I sure hope no one cares about this guy. Because my god he was annoying in the latest episode.
You know, I’ve seen people accusing Occultic;Nine of having a confusing narrative, annoying characters, and shit dialogue, and whilst the latter two are definitely true, I don’t think the narrative is confusing or unintelligible like everyone claims. It’s just that even when you do understand what’s going on, the narrative is dogshit at best and non-existent at worst. Part of the problem with the show…well okay, the BIG problem when you get down to it…is that it seems to exist in a world where Baccano and Durarara are still considered good anime. And forgive me for sounding a bit pretentious here, but after sitting through the absolute craziness of the Danganronpa franchise, the multilayered narrative chops displayed by Concrete Revolutio, and more Sion Sono movies than is probably healthy for the average human being, it mystifies me how anyone can think Ryogho Narita is the king of writing energetic stories centered on giant casts of over-the-top characters.
My problem with this sort of style is that it’s solely defined by plot beats, and if you’re like me, plot beats on their own might entertain you the first watch, but will absolutely bore the pants off you on rewatch. However, even by those standards, I don’t think Occultic;Nine is failing with me just because I’m more experienced now than I was back when I used to rewatch Baccano constantly. Let’s examine my attempts to attach myself to something in regards to this show in order to dissect the problem. Usually, when I try to get into an anime, let alone write about it, I start by looking at the characters due to my preference for strong character-driven narratives.
Whether I find a character interesting largely depends on what they represent (which helps me form an abstract attachment) with a strong leaning towards having to face a conflict that directly challenges their personal flaws (which helps me form an emotional attachment). And so far, I’m not seeing that with any of Occultic;Nine’s cast. Like all Science Adventure series, they’re all otaku-ish stereotypes with the males being nerds and the females being fetish-pandering, but that’s not an inherently bad thing. What is bad is how the story has not told me anything about them I couldn’t read up in a character glossary and they have exhibited no character flaws whatsoever, causing the tropes they embody to really annoy me. We know Gamon (the guy who runs the occult blog) is a loser caught in a bad situation, but that doesn’t tell me anything about him. We know that moe fortune teller girl gets harassed by callers, but so what? We know Aria was so deluded that she lived with her dead brother’s corpse for a year without realizing his condition, but all that does is tell me that she’s a little fucked up. Not only is this a case of “plot just throwing arbitrary problems at characters because it’s too lazy to come up with conflicts that directly challenge their personalities”, I don’t understand what relevance this has on the story.
And speaking of the story, if the characters fail to interest me, the next thing I can do is look at what the overall plot is trying to achieve with them and why it fails to do so, like with The Get Down and how uses its hip-hop themes as more of an ingredient to the story rather than making it the highest priority. To anyone who survived the first episode’s attack on the senses, you’d know that the hook of Occultic;Nine is that professor’s murder and how all these plotlines are somehow related to it (and later, a bunch of other murders) in a Serial Experiments Lain sort of way. Well okay then. That’s a decent hook in order to create tension in your narrative. So tell me Occultic;Nine, what exactly are these murders going to be used for and how are the characters tied to it? Because if you don’t clarify that, then I don’t see why I’m supposed to care that fictional people are dying left and right, and there’s a very strong possibility that you’ll end up like Chaos;Head when that show made the same mistake.
So far, the only two people getting involved in the actual murders are Gamon and that kid detective, Shun, whilst everyone else just does their own thing that’s about as divorced from the main plot as most of the subplots in True Detective Season 2. And unfortunately, they’re doing a bad job of pushing these events into any sort of forward direction. Gamon mostly just runs around, blabbers about poorly connected occult things, and reacts to major events whilst his blogger status plays absolutely zero role in the plot, making me wonder why he’s in this show in the first place. And as for Shun, he just exists to deliver exposition, set up plot points, or get some of the other characters loosely involved without actually making forward progress in the case itself. So is he supposed to be the main character who ties everything together? Because I think he’s too much of a bland otaku-bait stereotype to be able to hold that torch. I mean my god his dialogue is awful.
As for what the point of the murders are, all I can say is “beats the fuck out of me and the audience”. For a show that’s supposedly about the occult, it really doesn’t get much more than a token acknowledgment of “it exists”. Most of the characters have occult-related professions, but the story hasn’t done anything with them other than say “oh yeah, these people work in professions that deal with the occult. That’s why they’re the leads”. It’s pretty much the written equivalent of wallpaper, and I don’t like to decorate my own room. So what exactly does this show have to give its mysteries flavor if not for the occult stuff? And just for the record, making the number of victims unusually large does not count.
Are any of you guys watching Westworld? It’s this really popular new show on HBO about a really expensive amusement park where people can live out their dream fantasy of living in a western (and assumedly other fictional settings) with no risk to their lives since the robots that make up the majority of the park’s inhabitants are programmed to not kill or even know that their lives are fictional. The story is about said robots gaining self-awareness regarding their current state of being, whilst the humans either become more engrossed into embracing what they paid for or discovering the secrets of the park themselves, creating a bunch of mysteries regarding what’s actually happening in this fictional environment for the audience to solve. It’s pretty much a cautionary tale regarding the evolution of artificial intelligence in the same vein as Ex Machina, and the show utilizes said tale as a jumping off point for other character plot lines, questions, and conspiracy theories to emerge. I’m not exactly jumping on that “best show EVAR” bandwagon as of yet (although seriously, when was the last time I ever did?), but at least I can describe the glue that’s holding everything together even when I don’t quite know what’s going on in a way that would appeal to most people.
So the story isn’t working for me either, and mostly in a lacking manner too dull to write about for very long unless you’re one of those people who wants to keep the order of events in shape. I guess all that’s left to talk about is the animatio–bwahahahaha! It’s technically good, but it’s soulless as hell. I mean the direction is going comedic over what should be tense moments, I can’t recall anything all that special being done with the visuals, and the character designs are the same bland, almost-noseless A-1 Pictures designs they’ve always been except looking suspiciously more sketchy. Maybe the 2012 me would have found the presentation intriguing given how I over-praised the shit out of that style stuff back in the day, but 2016 me thinks it’s trying way too hard to be cool. Also, I don’t remember any of the OST at all aside from how out of place it can be at times. I mean cheerful rock sounds during a mass murder scene? WTF?
Without characters that I can ground myself on, a story I can describe clearly even through its vagueness, and a presentation that’s actually exciting to watch, what else is there for Occultic;Nine to give me? Because let’s be clear here, the only reason I started watching this show was because I was almost certain I was going to hate it, and unwinding on bad anime is pretty much the fuel that keeps my anime fandom status alive whilst I wait eons for the medium to produce something I can actually have fun with. In that sense, I guess Occultic;Nine is surpassing expectations, because when some of your episodes get taken off of legal streaming for a few days to the point that every motherfucker with an Internet connection makes “even the staff knows it’s shit” jokes at its expense, you know something has gone horribly wrong.
- I saw one guy defending this show by comparing it to Chaos;Head in a positive way. Why on earth you’d ever want to defend something by referencing that horrible show is beyond me.
- There are people who think Aria’s mental condition is actually intriguing, which just makes me laugh.
- Yes, I know Gamon is voiced by Yuki Kaji. And no, I don’t give a shit.