Me and commitment. Man, it’s like oil and water. I was waiting to see Shiki before deciding on which shows to follow this season, but the first episode of Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin was impressive enough that I’ve decided to make the plunge (or maybe I’ve just been smitten by Maya, who’s by far the best new character of this season). Shiki and High School of the Dead will have to battle it between the two of them for the other spot.
The episode starts off in the future, where we see a certain agent, "Abe Minoru #5" meet his untimely end, killed by some monster in some strange dimension we can only assume. The shady skeleton crew at the home base rues the fact that there’s only on more Abe left for this apparently deadly mission.
We then go back to the
future past, where we meet Maya, who’s heading to her father’s funeral. Dressed in white to boot (although to be fair, it’s not as if she was making a statement. It’s just her standard outfit… worn for more than a decade apparently… amazing what how timeless a tight one-piece dress is as a fashion statement). Her father was the founder of the Occult Academy, a school devoted to teaching the occult. But things take an unexpected turn when his message for the schoolkids accidentally summons an evil spirit from the dead and possesses his corpse. I wonder if the funeral company will offer a refund?
One of the things you might’ve noticed is how many tempting underskirt shots there are of Maya… and not a single pantsu peek! I totally support this no-pantsu platform. No cheap pantsu thrills makes her character design and the camera angles that much sexier. Plus, I heard the industry had a pantsu shortage what with Strike Witches 2 airing and all.
Maya rebuffs her evil spirit dad, and tries to convince everyone that it was all staged act. That is until her evil spirit dad returns from the dead to smack Maya to her tumbling glory (as seen here, here, and here, here, and here, here, and of course here for emphasis). So off goes Maya, along with her reunited childhood friend, Ami, and Ami’s dojikko megane friend, Kozue. Ami manages to round up some muscle and some occult otaku help and they go evil spirit-hunting.
Another seductive camera angle! So besides Maya’s nice… design, I really liked her no-nonsense edge. She faces the memories of her father head-on and doesn’t fall victim to the typical "hero" sentimentalism that you might expect. So there’s no hesitation when she beheads her "dad" in order to kill the evil spirit. That type of decisive personality is just hard to resist.
Wait, did this guy just transport into the wrong show? While this episode was a solid character introduction, the actual plot should start next week, with what seems like the last Abe Minoru transporting into Maya’s time and world.
Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin has a lot of good things going for it. Like I’ve been harping, Maya is a grade A character: unique in design, admirable in character. I thought the direction in this episode was really solid (the show’s directed by Tomohiko Ito, who assisted directed The Girl Who Leapt Through Time). It smoothly ebbed and flowed between silly and serious and kept the story and action moving at a good pace. Meanwhile, the show looks like typical A-1, really nice looking character designs and not out of this world, but solid animation. I was also mesmerized by the ED. Real people in anime? Whoa, what a concept. Should you watch this show? Yeah, definitely. It’s the best show I’ve seen so far this season. The only other show that might compare is Shiki.
A-1’s an interesting studio actually. They’ve been increasingly popular in recent seasons and seem like the only studio interested in creating completely anime original stories lately, ruling the Anime no Chikara roost. And while they’ve had some good shows, they haven’t had that one BIG hit or critical masterpiece yet. I think Kannagi probably comes closest, but it’s hard for a comedy to be THE NEO. Occult Gakuin definitely has a lot of potential though, and it could be the best Chikara show to date.
On a completely different note, I’ll be messing with how I write these episodic posts, so if there’s something you see and like or don’t like, feel free to let me know. Thanks!