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Occultic;Nine Vol. #1 UK Anime DVD Review

9 min read

Mystery genre…my favourite….right?

What They Say:
“From the creator of “”Steins;Gate””, a new adventure surrounding the occult is about to begin! Yuta Gamon is a 2nd year in high school. He runs “”Kiri Kiri Basara,”” an affiliate blog that rounds up occult forum posts, for a shot at quick money, and challenges himself to the occult night and day to “”hack and slash away!”” the many supernatural phenomena existing in the world from a scientific standpoint. However, with that blog of his as a catalyst, a group of downright maniacal and insane comrades have gathered about.”

The Review:
Audio:
Reviewing the DVD version which was set up in Stereo 2.0 in both Japanese and English instead of a 5.1 release is still an acceptable quality but a bit of tinkering of the volume was needed to make it of an acceptable quality, though there weren’t any issues in terms of the sound being out on sync with the subtitles or the video. A good dub combined with no issues with the subtitles synching also helped out a lot as this is good in both languages, as both are quite fun to listen to.

Video:
The video is of a good quality, with no noticeable issues with lag or video in poor resolution during viewing – it actually considering the series is fairly recent feels like a Blu-Ray release, being very colourful combining CGI and traditional animation plus with the changes in tone from bright and bouncy to dark and bloody, the mystery element comes into play with similar ; series (though ironically it isn’t in the same continuity as shows like Steins;Gate) as there are no delays with timing with subtitles with animation in either language or slowdown with normal rates or via pausing where the animation can become fuzzy. (Very good considering the switch in colours and styles)

Packaging:
There was no packing for this test release.

Menu:
The menu is classic – with clips from the show in the classic; show style font giving it a very unique look which is appropriate for this very unique series. It is the same on both discs but it is just Play All, Chapters and Audio (no extras) which is easily selectable from both main screen and from watching the show as is – very nice to look at and very standard approach.

Extras:
There are no extras on this release.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Occultic;Nine is a strange one as whilst it is done by the same creator behind Steins;Gate, it isn’t apparently part of the (;) series (Chaos;Head, Steins;Gate, Robotics;Notes, etc) and is part of its own universe, so the good news is that I don’t need to compare how it flows within those series.

The bad news is that it does still gonna confuse the heck out of me…and not sure in a good way. Those who have read my reviews in the past know I’m a huge fan of mystery style anime, with shows like Erased, Hyouka and Gosick being among my favourites of all time. This one falls into a similar hook but there seems to be something that doesn’t make it click as much…despite a very interesting cliff-hanger for the first half of the series…

The first episode is pretty much a character gatherer as pretty much everyone who is going to be a factor in the series is briefly or fully mentioned/explored whilst not really explaining much about the show for the most part. Our male lead is Yuta Gamon, a NEET who is a website administrator who wants to increase traffic for money and focuses on the occult despite not being a huge fan of it (but gets the views) – our female lead is Ryoka…and without saying too much, this may be why I have trouble with this series as half the time you have some interesting mystery elements…

…and the other half she ruins the atmosphere due to being a huge fan service character (it’s hard to say anything more as she dominates the screen with her personality, weird gun weapon she uses to threaten Yuta and of course, her giant chest) and she seems so out there that you wonder what the purpose of her is bar fan service (of course, this is a series that definitely has a lot of layers so I’ll hold judgment till the end) – she notices a popular fortune teller on the TV named Miyu who also is a classmate of theirs at their school so the two want to interview her for the site. The other named characters introduced are Sarai, the son of a professor that Yuta is a fan of but he disagrees with, being into reality than the occult, Touko, a reporter for an occult magazine who receives a manuscript from Sarai’s father…the person who gave it to him was his wife and Sarai’s mother…who is dead…Aria, a girl who sells curses to people and as we learn has a VERY shady past, and potentially a ghost with her named Kiryu…and later a couple of other important characters named Ririka (a manga artist who can predict the future) and Shun (a young looking detective) – all are suggested they will get intertwined with each other as we shall see…

The story kicks in when Miyu does accept joining with Ryoka and Yuta and see if they can interview Professor Hashigami (Sarai’s father) which Yuta is forced into. However, when visiting his home, he notices it was open and a weird vibe…

…and then first the corpse of the professor. Needless to say, the first of many ‘holy something’ moments…

