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Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin – 02 »

Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin – 01

OP Sequence

OP: 「dis-communicate」by Fukuyama Jun

「新宿上空の天狗と天使」 (Shinjuku Jōkū no Tengu to Tenshi)
“Angels and Tengu Above the Shinjuku Skyline”

Well, wasn’t this a pleasant surprise?

Despite having written the preview for this series, I’ll admit that I hadn’t expected much more from it than Miyako Arata’s (Fukuyama Jun) sweet vocals, but Watanabe Tetsuya’s directing has elevated Occult from standard fare to a cleverly adapted series. Through the use of breathtakingly captured cityscapes, the viewer is put firmly in the driver’s seat with Arata, lost and in awe of the grandness of Shinjuku. Watanabe’s worked on Fullmetal Alchemist and xxxHolic The Movie in the past, so the fast-paced editing of the opening, accompanied by the upbeat, jazzy OST provided by Evan Call, definitely carried his influence.

Since it’s Arata’s first day in the Shinjuku Ward Office’s “Nighttime Regional Relations” department, he’s still a little wet behind the ears. Luckily, he has the oddball pair of Seo (Irino Miyu), a blunt scientist with an effeminate figure, and Sakaki (Maeno Tomoaki), a former host, to show him the ropes. At first, it seemed like Arate was in for a steep learning curve, since he was assigned to take care of and manage angels and youkai without even believing they exist, but it’s quickly revealed that Arata is the only human capable of understanding the youkai’s language. He first discovers this gift when listening in on a tengu and an angel couple discussing their elopement in the Shinjuku Imperial Gardens. The interaction between the lovers felt so comedically overdramatic I half-expected Sakaki to pull out a bag of popcorn, but then it was revealed that none of the other humans could understand what “Anothers” say. This may have even led to humans thinking the youkai and angels and fairies weren’t capable of higher thought, since Seo compared speaking with them to speaking with cats and dogs, and has definitely led to unnecessary conflicts in the past.

Arata’s rather bland design probably has something to do with him being the audience surrogate of the piece, as Seo and Sakaki stand out visually in ways that complement their eccentric personalities, but even the youkai, tengu, and fairies aren’t that interesting to look at. Most of them are humanoid from head to toe, for example, which is a missed opportunity in itself when there are so many things more interesting to look at than humans. Before it sounds like I’m coming down too harshly, the series does deserve props for actually attempting to draw fairies, as opposed to throwing a glowing orb on the frame and calling it a day. They also depicted a grassy-looking Cu Sith, an uncommon choice of folkloric creature originating from Scotland.

The theme of the “other” seems to be especially prevalent this season. The message here, though, isn’t a bleak one: If we can only learn to understand each other, then we can learn to live in peace. The conflict in this episode stemmed from a misunderstanding fueled as much by prejudice as it was by love and concern. The tengu and angels were just trying to protect what was precious to them, and if every episode follows a similar episodic format where an issue arises that only Arata’s intervention can bring to its best conclusion, then you can count me in.

 

ED Sequence

ED: 「The Promised Overture」 (Yakusoku no Overture) by Toki Shun’ichi

April 9, 2019 at 5:47 am
9 comments »
  • April 9, 2019 at 7:10 amiskendaris

    i’m loving this series if only for the SUPER ACCURATE depiction of shinjuku municipal office and tokyo bureaucracy.

    anyone who has ever dealt with it will recognize the shitty basement where the ward office is located (omg they even have the mr donut detail i fuckin love it), and the nice tie-in that shinjuku is also the most diverse ward in tokyo (over 80% of immigrants live here, compared to the rest of japan) so the whole mix of angel/tengu/other is feels very much “american gods set in japanese bureacracy”

    i’ll be watching it if only for the sheer delight of watching my city get animated (the way ikebukuro lovingly came to life with durarara!)

    • April 9, 2019 at 7:55 amGuardian Enzo

      Yeah, I had many visits to that ward office when I lived in Tokyo. People hear “Shinjuku” and they think it just means the station (which is massive in its own right) and Kabukicho. But Shinjuku has a huge reach – I lived in Kagurazaka (where the series is headed next week), which seems like the other side of Tokyo, but I was in Shinjuku-ku just the same.

      • April 10, 2019 at 9:53 amiskendaris

        I’m excited to see Kagurazaka animated! I live in near there too (walking distance), so it’s very much in my neighourbood haha — the food there is always so good, and patisserie vincent is my downfall D:

        Yes Shinjuku is huge, most people just know the “main” shinjuku+shinjuku san-chome area; but it goes up to Shin-Okubo where koreatown is, and all the way around waseda (bordering ikebukuro) towards nakano. it’s a huge huge diverse ward, and i’m very glad for this series

      • April 11, 2019 at 2:31 amGuardian Enzo

        I remember being warned by the Japanese teachers at my school and by Japanese friends not to go to Shin-Okubo. When I asked why they always said “It’s dangerous!”. When I asked why I was told “Because Koreans live there.”

        I never got to Vincent – where is it? Kagurazaka is so overloaded with French bakeries it’s crazy. I used to go to Boulangerie Paul a lot. What it lacked was a really good ramen place – you had to walk to Ichigya but if you did you had Kururi (sadly gone now and replaced by a successor from the same owner not nearly as good), which was probably the best ramen (out of hundreds I’ve tried) I’ve ever had.

      • April 11, 2019 at 4:59 amiskendaris

        patisserie vincent: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1309/A130905/13035194/ !!! i recommend their amer70, which is their 70% dark chocolate cake but really everything there is seriously delicious!!!

        yeah it’s really weird what people consider as dangerous here. tourists are told not to go kabukicho, but it’s way safer than dogenzaka in shibuya; and well, unfortunately racism is well and alive in japan, now shin-okubo up north is populated by chinese, so it’s “don’t go cos the koreans and chinese live there!” (but at the same time if we didn’t have immigrants then all the combini stores will close)

      • April 11, 2019 at 7:21 amGuardian Enzo

        Wish I’d known about that place when I lived there, it looks great. Next time I’m in Tokyo…

  • April 9, 2019 at 8:11 amewok40k

    whoa we found a hidden gem of the season, nothing like small time civil servantys trying to keep supernatural denizens of the city peaceful towards mortals…
    bonus points for romeo and juliet repalyed amongst supernaturals

    • April 10, 2019 at 6:58 pmStars

      And even better, those two got a happy ending

  • April 9, 2019 at 2:40 pmNaweG

    This feels a lot like the anime ACCA. Particularly the character designs and the depiction of bureaucracy “at work”.

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