「マヤの予言」 (Maya no Yogen)
Anime no Chikara’s third project aired today and proved to be the awesome supernatural comedy it was made out to be. Best of all, it’s already been picked up as a simulcast by Crunchyroll, meaning that subs will be readily available unlike Senkou no Night Raid. Whether or not you support simulcasts, most people are probably going to end up watching their translations by some means, so this can only mean good things for fans (… even for those who don’t like paying for so-called bad translations yet will watch them for free).
For this premiere episode, all eyes were on Hikasa Youko‘s portrayal of our female lead, Kumashiro Maya, in her short white one piece and black stockings flashing zettai ryouiki all day like it was nobody’s business. As mentioned back in the Summer 2010 Preview, she’s made the trek out to Matsuhiro, Nagano to attend the funeral of her father after he suddenly passed away. He’s actually the school director of Waldstein Academy located on Minakami mountain, better known as Occult Academy due to all the paranormal activities that take place there. The humor quickly kicks in when we learn how tough Maya is due to her absolute disdain for the occult world. Not only is she short-tempered and quick to act, she doesn’t seem the least bit afraid of possessed spirits even after they’ve taken over her father’s corpse.
What was surprising to learn though is that she’s really well-versed in the subject, having picked up a lot of it from her father when she was younger. She only ended up hating it later on when her father became completely obsessed with it, so much that he lashed out at her, leading to her mother taking her away to live elsewhere. This introduction episode covered Maya’s background for the most part, and has me really looking forward to more of her spunky attitude after seeing her chop her father’s head off without hesitation to exorcise the spirit that possessed his corpse. While the horror element was present in this beautifully animated first episode by A-1 Pictures, the humor that resulted from Maya’s interactions with her childhood friend Kuroki Ami (Takagaki Ayahi) were pretty funny as well, particularly during the flashback scenes. Their lighthearted relationship was established quickly and entertaining to boot, whereas the support cast comprised of Ami’s friend Naruse Kozue (Hanazawa Kana in yet another typecast meganekko role), occult dowser JK (Koyasu Takehito), and school mechanic Smile (Takahashi Hiroki) brought some additional humor with their own nuances.
JK may look like nothing more than a fat guy with dyed red hair, for which Maya aptly refers to as “Crimson Pig” (Kurenai no Buta), but Takehito voicing him is bound to lead to some good laughs. Smile on the other hand already had me laughing a fair bit when he was beating on a possessed Kozue and telling her not to get all cocky just because she’s possessed. I got some Harima Kenji vibes hearing Hiroki play Smile here, which is utterly awesome given how that was one of his best roles (on top of being Ryu in Street Fighter). In addition to Maya’s new gang of friends (if they can even be called that), we have Vice-Principal Kawashima Chihiro (Kobayashi Yuu) and yet to be seen Nakagawa Mikaze (Chihara Minori). Last but not least is the arrival of Uchida Fumiaki (Mizushima Takahiro) from thirteen years in the future, who serves as the male protagonist in the series sent back in time for some yet to be revealed purpose. He arrived butt-naked Terminator-style, leading to a speechless yet hilarious reaction from Maya. The shadow of Fumiaki’s “package” showed just how well endowed he is too. (lol)
Production-wise, I’m pretty excited about where this series is headed, being another original one by Anime no Chikara. The animation seen thus far has been quite a visual treat and the various backdrops get the full-blown treatment as per their other projects. I also like how there are a variety of character designs so that no one looks too generic. Maya in particular is really pretty with her sky blue eyes, while JK with his chubby demeanor serves as the other end of the spectrum. Music-wise, the opening theme is performed by Nakagawa Shouko, whose RAY OF LIGHT song was featured as the fifth Fullmetal Alchemist ending theme as a lot of people are probably aware. The ending theme here is performed by Takagaki Ayahi, and interesting enough features real kids lying in a field to change things up. There’s something about little kids and horror that just seems to go hand in hand, especially when you hear their laughter off in the distance.
Overall, this first showing really delivered in terms of providing a similar feel to Ghost Hunt like I was hoping. The difference is that the comedic element is much more prominent, thanks to Maya’s “I hate occult crap and don’t take shit from anyone” personality. More often than not, she’s scarier than the ghosts, and it’s been hinted that she’s a bit of a sadist too, both of which are a lot of fun to watch. I just love how her facial expressions show everything from her annoyance to her embarrassment too, making her a tsundere character played by Youko that is always great in my books. It looks like we’re getting some fan-service from her next time, so this is already turning out to be a supernatural blast. This series is a guaranteed watch of mine like I said in the season preview, but now I’m eagerly looking forward to it on a weekly basis after getting a taste.