Posted by psgels on 27 September 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews, Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin




The past summer really had its quantity problem, but there still were three series that really stood out to me as a breath of fresh air that may have significant flaws, but also have a delightful execution. These series are Shiki, Kuroshitsuji II and Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin. While Shiki had an incredibly solid execution and Kuroshitsuji got better and better as it went on, Occult Gakuin instead was just all over the place, which had both its advantages and disadvantages.

This series promised to be a fast-paced adventure series through the occult with its excellent and very witty first episode, but instead it turns out that it’s built around several two-episode arcs instead, focusing more on its characters while developing its plot only in the background. In Occult Academy, no episode really is like the other, with the result that you might be expecting a fast-paced action episode, only to get a bunch of episodes that focus more on the quiet type of storytelling.

On the bright side though, you’ll never know what this series will focus on next, and the episodes in which this series really goes all out were without a doubt the best episodes I watched during the entire summer season. The producers got some of the most amazing staff to write for some of the episodes, ranging from the director of Michiko e Hatchin, the director of Mouryou no Hako and Aoi Bungaku’s Hashire Melos to the writer of Noein and Birdy the Mighty Decode. There are thre episodes in this series that are so well written, portrayed and animated, that simply their presence makes this entire series worth watching.

Now, as for the rest of the series, it does have some balancing issues, and some other episodes fail to entice any excitement, and could have been cut from the series easily. The series itself spends a bit too much of its focus on developing Maya as a character, that it forgets about the other parts of the series. Because of this, some parts are rushed while others just take too long, on top of their lack of creativity compared to the better moments of the series.

Despite the balance issues, the plot does come together quite nicely in the end, though. All of the major questions get answers quite nicely and used to bring in some very interesting twists near the end. And really, amidst the countless of series that don’t seem to have any ambition, Occult Academy really tried to create something interesting, creative and diverse. It’s set up pretty much guarantees that you’ll be disappointed in one way or the other due to the lesser episodes, but for me it had enough to make up for it. I have quite a few issues with this series, but really: if those issues were fixed then this would have been a serious contender for the best series of the year and it will be awesome if more series would try to follow in this series’ footsteps.

Storytelling: 9/10 – The writing ranges from average at worst to absolutely fantastic at best. When it wants to, this series can be truly excellent at building up, but there are times in which it doesn’t have enough creativity in its script.
Characters: 8/10 – A very solid cast, but considering the premise of this series, the creators could have eliminated some overused cliches, and they could have done more with Maya’s character considering the amount of time that was put in her development.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Gorgeous and creative animation that really brings the characters to life.
Setting: 8/10 – Explores the occult from all over the world. Very interesting as a kaleidoscope throughout the supernatural, though never really goes in-depth.

Suggestions:
Baccano
Michiko e Hatchin
Kaiba

9 Responses

  1. skchai says:

    Not doubt anime should try to break out of the existing genres and try completely new concepts. Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin does does its best to do so while maintaining a strong focus on entertainment, as do the other series in the Anime no Chikara timeslot.

    Although the two are often conflated, their aim is in a way the opposite from Noitamina, which tries to adapt high-quality mainstream manga rather than otaku-oriented stuff in order to attract a wider audience.

    I loved the early episodes and the Maya character in general, who is interesting, funny, and sympathetic, as well as being impossible to place within any existing anime archetype.

    The plotholes are so numerous, however, that it frustrated the detail-obsessed otaku side of me to end. Not just the ending, but also . . . .

    Did Mikaze herself believe she was the Nostradamus key (it’s never made clear)? If so, why would she, especially if she is such a brilliant mage? Furthermore, if she was capable of opening up the time/space portal and she was not in fact the Nostradamus key, then she should have been able to do it any time, not just the appointed date.
    What’s with the classic-model aliens? Why should they, of all folks, exist on the other side of the portal? What would Mikaze gain by letting them in (assuming she thought etc. etc.) Were they her pals?
    Why were all the previous time travelers killed when they actually posed no real threat to Mikaze’s plans? Unless she knew Bunmei was the key, but then there very easy ways for her to bring about the apocalypse once he arrived.
    Shouldn’t did the Sumidagawa area of 2012 have appeared in a destroyed state when Maya’s father arrived after his time-forward travel?
    If they already knew about the Ramachandran-Fischer law, should the slight problems it could cause have been pretty evident Maya’s dad and the chief scientist from 2012 (BTW a rare current role for Futamata Issei = Godai Yuusuke from 1986’s Maison Ikkoku) before they sent in the time travelers.

    And hey, which Ramachandran and which Fischer’s name are they taking in vain? The various biologists? Or is Fischer a callout to Bobby? Did his mastery of the Ruy Lopez opening somehow reveal something about time-space portals? At least use some obvious imaginary names if you’re going to talk about fake laws, so that make otaku engage in useless, time-wasting, speculation.

    Sorry, rant over, but I think with a little bit more time they could have come up with a plot that had fewer holes, and in the process got more entertainment value from characters like the vice-principal/mage and the spoon-bending young Bunmei.

    The spoon thing at the end last episode was totally WTF, but it was sufficient over-the-top to be in the so-absurd-it-kind-of-makes-sense.

  2. Moonhawk says:

    @skchai:
    I don’t think Maya’s dad travelled forward in time when he was sent away by the magic spell.
    He was only transported someplace else in his time and started to look for the key there.
    Then on the appointed day he saw on television what had happened at Occult Academy and knew he had failed. From then on he started to develop a way to send timetravellers back to find the key that he himself had failed to find.

