Review:Occult Academy

Occult Academy

Mimi: Annnd the supernatural scifi award of the year goes to none other than Occult Academy! This anime plays around with all sorts of themes, such as monsters, aliens, spirits, magic, and time traveling. That’s a lot to pack into just thirteen episodes. Does it manage to pull them off? Well, yes and no. The monsters aren’t that great. They’re just giant moths and green goblins. The episodes dedicated to them are definitely the lesser ones. And while the aliens are cool and all, not much is ever known about them. I’d have to say that OA pulls off the magic and spirits (including the out-of-body experiences) the best, resulting in a few beautiful episodes and an epic finale. The time traveling tops it all off with an awesome twist.

One of the first things you’ll notice about OA is that it’s a funny show. It has a peculiar sense of humor that successfully builds off the eccentricity of the characters and their appearances. For example, the character’s facial expressions are so detailed that whenever a funny situation befalls them, I always get the greatest amusement out of how they look at each other. Even when the situation is serious, someone is bound to break the mood by showing that certain face or by acting out of character.

Much of the series’ charms are attributed to the setting and characters. The academy itself is an enormous, beautiful place full of haunting mysteries, though surrounded by a pretty normal city. The characters really have their quirks and interesting personalities there. Maya in particular is very engaging because she acts the polar opposite to everyone else. She doesn’t tolerate any nonsense and hates the occult right off the bat, and I was genuinely curious to see how she’d get along in such a supernatural environment. The episodes spend a surprising amount of time developing her character rather than the plot.

I do think that OA could have been a little more though. There are few plot holes and questions still lingering around by the end of the series. And considering its short length, it feels like the lesser episodes take up a larger chunk than they actually do. If only those episodes could have been used better, or if only the series was longer. A premise like this that only pops around once in a while should be more careful, in my opinion. But going back to the positive, OA is much more original than anything else we see in anime these days. It is truly a breath of fresh air. I would be happy to blog another show like this in the future.

Mimi’s Score: 8 Meeps out of 10 (Very Good)

Alex’s Score: 9 Meeps out of 10 (Great)

Occult Academy Episode 13 [Final]

“MAYA’s Bunmei”

Mimi: -le gasp!- The ending is here already, and what an ending it is. If you recall what I said for the previous episode, I was actually on to something!  Lol, so Fumiaki is indeed the key, or rather, its his encounter with his kid self that destroyed the future in the first place. Fumiaki learns of this when he talks to his guys in the future, and they decide to bring him back immediately! Eh, not really. They’re allowing him to stay longer because he wants to see his mom one last time–hardly a chance of meeting his kid self then, right? So they say “okay!” =D

Next thing you know, Fumiaki is about to return to the future at the end of the day with Maya watching. But it wouldn’t be any fun if his kid self didn’t show up too, so he does. In the blink of an eye, the portal opens up in their world and aliens descend to the ground. In another blink of an eye, Fumiaki gets his original spoon back from little Fumiaki, bravely charges at the alien, and goes into God-mode to destroy it. In the blink of a third eye, he’s gone, and he world is back to normal…the past and future. I guess you could say that was a little rushed.

I don’t think it’s a bad ending; it’s all fun, creative, and the graphics are as gorgeous as ever. We get to know a little bit more about what happened with Maya’s father, and he reunites with his daughter and the younger Fumiaki in the end (though we don’t get to see them. T_T) There are just a few things here and there that irritated me a slight bit. Now that I think about it, there are quite a few plot holes that didn’t get covered up so neatly here. I didn’t feel emotionally affected by the ending or anything. But nevertheless, I have enjoyed most of this series; it has some of the most inventive concepts in anime to offer lately. But, well, now it’s time to wrap up the Summer season and move on to Fall!  Hope you’re looking forward to it. =)

Occult Academy Episode 12

“A thousand wind, the search for beauty”

Mimi: Lots and lots of action here, and really gorgeous at that. I enjoyed this, even though Mikaze looked quite silly and kept echoing that annoying laugh of hers. Well, for a finale, this is pretty straightforward. Mikaze wins against Chihiro and tracks down Maya to the academy. Just when she’s about to kill her, Fumiaki appears and grabs a hold of Maya’s book of spells, and Mikaze turns back to her human form to toy around with him. Maya manages to take out the special cell phone and takes a picture of Mikaze on top of Fumiaki..and what do you know, it reveals a peaceful future!  Under the impression that Mikaze is the key, Fumiaki reads out a spell from the book, and Maya repeats the words to seal her for good.

