Occultic;Nine - Series Blog [Episodes 7 - 12]

A new anime from the mind behind Steins;Gate mixing science and the paranormal,  Occultic;Nine follows nine characters and their various connections to the occult. 

The Lowdown

Nine idiosyncratic individuals are linked by the “Chōjō Kagaku Kirikiri Basara” occult summary blog run by 17-year-old second-year high school student Yūta Gamon. Little incongruities that occur around these nine eventually lead to a larger, unimaginable event that may alter what is considered common sense in this world.

Be sure to check out our impressions of episodes 1-3 before reading this!


Episodes 7 & 8 Impressions:

The Dream’s Dream | Happiness is a Warm Gun

Episode 8 end card by Kurehito Misaki (character designer of Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend)

Episode 8 end card by Kurehito Misaki (character designer of Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend)

Since I had to postpone last week’s write-up, we’ll take a look at what was revealed in the last two episodes this time. So without further ado, let’s start with why this anime is called Occultic;Nine. We were formally introduced to psychometric FBI-Agent / High School student Kisaki Asuna, who’s come to investigate Lupin the 256-incident in the wake Moritsuka’s tragic demise. I know it’s petty and I will get to more important bits in a minute but it just bothers me that it’s not Occultic;Ten. She’s occultic, too, since she’s psychometric but I reckon the occultic part only refers to being dead in which case it should be Occultic;256, though I agree that would be a really weird and long title, Occultic;Two-hundred-and-fifty-six but anyway if it’s nine because of those who died then how do <redacted for spoilers> fit in? All I’m saying is it should be Occultic;Ten.

Onto more pressing matters as we were given an exposition dump and jotting down all the important bits and pieces probably gave me CTS but I’d do anything for my dear readers. As we now know for sure, the original occultic nine and the remaining 247 who died in the 256-incident are dead but still roaming the earth. Why is that? It’s because the organisation (I don’t remember them being given a name but please correct me if they were given one) gave them a mixture of scandium and electromagnetic waves. This also means that the pale kid is not the culprit or a supernatural being but I’ll get back to him in a second. The organisation used the Cult of the Eight Gods of Fortune as well as rich people to pick their “chosen ones” (read: human guinea pigs). These chosen ones would by getting a dose of scandium and electromagnetic waves be able to retain their memories and personality and keep their astral body when they died instead of becoming electromagnetic fields but just that wouldn’t be enough to be seen as a promise for eternal life, would it? This is where Tesla’s technology comes in. By using Tesla’s 8-bit technology the organisation was able to overlap or synchronise the plane of existence where ghosts live and the real world, meaning ghosts would still be amongst the living. The 8-bit technology allowed for 256 people to be brought into the New World Programme (NWP for short) as 8-bit allows for 2^8 (= 256) different possible values. Now back to the pale kid. He stated that his parents are rich and that he cannot die due to the scandium he had been given. Now this means that either he is among the 256 who died or that people who were given scandium (+ electromagnetic waves) are able to see the ghosts of those who were given scandium (+ electromagnetic waves) as well. I’m leaning towards the latter as only that way eternal life could really be promised. What good is eternal life when you can only watch and not participate in life? This is part of the organisation’s NWP or at least that’s what they want everyone to believe.

In actuality, the NWP is a means to brainwash and control the leaders of the world and thus a way to obtain world domination. The concoction of scandium and electromagnetic waves makes the chosen ones prone to mind control. The 256 were collectively hypnotised to commit suicide using this method. However, why were they sacrificed? They were just guinea pigs. They served their role and now had to be disposed of lest someone finds out what happens. Plus, what if a bunch of non-rich people and cult believers showed up in this new world? Would the rich still be willing to pay? By disposing the chosen 256 the organisation can erase all traces and keep their new world just for those rich enough to pay.

That’s one big mystery solved (I think?) but we still have lots of others to find out about, like who murdered Prof. Hashigami, are all the supposed dead - including the main character’s fathers and friends - really dead and what is Ryotas role in all of this? As for Ryotas I have a fairly strong suspicion that I know what her deal is thanks to having read the first volume of the light novel and her character profile (which, it seems, contains a huge spoiler). If you want to avoid any potential spoilers skip to the next paragraph.

