Occultic;Nine - Series Blog [Episodes 4 - 6]

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!

Episode 4 Impressions:

Psycho Daisies
Airing October 29, 2016

End card by Occultic;Nine key animator Ryosuke Nishii

End card by Occultic;Nine key animator Ryosuke Nishii

Occultic;Nine is a rollercoaster. It has its ups and downs but you generally like the ride if you are the type to like rollercoasters. It builds up an atmosphere of anticipation that makes you feel excitement and even dread at what’s going to happen next. No matter how prepared you think you are, the drop will happen sooner than you expected and it will catch you off-guard. Then it will begin anew. All that’s left is to enjoy the ride.

As I explained in the previous entries of this blog, I have plenty of reasons to enjoy this ride. From the atmosphere and tension to the gorgeous art direction and character designs. Yes, character designs. Yes, one character has comically large breasts but the rest of her and everyone else’s design deserves recognition. I constantly find myself admiring how well-dressed the characters are. I need a parka like the one Gamon wears. I digress. The character designs are distinct and filled to the brink with style. Their outfits could easily be copied for real life purposes as well as for cosplays. Yes, one character has comically large breasts but to get hung up on that means completely disregarding pako and Tomoaki Takase’s lovely work.

“Psycho Daisies” is heavy on the style but lighter, though not light, on the substance. Unlike the other episodes, this one didn’t give viewers any particular insight into the characters or what is going on. However, it gave us two very interesting pieces of information. One is, that Kiryū Kusakabe, the demon who “curses” people on Aria’s behalf, can project his astral body out of his normal one. It doesn’t necessarily mean that he is dead or that Aria can indeed communicate with the dead but it does further support that the occult is real in Occultic;Nine’s world, something NEET God Gamon strictly opposes. Given that this anime was created by the man behind the Science Adventure series that includes Steins;Gate, many believe that the clue to Occultic;Nine’s myriad of riddles will be science. Shikura, however, went on record to state that Occultic;Nine is not part of the Science Adventure series, so the worlds of, say, Robotics;Notes and Occultic;Nine are not set in the same world or universe. Semicolon be damned. Therefore, it is possible that the key to unlocking the mysteries Occultic;Nine holds are indeed to be found in the occult. Somebody call Doctor Strange.

Observation two is much more obvious to spot but not less meaningful: Tōko is dead. It was obvious from everyone at her office ignoring her, plus her not having a reflection was a dead give-away (ha!). This itself wouldn’t be too noteworthy weren’t it for the fact that a.) Miyū talked to her after she died and b.) countless people committed mass suicide by collectively walking into a pond and drowning with only half the people that died having been identified. a.) further serves as an argument for the “occult is real”-theory but b.) is more meaningful. The implications of it are clear: Tōko (as well as the lost Chizu) could very well be one of the suicide victims. What makes this so intriguing is that Tōko had a prophetic dream about this. Is the dream connected to the reason why so many people committed suicide? Maybe everyone who did had the same prophetic dream and it really was a case of mass hypnosis? Then again, this would mean that Gamon and Ririka died in the incident as well which seems less than likely. My head hurts. Oh, the the side-effects of a rollercoaster ride but I can’t wait to to take another ride on this peculiar rollercoaster come Saturday.

In one line: “Psycho Daisies” raises more questions.

Episode 5 Impressions:

She’s Lost Control
Airing November 5, 2016

End card by Naoshi Arakawa (mangaka of Your Lie in April)

End card by Naoshi Arakawa (mangaka of Your Lie in April)

As more characters meet, the plot thickens and gets even more complex. Moreover, by using various camera angles, this episode was deliberately designed to be disorienting. We saw the Kiri Kiri Basara gang getting and trying to piece everything together, much like us viewers for whom it seems to be virtually impossible to say where the plot is headed next, especially since the next episode will be the last episode to be based on the light novels. Episode director Ryouji Masuyama’s Dutch angles play their part in creating an atmosphere of mystery, in addition to the pacing and stellar music, all making for a worthwhile mystery thriller and I think I have cracked the C-O-D-E. 

