「マヤの文明」 (Maya no Bunmei)
Just when we thought it was all over, the writers slip in another huge twist at the very end by reviving the threat of Nostradamus’ Key. Rather than blaming the alien invasion and the subsequent destruction of the world on a witch — which didn’t make that much sense anyway because it’s witches and aliens — they go for a scientific theory where space and time get distorted if two identical existences are superimposed. The cause of that? Going back in time and coming into contact with your former self. Admittedly, I wasn’t banking on the photo Maya took last time with Fumiaki and Mikaze in the same shot leading viewers astray, even though the thought had crossed a lot of people’s minds. I figured alien technology would be advanced enough to isolate one of the two objects in the picture or that Maya was specifically thinking about destroying Mikaze, but evidently that wasn’t the case. As such, I couldn’t help but think of the irony in how Mikaze would have been doing the world a favor by killing Fumiaki had she not been stopped by him and Maya. Of course, there’s always the possibility that Mikaze would unleash a similar hell on the world if she did survive, which would make it a matter of picking your poison.
Anyway, what did kind of throw me off was the adherence to the single timeline theory. It’s easier to grasp than the split timeline, and the one I’m personally inclined to believe since it seems more plausible than an infinite number of timelines in existence, but the writers decided to take a spin on it where the sole future can be changed. While the possibility isn’t a new concept to time travel, I always find it creates a time paradox much like it did here. As noted, Fumiaki ends up being the key and is unable to avoid meeting himself after Maya calls his mother to bring “Bunmei” to the school’s closing ceremony. In accordance to the single timeline theory, their attempt to prevent the two of them from meeting ends up being in vain when Bunmei decides to go explore Waldstein Academy on his own. The eventual encounter between Fumiaki and Bunmei and the opening of a dimensional rift that aliens started pouring out of paved way to a bad ending, but an ending that made perfect sense in my eyes.
As I mentioned last time, this outcome sticks to the theory that any attempt to change the past would lead to the very same future a person came from, because the history that’s already been written is what led to them traveling back in time in the first place. With that in mind, I was somewhat pleased when it looked like they were adhering to this theory despite the bad ending the story was headed towards, as odd as that may sound. Because of that, I had pretty mixed feelings when Fumiaki overcame his trauma by confirming with his former self that he came here on his own accord (i.e. that this was all his fault to begin with) and then using his recovered psychokinetic powers to send the aliens back where they came from and close the rift. It was pretty cool seeing him kick some serious ass and sacrifice himself to change history — with “Flying Humanoid” playing in the background as he took to the skies — plus the way he left Maya with a lasting impression of his manliness in the process. The only problem I had with it was how it totally messed up the concept of time.
In the future, Junichirou — who was finally confirmed to be the commander and sent into hiding by Chihiro — wasn’t even aware that the future had changed since his memories hadn’t realigned accordingly. When he finally stepped out of his underground bunker with his men, he found himself in a thriving future and a cafe behind him replacing it. The apparent time lag from his memories aligning with the new future is one aspect of the single timeline theory that makes it suspect, as the disappearance of the world as he knew it and the recreation of it where he has no recollection of Waldstein Academy being destroyed on July 21st, 1999 would make more sense. The real time paradox though is exactly who saved the world to begin with. Assuming this is now the future, the Fumiaki that sacrificed himself never existed to begin with. There was no barren future to send him back from, nor a need for Junichirou to create a time agency to try and correct the past. From July 22nd, 1999 onwards as the world knew it, there was no alien invasion. If we go back to July 21st and the one month leading up to that, this Fumiaki from that nonexistent future is still there though and Maya is well aware that he traveled back in time to help her save the world. In the actual future, she’s supposedly married to the one who grew up, which is not the same Fumiaki who was sent back. (What a cougar!) So, where did this Fumiaki who saved the world come from?
The short answer is that he never existed in the first place, much like Junichirou never went into hiding for the past thirteen years to come up with a countermeasure to save the world, hence the discontinuity in time. If there was never an alien invasion on July 21st, 1999, there definitely wasn’t a time agency in 2012 trying to save a future that was already safe. The only way one could fathom this working out is if the future happened before the past, but the mere sound of that should go to show how preposterous that thought is. So yeah, this time paradox is why I prefer the theory where the past can’t be changed if there’s only a single timeline. This series decided to follow it for the most part and eventually break away from it to give a good ending, which should leave viewers with mixed feeling if they actually stop to think about it. Regardless, it’s how these paradoxes are handled that always has me interested in any series or movie — anime or otherwise — that tries to tackle the time travel idea, much like Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin did.
“Believe in Anime no Chikara.” It’s a mindset that’s grown on me over the past three seasons and one I plan to stick to whenever their next project rolls around. After blogging for some time, one of the things I’ve grown accustomed to hearing over and over again is how an anime adaptation isn’t faithful to the original source material and some people raging over it just because they’re instinctively biased towards what they were exposed to first. Because of that, original series such as the ones produced by the Aniplex, TV Tokyo, and A-1 Pictures collaboration are always a breath of fresh air in more ways than one. It’s a lot of fun covering a series where no one knows what’s going to happen and everyone is just as excited about the next episode as the next person. There are no expectations of adherence to source material and no disappointments stemming from that either. It’s pretty much the same as covering manga, except talking about an anime is generally much more involved due to the presentation aspect. In this particular case, there were a lot twists that added to that enjoyment, which nobody who wasn’t working on the series could have definitively foresaw.
Seeing as I enjoyed both So-Ra-No-Wo-To and the much underappreciated Senkou no Night Raid, I was convinced I’d be watching Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin before I even had any idea what it was about. Upon doing my season preview “homework”, the idea of a sci-fi paranormal comedy had my interest piqued as soon as time travel came into play. News that K-ON‘s Hikasa Youko would be starring in it made it almost an immediate sell, but what really surprised me was the quirky cast of characters that accompanied the tsundere-like Kumashiro Maya. Breaking away from the norm of pretty boy character designs, Smile and JK showed just how awesome they can be despite their unsuspecting appearance, which went on to reiterate the comedy side of things. To a lesser extent were Ami and Kozue, who were still a lot of fun to watch since they were Maya’s closest friends. To a surprisingly larger extent was Chihiro, whose obsession with Abe-sensei is seen in an all new light following the revelation that she’s actually a white mage on Maya’s side. Finally, there’s Fumiaki himself, who started out as a pretty wimpy character yet managed to go out in a blaze of glory. I was never annoyed about his character like some people were, simply because I saw it all in good comedic fun, but he even surprised me with how cool he turned out to be. On top of the quirky characters themselves, there were the overexaggerated facial expressions that I just loved seeing, most of which stemmed from Maya herself.
Every since the second episode, I made mention of how this was the show I was looking forward to the most on a weekly basis. Now almost three months later, that sentiment hasn’t really changed all that much. Sure there were other good shows right up there this past summer, such as K-ON, Amagami SS, Mitsudomoe, and STRIKE WITCHES 2, but none of them had quite the same kind of appeal that left me eagerly wanting to see where the next episode was headed. The overarching story surrounding Nostradamus’ Prophecies and the destruction of the world really helped in that regard, and I absolutely loved how all aspects of the story came together in the end — especially the parts that were seemingly unrelated at the time. I could probably go on and on about how much I enjoyed this series, but I’ll just leave off with the recommendation that original anime series are the way to go, and everyone should be checking out Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin if you haven’t already. It takes a seemingly normal anime premise and makes it not so normal at all. It’s the occult!