SPOILERS START HERE

In the light novel, Ryotas is frequently referred to by Gamotan as his guardian angel as he cannot believe someone so cute and beautiful would spend time with him, something he called her in the anime as well. Furthermore, Ryotas character bio on the anime’s official site flat out calls her a spirit guide. A spirit guide can be one of two things (and sometimes both): either it’s a guardian spirits who guides you through hardships or who leads the souls of the dead to the afterlife. Both definitions are very much in line with Gamotan calling Ryotas an angel. My theory is that Ryotas is not dead but not alive either. I think she may actually be something akin to an angel but as to what her purpose is I don’t know. That depends on whether the main characters are really dead.

SPOILERS END HERE

Phew. That’s a lot to take in. With a big question answered there’s still plenty of mysteries left to be solved. Occultic;Ten has been a blast and frankly, I find it hilarious that people are still bashing it for its first episode. Though, I bet their bitterness will be fueled by the Lucky Ryotas Special. I, for one, adore this anime. From the great characters, the fast dialogue and pacing, the attention to detail, the gorgeous art direction (and end cards, seriously, look at them!) and the music, everything about it reels me and won’t let me go. I can’t wait for the next episode!

Oh, by the way, what’s the deal with Kusakabe Kiryuu, anyway?

In one line: Mysteries are revealed.


Episode 9 Impressions:

Future Days

End card by illustrator Fly (Twitter@flyco_)

End card by illustrator Fly (Twitter@flyco_)

I love Occultic;Nine’s end cards and I’m so glad they are allowing smaller artists to get more exposure. It’s one of the reasons why Occultic;Nine deservers more recognition than it gets. Instances like these are often ignored and instead, the anime is often being criticised for its fanservice, pacing and “pretentious” art style. I personally feel most of these points of critique are either unjustified or miss the actual point of why it should be criticised (look no further than the ongoing discussion surrounding Ryotas’ physique). 

Occultic;Nine’s filming techniques are being criticised as too disjointed, too wild, its art style for being too avant-garde, too pretentious. In short: too Monogatari. While it’s obvious that any occult detective anime using different animation and filmmaking techniques - like this episode’s unsettling first-person-perspective shot reminiscent of horror games - evokes comparisons to Shaft’s flagship series, this doesn’t mean that all those anime should be considered cheap and lesser knock-offs. Occultic;Nine uses its avant-garde style, its mix of filming techniques, its pop-culture references and 4th wall breaking to achieve something entirely different than the Monogatari series. While the Monogatari series uses those to show viewers the depths of the human heart and soul, Occultic;Nine lacks that deepness. Instead, it opts to use those techniques to further the mysteries of the plot and create an atmosphere of nebulous tension, often swallowing viewers whole and leaving them confused but intrigued. Occultic;Nine never intended to reflect on human nature the way the Monogatari series does. It doesn’t want to say anything profound. It wants to tell a story full of horror and suspense and if you ask me it’s absolutely nailing it.

Similarly, the criticism towards the characters misses the mark as well. What should be criticised about them is not that “the main guy is so annoying, ugh” but that the characters are denied the exploration they deserve. Due to the constraint of telling a massive story in only 12 episodes, character do not get as fleshed out as they should be. This episode was a prime example for this. The pale kid, who still lacks a name I believe (correct me if I’m wrong), would have made up for a complex, fascinating and (even more) terrifying villain if he just would have been explored more. I’m afraid (and also glad because he was sick) that his arc is over but I cannot but feel that this was a missed opportunity. What drove him to become a murdered at such a young age, where did that feeling of entitlement come from and what’s his connection with the mangaka and the organisation? Not all these questions will be answered in the anime and with the light novel series cancelled and the visual novel in development hell, it could very well be that many of Occultic;Nine’s solutions to the smaller secrets will forever be trapped inside Shikura’s mind.

One central mystery, however, will be revealed in the next episode. Namely, who or what Ryotas really is. Last week I theorised about Ryotas but now, I’m not so sure anymore. While most of my theories on Occultic;Nine were spot-on (yeah, I’m proud of cracking this supposedly utterly messy anime so please allow me a second to gloat), I don’t think I was correct with my assumptions on Ryotas. To be honest, I don’t know what to think of her.

