Come forth, thunder of the gods….
It ends here.
-Edward D. Morrison (Tales of Phantasia)
(Click here to see the quote in its full voice acted glory)
Today, we have an academy dedicated to finding aliens, time travelers and espers. Well, maybe not, but Occult Academy does have its fair share of aliens, time travelers and espers. Besides being all occulty, this series is also the third anime series from Anime no Chikara. For those who do not know what Anime no Chikara is, it is a programming block formed by TV Tokyo and Aniplex where they will air original series instead of the various spin-offs and adaptations that are usually animated. The other 2 series released in this block are Sora no Woto and Senkou no Night Raid, and have had mediocre success with the English speaking audience. Does Occult Academy reflect the high bar that Anime no Chikara wants to/has set or is it just another let down? (Since I know that Anime no Chikara was not a great block for everyone, I’ll leave you, the reader, to decide if it was successful or not.)
Maya, the daughter of the former headmaster of Waldstein Academy, an academy dedicated to the study of the occult, becomes the leader of her father’s academy. In another place, in fact another time, Earth is being annihilated by aliens. To save the future, something called Nostradamus Key must be found in the past and destroyed, but the only hint they have of the location of Nostradamus Key is that it is somehow related to Occult Academy in 1999. With this hint, Fumiaki Uchida travels back in time to 1999’s Waldstein Academy to find Nostradamus Key. How does Maya react to this new visitor on her campus, and will the world be saved from the impending alien threat?
At first, Occult Academy’s storyline really intrigued me with occult hating Maya leading a school based on the occult, but as the series progressed, Occult Academy had more and more filler arcs that did not advance the story at all. Besides going nowhere, the filler arcs were uninteresting and did not tell much about the characters. After watching a few of these fillers, I had basically given up on the series and just watched the rest of the series for completion’s sake. Luckily, the fillers finally ended at episode 11 with the continuation of the main plot with loads and loads of plot twist, but disappointingly, these plot twists were predictable, unneeded, or just confusing. In the end of the anime, I was just happy that they did not do too bad of a job wrapping up the story.
Shouko Nakagawa – Flying Humanoid: An upbeat song…… Nothing really caught my attention in the song, so I always just skip it. Besides not appealing to the viewer’s, other viewers have stated that the lyrics are incredibly generic and could have been used for any anime, but since I could not find subs for the song, I cannot confirm this.
Ayahi Takagaki – Kimi ga Iru Basho: Another upbeat song, but this time, the vocals are slightly catchy with strong vocals during the chorus. Unfortunately, like the op, the lyrics for this song don’t really fit this anime because Kimi ga Iru Basho is a love song, but the series itself barely talks about love. In conclusion, a different song should have been used for the ending. (Sadly, I don’t have subs for the ed, so I have to trust how people’s summary of the song meaning)
Most of the background music in this show is used for effect, and the music/sound suits the show quite well. Besides the normal crickets and other sound effects, the great sounding fast paced instrumental pieces played tension was rising.
The animation mainly focuses a lot on close-ups to capture the facial expression of the characters. The effectiveness of these close-ups is hit and miss because sometimes they really bring out the emotions of the character, but at other times they feel like a cheap way to animate the show. Acting as a complement to the close-ups, the backgrounds are crisp and have some nice details in the scenery, adding depth to the close-ups, but there is nothing in the backgrounds that really appealed to me. The backgrounds were just slightly above par.
The other main type of animation in this show were action shots. Even though the beginning of the show did not have much action at all, the ending really tries to make a lot of epic fight scenes, but for me, the scenes fell short of providing the tension and excitement that action scenes are supposed to bring. Maybe I have been spoiled by Strike Witches, but the action scenes in Occult Academy lacked in the epicness that comes from watching beams fly through the sky and destroy things they come in contact with. Occult Academy’s action usually showed only the attack and the result, not what happens in between those times. To further add to my disappointment, they did not try to add much tension to the fights. For one of the first times in my life, I would have loved a push duel or an epic spell chant or just something to make the fights look more dramatic. (I guess I just wanted one of the casters to yell STARLIGHT BREAKER!!! xD)
As you probably can guess from what I wrote about the series, I couldn’t find any aspect of the series that really appealed to me. With episodes 3-10 being fillers and episodes 11 and onward being cheesy and throwing plot twists left and right, the storyline was one thing in the show that I could live without. Following this bad story with an underwhelming musical score and lackluster animation, I can’t say I enjoyed this show much.
On a more positive note, episode 1 was sort of interesting, and the series did have its share of emotional fillers, slightly humorous dialogue, and classic shonen action. Still with Occult Academy trying to fit in most genres and attempting to master every technical aspect of anime, Occult Academy was a jack-of-all-trades but master of none.
-Plenty of uninteresting filler arcs
-Main plot is quite undeveloped
-Rush to the main plotline
-Action scenes were of mediocre quality
Technical Rating: 5/10 (Rating that rates a show/episode based on how it does in animation, story, music, etc.)
Personal Rating: 4/10 (Rating that reflects on my what was my personal enjoyment of the show/episode)
Occult Academy is a series that started out decently but went downhill from there. As much as the series tried, it could not get back up from its terrible downfall. If you really like anime relating to the occult, then you can to give this show a try, but otherwise, I recommend you stay away from this series. (Exception: If you like epic spoon action, just watch episode 13)
If you want to watch this series, here is what I recommend you to do to get the most of your time
Watch episodes 1 and 2.
Just know between episodes 3 -10, Bunmei’s relationship with Maya grows slightly, Bunmei has a deep realtionship with Mikaze Nakagawa , the vice-principal has a one-sided love for Bunmei, and Maya does not actually hate the occult. (Remember, if you ever need to lookup characters, MyAnimeList is a great reference tool)
Watch episode 11 and onward.
If you do this, you can avoid all of the boring fillers and enjoy the best parts of the series while still getting the storyline (assuming the plot twists don’t throw you off).
Sorry for not having high quality pictures available for this review. I am in a situation where I am not sure if I can download anime, so I had to use pics from a stream. Sorry for the inconvenience.