Occult Academy 2, Okami-san 3

Plenty of surprises in Occult Academy 2, as we are introduced to Fumiaki (or Abe Minoru, whichever you prefer) and get the details on why he’s there.

And we start where we should, his grand, naked entrance before Maya, who is understandably shocked. A little too shocked. She acknowledges the occult and is a tough cookie, but the sight of a naked man sends her screaming into the woods. As for Fumiaki, we see him in the future as a cocky kid, fully confident in his abilities, but the moment he arrives in the past he becomes quite a wimp. The next day he is introduced to Maya as the new history teacher.

And we learn that some item among the thousands of weird things within the academy walls is the Key to Nostradamus, which will trigger a dimensional rift that will level the academy and, somehow, be the precursor to an alien invasion in 2012. This is all plot-babble. What’s fun is seeing Maya’s reaction. In fact, her growling and tendency toward violence are the best things in this show so far. Poor Fumiaki can sometimes barely get a word in without being knocked on the head with a paperweight.

But Maya has troubles of her own. The Vice Principal wants her out and that night all sorts of spooky things happen to her. Fumiaki, briefly breaking out of wuss-mode, interferes, but it takes some supernatural help to quell this monster. And she learns that this Key to Nostradamus thing is real. Not only that, but her father was murdered. Much of this episode doesn’t hold up well. Her rescue was too pat and coincidental. Fumiaki’s leaps from cocky to wuss are unbelievable, and what’s he doing going to a corner of the library to phone his superiors? Doesn’t he have his own room? On the other hand, Maya is good fun, and her desire to get to the bottom of her father’s death adds some depth to her already conflicted character. It’s directed well, mixing suspense with moments of comedy nicely. And they keep the story chugging right along.

So I thought I’d give Okami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi 3 a try. If it was as inept as the first two I would drop it and get it out of my schedule. Trouble is, I kinda liked this episode.

We turn to Otohime and Tarou, two characters who haven’t done much so far except to leap in and out of scenes. Otohime loves Tarou for boosting her self-esteem in elementary school, turning her from a chubby girl nicknamed Turtle to the slender beauty she is today. She encounters old nemesis Usami and they make a bet. Whoever wins the school beauty contest will be able to use the others’ nickname. Otohime turns to the Otogi Bank for help, even though she’s a member.

They try various plans, spreading false rumors, having Ringo split the moe vote, etc. It goes as expected with one very good scene where Ringo and the Bank people have a photo shoot, which Usami crashes. While the whole gang is involved they’re pretty much bystanders who make comments based on their own personalities. It works well. A lot of quick gags, my favorite being Ryouko’s glare at the spectators and their instant backing safely away.

Which is all good, because otherwise it’s just another routine beauty contest episode. It does have a surprising ending (Didn’t the two girls realize that there were other contestents besides them?). Otohime didn’t enter the contest to defeat Usami; she did it to prove she was worthy of Tarou, and that’s precisely what she gets. Damn, I’ll have to keep this show another week after all.


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