Given Agent Asuna’s expression when she say Ryotas for the first time and the policemen’s reactions when they found out who she was, Ryotas may not be one of the good guys after all? There was something sinister about those two scenes and not to mention Ryotas sudden voice change when she proclaimed that the world will surely end after Gamotan refused to go see Myu-pon. The pale kid confirmed that there are two types of ghosts, normal invisible ghosts and super rare visible ghosts of people who were given scandium (+ electromagnetic waves) that can only be seen by people who were given scandium (+ electromagnetic waves) (let’s call them SR ghosts from now on) or have Gamotan’s radio like our favourite cat-like FBI agent. So was Ryotas given (or did she willingly take) scandium or does she have supernatural powers and can see ghosts? Her Poya Gun may be the Wardenclyffe Gun the Emperor mentioned so what’s her connection to the New World Programme? Wardenclyffe, by the way, refers to the Wardenclyffe Tower, which is also known as the Tesla Tower, an early wireless transmission station designed and built by Tesla which is in the midst of being turned into a Tesla museum. As for the Emperor himself, he may be Gamotan’s father but since he’s bedridden and we’ve already seen someone stalking Gamotan wearing his father’s cult mask, I doubt it’s him, yet who else could it be but Gamotan’s father?

To make matters even more confusing we still don’t exactly know why Kusakabe Kiryuu can see and be seen by SR ghosts. At first, it was just him being able to willingly have out-of-body experiences but astral projection doesn’t quite explain his situation. Especially now that he can apparently time-travel as well!?(・_・;?!

In one line: Buy Cardfight!! Vanguard cards, kids! Pieces are falling into place but what will the puzzle show?


Episode 10:

Another Girl, Another Planet

End card by Yūhei Murota (character designer for both Love Live! anime)

End card by Yūhei Murota (character designer for both Love Live! anime)

Certain shots in the OP or ED. End cards. Seemingly one-off remarks. The way Occultic;Nine presents, hints at and solves its mysteries uses its medium, anime, to the fullest. Take, for instance, last episode’s end card which showed two Ryotas as if she was leaning on a mirror. You could interpret that it represents a possible duality in her character - that she is more that she seems - or simply say it’s just an artistic choice and makes for a good end card. However, it teased that there are in a way more than one Ryotas: the bubbly Ryotas we all know, the eerie voice from the radio Zonko and Aveline Telsa, the (fictional, as Tesla’s last romantic relationship was basically playing Hatoful Boyfriend irl) daughter of Nikola Tesla, who possesses Ryotas. Her existence was always there, hidden in plain sight in the ED directed by Myuki Kuroki where we see a girl sitting on a chair, her arms draped around her body emitting a certain sadness with the Tesla coil in the background followed by a Sleeping Beauty-esque shot of Ryotas. Many didn’t give the imagery much thought, thinking it’s just a beautiful motif for a beautiful ending or that it was Ryotas since much of the ED focuses on her but it actually subtly teased future plot developments revealed in this episode. Another shot, this time in Masashi Ishihama’s opening, is more obvious but also less relevant for the plot: the split second we see a Christmas tree in the opening had me confused since the very first episode, especially since the anime doesn’t even take place close to Christmas but then I realised it simply meant that the final episode will be on Christmas day. Those two instances, however, make me curious what other secrets Occultic;Nine’s ED and OP are hiding. 

Another very insteresting shot from the ED has Aveline looming over colour-coded marbles, each undoubltly symbolising the occultic nine, yet their arrangement - some farther away from the others and one positioned in the light while the others are in the darkness - holds a certain meaning that I cannot completely grasp yet and it’s driving me mad!

Back to Ryotas, the mystery surrounding her is almost entirely unveiled. She is a descendent of Tesla and Aveline and the granddaughter of the Emperor Tokuo Narusawa, the current head of the Narusawa Medical Group directly responsible for the main characters being injected with scandium and turning them into SR ghosts. Ryotas and Aveline, however, seem to rebel against the Emperor as is evident from their helping the main characters and stealing the Wardenclyff gun. I doubt the only reason for their rebellion is because the New World Programme is ethically wrong on every level. This is just my theory but maybe Tesla devoted himself to researching the occult after the untimely death of Aveline and Aveline is leaning against the NWP because they misuse her father’s technology? The driving force behind their rebellion are not the only mystery, though. With Aveline being able to possess Ryotas the questions now is whether every ghost can possess everyone or is it just SR ghosts who can possess SR humans? Here, too, an end card might give us a clue.

