Archive for the ‘Occult Academy’ Category

Occult Academy: one of 2010’s best

Friday, October 1st, 2010

I’ve read somewhere that Occult Academy was the last project of Anime no Chikara. I’m not certain about the veracity of this claim, but if it were the last series under the block, then at least the block ended beautifully: I just watched the final two episodes of the series, and it has more than made up the weak episodes in the middle. The series also has the cohesion and the integrity that I found wanting in the previous two projects.

Maya does not approve.

Maya does not approve.

It’s already too late to do a summary, but I admired Bunmei’s transformation from a wuss into the hero of their time: it was a great sacrifice on his part. I loved the fact that there were no obvious confessions in the show. The romance between Fumiaki and Maya developed without any explosive event between them specifically: one just saw the growing discomfort Maya had whenever he and Mikaze were together, and after Maya’s catharsis in the tenth episode it was really only him who was there to console her when she realized she made a mistake about her father. One could see the culmination of their relationship in the later episodes, but one could never expect what Bunmei did to restore the integrity of the future world. After finally deciding by himself and for himself, he regained the self-confidence and responsibility that he gradually lost through his own weaknesses of character, and decided to battle the aliens with his regained powers. While he died in the process, he was able to restore the world back into its normal state: it was his crowning moment of awesome, and while it was only short, it was a joy to watch.

Although the series is not a masterpiece (the weaker middle episodes attest to that), it was a well-made and very good series. I absolutely loved how they were able to develop Maya and paint her as a character that wasn’t really tsundere, but just someone who tried to be in grips with her guilt and sense of loss. Her anger towards the occult was her reaction towards what consumed her father and dissipated his love for her, and her hatred towards Bunmei was (justfiably) due to his incompetence and weakness. Once she discovered the reasons to their status, however, she loosened up and slowly became like who she was before: she loved the occult, and showed the caring and concerned person she always was.

Aside from her subtle progression as a character, I loved the dynamism of her facial expressions in general. I have never seen a character evince so much emotion as Maya. From her anger and disdain to her joy and happiness, the uniqueness of her expressions were also one of the reasons the show was good: it clearly showed effort from the creators. While I would have liked to seen her as an adult, I found solace in the quality of her feelings for Bunmei: she was faithful to his memory and to her promise to the future him to take care of the present him. What a great show.

Seikimatsu Occult Gakuen 11 – wow

Monday, September 20th, 2010

I’ve been busy for the previous week, so I’ve only watched the most recent episode now. That was awesome, even if I was forewarned by /a/’s denizens of transformation sequences. I’m sure that the mediocre episodes in the middle of the show were to build up this final arc, and its beginning was awesome.

I don't know why, but she reminds me of Gambit.

I don't know why, but she reminds me of Gambit.

One of the few reasons that I kept watching Occult Academy was Maya. She is very multidimensional. It’s hard even pegging her as a tsundere, because she’s too complicated to be limited to that archetype. She despised Bunmei because he was an idiot and a coward, and that’s a normal reaction among most people. When she slowly got to know him, she also realized that he wasn’t such a bad guy after all. It was great seeing her good side towards Bunmei this episode with her trying to cheer him up after what he did for her in the previous episode. As much as I hate to admit it, they’re probably going to end up as a couple by the end of the series, with Maya being the more masculine between them.

While this episode wasn’t exactly original, it was well-executed and had good twists in it to keep me grinning until the episode’s end: the lechery of Mikaze, Maya’s kinder side, the vice-principal’s transformation, Mikaze as dark mage – these were all brilliant. The series suffered through its mediocre middle part, but if it will end as well or even better than its beginning, it’s probably going to be one of the better shows this 2010. I’m also glad that Anime no Chikara will finally have a keeper on their hands after the previous busts: it was great seeing the true colors of two of the show’s more recognizable characters and the explosive start to the finale of the series.

For those who haven’t started watching this series yet, watch it! It will pick up eventually. 😉

Seikimatsu Occult Academy: a snapshot of humanity

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

I was and am unimpressed with most of the anime offerings this season. Among the shows I do follow, however, I think Occult Academy is one of the more entertaining series. There is little that is novel in this series: Maya is just another permutation of the tsun archetype, but it helps that she is empowered as a woman and is proactive as well. She is not someone most people would like, but she is someone most would respect.

She smiles in this scene.

She smiles in this scene.

One cannot deny the coarseness of her character: she is often violent and feisty. Yet it also cannot be denied that she has strength of character, plodding on her quest for truth despite the different obstacles laid out on her path. I have caught up with the latest episode, and I can say that the story became fluctuant when it no longer focused on Maya. To use a recent analogy, Maya is highly comparable with Evelyn Salt in the eponymous Salt: both are creative flights-of-fancy, but both are very entertaining primarily because both are carried by the strength of their corresponding female leads. Removing the focus on the central character would have made the examples mentioned both bores: Salt was smart enough to obviate this, but Occult Academy wasn’t. I think this was one of the major reasons that I thought the past three episodes were weak compared to the explosive and extremely enjoyable beginning. Instead of focusing on the tribulations of Maya towards her discovery of Nostradamus’s Key, it focused on characters like Bunmei and Kozue. The two are interesting, but it’s very difficult to emotionally connect with someone who is the sublimation of cowardice, and an apotheosis of stupidity.

I think most of Maya’s anger and vexations are justified: Bunmei really is a coward; he is also a self-aggrandizing bastard as he pursues the love of Mikaze. By displacing the focus from an admirable adolescent struggling with her father’s death and the impending end of the world, to a conceited coward whose only concern is himself, the series I feel went away from what made the viewers empathetic toward it in the first place. Most people can appreciate perseverance in the face of difficult odds; on the other hand, most people also hate overblown cowardice.

What a human scene.

What a human scene.

One of the best scenes of the show is that candid scene with Maya and the cellphone of Bunmei. Beneath all that forthrightness and doggedness still lay a teenager who wanted to look good and who liked to take pictures of herself. After her triumph against the supernatural during the first episode, it was still a nice glimpse into Maya for the viewers: one is reminded that while her visage reflects her knowledge and bitterness towards the occult and that while she is smart beyond her years, she is still a young woman. I loved that snapshot of humanity, because it colored Maya’s character a bit more.