Anime Vice News

OCCULT ACADEMY #1 -- Watch & Learn

This is how you do the ghoulish black humor...

Suppose they photographed this cel with a REAL wide lens.
Suppose they photographed this cel with a REAL wide lens.

Much thanks to darlin' Marlan Moore for bringing this show to my attention.

See, here’s a pilot that pulls off what a lot of other shows’ have tried to do. It strikes a far better balance between ghoulish black humor, serious occultism and the elusive kick ass super move than CORPSE PRINCESS did. It also demonstrates a much more legitimate understanding of the esotery it’s playing with, which BLUE EXORCIST didn’t really even bother to. More than that, in brings us in to this surely-complex world with a simple, but exciting teaser (the tragically-botched escape in the woods,) establishes the rules of its fantasy on the go through focused scenes (the resurrection/possession/infection of the principal and his followers) and then introduces us to the cast in an organic way by giving them something to do instead of just rattling off their life stories.

I’ll direct anybody who disagreed with my takes on those other shows to this thing, right here. What do I expect out of show when I go into it? I expect it to be as good as this. Hell, it even ended on a clear and simple cliffhanger (that naked dude dropping out of the sky with his cell phone) that’s enticed me to keep watching in a much realer way than any pile of expositional “world building” would. This is definitely in the “interested” pile of my sampling.

Man, it was just so much fun. The notion of these grieving students listening to this doofus summon some malignant entity from a tape at his own funeral made for some wicked black humor even while it was seizing my interest with some genuine tension. It almost played like a Cronenberg thriller scene played with some tongue in cheek. And, again, the humor was paced in such a way as to never gum up the mood, and the levity actually made me take all the serious stuff more, well, seriously than if this had been all dour about it.

This was a great pilot, in case you hadn't surmised.

Watch this episode, "MAYA’s Prophesy" below and decide for yourself.

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of HYBRID BASTARDS! & UNIMAGINABLE. Order them on Amazon here & here. Follow him on Twitter: @tompinchuk

PenguinDuston Nov. 10, 2011 at 3:57 p.m.

Maya Kumashiro is among my most favorite female characters in anime. What I find so appealing about her is her facial expressions. Literally every emotion she has is reflected on her face. She'd be a great one to have at a poker table. You'd win a bunch.

I find it humorous that this is one of the few first-episode shows that you've liked recently considering how the series as a whole morphs into some completely other genre show in its third act. As I said in a previous blog,

"Imagine you are watching a season of The X-Files but then Agent Scully reveals herself to be Wonder Woman and proceeds to fight the Hulk over the next couple of episodes. That’s the type of drastic turn of events that happens late in Occult Academy."

Some shows start good and end in disappointment, while others begin poorly but improve over time. Occult Academy is damned good until the last few shows, though and I enjoyed every second of Maya making faces throughout.

arch4nonon Nov. 10, 2011 at 4:02 p.m.

This is another case of an extremely awesome character in a really bad show.

Lurkeroon Nov. 10, 2011 at 6:21 p.m.

Occult Academy is another one of those shows that I started off liking and then it soon recessed back to typical anime tropes that make shows less exciting.

I don't recommend watching simply because of the disappointment it became for me.

Sophismon Nov. 10, 2011 at 6:38 p.m.

Oh God, this show...

The first episode is pretty solid, but it's only downhill from there. Animation quality and production value consistency in general just goes down the drain; the interesting characters aren't developed at all, whereas the unlikable male lead gets the spotlight and the plot... well, it doesn't fare any better really, what with string of filler episodes leading up to a "twist ending" that was half incredibly predictable, half pulled out of the scriptwriter's ass at the last moment.

As a suggestion from someone that like you, was really impressed by the first episode: Save yourself the disappointment and avoid it. Read up the wikipedia summary if you're curious.

sickVisionz moderator on Nov. 10, 2011 at 7:11 p.m.

