If you’re a sci-fi anime fan, it’s near impossible to have not heard of Chiyomaru Shikura’s Steins;Gate series. The creator went on to create many more fascinating sci-fi series afterwards, which leads us to his latest multimedia series: Occultic;Nine. Today I’m here to review the anime series, and find out what makes the show tick.
Occultic;Nine tells the story of high-school student Yuta Gamon, owner of occultic-focused blog “Kiri Kiri Basara”. Through his postings on this blog and general interest in the world of the supernatural, Yuta encounters others who have experience with the paranormal, but he is unaware that he’s about to become the center of an incident which looks set to change the world as we know it.
While the series follows Yuta the majority of the time, Occultic;Nine is actually focused on a set of nine different characters who all have their own subplots which connect up to the big picture – it’s a lot like how Durarara!! often works. This approach comes from the fact that, at its heart, the series was made to be a visual novel (one which was released in Japan in November, a year after broadcast of the anime ended). While my comparison to Durarara!! is valid, the one thing Occultic;Nine doesn’t do is handle the jumping between characters very well. When I originally watched this series it was during broadcast, and the weekly wait between episodes made the plot confusing to follow. Rewatching it, this problem is alleviated by being able to marathon through the six episodes on offer here, but it’s still a pressing concern for anyone who might want to dip in and out of Occultic;Nine.
It’s difficult for me to decide what I truly think of this series. When I watched it originally, I liked the cast, the story was intriguing, but overall it seemed a bit sloppy and crazy for my tastes. Having said that, though, I went on to read the original light novels (which were the beginning of the project and are published in English by J-Novel Club) and those helped fill in some of the plot details that the anime was leaving out. I don’t believe in the idea that for a multimedia project you should have to sample everything to make sense of the core story, but nevertheless I would definitely encourage anyone interested in Occultic;Nine to read the books, because they make the anime a lot more interesting and help you keep track of what’s happening.
I’ve been told before that Steins;Gate is better on a rewatch – and I think that holds true for Occultic;Nine too. Now that I’ve seen these first six episodes again (and the cliffhanger we end on!) I’m coming to appreciate the show in a different way. There is a lot of foreshadowing of future events I missed originally, and seeing it now is satisfying in a way the series certainly wasn’t before. That said, the first watch is definitely liable to confuse you, so prepare to strap yourself in and just be taken along for the ride.
Nevertheless, Occultic;Nine is definitely not a series everyone will enjoy. A lot of the characters have strong and somewhat annoying personalities – this being especially true for Ryoka Narusawa, the main female lead. She is always shouting utter nonsense that appears irrelevant to the plot, and bouncing around pushing her enormous breasts into Yuta’s face. Her breasts are a major cause for concern for me as a female viewer, as not only do I not understand how her spine even copes with them, they’re also drawn fairly inconsistently episode to episode – which leads to them growing or shrinking on what appears to be a whim. Whoever first designed these characters does not seem to understand how the female anatomy works…
Animation for the series has been provided by A-1 Pictures and, on the whole, is extremely bright and colourful, with some fun shading and camera angle approaches. This is definitely an example of A-1 at their ‘oddest’ with some Dutch tilts added into the camera work to help build the drama as well as a few other unusual approaches to framing various scenes. Occultic;Nine is almost worth watching just to see how it was put together.
The music for the series has been handled by Masaru Yokoyama (Anthem of the Heart, Your Lie in April, Scum’s Wish) and offers a varied selection of tracks ranging from simple piano pieces to more technical and electric sounds. It’s not quite suited to my personal taste in music, but undeniably fits with Occultic;Nine very well and is an example of how talented a composer Yokoyama is. The opening for the series is “Seisu 3 no Nijo” performed by Kanako Ito, which is an extremely catchy pop song, while the ending is “Open your eyes” performed Asaka and goes for a more electronic approach. Both tracks were written by Chiyomaru Shikura.
With such a large selection of characters, there isn’t really room to go over all the voice actors, but on the whole both the English dub team and the original Japanese voice actors do a splendid job. This is especially true of Yuta’s Japanese actor, Yuki Kaji (Kenma Kozume in Haikyu!!, Phoenix Wright in Ace Attorney), and his English actor, Erik Scott Kimerer (Takeshi Aiza in Your Lie in April, Gowther in The Seven Deadly Sins). Both Kaji and Kimerer convey Yuta’s eccentric, but young and caring personality convincingly.
Occultic;Nine Part 1 comes to the UK thanks to Manga Entertainment, and is available on DVD and Blu-ray. The release includes the first 6 episodes of the series with both the English dub and Japanese audio, and on-disc extras include trailers and clean opening and ending videos.
Overall, Occultic;Nine is a thrilling journey of discovery, the paranormal, and what happens when a series makes no sense and yet keeps you entertained. While certainly not for everyone, this is an anime that just wants to show you something a little bit different. The first watch is not as good as the second, or perhaps even the third, but if you like what you’ve read here, then I’d definitely recommend picking up Occultic;Nine.