I have a strange suspicion that many of the viewers coming out of the first episode of Occultic;Nine will either be confused, or flat out annoyed. If there’s one thing that this show does right out of the gate, its that it overwhelms and goes excessively over the top. Over the top in terms of characters and weirdly cartoony dialogue, excessive in terms of cuts and switches in vantage point, and of course, a ton of disparate and quirky characters. Occultic;Nine is something really odd, weird, and should for all intents and purposes be labeled as nothing short of a misfire and perhaps even a disappointment for those of us who were looking forward to the next thing from Chiyomaru Shikura (the creator of Steins;Gate).
But really, what baffles me the most about Occultic;Nine is how intrigued I am by it, despite everything it does wrong. Occultic;Nine breaks a lot of rules for what you’d call engaging. Its poorly paced, disjointed and jumps all over the place, barely giving the audience even a second to absorb whatever its throwing on screen. And if that weren’t enough, the show also just bombards you with tons of information and sets up literally every little plot thread in the show, in one episode.
And we’re talking about a show that features about 10 characters, all of which, seem to be equally important to the story and have their own little side stories that are probably going to converge in on one another. The result of shoving this much content and information into a single episode, is simply put, just visual and auditory noise. Which, don’t get me wrong, the visuals and sound work are definitely exemplary, but even they fully embrace the premiere’s bizzare penchant for the excessive.
And that’s really what Occultic;Nine’s first episode is, its excessive, its too much. But here’s the thing, I don’t think that’s unintentional. The show and the story are aiming for something here, and while it was definitely a “task” to follow and keep up with the show, it was in that journey that I found myself fairly engaged. There was nary a second to really judge or decide on whether Occultic;Nine was good or not, and instead, the whole thing felt like a rather unique experience of “Catch up” to me.
I mean, for one thing, the characters aren’t the selling point of this show, but they’re also not on screen long enough to overstay their welcome. The lead of the show, Yuta Gamon is just the sort of character that is okay in small doses. His big busted friend Ryotas, is borderline offensive with her “childish” way of talking and the clear emphasis on drawing attention to her chest. But again, she’s barely in the frame long enough to feel truly annoying. The rest of the characters get even less attention or development, and feel like they make small cameo appearances rather than anything more substantial.
Having said all of that though, it definitely feels like the show completely understands what its doing here, i.e that its playing with fire. There’s enough cliches to pretty much annoy any general fan of solid storytelling, for example, but…. There’s just so many of them, all mixed together in this odd hodge podge of intertwining stories, that it all kinda feels intriguing, in a very passive, distant way.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that Occultic;Nine had a truly remarkable premiere. No, what I’m so impressed by is how the show managed to keep my interest and not ultimately push me away, especially considering my particular tastes. I’m not a fan of over the top, visual or mentally trying pieces of entertainment. I like solid, stable structure, good solid writing and most of all, immaculate pacing. The fact that Occultic;Nine has none of those things, and is still engaging to me, is I think the best compliment I can give whatever gamble this opening episode made.
Its also worth noting, that Occultic;Nine is almost like the extreme polar opposite of Steins;Gate. Steigns;Gate was a slow, meticulously burn of a story, one that took a good half of its actual runtime to really kick things into gear. The start was definitely slow, but the show made up for its rather mellow beginning with a fairly intense and quick second half. Occultic;Nine seems to be amping up the speed and intensity of nearly every aspect of itself, right at the beginning.
The end result, is that even as stuff happens on screen, there’s no emotion to be felt. We see a bunch of blood and hair at first, and then later, see the actual corpse that it belongs to, and I’d be surprised if anyone felt anything from seeing that. It doesn’t even matter that the show actually shows the character that ends up being killed by the end of the episode, at its very start. No, the show isn’t interested in playing by any established rules, or being an emotionally charged experience.
And that’s why I’m interested in Occultic;Nine. I want to see what exactly its going for, and what the goal of this whole approach really is. Is Occultic;Nine going to be all flash and no substance? Or is it going to pleasantly surprise like Steins;Gate did. I’m not sure, at all, of anything when it comes to this show, but what I am indeed interested in, is learning more. At the end of the day, that’s a win for Occultic;Nine, at least as far as I can see. Time will tell if all the naysayers and all those annoyed by this show, will be right, or if something else will happen.
Consider this one blogged, if only because it just piques my curiosity (in a similar way to how Subete ga F ni Naru managed to keep me interested, all the way till the end, last year).
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