The double Roytas end card was not the first time that the end cards have hinted at future plot developments and that may very well be why this episode’s end card was quite dull in comparison. A-1 Pictures knows we know some of the end cards are hints so they purposefully gave us one that is just a cute-ish image (and sadly one of the weaker entries in Occultic;Nine’s impressive end card gallery). Episode 6 featured an end card depicting Ririka with angel’s wings soaring through the sky and this episode features a shot of Ririka looking up to the sky while holding a drawing of what looks to be her with angel’s wings flying up into the sky. What it means? That she rose back to life. She possessed her own body and came back from the dead and so may the others. Ririka herself foreshadowed her reanimation when she spoke of creating a Frankenstein’s monster out of souls. Still, unlike SR ghost Ririka, Aveline is probably just a common ghost, thus it could very well be that Ryotas’ shamanic spirit guide abilities are why Aveline can take over her body.

With only two episodes left, I hope more mysteries will be revealed. This episode hinted at even more huge plot points but I don’t know how well they’ll play out given that the anime only has two more episodes left. I remain intrigued but concerns that the ending might be rushed are starting to grow.

In one line: Ryotas revealed.


Episode 11:

We Want the Airwaves

End card by Naoyuki Asano (character designer for Osomatsu-san, OP director for March Comes in like a Lion)

End card by Naoyuki Asano (character designer for Osomatsu-san, OP director for March Comes in like a Lion)

Phew. Well, this episode was an exposition dump. Since I don’t feel like summarising (read: fully understand) the techno babble, which I’m sure is super-duper accurate, I will instead talk about some other things which are not all plot-related. Prepare yourself for a history lesson!

The penultimate episode did one thing and one thing only: it set up the finale. All the key players are in place and we still don’t really know where those places are. Gamotan turned out to be über-charged (or something) so he can punch the bad guys and be a ghost superhero (or something) but the details are not so important as to why Gamotan is über-charged. The important thing is that he is and that he holds the key (or does he!?) to saving everyone and Tesla’s technology. The only problem is, he does not, in fact, hold the key. The occultic nine need the Poya-Gun and the key to destroy the New World Programme’s suspiciously Wardenclyffe Tower-like mind control tower Odd-Eye and I bet Ririka stole the key after she rose from the dead. Why? I have no idea but it is most likely connected to her painting from last episode. Her painting, like episode 6's end card, show her sprouting wings and flying up to heaven and I theorised it symbolically signified her reanimation but that doesn’t seem to be the case as the preview for the finale showed us different shots of the sky and the moon as well as Gamotan sprouting wings! What does it mean!? How is it connected?! I have no idea anymore. Right now, I’m just leaning back and enjoying wherever this wild ride is taking me but I really hope we’ll get a conclusive and satisfactory ending.

Apart from some minor notes

  • I doubt Ria and Onii-san (nice Monogatari reference there, Occultic;Nine) will play any part in the conclusion as their arc is over
  • the real not-possessed Ryotas seems to working for the evil organisation
  • Izumin turned out to be evil to the surprise of literally no one
  • Asunyan is a great nickname

this is pretty much all I can write about this episode. So instead, let me focus on one line spoken by Aveline in regards to Thomas Edison.

