Anime Review: Occult Academy Episode 13 (final)

(Originally published on Livejournal on 11/13/10)

Anime Review:
Occult Academy Episode 13 (finale)

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.13 tl;dr review: The fat lady hasn’t sung yet; It’s Bunmei to the rescue!

Assorted video captures from the episode – click on each picture for a full-sized view in a new window:

Episode 13 Synopsis: With the evil witch destroyed, there’s just two days left until graduation, which is also Armageddon Day. However, despite eliminating the threat, the apocalyptic future has not changed. Once Maya reveals that she has invited a young Bunmei to the closing ceremonies, they figure out that in fact the Nostradamus Key has not yet been eliminated, and Fumiaki himself is the Nostradamus Key. By coming in contact with his younger self, he opens a rift in reality and causes Armageddon. No sweat – all he has to do is avoid meeting his younger self. But after being dis-invited, the little Bunmei sneaks on to campus. Before you know it, the two of them meet, a portal opens in the sky and aliens start pouring through. Fumiaki, realizing that he’s just been a follower all his life, seizes control of his own destiny, grabs a spoon and attacks the aliens, sending them (and himself to oblivion). The future is changed, and Maya is left to care for the younger Bunmei and her “I was never really dead” father.

My Thoughts: After the big action-filled climax of the last episode, what’s left to do than…add another climax? To the surprise of no one, defeating the Wicked Witch of the East was not the true end of the series. Nope, it was Fumiaki/Bunmei all along — the big twist being that *they* created the conditions for their own destruction without ever realizing it.

How the whole time paradox/temporal dynamics/changing the future bit works doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, so I’ll take the easy way out (e.g. the ‘Star Trek explanation’) and just say “That’s how it is” and there is no logical explanation, it just makes your head hurt. Forget about attempting to wrap your brain around it all, just go with the flow. Okay, so suspending my disbelief for that aspect of the episode, I’m less willing to easily dismiss Fumiaki suddenly gaining ungodly powers (or regaining his spoon-bending abilities at the last moment multiplied by a million-fold?) and charging at the alien threat that laid waste to the Earth with nothing but a single spoon…and winning. Unh? What, did he become Neo all of the sudden? Or is it because he *is* the Nostradamus Key that he can do all of this (that makes more sense, I think)? Okay, okay, I totally get the whole idea that he’s had an epiphany about his own life, going from someone who has only gone along with what he has been told to do, to suddenly grabbing his own fate by his own hands and driving his own future. But the whole “I am the savior of the world” bit sort of came out of nowhere.

The Verdict:

SERIES FINAL GRADE: B+ – Early on, Occult Academy was definitely *the* show to watch, the “Must See TV” pick with so much promise. But in the final episodes, they managed to unearth a refrigerator and nuke it into orbit, as it were. I would have been fine with that if there was some foreshadowing and/or heavy hinting at any of this earlier, but from my perspective it seems like they just piled on the ridiculousness in the last furious build-up towards the end. As such, a show that was in Solid A-grade territory was reduced to just another B-grade show at the end, lessened by the bewildering ending.

In the end, it really *was* a story that was all about Fumiaki/Bunmei, as he comes to grips with his role in the world. I actually did pick this up very early on (like around the third or fourth episode), even though I didn’t really want to think of him as the primary driving character because he was such a sorry-ass loser. Not only that, but Maya had such a commanding presence, her action and reactions pure joy to watch.

Imperfect as it was, Occult Academy was still enjoyable. Perhaps I’m handicapping it a bit because I poured on my expectations pretty early in the series, always a dangerous thing to do. As the third show in the fledgling “Anime no Chikara”, it’s definitely a solid hit after a couple of disappointing misses (Sora no Woto: C, and Senkou no Night Raid: C+), now that it is essentially on hiatus, I wonder if we’ll see of such more original works (instead of 90% of everything devolving from manga and/or video game concepts).

Summer/Fall 2010 Series Up Next: Shiki (13-15), Legend of Legendary Heroes (13-15), Agriculture Angel Baraki (1), Super Street Fighter IV (OVA), Bungaku Shoujo (Movie), Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru (2-3), My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute (2-3), The World God Only Knows (2-3), Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt (2-3), Psychic Detective Yakumo (2-3), Shinryaku! Ika Musume (2-3), Letter Bee Reverse (2-3), Bakuman (2-3), Otome Youkai Zakura (2-3)

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