Occult Academy 13 and Wrap-up

Well, that was unexpected! Then again, I really didn’t have a clue how this series was going to end, but in this case being in the dark worked to my advantage. The final episode proved an excellent and novel conclusion to one of my favorite series this summer season, both week-to-week and in general. It wasn’t afraid to not only throw a couple more big twists, but also navigate from calm a calm farewell atmosphere right to the edge of pure global catastrophe. This was a most impressive and satisfying finale that shows that each Anime no Chikara anime-only series has been better than the last.

I must commend the producers of this series for pulling out all the stops, particularly in the last three episodes, which were truly make-or-break. The relationship between Maya and Bunmei had a very nice and varied progression, and its conclusion was handled nicely as well. Other aspects of the series that were consistently excellent were the diverse character design with a nice edge to it, and some really terrific animation, from action scenes to facial expressions.

In fact, my only major gripe is the end-credits sequence, which features two creepy kids sleeping in the grass…this sequence is thankfully missing from the last episode. However, the opening-credits sequence made up for it, brimming with character portraits blended occult imagery, and the stirring opening theme itself was my favorite of the season, with a really nice bass-line and some powerful female vocals. As we move forward to the fall season, this is one series I shall miss. Whatever the next Anime no Chikara series is, it’ll have big shoes to fill. Rating: 3.5 (Ending: 4)

Occult Academy 12

Episode 11 was going to be a hard act to follow no matter what, and 12 wasn’t quite on the same level, but that’s not to say it was bad. A lot of the episode involves a battle between a black and white mage, both in costumes worthy of a Final Fantasy boss fight. In the last episode both of these characters underwent complete transformations from what they had been for 9/10ths of the series, and it was fun to see them relishing their new roles just as if they had been hiding them all along. Also, there’s a were-panther; they’re always welcome.

Personally, the white mage was a total surprise, and while I knew something wasn’t quite right about the 911-driving hottie, I didn’t expect her to become so evil so fast. There’s also a great sequence between a suddenly vulnerable Maya and Bunmei, who plays the role of Knight in Shining Dorky Suit just when he needs to.

I went into this episode believing it to be the last of this series, but after a cliffhanger ending, I’m glad it wasn’t; there’s still questions that need answering, and I’m glad there’s one more episode of Occult to look forward to. Rating: 3.5

Occult Academy 11

Episode 11 of Occult Academy was a tour-de-force. It threw so many revelations and developments at us all at once, and the story flowed so smoothly I thought the episode was over after just thirteen minutes, and was plesantly surprised to find my self just at the halfway point.

After keeping us in the fog for practically the whole series, with nothing but suggestive clues and red herrings, at last we get answers, and the timing couldn’t be better; episodes 9 and 10 were so slow and quiet by comparison, and this episode lit the whole series up like a firecracker.

When all is said and done, we’re also presented with two more occult phenomena, the black and white mages. Frankly, I like it when a show all of a sudden dumps a whole lot of stuff on you at once. I was more or less expecting that, since it’s kind of a mainstay of Anime no Chikara series, but I really wasn’t prepared for the awesomeness this brought.  I’m really looking forward to how this ends. Rating: 4

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

Occult Academy – First Impressions

This is only the fifteen millionth another show about a magic school, but it’s beautifully made and has a really nice, formal/elegant style to its setting. (It’s also the third in the anime-only “Anime no Chikara” series on TV Tokyo, preceded by Sora no Oto and Senko no Night Raid.) I was worried the heroine was going to be some stern tight-dressed stick-in-the-mud, but as the episode progressed she came off as very dynamic and likable. She also had to decapitate a baddie resembling her late father, the school’s founder, with an ax.

She also had to deal with some random naked dude coming out of the sky, almost Terminator-like. This was a robust first episode, and presented a lot of mysteries and situations I hope it will resolve in the following twelve episodes. Thus far it has definitely earned the right to be watched by me. Rating: 3

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