Spring 2019 Grab Bag Week 9: Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin

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Ryo is scared of his dreams

Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin Episode 9

This series really knows how to come out of left field, but I think this episode had an interesting concept behind it. The episode had a sense of slowness in the beginning, but I liked the idea of dropping Arata in a completely different group. I think it might have been better if the series built up to its shock ending more, but I’m curious to see how it plays out.

No one thinks about what Anothers think

While I don’t have a problem believing that many people would think this way, I find it hard to accept that it’s as systemic a problem as the show presents. I say this having taken classes on animal behavior in school. Anothers seem much more interesting than a sleeping lion. Maybe the series is trying to make the point that government officials don’t care.

Arata defends the Anothers

I like how Arata explains his position here. The fact that he understands an Another’s motivations doesn’t imply that he agrees with it. It’s a nice mentality, and it gets at how I tend to approach discourse. Rather than labeling them as monsters, Arata can at least see their intentions.

The Another is surprised to meet Arata

On a side note, I did think that the Another in the episode was cool on its own. I think the concept of playing tag in a dream works well. A childish Another is also a good way to introduce the concept of a being who causes harm without necessarily knowing any better.

Arata can't understand

I get the vague sense that this whole encounter is going to be made “okay” later in the story. I suspect that the guy who eliminated the Another has some painful history with Anothers that motivates him to take drastic measures. I’m not a fan of that direction, but I can see it happening. The reason I’m largely against that is that I like how Arata takes his power for granted. It makes sense that the other government workers can’t make the same assumptions that he does, which makes for a valid point of discussion.

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Spring 2019 Grab Bag Week 7: Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin

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Azazel finds his love

Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin Episode 7

This series has been in such a weird grey area for me. If I had to qualify it, I’d say it’s almost like the series has too much whimsy while trying to deliver something serious. Decisions seem to change at the drop of the hat because they almost have to do so. In other situations, seemingly big events seem to get waved away. I’d almost prefer if the series stuck with a more whimsical tone for the type of fantasy series it’s trying to be.

Theo tries to find the source of the sand

Let me give an example. This episode starts with a sort of climax for Kyouichi’s character arc. We learned last week that his sister was one of the girls spirited away by Azazel, and he tries to take advantage of Arata to find her. This blows up in his face when Izumi is kidnapped during their investigation, forcing him to finally admit his intentions to Theo.

Kohaku opens the gate to Hell

This isn’t a bad way to develop Kyouichi, either. When he’s brought on, Theo adds his own perspective, and the three are able to work together to find a cool way to locate Azazel. But then, what happens? Their attempts ultimately fail, and Arata is forced to ask Kohaku to take them to Azazel. And Kohaku does it. That sure seemed easier than triangulating the gravitational effects of the black sand, huh?

Cerberus admits defeat

To be completely honest, I don’t mind the idea that Cerberus is defeated with some candy, but it still plays into the same idea. It’s interesting to see Cerberus guarding the gates of Hell, and his weakness is pretty much as silly as it was in Harry Potter. His appearance was impressively short-lived, though.

Azazel fails again

I would have liked to see a bit more of the girl’s perspective in this scene. While it’s clearly monstrous, I find the idea that she was aware of everything Azazel did to her to be quite intriguing. It makes me wonder if she’s intentionally cut short so she can crop up again later.

Kyouichi's sister is blinded

Here’s what I thought was the low point in the episode. As everyone escapes from Hell, it’s finally revealed that Kyouichi’s sister has gone blind. It’s a sad development, as she doesn’t get to see how much her brother has grown. And then, the stolen body parts are immediately returned to their owners. It cheapens what should be a sad scene for me when things just get resolved like that.

Azazel goes back on his loop

And finally, I’m curious about how Azazel plays into the rest of the series. It seems like his story is largely played out, but the episode ends with him effectively starting over with a new batch of victims. Is he going to be the ultimate antagonist in this series? Or is this just a return to the status quo akin to a horror movie’s ending?

Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin Episode 4: Drinking buddies

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Arata doesn't care

This series still seems to meander in weird ways, but this episode started to get at what I like to see in shows like this. The overall drive for the episode wasn’t much, since it was just a routine checkup for a list of Anothers. However, I thought things started turning around when it got to Kio Gongen. As a general principle, I question what the show is getting at. Part of me feels like it tries to get too serious for me to accept is as a slice of life for Anothers.

Kohaku talks about Seimei

The idea that Seimei learned about the round Earth is pretty funny for a one-off comment. I think it’s interesting, though, that Kohaku speaks normally in the memory sequence, whereas Arata hears him with the Another sound filter. I wonder if it’s just because it’s a memory sequence. It could also point to Arata’s power not being fully refined yet. Or maybe Seimei was just a stronger mystic.

The group prepares to check on some Anothers

I can’t believe the work assignment for this week was basically a high school science report. The group basically got asked to go to the zoo and observe some animals.

Arata is almost whisked away

I saw this particular scene as a bit of a lost opportunity. It introduces the idea that Anothers can latch on to you if you do what they want. This idea is later perpetuated when Haguro gets abducted just for meeting Kio Gongen’s gaze. However, I would have liked to know if the drunk monkey Anothers actually had malicious intentions. Before now, no one in the ward could understand the Anothers, so it’s possible that they just misunderstood the Anothers. It might have been an interesting way to show the gap that Arata sees.

Kio Gongen wants a festival

It’s a small step, but I do like the idea that getting spirited away amounts to being pulled into a drinking game by an Another who doesn’t understand human life spans. The concept felt a bit unceremonious to me overall, so it was hard to take seriously. But it’s a start…

The drinking monkeys save the day

I also like the idea that the drinking monkeys come back to save the day in the end. I wish that the episode had touched on Arata’s behavior a bit more, though. Was he just lost because he was drunk or was that supernatural? It seemed like Kio Gongen was intentionally keeping him there, but it’s hard to tell.

Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin Episode 3: A tricky foe

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Arata finds out about kyoshi

This series is such a strange experience. This week’s episode sets up Kohaku as a generally capricious character, rather than sticking with him as an antagonist. While it’s not the most surprising thing in the world given how quickly he was introduced, I thought it put him on a similar level with Arata overall. They’re both just kind of meh characters. The episode seemed to be saying that the recurring theme of the series would be Arata dealing with Kohaku’s random tricks, which I’m not sure appeals to me.

Arata keeps learning more

That being said, I still think this series is kind of fun. The kyoshis are an interesting concept, since they seem to bridge the gap between spirit and physical. They’re definitely just glorified zombies, but they fit the bill for a low-level encounter.

Kohaku tricks some girls into his ritual

I get that Kohaku didn’t directly entrap these girls, but I still find it strange that he’s largely forgiven for it. I know the episode is trying to set him up as someone who doesn’t care, but he ends up seeming more heinous than he should be. I think I might have been more okay with it if he had tricked the girls into the ritual, but he just uses girls who were abducted by a different demon. Am I supposed to take this guy seriously?

Reinforcements arrive

The episode also seems to set up the idea that other districts exist as sources of aid, which I thought was interesting. I was hoping they’d contribute more than they did, but I like the idea of the agencies interacting with each other.

Arata remembers his grandfather's lessons

As I said last week, I have the hardest time identifying with Arata. It feels like he skates by with information he truly shouldn’t have any business knowing. It’s clear that he spent his childhood ignoring his grandfather’s stories about Abe no Seimei, after all. Given the nature of his job, you’d think he would have taken the opportunity to get a full refresher course or something.

A larger plot arrives

I guess this counts as developing the side characters. I haven’t even been keeping track of this guy’s name so far, so this makes him more identifiable. The revelation probably could have been hinted at a bit more, but I guess it’s not totally random.

Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin Episode 2: An enemy appears

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Arata's past is revealed

I felt like this second episode walks back a bit on some of the goodwill I granted for the first episode. I liked the whimsical nature of the first episode, but this episode seems to switch straight into a more serious arc by introducing an antagonist. That being said, I don’t think it’s enough to turn me away. I think the premise could be interesting, but I mostly don’t know if I want to watch Arata face off against whoever this mystery Another is for the duration of the show.

Arata's power is identified

There’s a certain lack of ceremony in the way that Arata’s power is explained in this episode. Sure, the other characters mention that it’s unique for his “Ears of Sand” to work with Anothers, but I’m not a big fan of how they just put a name to it. It almost sounds like they’re saying it’s just another quirk of their job, when it seems to have a clear benefit for what they do.

Arata lets the others look around his warehouse

Along the same vein, it seems odd to me that Arata’s family has such a deep, mystical history. He’s set up as a rather unassuming guy who bites off more than he can chew by joining the Shinjuku Nocturnal Community Relations Department, but that gets immediately shifted. If I knew even half of the things that were revealed in this episode, his hiring in the first episode would have been no surprise at all. I guess it makes him harder to relate to as a protagonist.

The mysterious man appears

As I mentioned before, I’m a bit apprehensive about the introduction of this antagonist at this point. The ending animation tends to show Arata and this Another on opposing sides, so it wouldn’t be surprising if they have some past struggle that ends up being the focus of the series. I suppose the two never really seem that hostile towards each other, so it’s possible that it’s intentionally set up as a misunderstanding, though.

Suzu introduces herself

It ultimately doesn’t seem much more than a character introduction, but I liked Suzu’s introduction. It does a good job of showing how much Arata helps with the relationship between humans and Anothers. Akane initially introduces Suzu as a guardian spirit, a goddess that protects the family. However, that immediately breaks down when Arata introduces her. I think it’s a pretty good scene.

Zombies appear

So, I’m not sure what to make of the end. I guess they’re random zombies, huh? I guess we’ll have to see where it goes.

Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin First Impressions (1): Keeping the supernatural peace

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Arata finds his new workplace

I didn’t know what I was getting myself into with this series, but I was happy with this episode when I heard the music playing in the very first scene. The series follows Arata Miyako, a fresh hire at the Shinjuku Nocturnal Community Relations department. He soon finds out that his new job is to help arbitrate disputes between supernatural creatures, called Anothers. He also finds out that he has the special ability to understand what the Anothers are saying, unlike his more experienced coworkers.

Arata gets pulled into a territory dispute

As I’ve said before, I tend to like series about yokai and other creatures from folklore, so I’m looking forward to seeing how this series handles them. This first episode spends a lot of time introducing its concept, so the basic conflict is a simple Romeo and Juliet story. It’s nothing new, but I still thought it worked as an introduction.

Arata meets a fairy

I do feel like it’s a bit of a stretch that Arata goes from being unable to see the Anothers to immediately being able to understand them. I get that he’s supposed to be the reincarnations of Abe no Seimei or something, but it’s hard to accept how quickly he goes from fresh-faced newbie to showing up the veterans. I don’t think it’s a huge deal, but it did bug me.

The magic tape solves everything

I also like how the episode didn’t seem to spend too much time explaining itself. We’re introduced to Seo as an experiment goes wrong, so it’s easy to believe that he created all of the gadgets they use against the Anothers later in the episode. No need for lengthy exposition, right?

Seo can't figure out what's going on

The way that Arata’s power is revealed is cool too. We as the audience see the story from his perspective, but there are still plenty of hints to show that the other characters can’t hear what the Anothers are saying. As a result, the reveal feels earned, even if it didn’t have much time to develop.

I’m looking forward to seeing where this series will go. Its premise seems interesting, and I think it would appeal to me. I don’t know how I feel about it being in the same season as Bungou Stray Dogs, but I’m sold so far.

