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.|