Aveline condemned Edison and rightly so. I’m going to sum up the so-called War of Currents, which illustrates the strained relationship between Tesla and Edison best, but if you want more info check out The Oatmeal’s Tesla cartoon which also lists a few great sources. The War of Currents raged between the late 1880s and early 1890 and pitted direct current (DC) based Edison Electric Light Company against the alternating current (AC) based Westinghouse Electric Company and Tesla. It was mostly fought using propaganda, often allegedly proving that one current is safer or more dangerous than the other. The War started after Tesla, who originally worked for Edison, started developing his AC, which irked Edison, since he owned all the patents to DC. So Edison started a campaign to prove that DC is the better alternative (see what I did there?). And what better way to prove that AC was more dangerous than DC, Edison thought, than by electrocuting animals? Maybe you’ve heard of Topsy, the elephant who was electrocuted? Truth is, Edison most likely had no involvement in that case and the killing of Topsy took place years after the War of Currents but Edison still electrocuted a bunch of cats and dogs in his efforts to convince people of how dangerous AC is. Edison’s plan to discredit AC, however, proved to be futile as Tesla was asked to provide the electricity for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair (in case you’re interested in the World’s Fair I can’t recommend The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson highly enough). This made him huge. Tesla, a brilliant showman, knew exactly how to awe people using his AC. Unfortunately for Tesla and luckily for Edison, Tesla was also kind of a madman. He spoke passionately about his plans and some of them sounded too fantastical and some of them undoubtedly were. Plus, Tesla’s lightning bolt displays often scared people as much as they awed them. In the end, though Tesla won the war, he remained in relative obscurity and died in poverty only surrounded by his beloved pigeon. Edison, meanwhile, went on to be regarded as a genius. Now go tell your friends that Tesla was the bigger genius.

In one line: Everything is set up for the final episode!


Episode 12:

We’re Gonna Have a Real Good Time Together

End card by pako (character designer for Occultic;Nine and Scar-red Rider XechS)

So that’s why it’s called Occultic;Nine! I was wondering why it was called Occultic;Nine even though there are ten main characters if you include the very occultic Asunyan but now it makes sense. Sort of. Just like Occultic;Nine itself.

I won’t go much into detail regarding the plot because this episode unfortunately felt very similar to the first episode. It had almost all of the first episode’s issues (the pacing…) except for the gratuitous fanservice. If the light novels the anime is based on hadn’t been cancelled, I’m sure this episode would have been a whole volume as well. It felt disjointed, rushed and full of ideas that were never properly explored. Too many unanswered questions, too many inconsistencies and too many gods from too many machines.

Furthermore, it feels like it’s not the true ending. Shortly after the final episode aired in Japan, Shikura tweeted that the visual novel will be released sometime next year and that it will feature different routes and endings which will be unlocked through blog posts on Kirikiri Basara. With this in mind, it’s quite clear that the anime’s final episode was not the true ending. It had all the signs of a good but not true ending:

  • The world is saved and the evil organisation destroyed (see New World Programme),
  • one of the heroes dies suddenly and without much explanation (goodbye ghost of Aveline),
  • key characters are never fully developed (Ririka, the Pale Kid and Onii-chan) and
  • the hero does not get his happy ending (the episode ended with a shot of a cold sleep room with Gamotan’s name on it indicating that he may be able to be revived even after those occultic nine minutes).

The issue here is not just that it was simply rushed but that it makes the whole anime feel like one long trailer for the visual novel in retrospect. You wanna know how it really ends? Play the VN coming out next year! As of right now, it seems like the VN is no longer in development hell and we’ll probably hear more of it in the next couple of weeks or maybe even days and I’ll definitely play it. The VN will undoubtedly answer all the remaining questions and more. Playing the game is a given for me since I’ve spend too much time thinking of these characters and the plot to be denied the true ending and yet that is exactly what the anime adaptation did. We, the viewers, were cheated out of the true ending.

Of course, the ending doesn’t ruin the anime but it tarnishes the experience. I fully enjoyed the middle part and I will go on defending Occultic;Nine’s good parts (like it’s great art direction, stellar voice work and how brilliantly it uses its medium to create suspense) but I can’t deny how unsatisfactory this ending was. It’s a shame. At least we were given one final beautiful end card by Occultic;Nine’s character designer pako, who, by the way, is also the character designer for Edison in Fate/Grand Order

This concludes my almost-weekly Occultic;Nine write-ups. If you have questions regarding what actually happened, feel free to comment and I’ll try to answer them as good as I can. Thank you, everyone, for reading, commenting and watching along side. It was a wild ride and I’m glad I got on it. Next anime season I won’t be covering an anime due to university obligation. Again, thank you very, very much for reading, I really appreciate it!

In one line: Viewers are denied the true ending.


Vital Stats:

Occultic;Nine is produced by A-1 Pictures and airs during the fall 2016 anime season. It is based on the eponoymous light novel series by Chiyomaru Shikura, was directed by Kyōhei Ishigur and Miyuki Kuroki. and written by To-Jumpei Morita.