We learn about Miyu as she seems to have a unique power with prediction but like other fortune-tellers, some people believe she is a fake – however when Sarai questions it, she predicts her father’s death and tells him to go see it – whilst in the present Yuta sees a clue when a hacked voice on his radio tells him to remove a tooth from the Professor’s jaw which turns out to be a gold key – he hides away just before Shun enters the crime scene – and he discovers a doujinshi which is very similar to what happened in the crime. Whilst his findings are dismissed, he begins to conduct his own investigation whilst Ryoka and Miyu visit Aria to see if her curses are legitimate…which is where we discover just how creepy Aria is, and her real name of Ria – a girl who couldn’t get over her brother’s death and just the lengths she took to ignore it…trust me, it is VERY disturbing…

More mysteries come as Miyu’s friend and producer goes missing whilst Shun visits the creator of the doujin, Ririka who tells him that the scenes for her drawings appear in her dreams, whilst Toko learns of (A)Ria’s past, with Yuta trying to find where this key fits (whilst trying to avoid being linked as a murderer)…needless to say, a lot of stuff happens to tie everything together and the biggest is yet to come when Toko is reported of a mass suicide and goes to investigate it as this is much creepier than it already is when you learn who is involved…

Whilst theories of the suicides are being discussed, Yuta is being linked information on his site by Shun about the doujin, and is later confronted by Sarai. He wants to obviously find out what Yuta knows about his father’s death, and whilst he talks about the message in blood (CODE) he keeps the key secret, and it is clear that Shun knows more than Sarai as he begins to ask Yuta interesting questions…whilst Sarai figures out what his father was trying to say and how it relates to the suicides. With Aria, Kiryu and Shuu also getting involved this leads to…

One thing that was mentioned in the first episode which gets to rear its head is that the occult fanatics seem to also use research based on Nikola Tesla – and it comes full throttle by episode 6. This leads to the very creepy conclusion when Yuta figures out the message that the professor was leaving and the names of the victims in the suicide…

….only to discover his own name in it….it leaves us on that and a mysterious new girl being introduced ready for the second half of the series…

As you can tell, there is a lot going on and to its credit, in the short time it has, it manages to link in all the mysteries and characters together and reach a rather shocking cliff-hanger – there are tons of little things that seem will leave to the bigger picture – mainly if Yuta’s dead, how is he able to physically interact? Ryoka’s role despite her annoying demeanour, there are hints that she knows a lot more than she does, Sarai’s cynism combined with his need to find out about his father, Aria’s obsession with her brother and how it broke her into and how Kiryu fits in (especially as it appears he is a ghost, this should make him more important because of the Yuya situation), the fact Shun clearly knows what is going on yet because his findings are so out there to the average realist, he’s basically on his own – it actually ties in very well and I’m really interested to see how it will go in the 2nd half.

At the same time, it does seem to be missing something. Maybe it’s because of the half-attempted fan service/comic moments they intermix – or the fact there are still some characters who roles are not fully explored (Miyu in particular – it is linked her friend is in the suicide pact and there is a mysterious boy who also seems to be a spirit that taunts her and Ririka but it’s not yet explained well enough) and you need to see how they sync in with the discovery of Yuta apparently dying. Yuta is one of those protagonists that I can’t decide if he’s likeable or not – he’s clearly selfish, but also quite shy and of course when he gets involved in what is effectively a murder mystery, he has a lot of stress on top of being a fun victim for Ryoka – maybe that’s why it’s a bit off-putting because you don’t know which direction they are going with Yuta…though with the cliff-hanger that is more than likely to change…

The animation is gorgeous, the story is very intelligent and engaging and the mystery does have me hooked. However, the characterization is very mixed and weak, with no real full on likeable characters, more of shades of grey (Shun is probably my favourite, he has a permanent smile on his face whilst going Columbo on everyone) but because the series is quite short (12 episodes, and this was 6 of them – Erased had the same problem of split quite short and being maybe a little pricey for what it is in this day and age), the character development is very sporadic and with a new character on the horizon, it does make you wonder if everyone is going to tie in by the end – it’s done well for the most part so far, but as said, it feels a little off.

I still really enjoyed it as I love mystery series, and the cliff-hanger is something I’m really hoping they can continue with – I think characters like Aria will be more involved now – but there is just enough things that stop this so far from being a top series.

In Summary:
Occultic;Nine is another mind screw with a very effective story and mystery told about death and occult (incorporating Nikola Tesla’s research was a masterstroke) which hooks you for the story…however with the characters being very sporadic and over the place and with so many of them, it is hard to keep track and there isn’t one that stands out – the lead is unusual with likeability (though the ending of this set may change that) and with characters like Ryoka who seems very out of place (though that could also be a trick) it is a series that has massive potential, but stops from being great…for the moment.

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

Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: April 2nd, 2018
MSRP: £19.99
Running Time: 144 minutes
Video Encoding: PAL
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.

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