Anime Review: Another

Another

This is a show that I’ve enjoyed following as it aired. Basically, Sakakibara Kouichi transfers into a class that seems strange for some reason. There’s a story in this class about a class years ago where a student named Misaki died. However, the class chose to pretend that Misaki was still alive, even up to graduation. Kouichi meets a girl named Misaki Mei, and starts to take an interest in her. The story follows him as he tries to solve the mystery behind his classmates and their strange behavior. When he finds out, he is thrust into a race to solve everything to prevent the deaths of his classmates.

This show presents itself as a horror series, and it certainly tries to uphold that with the death and ridiculous amounts of blood. However, I saw this show more to be a mystery, giving out hints and clues for the viewers to solve it with the characters. I had a ton of fun coming up with theories every single week. Still, there are cliffhangers galore, which can be a bit frustrating when following an airing show, but definitely effective in keeping interest. Also, I have to give props to the show in the end. While it’s true that they get a little excessive with the killing to the point of being a bit comic, I have to say that their decision to use mob psychology was very well done and incredibly interesting to watch. Also, the ending that they use is very appropriate. I thought it was well done.

Story: Score 92/100

The characters in this show tend to be fairly bland. Kouichi isn’t that stellar of a protagonist, but he gets things moving. Mei was a pretty cool character, mysterious and quiet. Akazawa Izumi, the tsundere, was a nice character too, but doesn’t really make all too many appearances early on. Teshigawara Naoya takes the role of comedic support (which is awkward in a horror story, but it wasn’t that bad). Mochizuka Yuuya, the frail art kid, finishes up the really major characters. There are plenty of supporting characters in the class, but most of them are really just there to die. Sometimes, they made it pretty obvious who was going to be killed when they throw in random background characters in an important scene.

Characters: Score 86/100

The animation in this show didn’t really stand out to me in any way, but it wasn’t exactly bad. Everything had an eerie look to it, but the random scenes of dolls may have been a bit much. The music was a bit disappointing for me. The main theme is super mysterious and sets a great mood for a horror story. However, they try to alter that main theme to sound lighter in the more cheerful scenes, and it doesn’t really work out that well. It just seemed very out of place to me. The opening theme wasn’t too impressive…sounded like a normal song from ALI PROJECT if you like their music. The ending theme was a lighter song…a bit better, but still not that impressive.

Animation: 85/100

Music: 80/100

If you think you can handle the blood and gore, I thought this was a very nice mystery-esque show to keep you guessing. It’s easy to get spoiled, though, so be careful (I learned that the hard way). I could have spent hours talking about my theories for the show…there were tiny clues everywhere. Eventually, it came down to process of elimination with so few characters remaining. Not the strongest show in the world, but I found it pretty entertaining. I don’t usually watch horror shows, but I didn’t mind this one so much…maybe because I classify it as mystery and the deaths didn’t really bother me. Man am I glad the cliffhangers are over…they were bad for my heart.

Final Score: 85/100

Another Final Episode

Picking up from last week, the inn is falling apart because of the fire, killing students left and right. The librarian returns to save Teshigawara and Yuuya from the owner’s wife. Akazawa tries to kill Mei, but Kouichi saves her. Akazawa is killed by the curse, but not before she regains her memory of meeting Kouichi.

Mei then continues with her plan to kill the dead person, warning Kouichi not to follow her. He follows anyway, and she finally reveals that the teacher Mikami is the extra. Kouichi refuses to believe her at first, but he realizes that she is telling the truth and kills Reiko himself.

Alright, so that part about Reiko actually being Mikami…how did I miss that? Was that scene actually there? I know the scenes with the grandparents were there, but I can’t remember that scene with Reiko telling Kouichi to always call her Mikami at school. Personally, I think this show is exponentially better if that scene wasn’t there. I know that if it was there, I would have probably figured it out a while ago. I know that a lot of people were suspecting, but I always put her aside because she wasn’t involved with Class 3.