Now here’s another little plot twist. Fumiaki informs the guys in the future that he found the key and destroyed it, but when they look outside, the future is still destroyed looking. At this point, I suppose we can speculate that Mikaze wasn’t the key at all…getting rid of her changed nothing. But if you recall, Fumiaki was also in the picture that Maya took. Is he actually the key? That doesn’t make much sense to me, but I got no other clues right now. And I wonder if Chihiro is really really gone, since Maya ended up sealing all things..magical. o.o

Occult Academy Episode 11

“MAYA’s death”

Mimi: Mind-blower, brilliant, epic, whatever you wanna call it—it is just that amazing. This is truly a break-through episode for Occult Academy, as it is full of plot twists and shocking scenes at quite a fast pace. Here, we have Mikaze and Chihiro’s identities revealed, and the Nostradamus’ Key is getting ever so closer to being discovered.

It turns out that yes, Mikaze is definitely evil, but she is still a bit surprising in this episode. I mean, she uses ‘magical girl’ transformation to become a black mage… I think that the fan service part is unnecessary, but it is still quite awesome nonetheless. Her feelings against Maya are just burning now as she tells Fumiaki that Maya is a witch, and that she will open the door to hell and invite evil things into this world. Her seductive tactics actually help to convince him a bit, or at least, get him feeling very paranoid about Maya.

When Fumiaki meets Maya later on, he freaks out and tells her everything that he knows from Mikaze, which leads to the accusation that Maya is the Key. However, she looks confused and thinks that Fumi has lost some bolts, but she dares to take a picture of herself again with that special cell phone to see. For some reason, Fumiaki interferes and grabs the phone, and Maya kicks at him out of frustration. Like, her shoe heel, hitting his back hard repeatedly….ouch. Her aggressiveness is surprising here, and then she runs off to leave him quite hurt.

The most pleasant revelation is Chihiro. She has been on Maya’s side the whole time, watching over to protect her. And similarly to Mikaze, she transforms into a white mage, and wow does she look cool. I really disliked her before…but now, she simply has all of my attention just like that. I’m dying to see her fight with Mikaze.

Ah, so, what’s up with this episode’s title? Basically, Chihiro reveals herself to Maya, and together they agree to “fake” her death to deceive Mikaze. Everyone is fooled, including Maya’s friends and Fumiaki. And boy does Fumiaki take it hard, as he can hardly believe that Maya is still alive when she comes to him in secret. She has Chihiro with her at that point, trying to explain their little scheme, but they don’t go unnoticed by Mikaze for long..and now it’s time for a showdown.

I have to say, the animation/artwork is at its finest here. It can only stay this awesome or get better for the finale, so I’m ready for a bit more eye candy. And I’m finally starting to feel the real atmosphere of this show, as this is becoming one of the most exciting conclusions of the summer season, next to Kuro. I’m quite happy now that those two are far from disappointing!

Occult Adademy Episode 10

“AKARI of fireplace”

Mimi: Awesome, this episode isn’t just about wrapping up Akari’s situation; it also brings light to Maya’s past and her inner struggles once more. The only drawback here is that it starts out with Fumiaki and his love triangle problem. He tries to get on good terms with Maya, impressing her with a bit of serious talk, but Mikaze always butts in to turn Maya off. Then Chihiro catches on to them around school and finally confronts Mikaze after she and Fumiaki went out for a night drive. Fumiaki excuses himself by saying that he needs to talk to “the principal,” and the confused Chihiro wonders if it’s about her father’s residence that is going to be torn down. Alarmed, Fumiaki runs off to find Maya there, and they talk for a little while. There is one interesting thing to note here, and that is Mikaze’s facial expression after he leaves…talk about serious looking. Show us your hidden motiveeeee!

Meanwhile, Maya is planning a Christmas party with her friends for Akari, despite that it is the middle of summer. They’re doing this because it is related to her death, which they finally got her father to explain to them. After Akari’s parents divorced, her father neglected her due to work. On Christmas day, he outright told her that Santa Claus didn’t exist (gosh that’s horrible!!) and left for work. Later on, he got a phone call that she was found outside of her home freezing to death..and this was because she was waiting for Santa to prove if he was real, and perhaps he could find her home better if she was out there. So Maya is adamant about hosting this party for her, and there’s a good chance that it will send her spirit back.

