Satomi AkesakaShizuka ItouMamiko NotoMiyuki Sawashiro
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2016: O
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2016
Director: Kyohei Ishiguro
Writer: Junpei Morita
Original creator: Chiyomaru Shikura
Actor: Ayane Sakura, Yuuki Kaji, Hitomi Yoshida, Houchu Ohtsuka, Kaito Ishikawa, Kenjiro Tsuda, Kisho Taniyama, Mamiko Noto, Maria Naganawa, Miyuki Sawashiro, Satomi Akesaka, Shizuka Itou, Tetsuya Kakihara
Keywords: anime, SF, fantasy, ghost, boobs
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Website category: Anime 2016
Review date: 18 December 2017
Occultic Nine
This one's going to end up being rightly obscure. It's not character-driven and it's uninterested in narrative momentum. Instead it's basically a crystalline tower of ideas, although in fairness someone clearly worked hard on them. Imagine a fortean detective story where every story development is just stuff that happens because the scriptwriter says so. It's a bit deadening to watch. Looking back, I see that I predicted in ep.1 that "It's slightly worrying that I can't tell what the show's going to be like, who all these characters are or what's supposed to be going on." I didn't know how right I was.
It's the latest show by Chiyomaru Shikura, incidentally, who's the creator of Steins;Gate. That was about science and time travel, whereas this is basically Fortean Times. The plot amy or may not involve fortune telling, ghosts, the afterlife, out-of-body experiences, time dilation, time travel and something insanely disgusting called a kotoribako. Are those things real? Well, it's up to our heroes to find out. Some believe. Some actually make a living from it. Others are hardcore sceptics. The show's engaging with and contributing to the debate between sceptics and believers, which personally I liked a lot. It's fresh ground for anime. It ends up inventing scientific theories to explain the workings of its supernatural phenomena, which is fine by me. If anything, the show's almost too content-heavy. Episodes will be overstuffed with ideas, exposition and discussion. Quite abstract conversations are delivered at top speed.
That said, though, it's reasonably likeable. The cast are all okay, even if they're basically being pulled through the plot on a string. I think the show's a failure in terms of basic storytelling, but even so I managed to watch it all and even feel basically supportive of it. That albino child is fantastically vile, for a start.
Theoretically it's a bit like Steins;Gate in being centred on one investigative male scumbag who ends up being redeemed. His name's Yuuta and his life goal is to get rich from his supernatural-debunking website. He'll conduct investigations, but it's all basically for the sake of clickbait. In the end he becomes a hero, but the show's not afraid to show us his pathetic reality-avoiding side even when we're most of the way through the series.
Yuuta's sidekick is Ridiculously Massive Boobs. She has a name, but seriously. Those things are so big that their gravitational force devours most of the internet discussion of this series. Do you think they're distractingly unnecessary or (don't tell anyone) the only reason you're still watching? She's only sixteen, by the way. Yikes. They'll be around her knees in forty years' time.
Other cast members include two professional psychics (one benevolent, one definitely not), one hardcore sceptic, one journalist for an occult magazine, two detectives/investigators and a manga artist who may or may not have powers. There's some interesting backstory, including some important fathers and an unusually disturbed case of big brother attraction. Yes, even by anime standards. Oh, and it's also worth discussing that albino. He's pretty much the poster child for where this series went wrong. He's an awesome douchebag, albeit not being the main villain. You'll want to see him minced and eaten. You'd volunteer to do it yourself. However his fate's so throwaway that I can only assume someone assumed there was going to be a second series and that they'd sort it all out there.
I like the ideas. There's a particularly eye-opening revelation halfway through, that should kick awake the most somnolent viewer. However even the admittedly climactic finale is basically driven by those same ideas, with the characters' heroism being enabled by magic psychic bollocks that's only dramatically acceptable if you're reading the show as an example of Kingsley Amis's "idea as hero". (I'm also massively unconvinced by the non-resuscitations in ep.12.) I think it's actually dry hard SF, deep down, underneath, except based on fortean subject matter and with a covering of fun elements to hide the dryness. (Mass suicide, kotoribako, gigantic boobs, etc.) If that sounds like your cup of tea, by all means go for it.