I really like how they ended the series, with Class 3 leaving a recording similar to Matsunaga’s to warn later classes. I like that they didn’t try to erase the curse in some way and that the curse persists. I think that’s how a show like this should end. It was definitely fun to watch and a lot of fun to theorycraft in my posts. I’ll review the show as a whole later. Probably need to rewatch the first few episodes first to find that scene…

Edit: Okay, so I checked the first episode and that bit where Reiko says “the fourth thing” is interrupted. She continues on in this episode telling Kouichi not to call her Reiko. I haven’t checked any other episodes, but I feel like that’s proof enough for me that she never tells him this before this week. If someone wants to tell me otherwise, please let me know…I really want to know this.

Another Episode 11

So Teshigawara pushed Kazami off a balcony thinking that he was the dead student, but soon finds out that he was wrong. Koiuchi, Mei, and Teshigawara go to see if Kazami is still alive, but Kouichi is interrupted by a stabbed Maejima. Kouichi finds the dining hall ablaze and the manager dead. Yuuya reveals that Kazami is alive, and everyone goes around to find him as well as evacuate everyone. Yuuya and Teshigawara try to find Mikami, but instead find the manager’s wife with a cleaver.

Takako also attacks Mei, but Kouichi saves her. However, Takako then plays the tape on the intercom and identifies Mei as the dead student. The students try to kill Mei, but Mikami takes the hit. Kouichi tries to help Mei escape, and several students die in their attempt to kill Mei. The episode ends with Mei running off to kill the extra and stop the deaths.

A witch hunt for Mei. I think this is a good direction for the show for several reasons. First off, it calls into play the sort of desperate mass hysteria that is intrinsic to humans. And not only that, each time a student dies trying to kill Mei, she looks more and more suspicious, as the curse is almost seeming to protect her. Also, it used Mei’s sister for suspicion…I thought that was pretty interesting. When Mei said that thing about killing the dead person to stop the other deaths, I was almost afraid that she would stab herself, but it doesn’t look like it will happen.

At this point, our list of suspects has basically been exhausted. It can’t be Akazawa, as she was right in front of Mei when she had her revelation. It can’t be Teshigawara because I can’t feel it being him after he tried to kill Kazami. Also can’t be Kazami since he’s been basically AWOL the entire series. Next week, it looks like Kouichi will maybe try to defend the true culprit from Mei. I’m guessing some conflict of morals and whatnot will take place. At the moment, I don’t foresee either Mei or Kouichi dying…or maybe that’s just a desperate hope?

Another Episode 10

After the recap of the deaths from last week, Izumi has a weird dream of “meeting” Kouichi. With that, the class trip starts. The gang finally listens to the rest of Matsunaga’s tape. Matsunaga talks about how he got into a fight with another student and killed him accidentally. This student turns out to be the dead student, and everyone forgets about him except Matsunaga. Later, Izumi blames Mei for the class’s hardships for not being ignored properly, but they are interrupted when Wazui has an asthmatic attack.

Kouichi goes to meet with Mei in her room that night, and Mei tells him that her cousin was actually her twin sister, suggesting that she was the true first victim. She also tells him that her doll eye sees how close people are to death. Kouichi asks Mei who the dead student is, but they are interrupted when Teshigawara barges into the room saying he’s done something terrible.

So after that much buildup, the tape ended up being pretty boring in the end. Oh well…pretty predictable. You have to kill the dead student. The stuff at the end was much more interesting. For the whole episode, I was thinking that Izumi was the dead student because of the discrepancy between her and Kouichi’s memories. That would suggest that something is wrong with one of the two, and Kouichi doesn’t seem dead (this is confirmed by Mei this week). While it’s still possible that Izumi is the dead student, it looks like Teshigawara is our prime suspect at the moment. It would definitely be an interesting way to end the series. Teshigawara realizes that he is dead and desperately wishes to end the deaths and stop hurting others, while Kouichi is conflicted about killing his friend. Or…maybe I’m nuts and Izumi’s the dead one and everyone has to stop her >.> Only one way to find out.