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AKA: オカルティック・ナイン; Okarutikku Nain
Genre: Supernatural Sci-Fi
Length: Television series, 12 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: Currently licensed by Aniplex of America, also available streaming on Crunchyroll.
Content Rating: R (Violence, death, mature situations, fanservice.)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Ghost Hunt.
Notes: Based on light novel by Chiyomaru Shikura; manga illustrated by Ganji, published in Kodansha's Good Afternoon.
Rating:

Occultic; Nine

Synopsis

Yuta Gamon runs a website called Kiri Kiri Basara, which seems to largely consist of links to stories about supernatural events from other sites, accompanied with Yuta's snarky comments about the stories, which constitute his "value-added" I suppose. (He expects to make enough money to live on doing this, so we'll call him an optimist.) But Yuta soon finds himself in the middle of more than he bargained for, and his fate becomes intertwined with the fates of eight others as well...


Review

Alfred Hitchcock is said to have been the director who first posited the concept of the McGuffin, defined as a particular thing that is a film's engine; all the human actions in the film derive from, and revolve around, the McGuffin. Occultic; Nine has a TERRIFIC McGuffin, one so audacious that the show does its best to keep from revealing it too soon. It's a tremendous idea, but it's an idea that has a LOT of built-in complications, which I'm not sure the show has completely tied up despite the plethora of breathless explanations you'll get later; even the cast members have a lot of trouble following the reasoning of the two or three folks who think they've got things figured out, so how much hope does the audience have? I'll return to this in a little more detail later, but basically the show's McGuffin is that a horrible experiment has been conducted which has some complex and dismaying (an understatement!) consequences for a lot of folks, including our cast. Again, I don't think the show, despite its best efforts AND its attempts at obfuscation (in short, baffling us with B.S.) has resolved all the potential contradictions here; let me go ahead and introduce the cast, and start on the show's issues as well. So now, our Occultic Nine:

-Yuta Gamon I've already mentioned. He originally gets involved in this mess by stumbling into the scene of the murder of a Dr. Kansei Hashigami, and walking off with some material evidence at the urging of "Zonko", a voice on a strange radio his father gave him. (Better than doing it because of a voice in your head, I suppose.) Yuta initially comes off as simply inane and garrulous, then more like a whiny coward (in the Shinji Ikari mold, perhaps?), but he may actually show some true character by the end.

-Next is Yuta's "minion", Ryota Narusawa. She's the fanservice object- a SERIOUSLY topheavy girl (YOU know what I mean), and seemingly brainless to boot; she's always dancing about (to give the audience that "bounce" they're looking for), or diving onto Yuta (to do the boobs-in-face thing that's ALSO popular with the fanboys.) She has a device she calls her "Poya-Gun", which seems to zap people electrically; this will actually make sense later. (It's kind of a legacy in her family.) She has another side though, which we'll see later. I never quite understood her completely, though, because while we see two personalities, by my accounting there should be one more.

-Occultics #3 and #4 are Sarai Hashigami (the brilliant son of the aforementioned murder victim), and Touko Sumikaze, a girl with somewhat strange bangs who works for a publishing firm that handled Dr. Hashigami's manuscripts. These two make a natural couple- two Goth-nerds, both with keen analytical skills and a natural obsession with getting at the truth (though as much for personal relevance as for natural curiosity of course.)

-Occultic #5 is Miyuu Aikawa, a "high-school girl fortune teller". She doesn't really contribute much to the show except worry over a friend who's disappeared.

-Occultics #6 and #7 are one Aria Kurenaino (which is NOT her real name), who places curses on people for a fee, and her partner-in-crime, Kiryu Kusakabe (ALSO not entirely what he presents himself as.) "Aria" has a somewhat interesting, though gruesome, backstory by the way.

-Occultic #8 is Ririka Nishizono, a BL manga artist and apparent friend (or at least confidant) of a murderous albino boy. Ririka has a number of unresolved mysteries hanging about her- she's the character we actually learn the least about- but the one that bugged me the most is, HOW DID SHE MAKE IT BACK??? (You have to see the show to understand the question; I certainly didn't see an ANSWER, unless I missed something.)

-Occultic #9 is Shun Moritsuka, who I'll call the Boy Otaku Detective. He SAYS he's an adult (he SAYS a lot of things; the guy's a major motormouth), though he sure doesn't LOOK it. This show seems to have some rule that even its professional people should either LOOK like teenagers (Shun) or in fact BE teenagers; later we'll meet Asuna Kisaki, who IS a teenager- and also a psychometrist who says she works for the FBI. (Psychometrists are psychics who can pick up the memories of the last person who handled an object; anyone remember a movie called Vibes some years ago?)

I said I wanted to go back to the show's plot problems again. With Ririka it was obvious that we're missing some critical story information, but there's also the issue of contradictions in character interactions. Some years ago, a certain director made a certain movie that avoided giving away a crucial piece of information about its central character by being very careful about how, and when, the character's interactions with others were depicted; I have a feeling that THIS show is not always that meticulous about this detail. I'm also pretty sure that there's a logical fallacy involved in the idea of being simultaneously "in synch" and "out of synch" with "real" time, but so help me, it makes MY head hurt to think about it, too! If you have no idea what I'm talking about, then (1) it's all good, because I haven't spoiled anything, and (2) you're in good company- the cast's own comments about all the complexities of their situation include "Hey, hold on a second here. I'm getting confused!" (Touko); "I don't get this at all!" (Yuta); and "This is so hard!" (Miyuu, though frankly she seems a simple girl who probably finds many things difficult.)

For all of that, the concept is utterly engaging, even if the execution isn't perfect (perhaps it couldn't be); the villains' motives are actually comprehensible, and just as evil as you could hope for; and while I had some problems with the cast (Ryota and Shun in particular), it's kind of delightful to find an anime couple as "made for each other" as Sarai and Touko are. And maybe it's just me, but there's something about this story- especially its denouement- that reminded me of Stephen King's The Langoliers. The ending ballad's quite nice too.Allen Moody

Recommended Audience: A brutal murder, a desecrated corpse, 256 lost souls, a box of grisly remains, and, perhaps most shocking of all, Ryota's "bounce". Better for 15+. Younger will be totally lost anyway; older only partly so.



Version(s) Viewed: Streaming on Crunchyroll.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Occultic; Nine © 2016 A-1 Pictures
 
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