I watched and enjoyed this episode when it first came out but I didn't go any farther with the series because I figured that eventually the story would shift from cool ghost tales to having to explain the Matrix dudes running through the forest in the intro and the naked future Terminator guy who electric storm phases in during the end. Anime has a bad habit of abandoning what rocks about a series and going in some stupid direction and this one reeked of that.

Wandering_Idioton Nov. 10, 2011 at 8:43 p.m.

Yeah, I found this series disappointing as well. I don't even remember why exactly, just that I enjoyed the first episode and was bored by the next few, and stopped watching.

Sonata moderator on Nov. 10, 2011 at 9:14 p.m.

I agree wwith what most people said here already, I loved Maya's ccharacter, but overall the anime didnt really get me going.

Om1kronon Nov. 10, 2011 at 10:13 p.m.

very interesting anime, took me a long time to sit down to commit to watching it, but I definitely liked how it ended.

metalsnakezeroon Nov. 10, 2011 at 10:31 p.m.

Really Tom? I, and many others, found this first episode to be mix of good ideas like the story and some odd choices of pacing and designs. Now I'm really worried about what you see as good.

NuDimonon Nov. 10, 2011 at 11:07 p.m.

Liked this show quite a lot tbh, worth a watch.

Vortextkon Nov. 11, 2011 at 4:13 a.m.
Listening to your complaints of pilots, and I mean that in a "they're valid" way entirely, it sounds like you must have a very hard time with a lot of anime, atleast the beginning. Too much bad exposition about cliched, stereotypical tropes they never do anything with is kind of...well anime's thing, when I think about anything with some kind of government agency, secret society, cult, powered up super dudes etc which covers a lot of anime. It's too bad to watch something interesting get lost in a confusion of "we need to explain everything RIGHT NOW or the viewer might be lost!" and then they add multiple minute long exposition scenes with a load of jargon and people you will never really care about. It's like they forgot they're in a visual medium; stop telling me and SHOW me.
zaldaron Nov. 11, 2011 at 10:26 a.m.

@sickVisionz: If done right the explanations for the sci-fi stuff and the philosophy they bring up can be the best part....if it does turn into what the spoiler above says it is though then this will not be good....

Isn't this show a little fan servicy though...i mean that outfit she is wearing in the wide angle picture...I mean come on...

sickVisionz moderator on Nov. 11, 2011 at 5:50 p.m.

@zaldar said:

Isn't this show a little fan servicy though...i mean that outfit she is wearing in the wide angle picture...I mean come on...

I don't know man, goto a high school or a mall and you'll see way more revealing outfits than that. That outfit is pretty tame for a high school kid.

As for the "if done right." I don't mean to be snarky or haterish, but it's anime. I think there is a 1% chance of that being done right. None of it fit with the bulk of the episode so in my mind it's either going to make a sudden jump or they will slowly change the tone of the series from something that I know I enjoyed to the stuff that I thought was cheesy.

sotyfan16on Nov. 12, 2011 at 10:07 p.m.

I got about half way through this series and stopped but I've been meaning to finish it. The show is a bit outside my viewing pleasure but I enjoyed this episode.

I laughed my ass off at this:

Shadow penis.
Shadow penis.
Marshal Victoryon Nov. 14, 2011 at 2:29 p.m.
Good show great mix of dark comedy, mystic drama and um weird anime fetishism.Been on my favorite list sine watched the while series on hulu. Many tings can be said about it but one thats important it has a start an a end.
zaldaron Nov. 16, 2011 at 5:53 a.m.

@sickVisionz: Maybe the people I hang out with are to tame but I teach high school down here in NC anything close to that would be very much against our dress code.

Dig Deeper into Occult Academy

The story revolves around Maya, the daughter of the former headmaster of a private Japanese academy dedicated to the study of the occult who died in 1999; and a time traveling agent Uchida, a mysterious young man who travels back in time from 2012.

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