Only handwritten or handmade records seem anything close to immune.
Repetitive Name: Mei is actually the twin of her "cousin" Misaki; Mei was adopted by her aunt Kirika Misaki, whose actual child died in childbirth. Mei speculates that she was the one given over and not Misaki for the sake of avoiding the latter's name being "Misaki Misaki".
The Reveal: Reiko and Ms. Mikami are the same person, and she's the dead one of the year. And Kouichi has to kill her.
Sadistic Choice: Should Ms. Mikami be spared, or not? Notable though, that Mei tried to spare Kouichi from doing it himself.
Sanity Slippage: Happens to multiple people as the story continues and the body count rises. Gets really bad in the last two episodes, as desperate students take matters into their own hands.
Separated at Birth: Mei Misaki and Misaki Fujioka, who are twins. Mei was adopted by their aunt, but later the secret came out and the pair spent all their time together.
The Seven Mysteries: Kouichi wonders aloud if there's a set of these related to class 3. There isn't, although the school as a whole apparently has seven mysteries that no one seems to really care about.
Increasingly between Mei and Kouichi. Not much else to happen when they have no one else to talk to.
There's a bit of Kouichi/Izumi teasing in episode 7 as well. And again when she decides to ride in whichever car Kouichi is in to the beach in episode 8.
Kazami/Yukari is teased in episode 12; Kazami is particularly enraged at Kouichi due to her death.
Also Izumi/Teshigawara in the last chapter of the manga.
Izumi/Teshigawara is sort of faked out ship teased in episode 8 as well (Izumi originally told Teshi that he was to ride in her car, momentarily giving him the impression she wanted to be together for the ride to the beach, to which he seems rather surprised/happy). It's quickly revealed that she did this to free up a spot in the car Koichi was riding in, thus the fake out.
Shout Out: Various pieces of horror fiction and their authors are often alluded to, thanks to Kouichi's interest in horror stories and Mizuno's calling attention to it. Among the name-drops are Stephen King, John Saul, and H. P. Lovecraft. Stories include The Omen.
Time Delayed Death: Nakao's death wasn't actually caused by being dismembered by the motorboat, but from an earlier fall which caused an aneurysm in his brain which burst a few hours later when he was in the sea.
Tomato Surprise: The fact that his aunt Reiko and his teacher Ms. Mikami are the same person is not a secret to Kouichi, but the anime hides it from the audience until the final episode, making it harder to connect the dots leading to the "Extra"'s identity.
Too Dumb to Live: Nakao is afflicted with this in episode 8 when he goes way too far into the ocean to retrieve a beach ball. Justified in the next episode - turns out that he was suffering from a severe (and eventually fatal) head injury at the time.
There's also one Bishounen student in episode 11. Teshigawa and Mochizuki both warn him and his friend about the fire in the cafeteria. So what's the first thing he does when he leaves his room? Checks the cafeteria, of course!
Tsundere: Izumi Akazawa. And you can really spot it by her twintails and facial expression alone.
Unperson: Class 3's countermeasure against the curse consists of 'sacrificing' a single student to counterbalance the ghosts that overfill their roster, pretending that they don't exist for the entire year even as they attend class together. Mei is the current sacrifice, and when Kouichi upsets the balance, he gets unpersoned by his classmates as well.
Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Sakakibara. He just had to transfer into thick of things, unaware of the unspeakable rules. Subverted. Mei said that the calamity had already begun when he started making contact with her. You can almost hear the audience breathe a sigh of bittersweet relief.
The entire Class 3-3 of Yomiyama Misaki, hands down. Simply by pretending that a beloved classmate was still alive and graduated with them, they supposedly "opened the gateway to Death" and brought down a catastrophe that terrorizes every future generation of Class 3-3 students and their families.
And by extension, the dead student, whose presence in the class jeopardizes the lives of every student around him/her as well as their families, even though that person was forcibly brought back to life and had no ways to know s/he is dead.
Subverted at first in episode 3 when Mei removes her eyepatch to reveal she has a doll's eye (note that episode 2 before it played this as a huge Cliff Hanger). Then played straight at the end of the episode when Sakuragi is impaled by an umbrella.
Again in episode 6. Kouichi is strongly implied to be the dead student, the librarian reveals that Unpersoning only has a 50% success rate in preventing the calamity, and Mr. Kubodera pulls out a knife in class.
In a grand subversion of the Breather Episode, episode 8 demonstrates that leaving Yomiyama will not protect the students of class 3-3. Or at least it won't if someone has already been injured in the town and then leaves..
In episode 10, we discover that the only known way to stop the curse is to kill the extra student. Also, Mei has the ability to identify said student.
When She Smiles: The stern, serious Akazawa really comes out of her shell during the Beach Episode, and even Mei lightens up a bit. The latter is even seen giggling in the background of one scene.
The dream in episode 6 also has some Mei related adorableness.
Again from Mei in the final episode, when it's all over (for that year, at least).
Akazawa has signs of being a very mild example. Were her actions not clearly spiteful, she'd be classified as a downplayedClingy Jealous Girl. In episode 10 she randomly decides to blame Mei for the reactivation of the curse. When Sakakibara attempts to defend Mei, the camera focuses on her angrily biting her lower lip. On top of that, the episode opened with Akazawa having a dream about Sakakibara that exemplified her growing feelings for him. Clearly, Akazawa is very jealous of Mei for how close she and Sakakibara have become. In episode 12, she seems almost excited in getting rid of her "rival" for him, and hated how he keeps interrupting her. Then she seems to simply give up and considers killing him as well.
Kazami shows signs of being a Yandere for the late Sakuragi, also in Episode 12.
You Don't Look Like You: Some of the character designs were changed quite a bit between the manga and anime. Compare Mochizuki and Teshigawara from the manga to the anime.