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Occultic;Nine Volume 2 Blu-ray Anime Review

8 min read

A little more cohesion mixed with a drawn-out plot brings it to a close.

What They Say:
With the help of the young FBI detective, Asuna Kisaki, the truth behind the Inokashira Incident is revealed. Unable to accept the truth, Yuta escapes into denial and starts to lose sight of himself. At his father’s radio station, Ryoka appears and there, she reveals one final shocking truth.

What awaits the fate of the Occultic Nine? Can the evil plan behind the Inokashira Park Incident be stopped?

Everything ends here…

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language in stereo along with the newly produced English language dub, both of which are done up in the uncompressed PCM form in stereo. The show is one that works some decent sound design in this regard as it moves back and forth well and the various layers of depth needed with some of the tricks that it uses but mostly it just handles the dialogue as you want it to. There’s good movement as needed across it and the highs and lows are well handled, especially when the volume level has to fall or rise with it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout on both tracks and we didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2016, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The six episodes are spread evenly across two discs here with plenty of room to work with. Animated by A-1 Pictures, the show is one that shows off a rich design overall with a great range of colors and so much detail in backgrounds that it almost gets overwhelming. The encoding captures this high-end look of a show near perfectly when viewed under normal conditions as the colors are really solid through and the various black levels should delight. The series has a strong design to it overall and the high motion and quick cuts come across crisp and clean with no problems at all.

The packaging design for this release is pretty nice as we get a softcover slipcase for the release that comes with a single clear Blu-ray case to hold the two discs. The front of the slipcover uses the Japanese artwork with the two main characters together with the bright and bold colors with a blue background while the back goes for the purple background with a different character configuration. The case artwork doe similar with a third piece for the front uses a white background with the grey dots as more of an ensemble piece. The reverse side doesn’t have much beyond some of the item elements from the show set against the white background. Within the slipcase we get a nice selection of postcards on heavy cardstock that brings us the end of episode image cards as well as a booklet that covers the characters and some background pieces from the show’s design.

The menu design is a nice and busy piece that works well with the design of the show as we get the load-up screen introducing the various characters before it settles on the static image that has the main trio of characters along the right overlaid on the mixed design orange-yellow background of widgets. The navigation is kept to the left with an amusing cut out letter approach for the text while below that is the logo which is where most of the color comes in with the blues and purples. The navigation works well and looks fun during playback as the pop-up menu but overall what we get here is something that shows off the way the series feels. The navigation itself is quick and easy to load and looks good as both the main menu and the pop-up menu during playback with everything flowing smoothly.

The only extras included with this release are the Japanese and English oriented promos for the series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first half of Occultic;Nine was one of the roughest shows I had tried to get into but failed to in a long time. A lot of shows that are just plain bad aren’t trying to do much of anything and are more guilty of being boring and predictable. Occultic;Nine is trying to tell a tale and has some creative ideas to it as well as with the execution of it but it just wasn’t something that was connecting for me in the slightest, which felt kind of boggling as it seems like it should be up my alley. With the back half of the series things take a bit of a different tone and it does all come across as somewhat more cohesive but as it digs into the storyline more it suffers from not having any characters that resonated or connected in the first half.

The start of this set is actually interesting as the group comes to realize at different points that they’re all actually dead and their bodies are among those that were in the water as part of the 256 that were dredged up from it. That realization also has different aspects of that being sussed out, such as the way most people don’t recognize or interact with them as being there, which makes for some awkward sequences just in how the group actually reacts themselves. There’s a kind of surreal aspect to it that I can’t quite put my finger on as to why it doesn’t work but it revolves around the lack of a real panic, even momentary, for the change in their nature. We do get a little fear and somberness but nothing that feels like an honest emotion.

Once everyone comes together with this idea they begin to move more into the investigative side since they all have different connections to unearth clues about what’s really going on. The intriguing part for them is that they don’t seem to be coming across others from the 256 but they’re also not coming across the millions and millions of others who have died over the millennia and would populate the land in spiritual form. That has them realizing they’re in a different place in a sense and works from there, which is easy in some ways since they’re essentially invisible but still able to interact with aspects of the real world in some ways. Secrets are easier to suss out when you just have to wait for someone to leave a room and search through their things.

This leads us into a look at the larger storyline here that was touched upon in the last set with Nikolas Tesla and the way he and other geniuses over the years invariably found their research oriented toward the spiritual. Essentially, a focus on accessing the astral plane and turning most of human society into generators to power the elite through the cover of a religious organization to move form into that world and live forever while manipulating the physical world is in play. I’m sure there are seeds for it laid out more clearly in the first set that were overlooked while trying to get a handle on the characters but it’s certainly an interesting concept to work with and one with a lot of potential. If it had better characters to root for and more detailed and engaging opponents to latch onto rather than the quasi-mysterious group that we get that I’m hard pressed to even remember any of their names.

All of this just makes it more unfortunate that it doesn’t work as a whole. There are a lot of neat elements to it but the cohesion just never hits, especially after the first set didn’t set up the foundations well enough. But even with the problems it has its definitely an intriguing show to watch because of what it does do. A-1 Pictures sometimes makes it seem like they can make anything slick and engaging and there are a lot of great scenes here, from the set designs themselves to the creepy moments such as in the hanger with all the coffins. I liked the bits that we get with Tesla and the reveal of a daughter even if the story concept itself doesn’t click. There’s a really neat somber aspect to the series that takes better hold in this half of the series, though sometimes that gets thrown for a loop when someone’s chest ends up bouncing all over the place.

In Summary:
The back half of Occultic;Nine can’t salvage what happened in the first half but it does make for what feels like a stronger narrative overall as the mystery is worked through and the larger and darker elements come to the forefront more. This is the kind of series that I wonder if a revisit as a whole project instead of split releases will end up working better but I’m wary of just how the first half operated. That said, Aniplex USA treated the show fantastic for the fans of it as we get a great looking show, a dub for it, and some really nicely done packaging pieces that makes it worth owning and enjoying. It’s a great release for those that discovered it through the streaming and want to own a high quality edition of it.

Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English 2.0 PCM Language, English subtitles, Japanese & English Trailers

Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: December 26th, 2017
MSRP: $99.98
Running Time: 144 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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