Anime Review: Occult Academy Episodes 4, 5, and 6

(Originally published on Livejournal on 9/10/10)

Anime Review:
Occult Academy Episodes 4, 5, and 6

About The Series: The head of the Waldstein Academy has suddenly passed away. His daughter, Maya, returns to the school with a singular purpose in mind: to close down the academy. With a reputation for studying strange and supernatural events, the school has a nickname of ‘The Occult Academy’ — something that Maya absolutely loathes. Out of nowhere, a strange man descends from the sky; he tells Maya that he’s actually from the future and was sent back to prevent the Nostradamus Prophecies from coming true. Together, the reluctant duo team up to find the Nostradamus Key.

ep.4 tl;dr review: Bunmei completely loses his shit; Revealed as a coward and a fraud.

Episode 4 Synopsis: Both Kozue and Maya are now missing, and Abe is sent to try and find them. Joining up with Mikaze, they uncover a secret underground passage under Minakami Mountain. As they explore deeper, Abe becomes spooked and runs off in complete terror, becoming separated from Mikaze…but ends up finding Maya, who has been wandering the underground bunkers in search of the mysterious Tengu. The two of them uncover a giant underground cavern, the bioluminescent lair of the Moth-men. Abe slips and falls in a gigantic pile of shit, where he finds the cell phone of his digested predecessor, #5. They are attacked, both run off, and Maya castigates Abe to “do something”. Completely spent, Abe confesses that he’s not the great heroic figure he made himself out to be. Instead, he was a poor beggar on the streets, having lost his psychic powers long ago, who was plucked away by secret agents and sent entirely against his will back in time. Maya gives him a look of complete disgust and disappointment, and realizes she has to take matters into her own hands. After rescuing Kozue from an “Aliens”-like pod, they are surrounded by moth-men; just in time for J.K. and Smile to come to the rescue. Abe the Coward runs away; everyone else manages to escape just as hidden explosive charges bring down the caverns. Abe still acts all brave and puffs up in front of Mikaze (who conveniently shows up at the end), but Maya has now lost all faith in him.

ep.5 tl;dr review: Kozue is completely obsessed with the occult; volunteers for a near-death experiment when things go wrong.

Episode 5 Synopsis: Out of everyone at the Waldstein Academy, it seems like innocent Kozue is the only person who has not experienced any occult phenomenon with her own eyes. Desperate for any sign, she searches for examples of the occult everywhere, in everything she does — yet every example she brings to Maya ends up with an ordinary, every-day explanation. Meanwhile, Maya no longer feigns to hide her disdain for Abe/Bunmei, and has decided the whole search for the Nostradamus Key is just a sham — yet she still cannot deny that strange things are happening at the Academy. Abe is reduced to a meek, quivering pile of cowardice…except when it comes to one thing: Mikaze. He backs down on everything, except he finds his balls for Mikaze’s sake when he seeks permission from Maya to sell her baked goods on campus. Back to Kozue, she continues to be a pain in the butt with her monomania about the occult, and she readily volunteers in class as part of a near-death experiment. Sealed away in an “Altered States”-style chamber, they stop her heart and monitor her thoughts (through a big television screen), where she takes a Magical Mystery Tour. After three minutes, she is revived…but not quite the same. Sans her glasses, she now finds the occult is silly, and there’s a vision of Kozue searching around for her glasses remaining on the screen afterwards.

ep.6 tl;dr review: Ami and Maya try to bring back the real Kozue; Bunmei gets his groove back.

Episode 6 Synopsis: The new Kozue now finds all that talk about occult stuff is silly, and that has Ami freaked out. Is this really the same person as before? Enlisting the help of Maya, the two of them try to bring back her memories by presenting her with a series of “occult experiences”. Nothing seems to work, and Ami asks whether they should seek the help of the teacher, Abe. Maya totally rejects the idea, having lost all confidence in him, but Abe finds out and begins to worry about her, too. Finally Maya reluctantly asks for his help in a spoon-bending demonstration, which ultimately causes Kozue to break down in tears, even though she doesn’t know why. Maya determines that she lost her occult-loving heart in the afterlife, and vows to head into the afterlife to retrieve it. Abe intervenes, and offers to go into the chamber in Maya’s place, and Maya is then treated to Abe’s life flashing before his eyes on the big screen. Maya learns that little Bunmei was never really loved by his mother, instead viewed more as a meal ticket, and Maya relates to his predicament. Then she sees the awesome destructive force of the alien invasion yet-to-come through Abe’s eyes, and realizes that while he may be an idiot and a coward, he’s the “real thing”. With time running out, Abe finds Kozue, and brings her back successfully. Maya decides to make peace with Abe/Fumiaki/Bunmei, and begins the quest for the Nostradamus Key in earnest.

My Thoughts: We’ve finally come to the end of Act One, and now the hunt to prevents the Apocalypse truly begins.

This actually seems to be more of a show about Abe Minoru than it is about Maya, and the past four episodes have largely been about explaining and developing him as a character. We learn that he really is a coward, a fraud, a loser and a horndog. But despite all that, the fate of the entire world rests on his shoulders, and he knows it. He has no other choice than to “man up”. What’s more, Maya now knows it as well, and has no other choice than to team up with him to save the world.

There’s still the mystery of exactly why the vice principal and her T-1000 assistant are working against them; it’s never explained, they just *are*. Plus her one-sided crush on Abe, while funny, is also quite disturbing. Then again, everyone’s allowed to have bad taste.

I am also extremely suspicious of Mikaze, there’s more to her than meets the eye, I’m sure. How did she escape from the underground tunnel complex, and then just run up to Abe at the end as if nothing had happened? And in my suspicious mind, her coaxing Abe so that she can sell her baked wares on campus is nothing more than a blatant attempt to get access to the Academy. Or am I just paranoid?

All-in-all, I am enjoying the show as a comedy — it’s all just so ridiculous. Certain scenes have be laughing out loud, such as when Abe is running in slow motion after losing his shit in the underground passages while the vice principal is writing about him in her diary. Or, when Maya is screaming at Abe to stay three meters away as they race through the passages followed by the moth-man, just for a brief second passing directly behind J.K. and Smile. Forget about taking all the occult stuff seriously at all, it’s the comedy that’s worth watching here.

Looking forward to the rest of the series, although I’m bummed it’s only supposed to last for twelve episodes. Now that it’s half over, they’re going to have to kick it into high gear, though.

The Verdict:

Up Next: Nurarihyon no Mago, Shiki, Legend of Legendary Heroes, Broken Blade

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