They indeed have the party, and Akari happily shows up to participate. Fumiaki is given the role of Santa Claus to appear after the party, but Akari’s father just robs his Santa outfit to wear himself (lol). It is a very touching moment when he comes in the room and sees his daughter who is just excited over meeting Santa. He hugs her emotionally, and she begins to float up and disappear, thanking him as Santa and as her father. T_T

The last scene of this episode takes another emotional turn. Fumiaki and Maya return to her father’s residence which is half torn down now. Maya begins reminiscing about her growing up there, particularly around Christmas. Then she suddenly realizes that one particular holiday, she told her father that she wanted Santa to give her a “Monster School,” a place where students can study aliens and occult-related things. And Occult Academy is what she got. In the end, Maya figures that her father didn’t exactly turn his back on her, it was really the other way around. This revelation causes her to cry, which is very well animated and detailed. Fumiaki takes her hand to comfort her, and Maya re-announces her determination to find the key. Very very good.

Seriously though, what is up with the next episode preview? At first I saw some Mikaze fanservice and thought oh lawd, but I was surprised to see what happened to Maya there. The next episode is titled “MAYA’s death.” What the heck. O__o

Occult Academy Episode 9

“AKARI of Snow”

Mimi: Whenever an episode features a lost little child with a sad life, it always does the trick. Although this is another case unrelated to the Key, it’s an interesting and endearing episode so unlike the last one.

Chihiro gathers Maya’s class inside a dimly lit room where she is going to summon a spirit and “materialize it,” which means that it should take on physical form and even be touchable. Upon Kozue’s request, she tries to summon Maya’s father, but what they all get is a confused, little spirit girl named Akari instead. She often disappears and reappears in other places, leaving a trail of snow behind her. At this point, you know something sad must have happened to her on a cold day or something. Akari also appears to be distressed, wanting to find her home, and Maya and her friends agree to help her.

When they find her home, Akari crouches down on the ground and suddenly feels cold. Her surroundings become snowy and she releases a huge wave of spirit energy due to her emotions. Maya tries to reach out to her to find out what’s wrong, but she disappears again. Next thing they know, an elderly lady approaches them and wonders what is going on, but it turns out that she knew Akari when she was alive. Apparently, Akari’s parents had a divorce, and her father had trouble taking care of her all on her own. She tried to be independent and refused too much help from the lady, but on one snowy Christmas eve, she sat in front of her home all night and froze to death. T_T

The next thing Maya and her friends decide to do is find Akari’s father. Through some investigation, they find him working at a construction site and get his attention. They tell him about Akari’s spirit and request that he helps them to put her to rest. However, he doesn’t take it very well and yells at them to leave, although he hints that Akari’s death was his fault.

So yeah, this episode was sad but enjoyable nonetheless. It was nice to see Maya warming up to Akari and smiling so sweetly at her. And JK really had his amusing moments again. So with the way things left off, the next episode will center on resolving Akari’s case. That just leaves what…3 more episodes? I really really hope that they focus on finding the Key and reveal Chihiro’s evil plotting, and won’t leave everything to the very last episode. Even at this point, I suspect that Mikaze isn’t all whom she appears to be (I mean, she better have an interesting conclusion given all the screen time she has been getting). What’s going to happen to all of these characters?

Occult Academy Episode 8

“Mamma AMI~ya!”

Mimi: Weak episode. Maya and Ami are at odds with each other through the next day, Ami gets kidnapped by a random green goblin called a chupacabra, the whole gang rescues her, and the two friends make up. That’s it. Not even using Kozue as a comic relief is successful this time; all she does is lose her glasses repeatedly and fall into pits. Ah well, at least the music and fighting is good….especially the music. With only five episodes left though, I hope there won’t be any more fillers like this one.

Some parts of this episode are pretty awkward though. When Ami gets bitten by the chupacabra in her back, there’s no sign of harm on her later on..her shirt isn’t even torn if I recall correctly. Then during the kidnapping process, Maya and Kozue don’t look all that surprised..or worried..they just stand there with half-confused looks. Later on when Maya offers her hand to rescue Ami from a lower floor level, Ami is hesitant on taking it even when she’s surrounded by the chupacabras. What could she possibly have second thoughts about? Just a weird episode.