Occult Academy – Thru 9

I’m now three quarters through the third series of Anime no Chikara from A-1. I don’t read manga, so anime-original series appeal to me. The production team is unencumbered by source material from a different media, and can take risks and be creative as a result. Occult Academy, like its Chikara predecessors, has felt fresh, often cheeky, and is very fun to watch. All I ask is that a show not bore me, and Occult definitely hasn’t.

Occult has done a great job fleshing out the core characters and has introduced quite a bit of mystery and intrigue to the story. Maya is the chief beneficiary of this fleshing-out, and has grown into more than just a tiring tsundere. I’m also waiting for the other shoe to drop regarding the flirty waitress, Mikaze, and what, if anything, she really wants with Bunmei. One thing’s for certain: the girl knows her way around a Porsche 911.

After nine episodes the conclusion still seems quite distant and nebulous. The final three will have to tie it all together, and I hope it’s less rushed than So-Ra-No-Wo-To‘s ending; that series’s one major flaw, in my opinion. I’m also glad this series has dealt with so many myriad occult phenomena, including near-death experiences, seances, chupacabras, UFOs, OopArts, and poltergeists – not just esoteric eastern legends. It gives the series a rich, diverse, more global flavor. Rating: 3.5

Asobi ni Ikuyo! – Thru 7

This show can be pretty weird sometimes (a armed, private cruise ship run by cat-ear fanatics??), but most of the time it just feels generic. I always worry when more than three girls start to like the same guy at the same time, especially when the kid is utterly ordinary and is too dense to realize the competition over him in the first place. I also have a serious problem with the extraterrestrial humanoid cats versus dogs conflict, and I do not like the cat robots that look nothing like cats.

The redeeming qualities of Asobi ni Ikuyo! include a generally upbeat atmosphere, a really colorful setting, and the two non-alien female leads, Manami and Aoi, are brought to life with great character design, competent combat animation, and above-average efforts from Haruka Tomatsu and Kana Hanazawa.

I’m not expecting anything particularly thrilling for the last five episodes, and chances are the kid won’t end up with any one woman by the end, but then again my expectations weren’t exactly stratospheric to begin with – the premise of the show is horny cat-eared aliens with big racks, for crying out loud. Rating: 2.5