  3. hoiut says:

    Completely agree with psgel’s review. My goodness, even if I had the writing ability I honestly couldn’t have said it better myself. The last episode (13) review cinched it for me.

    What a ride this show has been! (Though for what it’s worth, I did like Sora no K-On-to a bit more than ya). Keep it up!

  4. skchai says:

    @Moonhawk: That’s possible. The Asahi Beer Hall with the strange golden-feces looking thing (it’s supposed to be the “Asahi Beer Flaming Heart”) was already built by 1990 (?) so it could be in 1999.

    But if they wanted to transfer him to Sumida 1999, why not just take the train, for God’s sake?

  5. yamapishy says:

    i love this anime, definitely one of the best this season! it’s short but has a concrete plot and unforgettable characters. I hope we get to encounter more animes like these.^_^

  6. Suu says:

    What amused me was that it somehow just evaded “the lame guy with three women fawning over him” cliche. Very crafty, Occult Gakuin. Nice idea to make one of the women as the focal point instead of the lame guy.

  7. Troyen says:

    You bring up a good point #6, I didn’t really think about that until now. (Though I guess it came close in some of the earlier episodes when Mikaze first showed up.)

    I have to say I really enjoyed the facial expressions in this show. Especially the eyes; every time someone was irritated or disgusted it just felt like there was more life in the facial region than in other shows.

  8. Mushyrulez says:

    #1: Yeah, Mikaze’s portal was to hell; but then the Nostradamus portal was to the alien land. If Mikaze was still alive, hell-aliens would come (and get destroyed by nukes and rockets shortly), but if she died and Fumiaki didn’t stop the portal, not even rockets will help.

    BECAUSE THE SPOON IS MIGHTIER THAN THE ROCKET

  9. Souther says:

    A worthwhile production, overall, but if you ask me…I would say they were trying a little too hard towards the end -some questions don’t always need to be answered when there isn’t enough time to expand on them- but Occult Academy still deserves credit for daring to try something relatively different from the usual anime crop.

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  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 09:54 AM)
    Same with action scenes: I might like realistic grounded sword fights, with the battle settling after a few swings and slashes. Others might enjoy over-the-top sequences, with aerial flips and ridiculous power moves.
    This concept can be expanded to the enjoyment of romance, slice-of-life, historic, and any other subject matter. If someone’s a grownup adult and doesn’t realize such a fundamental concept, than they seriously lack critical thinking and social understanding.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 09:51 AM)
    @Mike: this became very apparent to me after the initial Space Dandy reviews. Some people hated the juvenile humor and the T&A, while some others loved it for its sincerity and unpretentiousness. Who was right in this scenario? People clearly have different senses of humor, and neither is more correct than the other. People jumped on the positive reviewers’ throats, calling them ‘sellouts’ or ‘retards’, while the fact of the matter lied in different tastes.
  • Mike
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 09:39 AM)
    @K-Off @Bam I’d have to agree. One glance at any seasonal preview will show that, and psgels certainly didn’t hide his bias when he reviewed Galilei Donna for example. I enjoyed seeing him get upset that the Anime did not accurately portray the architecture in his native Netherlands.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 09:36 AM)
    It’s the same with review scores. It’s just a relative metric used for comparison. For example, if a reviewer gives a series an 8 and another a 9, it simply means that they thought the latter was slightly better than the former. It’s all subjective, since only hard-boiled facts could be assessed objectively. A person’s enjoyment of a work is purely based on their personal preference.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 09:32 AM)
    A number score doesn’t imply objectivity tho. When I worked as an EMT we would ask the patients to rate their level of pain from 1 to 10. This wasn’t done so we could compare their rating to some pain database, but rather so we could tell after a procedure if their pain has gone up or down.
  • K-Off
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 09:21 AM)
    @Vonter A conversational and opinionated format does not equal inconsistent and shoddy posts, I did not imply otherwise . Also, ratings. I’ve talked to Mario myself and the both of us don’t take it seriously. We’ll criticise and evaluate certain topics, yes. But that does not make us “critics” in the sense of the entertainment journalism industry, that emphasizes objectivism over personal opinion, which is what we specialize in as a blog. Which is the point I was making.
  • Badesh
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 09:18 AM)
    Guys with no life couldn’t write as eloquently. It’s a thing you learn from actual living. If you stand by your side, loving your self for your own opinion, you will learn that others stand by theirs.
  • Vonter
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 09:08 AM)
    @K-Off I think that’s cutting it short. There’s a consistency and I suppose effort in putting the posts together. As for conversational, I’ve find the shoutbox to be moreso. As for critic, is a person who judges, evaluates, or analyzes literary or artistic works, dramatic or musical performances. Given the blog gives scores, there’s evidently an evaluation involved.
  • K-Off
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 08:51 AM)
    @Bam @Kevin Funniest part about this is, that myself, psgels, Mario, Helghast, and Aidan are not even critics. We’re writers of a blog, a format in and of itself purely conversational and opinionated.
  • Kevin
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 08:46 AM)
    @Mike Who’s the one without a life now? You’ve been on this dump for 8 years. Go fuck yourself and go outside for once.
    I’m officially done at this point. Tired of psgels, tired of this bullshit ass circlejerk. As of right now I hope you realize how much of a no life cunt you lot are. Fucking fags.

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