Give Occult Academy credit. They made the finale much more interesting than I thought they would. I was expecting a little cleanup, maybe somehow Maya meets her dad, maybe Uchida meets his younger self and makes peace with himself. I didn’t expect the curveball they threw us. Good job! So it’s a shame that it ends incoherently.
Never mind, up to the end of the episode this was good stuff. It was quieter than most episodes. For the most part the soundtrack kept out of the way. Even after the new threat was discovered it stays mostly quiet—with foreboding added. Also, I called it! I said last week that I thought little Bunmei was the Nostradamus Key, and I was, er, half right. It’s Uchida meeting Bunmei that’s the Key (okay, I also said it was my backup theory, but I’m willing to forget that if you will), thanks to the “Ramachandran-Fischer Conjecture,” i.e., in scientific terms, when the same people in different times meet it means kablooey!. Bah, I knew that. Learned it from Doctor Who.
So all they have to do is prevent Uchida from meeting Bunmei. Should be easy, right? He can get transported back any time he wants, like RIGHT NOW. But Uchida lets me down again, a little. July 21 is still two days away, and he at least wants to see his mother, who’s in town escorting Bunmei to the school closing ceremony. This revelation, by the way, made me grin. The same gig that got Bunmei slapped is the Waldstein Academy ceremony! Well played!
Even so it looks like it’ll be all right. He and Maya meet with his mother and cancel the boy’s appearance. So that’s that, only Bunmei thinks the academy looks so cool he runs away and starts exploring. This gives every scene until the inevitable one an edge. What if Uchida is right around the corner? At the same time you have to be happy for the kid. It’s the only time we’ve seen him having fun on his own. Meanwhile the gang throws Uchida a goodbye party. It would be a fun scene if not for the looming threat, but it inserts a final bit of characterization for Uchida: Ami says he just does what everyone tells him to do, something that will play a part when the episode becomes incomprehensible later on. Also, it’s nice to see the gang one more time.
By now we know what must happen. Not only for the plot, but because the show would have been incomplete if Uchida had not met Bunmei. When the time comes we get, at the start, an amazing scene. Maya begs Uchida to stay (she’s pretty much a side character this episode), Uchida hesitates, and when the boy arrives … Maybe Uchida figures out it’s too late. He tells Bunmei to keep doing what he wants to do, even tousles his hair. It’s completely against common sense but again we know exactly why he’s doing it.
Here come the aliens.
The invasion scene is brief, loud and exciting, the only special effects we get in the episode. In terms of Uchida, it’s moving. He decides to act against his normal tendencies and sacrifices himself to save the Earth. His final line to Maya, “Take care of me!” is beautiful. But in terms of WTF the scene sets a new series standard. Bunmei runs toward an alien invasion craft and is knocked unconscious. Uchida takes the kid’s spoon and becomes some sort of superhero. It just doesn’t make sense. He must have gotten the power from the unconscious Bunmei, who was indeed glowing in a “cosmic power transfer!” sort of way. I don’t recall the Ramachandran-Fischer Conjecture saying anything about that. Oh, well, it’s great to look at. And the Earth is saved, hoorah.
(And Maya winds up living with her father and Bunmei. Wonder what Bunmei’s mother thought about that. Or did the show forget about her?)
I guess in the end the show was more interested in working with the characters and seeing that their needs and desires are worked out than giving us a coherent explanation to the story. That’s okay. And it did use the characters well. Uchida dies but gives the younger him a chance to grow up less broken. Maya and her father reconcile. Because of this I can forgive the lapses in plot, though I’m still annoyed at the unnecessary snowy-girl two-parter. Moreover this show was always great to look at and was smartly directed. There was rarely a weak scene. My only complaint about the side characters is we didn’t see enough of them, and we got to see plenty. I would have liked a JK or Smile story. Ami is a solid best friend character, and her dad, I’ll say it again, is the coolest in anime. Then there was my favorite, the hapless, clumsy, monster-magnet Kozue. She is so determined to witness the occult that she blindly walks into danger (or the danger finds her first), gets abducted, nearly eaten, possessed, etc, but always comes back for more. What a fun character she was! She deserves her own series.
A pleasure to watch. Occult Academy, along with Highschool of the Dead and Shiki, were the only three summer shows really worth anything.