One of the mysteries, will be revealed in the next episode - which has a lot of promise for various reasons which I’ll get to later on - as we’ll finally find out what the strange toothy key will unlock. We did see that it was a box, specifically a “kotoribako” - a type of haunted bird cage of Japanese urban legends - and that scares me. Boxes are never good news as Pandora’s box or Box of Spirits (one of the most disturbing and fascinating manga I’ve ever read) can attest. I don’t even want to begin to imagine what’s inside Occultic;Nine’s box and yet I’m more than curious to find out.

What I did begin though, was reading the light novel series Occultic;Nine is based on and I’ve noticed an interesting titbit. “She’s Lost Control” was the first episode since the first one to (lightly) touch upon one of the light novels’ central themes: the relationship between fathers and their children. Seemingly every main character seems to have lost their father prematurely. Plus, their relationships were all either especially strained like Sarai’s or especially close like Gamotan’s and . The theme and its importance are much more prominent in the light novel which makes me thinks it’s not necessarily a hint at solving Occultic;Nine’s mysteries unless Nyarlathotep turns out to be the main antagonist and takes on the form of the Great Fathers as in Persona 2: Innocent Sin but a means to have the characters get to know each other better. Thus, while the fatherly theme may not be too relevant for the main plot, it seems to be a driving force for the characters to bond, as a throwaway line between Gamotan and Sarai indicated. I’m all for the characters bonding and interacting more, as I’m a huge fan of the pukey clever and fast-paced dialogue. It never feels obnoxiously clever, something that can be said about the anime as a whole.

Last week, I theorized that the prophetic dream of the mass suicide was shared by all its victims but promptly dismissed it. Yet after this episode, I think I may have been onto something. During the conversation between Ririka and the creepy smile kid, he mentioned that he has seen her name in the news and that she didn’t think she would end up drawing herself while looking at a drawing of many people underwater, afterwards asking if where she is now could be the new world. This could mean that she is among the identified victims, hence her appearance on the news. Furthermore, this gives my theory more credibility so could it be that the occultic nine are all dead? Were they maybe hypnotised into committing suicide in order to create a Frankenstein’s monster out of 256 souls as Ririka implied? As this is a Shikura anime, I wouldn’t entirely rule out a pseudoscientific explanation but with every passing episode it seems more and more likely that Occultic;Nine will do its name justice.

Speaking of Ririka, I’m not sure if she is simply an observer or directly tied into what is happening. She seems to have excessive knowledge on what is going on but that could also be explained by her clairvoyance. Then again, she’s definitely in cahoots with the kid, though I can’t say what his ultimate goal is. Similarly, Agent Moritsuke is an equally elusive character who follows his own agenda. He tampers with crime scenes, withholds information, is cunning and a master at mind game. Maybe he does so because much like his idol Zenigata in his pursuit of Lupin III - Moritsuke feels a compelling and driving determination to reach his goal, whatever that goal may be. I don’t doubt that he’s a chūnibyō but his driving force is something different than the fantasy of being a man on a mission. Then there’s also Zonko, the voice that comes from Gamotan’s old radio. Some speculate that it may be self-proclaimed airhead Ryotas who’s behind it, a theory I can neither support nor dismiss since someone calling themself an airhead raises so many flags but at the same time Ryotas being Zonko seems a bit too obvious, doesn’t it? Hmm.

