Occult Academy Episode #04 (of 12) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, July 26, 2010
Release Date: Monday, July 26, 2010

Abe's tasked with a new mission that brings him back into contact with the missing Maya, not that she wants him anywhere near her.

What They Say
The collapse of BUNMEI

The Review!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the disappearance of a student and Maya, Abe is being assigned to search for them, partially as a way to keep him out of the hair of other people. His journey takes a less than welcome turn though when he heads into town where the effort is being orchestrated and he hooks up with Mikaze, who suggests that they go out in the car to search for them. Mikaze apparently is a fan of Initial D as she drives the car hard and drifts up and down the mountain region, something that puts Abe into a whole other mindset as he's nearly catatonic. The two of them have an interesting relationship as they manage to be two kinds of bumbling people that invariably discover mysterious things. One person is bad enough, two together? Watch out.

Having seen what Maya was up to in the previous episode, it's amusing when Abe freaks out while exploring a mysterious tunnel with Mikaze and ends up running off only to go straight into Maya. Yet he doesn't seem to be able to find Mikaze after that and wanders off, rather nonchalantly at that, with Maya while she explains some of the mystery that she's discover. When the pair make a huge discovery, name the Tree of Life from legend as Maya details its various incarnations, it turns out to be fairly inconsequential to both of them and to Abe in particular since his camera shows that the whole mountain is blown to smithereens in 2012. But this area is just a first layer of discovery as it turns out Abe No. 5 was here as well, though reduced to a pile of truly awful smelling goo since then.

Where Occult Academy succeeds in a curious way is with its humor as this would normally come across poorly in most series as something out of place, it hits a real solid note here, including how the two of them go bolting off when a nasty creature arrives and dash out of the tunnel and into another while crossing paths with others searching for Maya. It's just such a perfect bit of comedy that breaks the tension yet feels wholly appropriate here, making you laugh at the right point.

The journey underground is also doing a nice job of expanding a touch on Abe's past in the future. Seeing him eking out an existence in the post-2012 world where Nostradamus' prophecies have played out is cute, again falling to the area where the humor is just right. Having him drawn in as the last hope of this strange group that's dealing with the repercussions of the Occult Academy and what they apparently wrought. Abe is completely against it but there's the need to send back people who can make the journey so that can try to find the Key that will stop the Prophecies from happening. Yet it still seems like they made the most unusual of choices in Abe, though with him apparently being their last resort you can see why. Watching what he comes across and tries to handle in the past along with Maya is hilarious, creepy and engaging.

In Summary:
Occult Academy hits up another episode that's so good you're surprised by it. The premise, the general idea and the way its executed feels like it'd come across as utter trash under someone else's hands, but the staff behind this series has found the right balance in which to make it work. Every week now I feel like I'm treated to a show that should be so ridiculously bad yet is so well crafted that it's hard to believe. Maya and those around here are incredibly fun to watch and each episode brings numerous laugh out loud moments and a whole lot of engagement. It's a show that I think will have a strong bit of replay value as well as it goes forward and you can start to piece things together more and then look at how it all should fit and what you may have missed the first time around. Occult Academy is definitely one of the big bright points of the Summer 2010 anime series.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: NA
Video Rating: NA
Packaging Rating: NA
Menus Rating: NA
Extras Rating: NA
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: All Region DVD
Released By: Crunchyroll
Running time: 24
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Occult Academy