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Occult Academy aka Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin

1999 : Maya comes back to the Waldstein Academy, focused on all sorts of Occult and mysterious knowledge, for the burial of her father, formerly headmaster and founder of the school.
2012 : In an Earth become wasteland by an alien invasion, the only hope for victory lays in sending back a psychic, Fumiaki, to the past, in 1999, in order to prevent the use of the Nostradamus Key that will unleash the first part of the invasion.

Occult Academy is a fairly uneven short anime series; at its best it gives hilarious wacky occult stories with a great sense of comedic timing, physical humour and solid characterization; and its worst has horrible pacing, annoying wacky butt monkey based comedy and out of the blue plot events. Overall it manages to be solidly entertaining the whole way through and occasionally interesting.

The unevenness can be blamed in part to how unequal both its leads (and their respective supporting characters) are.

On the one hand Maya is made of sheer awesome. She's smart, tough, handy with an axe, impatient, easily riled, determined and has her heart in the right place. She has interesting issues with her father and mixed feelings about the occult because of that. She has a particularly great introduction in the (awesome) first episode which spends some time showing a great deal about her character without any dialogue, merely with face and body expressions.

On the other hand we have Fumiaki who is bumbling, boasting, silly, selfish, stupid, clumsy, easily distracted, and supposedly we should feel sorry for him because he had a tough relationship with his mother (yeah, parents-children relationship is something of a motif through the whole series). Not feeling it.

The supporting cast has a few other gem of characters. We have Maya's childhood friend Ami, who is playful in a laidback and well rounded, another student of the school; JK, an occult dowser and a goth and one of those rare example of a positive portrayal of a fat character; Smile, a grumpy mechanic at the school recruited as a strong man to deal with dangerous occultish stuff with a ginarmous wenches. We also have a few which are much more one note such as Kozue, Ami's friend, whose whole personality revolves around being occult obsessed and extremely clumsy; Chihiro the vice principal who hides mysterious secrets about the headmaster's death and has a giant crush on Fumiaki because he one day complimented her hair style; and Mikaze, a local waitress who Fumiaki has a crush on and who acts so cute and bubbly you just know she's up to no good from day one.

The plot isn't much to talk about. The main plot introduced in the first two episodes is only followed through in the last three episodes; with, in the meanwhile, various occult goose chases which were rather fun in a parodic / nostalgic way, but were hardly of any surprise. The eventual plot resolution was kind of ridiculously awesome and just plain ridiculous as well as not making much sense at the same time. A shame, if the storytelling had been a bit more coherent, it would definitely have been a much stronger show. On the other hand, it does allow for a lot of character development (in both good and bad way depending of the characters) and a few very good dramatic moments here and there.

The way it handles the subject of the occult was rather interesting, done in the way that feels rather nostalgic of the 90's when such things were more fashionable, and the way it contrasts the fascination it provokes in people, with issues such exploitation, the harmful effects of obsession, frauds and genuine supernatural danger. Each subject chosen were pretty fun in the ways they reference and pardoies classical, stereotypical occult subject - from cryptozoology to Near Death Experiences. The OP highlights that classical occult vibe very well. It didn't help the incoherent aspect of the plot, though.

Animation and character design are pretty good. The direction was occasionally excellent, and at other times not so much. Can't remember much about the soundtrack.

In the end, Occult Academy can't be much more than a piece of mindless, a little bit empty, fun; though it's almost worth watching just for the sake of Maya.
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abymage: (Default)
Etrangere's anime reviews

September 2011

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Currently watching

- Legend of Galactic Heroes
- Katanagari
- Uraboku
- Senkou no Night Raid
- Madlax
- Welcome to the NHK
- Now and Then, Here and There
- Kaze no Yojimbo
- Arigatou Ghost Slayer Arashi
- Kara no Kyoukai
- Occult Academy
- Shiki
- Legend of Legendary Heroes


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