I mentioned that the next episode is very promising and not only because secrets are beginning to be unravelled. The next episode will be directed by Masashi Ishihama, who directed Occultic;Nine’s opening as well as one of my favourite anime: Shin Sekai Yori. I won’t spoil what Shin Sekai Yori is about but it’s one of the best unconventional horror anime I have ever seen and a true masterpiece. In equal parts profound and unsettling, it will haunt you long after you’ve finished it. Needless to say, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. Ishihama is immensely talented and I can hardly wait to see how his episode plays out. I’m especially intrigued about how he’ll handle the pacing, atmosphere and character dynamics. Man, I’m so hyped. Just the prospect of having Ishihama direct an episode is amazing. He seems like a great fit for the suspense horror that is Occultic;Nine. Next week’s episode can’t come soon enough!

In one line: A deliberately disorienting episode hints at secrets slowly being unravelled.

PS: Please watch Shin Sekai Yori.

Episode 6 Impressions:

She Took A Long Cold Look
Airing November 12, 2016

End card by Masashi Ishihama (director of Shin Sekai Yori, Garakowa)

I was quite sure that my theory was correct about the fate of the main characters as well as the Kotoribako but I was still unprepared. I didn’t expect the reveal to be so disturbing. Espcially Myu-pon’s very own “What’s in the box”-moment was devastating. We now know for sure that the occultic nine are all dead and probably victims of what seems to be a government ploy covering up ...something. Occultic;Nine really solves one mystery just to present viewers with an even bigger one.

I thought the main characters being dead and maybe ghosts or something akin to ghosts would prove that the ultimate answer to all the mysteriesOccultic;Nine holds lie within the occult but with the new government-plot line I’m not too sure anymore. Tesla’s technology and lost wisdom were mentioned every now and then but I dismissed them as nothing but red herrings, yet now it appears that that technology was plot-relevant all along. However, this clue leads nowhere, so I’m not sure I should follow it. Luckily, this is exactly what this blog is for so let’s go and see where it takes us. Now, Tesla was interested in electromagnetic waves and Professor Hashigami said something along the lines of ghosts being similar to electromagnetic waves. Good. I’ve got nothing. No idea how Tesla, the government and a Frankenstein’s monster made out of 256 souls are connected. What we are able to say with relative certainty is that the 256 dead bodies found in the lake were all test subjects but for what?

We finally got some answers and hints but they all seem to lead us nowhere. Ririka, whom I initially thought to be the main antagonist, seems to be another victim, though I still don’t trust her at all, while the Creepy Smile Kid, whom I saw as being Ririka’s familiar and nothing more, turned out to be a psychopathic monster. I don’t know why he created that child-stealing box or why he killed poor Chizu but I wouldn’t put it past him that he did so on a whim since his evil strikes me as the chaotic and random type. Ryotas, too, keeps getting more and more suspicious but I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly makes her so suspicious. Is it because she and the fan-service she’s subjected to seem so out of place? Maybe because she’s such a Manic Pixie Dream Girl that there has to be more to her? Or is it her self-proclaimed flag-raising air-headedness? Whatever it may be, I’m sure there’s more to her than meets the eye. Same goes for Izumi, the owner of CafeBar Bloomoon - which, by the way, is a real place - who’s so suspicious, I can’t help but think of him as a red herring though I probably shouldn’t. I could continue this list of suspicious people but it would include almost everyone.

I have been a fan of Occultic;Nine’s pacing and suspense from almost the start but this episode was it’s most suspenseful yet. The pacing was much slower, one could even call it pensive for Occultic;Nine’s standards. The one we have to thank for that is Masashi Ishihama, who directed this episode. As I mentioned last week, he’s the director of Shin Sekai Yori so he has a way with creating mood and atmosphere using pacing, framing and direction.

Next week, we’ll meet a new character, FBI agent and high school student Asuna Kisaki, who will investigate the case of the mass suicide. Given how much I like the other characters, I’m very interesting in meeting the Super High School Level FBI Agent. Furthermore, the next episode marks the first episode that is not available as a light novel since the third planned light novel was cancelled. Now really no one knows where this wild ride is taking us next.

In one line: “She Took a Long Cold Look” proves once again that boxes in horror stories are always disturbing.

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.