Home > Episode Reviews, Occult Academy > Occult Academy Episode 3 – Who Knows Who Cares

Occult Academy Episode 3 – Who Knows Who Cares

I’ve given it some leeway for the first two episodes, but now I have to ask the big question: what the heck is Occult Academy about?

It’s maintained an odd, offbeat tone throughout but, let’s be honest, it’s not very funny, even by the low standards of most not-very-funny “comedy” anime (although this episode has a few exceptions). Like most anime, it has a fairly high concept premise, but that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. There’s the sinister conspiracy apparently responsible of the death of Maya’s father, but the first episode spelled out pretty clearly that the rest of the administration was involved with that, so who cares?

This blob thing seems like the antagonist of this arc, but this is all we see of him/her/it

The hunt for the Nostradamus Key, the one thing supposedly uniting our heroes, is aimless and wandering, with nothing to show for an entire episode’s worth of backstory last time except several shots of Fumiaki taking pictures with his phone.

I’m not looking for the show to fall into a specific genre, or slide neatly into some set of conventions. There’s more than enough of that in nearly every other anime. I just wish I knew that all this was going somewhere interesting.

This is a tengu, apparently. I know nothing about them, and it's not really relevant to this episode, so I didn't do any research

To be fair, this is a better episode than last week. It focuses mostly on Fumiaki, getting nostalgic for what is now his present and falling for a cute waitress at the local restaurant who seems perfect for him. There’s also something about a kind of Japanese demon called a ‘tengu’ abducting high schoolers, but only Maya seems to care about that, and since she continues to annoy me, I’m more than happy to let her investigate on the sidelines while most of the action focuses on Fumiaki’s love life.

No one asks why Mikaze drives a Porsche, which has to be even more expensive to own in Japan than America. Maybe she won the lottery?

I have a sneaking suspicion the two stories are going to tie together at some point, but since this episode ends abruptly on what appears to be a cliffhanger, it’s hard to tell. Fumiaki’s beau, Mikaze, just seems too perfect. In addition to being childishly cute in the way all of Japan seems to idolize, she’s the only one who calls his 1999 incarnation, Bunmei-kun, the spoon-bending grade schooler/TV sensation, by his actual name; despite being a waitress, she drives a white Porsche 911, the same car we saw him playing with in a flashback (to the present, confusingly enough), and she seems to be really into an awkward but otherwise unremarkable history teacher in the weirdest town in Japan.

Just because Maya is barely in this episode doesn't mean she doesn't throw crap at Fumiaki. Like scowling and denying her not-so-secret love of the occult, that's just what Maya does

There’s plenty of reasonable explanations for this, and I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. She’s the first interesting thing to happen in two episodes, so I’ll take what I can get. It just all seems too perfect. I’m sure by the end of next episode, she’s either be revealed to be the demon or something, or she’ll get eaten by the flying blob with glowing, Hypnotoad eyes that seems to be abducting the girls.

You can’t get too attached to girls that seem interested in the protagonist three episodes in to a show about preventing the end of the world. Especially one as weird as this one. That’s perhaps why I’m left wondering what the point of this episode and, in turn, Occult Academy is.

Fumiaki had a rough childhood, as you can see

I’m hoping it’s just a setup for next week, where something will happen to convince me that someone knows where all this is going, but at the same time I’m afraid that it will be tied to all the things I don’t like about the show. I’m sure we’ll eventually get dragged into Maya’s angry tsundere with daddy issues deal again, and I’ll have to put up with her throwing even more dangerous objects at Fumiaki.

The show seems to be going back on the promise of bizarre quirkiness it showed in the first episode. Every episode seems more mundane than the last. The kooky surreality of watching a man summon a spirit to possess his body from beyond the grave has given way to an unexplained moth thing and a waitress with a Porsche.

The art continues to impress. And now I want curry

It’s making what promised to be a strange, unconventional show way more ordinary than I’d like, and it’s further evidence of mediocre writing. If your show purports to be a horror comedy that captures the spirit of the 90s paranormal craze, then it damn well better keep that tone consistently, no matter how ridiculously difficult that might be to actually realize.

Oh well, at least I got perhaps the best joke in any show so far this season, from the Vice Principal’s unwanted advances towards Fumiaki. I won’t spoil it here, but it had me laughing out loud both times I watched this episode. It’s a perfect example of the stunning art and direction this show has consistently pulled off, but in a rare and shining moment of great writing.

I have a screenshot of the punchline, but I don't want to spoil it. So here's part of the setup

If Occult Academy can make me laugh like that once an episode for ten more episodes, then it will be worth it to have watched the show. But I doubt it can, and without something more to drag me in, I’m not very interested in what it has to offer.

It seems interested in developing its characters first and foremost, but I actively hate Maya and am pretty lukewarm on everyone else. The story doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere and the humor is inconsistent. What’s supposed to make me stay?

You can watch this episode of Occult Academy for free, here, should you so desire.

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